Tucked away in the English countryside lies the ominous manor of the Phantomhives, a family which has established itself as the cold and ruthless "Queen's Watchdog" as well as the head of London's criminal underground. After a tragedy leaves the Earl and his wife dead, many are shocked when their son, a young boy named Ciel, claims his place as the new Earl of the Phantomhive house. At first, many perceive him only as a child surrounded by a few eccentric servants. But they soon begin to realize that it is foolish to meddle with Ciel and his demonic butler Sebastian.
Taking place at the end of the 19th century, Kuroshitsuji follows these two as they face countless mysteries and dangers that plague England and threaten the Queen, uncovering the truth about what really happened to Ciel's parents in the process.
Kuroshitsuji has been adapted into three anime series—one of which is an original which aired in 2010; multiple OVAs; drama CDs released on August 10, 2007 and November 26, 2008; games; a musical titled Kuroshitsuji: The Most Beautiful DEATH in The World held from May 3 to 23, 2010; and a live-action film on January 18, 2014.
The series has been published in English as Black Butler by Yen Press since January 26, 2010 and digitally since April 8, 2014, and has appeared multiple times in New York best selling ranking. It is also published in French by Kana since November 2009, in German by Carlsen Comics, in Italian by Panini Comics, in Polish by Waneko since February 2011, in Finnish by Punainen jättiläinen since July 2012, and in Spanish by Norma Editorial since November 2011.
In 2014, it was announced via the official Twitter that Kuroshitsuji has sold more than 20 million copies worldwide.
At first this series annoyed me to hell. Not because I'd read it, mind you. But because every time I'm go to check for some freaking updates there would be Kuroshitsuji at the top of the list, taunting me and singing "na-na-na-na you don't read me!". The obvious solution would be to read it but I was stubborn and the title looked like a shounen which i was not in the mood for.
Finally I gave in and clicked the link on onemanga, which gave me the most misleading synopsis I'd ever read. It went:
"To what extent must a housekeeper do things to be acceptable? One
of the noble families of England: Phantomhive's butler: Sebastian Michaels has got unquestionably perfect knowledge, manners, talent with materials, martial arts, et cetera: but is also able to serve a 12 year old master. Wearing a grey tailcoat, gracefully brewing the worlds strongest red tea, please read on to see how such a perfect butler copes with such a master..." (directly copy and pasted from onemanga, btw)
I thought "Oh! That sounds funny! A really happy manga!" HAHAHAHA! Yeah RIGHT! This thing ended up being one of the darkest, horrific, deep, and twisted mangas I've ever read! And I STILL loved it!
Even though my initial idea of the manga was totally misconceived I still found enjoyment of the highest degree.
What the story is really about is the pair, Sebastian (the perfect butler) and Ciel (the cold, calculating 12-year-old), living in the underworld of high society. Ciel is an orphan with a fortune, an eyepatch, and a deal with the demon Sebastian. In the manga we don't know the details of this deal (and you do in the anime but I don't trust animes) jut that Sebastian has to protect Ciel at all cost until a certain time at which point Sebastian gets Ciel's soul.
Of course, this is all rather heavy for a twelve-year-old (heck, at the time they made the deal, Ciel was 10!) but Ciel never appears to waver. He is strong, smart, cold, and far from merciful.
At least that's what he tries to be. As the story progresses, it becomes more and more obvious that Ciel is desperate to hide all emotion so as to protect himself from the world. His experiences hardened him and much of the series seems to be about him facing his own innocence and realizing his weaknesses.
But where Ciel is an open book, ready to read by anxious readers, Sebastian is closed off and a mystery. His constant smile and dark manor is menacing and you can't help but suspect he's only caring for Ciel for his tasty, tasty soul. But in the anime there are moments that suggest he may actually care for Ciel.
