Review: Black Butler
In 2009, the Black Butler series ranked 10th on the list of the years best-selling manga in Japan. The appeal, however, is international – and it’s easy to see why.
Set in Victorian England in the late 1800s, one of the most romanticised and interesting periods in British history, the manga has an intriguing steampunk vibe from the get go. Enter Ciel Phantomhive, our story’s protagonist, a young Earl acting as the Queen’s watchdog who can be described only as being the epitome of spoilt, shrewd, and unnervingly wise for his youth. Seeking revenge on the people who killed his parents and burnt his family manor to the ground, Ciel makes a deal, securing himself the loyalty of a particularly committed butler: Sebastian Michaelis.
A demon, Sebastian’s presence sculpts a world full of the delightfully gripping supernatural. I warn, do not enter this series in search of romance, for it is scarce. But the action is relentless. The artwork is stunning, delicate and sharp. Artist Yana Toboso deserves immense credit for creating such a flawless and intricate world off of which musicals, a live-action film and a beautiful anime have sprung.
Though lacking in romance, I can’t say I mind, when it’s quite made up for in action. Overall, an exciting, fast-paced, supernatural, steampunk work of brilliance. Familiar storylines that have been reworked hundreds of times, such as the familiar and chilling tale of Jack the Ripper, have been reinvented in this story in unique and interesting ways. Everything seems refreshing, whilst building on a period that has been a solid foundation of many a great work. It’s easy to see, therefore, why this manga is so wildly popular among fans worldwide.