Tuesday 1 March 2011

Book Review-Black Butler vols 1&2 by Yana Toboso

Title:Black Butler
Author: Yana Toboso
Series: Black Butler #1&2
Published by: Yen Press 2009/10
Length; 192 and 194 pages

Warnings: Guns, violence, profanity, m/m fanservice, 14+
Other facts: It is also known as Kuroshitsuji. It was published in a shonen, or teen boy's, magazine in Japan in 2006. Yen Press translated  and published it in English. Yana Tosobo has also written Rust Blaster.An anime series and two musicals have been created. The 5th volume comes out in english in may. there are at least 10 volumes in Japan.
Summary from Goodreads: When a terrible fire claims his parents, Ciel Phantomhive must step up as the head of his father's company and as Earl Phantomhive. It would be a lot for the young boy to handle were it not for his faithful butler, Sebastian. Ever at Ciel's side, it seems there's little Sebastian can't do, whether it's saving a dinner party gone awry or probing the dark secrets of London's underbelly. He's almost too good to be true...or at least, too good to be human...
Review: I won’t normally review two books in one review, but seeing as not much really happens in volume one , I m going to so you get the full idea of this manga. The first half of volume 1 is simply introductions, showing the servants being useless and Sebastian being forced to sort them out. The action doesn’t really get going properly until half way through, but when it does, it is rendered perfectly. Volume 2 follows Ciel and Sebastian investigating the jack the ripper killings, ending in the beginning of a fight between jack the ripper and Sebastian that is continued in volume 3. I really like the characters. Sebastian is the butler from hell - literally, he's a demon who's catchphrase is "I am one hell of a butler"- who will make you cake, show off amazing tea pouring skills and kill any enemies in amusing and ironic ways. Ceil is really sweet, although you don't really find out much about his back-story- you find out in the anime though. The rest of the characters are very clich├ęd, the useless gardener, stupid maid and creepy undertaker, but with distinctive personalities and are very likeable. Some of these characters are pure comedy relief, which is amusing although it can be hard to believe they belong in the same world as the serious things they accompany. I like its setting, Victorian England, and the vague historical accuracy, even though some aspects are questionable: fake eyelashes and chainsaws, anyone? It’s been well translated, even though a lot of the puns require you to read the translation notes as you go along, or you may feel a little lost. Be warned though, there is a fair bit of undertones of  Sebastian and Ciel in...erm, questionable clothes, positions and situations- this  and a certain scene involving a corset and cross dressing springs to mind. The fanservice mentioned above , whilst being awesome as fanservice in anymanga is, detracts a lot from the point of the story.However, the artwork is beautiful and the action scenes are so awesome. The whole series is a mix of history, supernatural, horror,fan service, a little gallows humour, and a lot of crack.

Overall:I give this strength 5 tea because while the subtle SebastianxCiel undertones slightly distract a lot from the main story, in a good way, overall this is one hell of a manga.

Nina xxx

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Thanks for taking time to read this!
Comments are much loved.
Nina xxx

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