Summary: Just a stone’s throw from London lies the manor house of the illustrious Phantomhive earldom and its master, one Ciel Phantomhive. Earl Phantomhive is a giant in the world of commerce, Queen Victoria’s faithful servant…and a slip of a twelve-year-old boy. Fortunately, his loyal butler, Sebastian, is ever at his side, ready to carry out the young master’s wishes. And whether Sebastian is called to save a dinner party gone awry or probe the dark secrets of London’s underbelly, there apparently is nothing Sebastian cannot do. In fact, one might even say Sebastian is too good to be true…or at least, too good to be human…
Review: Toboso takes the common master/servant relationship and turns it into something sinister with a creepy new meaning. I was intrigued by the relationship between the perfect, calm butler and the powerful 12 year old earl who is wiser than his years. We aren’t given the exact details about their relationship or how they know one another, but there is no doubt that they are the main focus of the story. Ciel, the brooding young earl has a dark past and his background is well known to other members of his society, but we don’t find out why in the first volume. We do, however, get a sneak peak of Ciel’s daily routine. Sebastian, by contrast, is the quintessential British butler, who always seems to be in good spirits and is perfect beyond belief which makes us doubt that he is human. The other servants employed by Ciel are all witless and inept, used purely for comic relief.
Black Butler juggles comedy, action, and the dark supernatural. The relationship between Ciel and Sebastian is ambiguous, which I’m sure will lead to several speculations. Although I expected the manga to be dark, which it is, it also very humorous. The setting of Black Butler is very strange. Although it has elements of Victorian England where ball gowns, pocket watches exist, there is also cars, cell phones, and machine guns.
I really enjoyed this volume and want to know more about Ciel’s past along with who Sebastian really is. We are given plenty of clues by the end of this volume, but I’ll definitely pick up volume two of this manga to find out more. Readers looking for mystery, and humor with a dark supernatural undertone should definitely try this series out.
Read-a-likes: Black Butler Volume 2 by Yana Toboso, Vampire Knight manga series by Matsuri Hino
Availability: The first three book volumes of Black Butler are in located in the library’s Teen Graphic Novel section.
Reviewed by: Rummanah