Black Butler, Vol. 1

by Yona Toboso

Yen Press, 2007

7 cups of tea out of 11

Summary: Ciel Phantomhive is an young aristocrat who also runs a toy and pastry company. Sebastian is his butler. He’s an amazing butler but there seems to be something supernatural about him.

Likes: Sebastian carries this volume. He’s charismatic, competent, and sassy. The costuming is very pretty too. I also laughed a lot at the interactions between the staff, Sebastian and Ciel. The scenes between Ciel and his betrothed were cute.

Dislikes: The staff (Finnian, Mey-Rin, Baldroy, and Tanaka) were funny but sometimes they cross the line into really annoying because of how completely incompetent they are. I’m confused about why they were hired. I’m hoping they get some development moving forward. The world is not very set. It is a parallel world to ours but there isn’t a lot of explanation of how this world is similar or different to ours. There’s confusion about how it works. Ciel seems to have a close relationship with the government but neither the relationship nor the government itself is explained. It makes things a little disorganized. (And also feels like the writer wanted the aesthetic of Victorian England but didn’t want the real-world restrictions.) I also need more development from Ciel moving forward. I kept being told that he is a business and creative genius (with his company plus he stops crime) but I was only shown a kid who doesn’t like to be referred to that way and relies considerably on his butler. The pool scene felt like a waste of time. I didn’t know who the people in the room were or why I should care.

Overall I do want to continue the series but I’m proceeding with cautious optimism. As much as I love Sebastian, he really shouldn’t have to carry the whole thing.

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