Cornerofmadness's Reviews > Black Butler, Vol. 1

Black Butler, Vol. 1 by Yana Toboso
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Feb 10, 10

Read from February 06 to 10, 2010


Set in Victorian England, Black Butler follows the story of Sebastian Michaelis, butler to the Phantomhive earldom. His charge is a twelve year old boy, who looks more to be nine, with the unfortunate name Ciel Phantomhive. The young earl’s family is closely tied to Queen Victoria and Ciel is in charge of the family’s commercial empire in toys and candy, not a bad thing to be when you’re a kid.

The eye patch-wearing young earl seems to live a rather isolated life on his estate just outside of London with only his servants as companions: Sebastian, Mey-Rin, the house maid, Finnian, the overly strong gardener, Baldroy, the perpetually smoking cook and Tanaka, the house steward. The very first chapter serves mostly as an introduction to the characters and it’s quickly clear that Sebastian does most of the work. The rest of the staff seem rather inept and are probably there for comic relief.

In chapter two, we soon meet Ciel’s equally young fiancée, Elizabeth, the daughter of a marquess, making her higher ranking in the peerage than Ciel. This leaves him at her whims. Being engaged isn’t really their idea but not out of line with how things were done among the nobility at that time. This is another introductory chapter where we get hints of things such as Ciel’s usually glum mood and his temper and more hints of Sebastian’s magical abilities. We also get to see that butler and master have a rather snarky relationship, which is well done, especially with Sebastian’s ever-polite jabs. Ciel being under sized for his age is a popular barb.

The latter chapters take a darker spin as Ciel is taken by the mafia who doesn’t appreciate the Phantomhive interest in helping the queen to keep out the riffraff. Artistically, I liked that they didn’t spare the reader the results of violence. Ciel is drawn badly bruised. Sebastian’s humanity is stripped away in the tiniest bits, giving us glimpses of what he truly is until the end game where all pretense is gone. The most interesting thing about the ending is the hint that Sebastian and Ciel’s relationship might not be as amiable as it appears. He takes joy in seeing Ciel in trouble. Their Faustian relationship has yet to be explained fully but the reader gets enough to know exactly what Sebastian is. I enjoyed this manga a lot and, if you like alternative historicals and demons, you’ll enjoy this.

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