I would like to note at his time that this series is NOT a shounen ai/yaoi. Since the two main characters are a bishi and a shouta and they have a "unique relationship" it is assumed they are taking part in "inappropriate conduct" (aka they're joining NMBLA). I think this is disgusting. I can't believe people wish to think that. Why must all wholesome reltionships be ruined by people and their filthy minds
The relationship between these two is like a forced trust. Sebastian knows Ciel can't hurt him and Ciel knows Sebastian is bound by a sacred contract that can't be broken. Sebastian is the only person Ciel can trust unconditionally and since Sebastien is so strong he knows that if anyone even tries to cross him, they're dead. It's not love, just a partnership.Now that I'm done with that, I'd like to make note of the story. As opposed to most shoujos this series is divided into lots of mini arcs and stories which usually teach you something knew about these characters. They usually start with Ciel being told by the Queen to go do something for her. Then Ciel has to run off with Sebastian and do her bidding. These stories will usually start of with lots of funny, clever comments partnered with new characters to further the story. Then it plunges into some deep, dark plot line from whence are heroes may never return (they always do anyway).
In a lot of ways this manga reminds me of GodChild. Very dark and set in the same period. The only difference is I actually like the art in Kuroshitsuji. The detail is through the roof with high style, delicious sweets, lovely London town, and wonderful style to boot.
I hope you read this series and enjoy it as much as I do! ^_^
“Aku made shitsuji desu / I am a butler to the core”
Kuroshitsuji takes place in Victorian era London and starts us off in the manor house of Ciel Phantomhive, the twelve year old head of the prominent noble English family. Assisting this young capitalist is Sebastian Michaelis, everyone’s ideal butler, who wishes for nothing more than to fulfill his young master’s every need. Now you may ask – what kind of reader am I, to be so easily marveled by an aristocrat and a merely simple butler? Well, I am obliged to highlight the fact that Sebastian is merely no ordinary butler, and as
the story progresses, we soon come to realize that there is more to young Ciel and cunning Sebastian’s relationship. This fine butler is not simply serving Ciel out of the goodness of his heart or for any wealth, but instead is bound to the Phantomhive head by a rather dark contract – all of which is gradually being unraveled as each chapter passes. The story is fantastic and although at times it may seem that some chapters were a little slow and did not create as much emphasis as the last – each is important and ultimately fun to read. Consequently, the story itself is quite unique and definitely an interesting read. Moreover, albeit it may at times seem devoid of something, it will surely not displease in making you laugh and enjoying it enthusiastically.
The artwork in Kuroshitsuji is in my opinion extremely beautiful. Almost right off the top, I’m sure you will be impressed. The backgrounds when shown are marvelous and portray an excellent image. The artwork in Kuroshitsuji is magnificent in how well it depicts the Victorian era. By this, I draw attention to the intricate clothing designs that are worn by our characters, the nineteenth century tea and china sets, as well as the interior of the Phantomhive manor. Furthermore moving onto the character designs themselves – I must conclude that they are one of the best I have seen. Sebastian’s look floods sophistication, complexity and style; whereas upon taking a glance at Ciel’s character you immediately recognize an air of superiority, cleverness, and class. The art I believe is one of the best aspects of this manga.
The characters are a definite plus for Kuroshitsuji. Ciel Phantomhive is a twelve year old business savvy prodigy who is now the head of the noble English Phantomhive family. He prides on being a well-mannered, mature and calm young man and takes pleasure in winning, whether it be in a deal to gain material objects or to gain something of more value – hence forth proving his interest and hard to believe proficiency in playing games. Additionally, Ciel is the master of Sebastian whom he sees as his pawn and someone who is meant to endure anything in the name of Phantomhive.
Thus bringing us to the sly yet remarkable character of Sebastian Michaelis as the butler of young master Ciel. Sebastian is without a doubt, the best butler to ever serve nobility as he shows his ability to cook as a professional chef, clean so well that he leaves not a speck of dust, maintain the garden and indubitably perform many other tasks while still finding the time to make his master some tea and cake. Sebastian’s awesomeness is further proven as he is the first butler to be able to fight and fend off his masters’ adversaries with simple eating utensils. Yes, Sebastian is the true embodiment of perfection. However, as the story progresses – Sebastian’s true character becomes more and more clear.
One thing I must accurately say about the two main characters and of all the other supporting characters as well, is that each person has a unique story to tell. Although backgrounds are being revealed gradually – it’s quite understandable each character has quite a lot to offer. What is more is that although the story is often times meant to be dark; there are many characters that are ready to provide comical relief at any moment. As stated once before, each character has quite a lot to present from their personality to the overall story.
I am undeniably enjoying Kuroshitsuji to its fullest potential. Although many questions have been provoked, that is to be expected of a manga that is still publishing and continuing with high hopes. Additionally, as each chapter is being released, questions are being answered yet more questions are being put forth – therefore peaking my curiosity to a greater extent. Kuroshitsuji is a perfect balance of supernatural action, mystery and comedy that is makes an amazing manga. Furthermore – this is especially appealing to the females as it contains many “hot bishes/shotas” ^_^;;
All in all, I would recommend Kuroshitsuji to anyone who is interested in reading a manga with a unique and twisting plot, great characters all whom differ in their personalities and abilities and with awe-inspiring art. I am thoroughly enjoying it and I hope others will come to love it as well :)
I hope my first review on MAL was helpful to you and if you have any advice, I would be glad to hear it. Thanks for reading my review and I look forward to many more Kuroshitsuji fans ^__^
A fair notice to those of you who've completed the anime before ever giving the manga a read: A-1 Pictures hasn't done the best job adapting the manga. If you found the anime rather lacklustre and consider the manga to be more of the same, I encourage you to read through this review first before making any judgements. This review will also be periodically updated every few chapters.
Kuroshitsuji is published in North America by Yen Press. Both seasons of the anime, the Book of Circus TV series, and the upcoming Book of Murder OVAs are licensed by Funimation Entertainment in North America, Manga Entertainment in
the United Kingdom, and Madman Entertainment in Australia.
Feedback is always welcome so without further hesitation, let's get on with this review!
It isn't often that I catch up with a manga that's still publishing and find myself eagerly waiting for chapters to come out every month. I'm the kind of guy who sticks with mangas that finished publishing or mangas that are still publishing with absurdly high chapter counts. What's more is that I find myself rather surprised that of all the mangas I caught up with, it had to be Kuroshitsuji. I started reading the manga when I was still waiting for episodes of Book of Circus to come out and the next thing I knew, I spent the next few days clearing through manga chapters because I was THAT enamoured with what was going on.
Despite Kuroshitsuji's initial appearance of being some bishonen-ridden, supernatural slice-of-life comedy taking place in Victorian England, Yana Toboso proves herself to be an able writer who's more than capable of bringing well-written stories to the table which are incredibly addictive and will be more than enough to have you despairing over having to wait until the third week of every month to get the next chapter so you can get more of your fix. Well... that's assuming that you can take the bad with the good but let's get into that can of worms a bit later.
The biggest strength that Kuroshitsuji has is the fact that it's for the most part, a supernatural mystery drama with a dark and serious tone throughout much of the narrative. Do you have *ANY* idea how hard it is to find a supernatural story that ISN'T action-oriented? Now hear me out: yes, Kuroshitsuji has a fair deal of action and comedy in it but that's not the primary focus of the story. The focus stays on Ciel Phantomhive and his omnipotent butler, Sebastian investigating the various mysteries that the Queen assigns him to solve. These mysteries he's assigned start off simple enough but then turn into something much darker and more complex than one would've initially thought.
With that said, Yana Toboso is prone to her dry spells much like any mangaka. Over the course of 99 chapters (at the time of writing), there have only been *2* lacklustre arcs out of eight: the Curry Contest arc and the Public School arc. The Curry Contest arc itself was rather boring from the get-go, all things considered and it never really went into anything darker or deeper. The Public School arc however did start off interestingly enough but suffered from being dragged out WAY more than was necessary and genuinely DID feel like shameless fangirl pandering that would make the authors of Hetalia fan fiction blush half the time.
Now keeping that in mind, what makes the arcs of Kuroshitsuji stand out is the fact that Yana Toboso is experimenting with her style. While that might seem like an overall detriment to the story because there's no consistency, it should be noted that Kuroshitsuji's arcs aren't predictable nor do they feel formulaic in the slightest (thus far) BECAUSE Yana Toboso is experimenting with the style of storytelling she uses for every arc. Furthermore, Yana Toboso has yet to repeat any of the mistakes she's made over the course of 99 chapters when it comes down to the story and I highly doubt she will.
There is one thing about Kuroshitsuji that might keep potential readers at bay, and that is the fact that Yana Toboso is a former yaoi mangaka. Why is this relevant? Well... if you didn't know by now, Kuroshitsuji has a reputation for being shameless yaoi fangirl pandering. I'll say this right now: the first season of the anime dials up all of that shit to 11 and Kuroshitsuji II may very well have been adapted from somebody's slash fiction on FanFiction.net or deviantART. The manga BARELY has any of that shit in it. I say barely because the Public School arc was probably just Yana Toboso's way of giving the fangirls what they want... despite the fact that Kuroshitsuji is a shonen series. Thankfully, there's none of that in the other arcs so no need to panic if you've got a deep distaste for that kind of shit.
When it comes down to the characters, I can safely say that they are MUCH more developed in the manga than they EVER were in the anime. For one thing, certain characters end up being much more fleshed out than one would imagine. Look no further than Lizzie, Ciel's betrothed whom many fans of the anime found rather... annoying. The Ship's Voyage arc was more than enough to prove that there was far more to her character than we initially thought was present. Honestly, I can't wait to see more of her in the upcoming arcs because Toboso handled her characterisation THAT well. Other side characters like Mey-Rin, Finni, Baldroy, and Tanaka were handled in a similar fashion, and I'm REALLY glad that the current arc the manga's on (the Green Witch arc) gave us a chance to see these guys shine.
Ciel is also a VERY capable lead. While the anime basically painted him out to be a punk kid who can't do shit without his daemonic butler by his side, the manga actually shows that he's able to handle himself quite well and is more than able to do shit on his own. With that said, Ciel is ultimately a 13-year-old boy who's gone through a rather nasty series of VERY unfortunate events. There are moments where we get to see that traumatised inner child that his haughty exterior masks which is more than enough to make us question what Ciel has become. If you don't get what I mean, hear me out.
Ciel was once an innocent child, but then had his house burned down and his parents murdered. He got abducted and was forced to endure unspeakably brutal torture at the hands of depraved psychopaths. Out of sheer desperation, he pays a VERY hefty price (aka his own soul) just to live. Whenever an arc takes a look at his psyche, you can't help but see a victim of circumstance despite what he's done over the course of the series. He's no longer an innocent child, and yet the fact that we don't know what exactly Ciel is now is the question that haunts much of Kuroshitsuji.
Ciel himself states that the world consists of victims and those who exploit them (and most of the time, it's easy to tell who's who). But when we see Ciel's vulnerability, it's more than enough to remind us that he may very well be the biggest victim of them all. Remember that by the end of it all, Sebastian is only in it for Ciel's soul and doesn't really care about HIM in the slightest (despite what slash fic writers want to believe). With no family and a traumatic past which forced him into the circumstances he's in now and knowledge that his soul will be devoured by a daemon once the contract has been fulfilled, it's hard NOT to see Ciel as a victim from time to time.
As for Sebastian (affectionately referred to as Sebas-chan/Sebby by the fans), well... he's simply one hell of a butler. Okay, that was lame. I like to imagine that Sebastian is related to Alucard from Hellsing in some way, shape, or form because in many ways, Sebastian simply has that aura about him where he's impossible to hate because he's just... awesome! A lot of people rag on Sebastian for being overpowered, but then they forget to realise that he is a DAEMON, not a human and isn't bound to the same rules because of that. He must do everything he can to protect Ciel, lest he lose that soul he's hungering for.
Furthermore, Sebas-chan has a certain charm to him. He's a character who you might think is obligated to be nothing more than a grumbling servant, but he actually likes to toy around with his master to keep things fresh, so-to-speak. The contract remains in effect so long as Ciel lives, and given that he wants to devour Ciel's soul, of course he'll make sure Ciel is alive (but just barely). Furthermore, Ciel must be very careful about what he orders Sebastian to do, otherwise Sebastian will just literally interpret the order and get off on a technicality since Ciel explicitly said from Day 1 that his orders are absolute. When you look at him like that, he's way more than an overpowered servant.
In regards to artwork, Kuroshitsuji has some of the best artwork I've ever seen from a shonen manga. Yana Toboso manages to depict Victorian England almost to a T, anachronisms aside. Settings are beautifully detailed, the clothes everyone wears are befitting of people living in Victorian England with their social standing, etc. One complaint that some people might have when it comes down to the artwork is the fact that Yana Toboso has a penchant for drawing most of the male characters as bishonens, and Sebastian is the most obvious example. Honestly, bishies are part of the course and if you have some sort of deep-seated hatred of bishonens, don't fucking read it. That's the way I see it, anyway.
Would I say that I enjoy Kuroshitsuji? Well if the fact that I'm in despair because Kuroshitsuji is a monthly manga that I've caught up to isn't proof that I enjoyed the series, I have no fucking idea what is. Aside from a few dull spots here and there, I can safely say that I thoroughly enjoyed reading the manga. This is bar none, one of the best shonen series I've had the pleasure of reading and despite its reputation, I'm certainly not ashamed to admit that I like it. Hell, I'm more inclined to buy volumes of Kuroshitsuji than I am of One Piece. What does that say about me? That I have shit taste? Eh, possibly but that's beside the point. I guess my point is that if you can put aside your preconceived notions of the franchise as a whole, you're definitely going to love the manga.
Tl;dr version? My lord, my lady, I highly recommend reading this manga. I assure you it's one hell of a good read.
After seeing how many 10 and 9 ratings this manga is getting I decided to write my own review. Don't get me wrong, I love Kuroshitsuji, but I think this manga needs more objective and honest reviews, because let's face it, just because you enjoy something doesn't necessarily mean it's fantastic.
Kusoshitsuji has a pretty interesting concept: A young boy (10 at the time) makes a deal with a demon in order to get revenge on the people who destroyed his family. I love dark, twisted plotlines alot, so this manga instantly stood out to me for that reason. However, the way it lays out
the story is detrimental to the overall value. Toboso is not a good storyteller. The main story is told in bits and pieces through individual arcs whose subplots have little to do with the main characters and their objective. And lately it seems that these sub plots are getting more and more cliched. It honestly seems like the author is running out of inspiration. For someone like me, who is dying to find out more about Ciel and Sebastian, it's fairly frustrating to be fed only tidbits each arc. So while I love the main story, it's presentation weighs the score down.
The art in Kuroshitsuji is simply gorgeous. It's very detailed and the artist is good at blending beauty with the macabre. The style is very gothic and suits the setting and atmosphere of the story well. The character designs are all rather interesting and with the amount of bishies to be found, it's every fangirl's dream.
I love morally ambiguous characters. And this series is full of them, Ciel being the prime example. He's a horrible person. He's cold, uncaring, manipulative, and does some pretty despicable things. However, you can't help but sympathize with him, since it's not really his fault. His current personality was shaped by the cruel events that led him to make a contract with a demon. At the age of 12, he took up the duty of leader of the Phantomhive family, and struggles to appear as an adult despite his young age and small stature. And throughout the story, he seems to struggle between his humanity and his objective. Sebastian is a rather flat character, but we don't know much about him and his motivations. Lizzy, whom I initially hated with a passion and still rather dislike, is revealed to have a lot more depth than previously suspected. And many of the side characters have a lot of depth to them as well, although there are those that are flat, such as the servants, which seems to exist for the sole purpose of comic relief and to showcase the extent of Ciel's ability to manipulate people.
I really love reading this series. Even though the slow pace can be incredibly frustrating, the individual arcs are interesting for the most part. And there are plenty of bishies, so that's an added bonus for the fangirls. Kuroshitsuji is a pretty entertaining read.
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