Thursday 14 April 2011

Book Review-Black Butler vol 3 by Yana Toboso

 Title: Black Butler vol 3
 Author: Yana Toboso
Series: Black Butler #3
 Published: 26 October 2010 by Yen Press. Originally published 2007
 Length: 177 pages
Warnings: violence, profanity, gore, minor fanservice
Other info: There’s currently ten volumes out. Four in English. Volume five should be coming out this month.
Summary from Amazon: Terrorizing its populace, Jack the Ripper has shaken London to its very core. But when Sebastian Michaelis, singular butler of the Phantomhive house, lays bare the madman's true identity, all that is left for him to do is eliminate the perpetrator in the name of the Queen and Phantomhive. But inhumanly efficient skills don't guarantee victory when the opponent is just as supernaturally gifted! And though Sebastian may be able to save Ciel from physical harm in the battle that ensues, will the young earl ever recover from the emotional scars it will leave on his heart?
First up, love the cover. Sebastian + cutlery = awesome (but possibly not so if you're on the receiving end of said cutlery)  
This volume continues the fight between Grell, the red death loving Death God/Grim reaper, and Sebastian, the butler from hell who serves a twelve year old boy. The first chapter is half full of action and half flashback of Madame Red's life. The second chapter is more flashback and more action. My favourite part of this chapter is Grell comparing his and Sebastian's relationship to that of Romeo and Juliet- i.e. a complete failure, and Grell quoting Shakespeare, even though it’s pretty obvious that "Wherefore art thou, Sebastian darling" does not work as well as with Romeo.
In the third chapter we get flashbacks of the Phantomhive servants failing at their jobs, even more chainsaw vs. Sebastian action and the introduction of a new death god, William T Spears. Really, half of this volume seems to be made up of speed lines. So much happens.
The fourth chapter is a fitting conclusion to the Jack the Ripper arc, which I can't tell you about without spoilers. The art is especially pretty in this, though some parts are completely random and unexplained, like the flowers that appear out of nowhere.
The final chapter is a filler one, which simply moves us on to the next story arc. It begins with Ciel (the twelve years old with the demon butler) waking up from a nightmare, because he read Edgar Allan Poe before sleeping (random side note: I read Poe when I was twelve before bed and I did not get nightmares). We then meet Lady Middleford, Lizzie's (Ciel's fiancĂ©e) mother, who takes a tour of the house, demonstrating the Phantomhive servants' skills at ruining things. She then challenges Ciel to a hunting match. He then protects Lizzie from a bear, which proves to Lady Middleford that he will be a worthy son in law (side note- if he lives long enough. What with being kidnapped and dragged into murder investigations, it’s not really certain as to whether or not Ciel will live to a marriage-able age. Just saying.) And it turns out Sebastian kills the bear with his silverware trick. I must say how much I love Sebastian's silverware trick. Everyone returns to the manner and Lady Middleford wishes Ciel a happy thirteenth birthday. It ends with snow, and the quick introductions of two Indians, leading onto the next story arc/volume.
The story is a good mix of serious scenes, action, and comic relief. The action scenes are well drawn (much better than I could do), but some parts are so busy that it’s hard to work out where to look first.
Another problem I had is with the translation. Take Sebastian's catchphrase, 'aku made shitsuji desu'. I get that they're translating it literally to 'I am merely a butler', but nobody would actually say that. It’s much more fun, more suggestive of his true nature and would simply flow much better if he said 'I am one hell of a butler'. Or maybe it’s just me being too used to the anime subs. But really, manga translators should always think about colloquialism when translating.
Aside from that, I really enjoyed this volume. It packs a lot into it, the art, the story, and the dialogue. It’s mostly serious, but gets interspersed with enough comic relief to stop it being boring. Also, it gets an extra half strength(not that they actually exist) because it features all the coolest characters-Grell, Undertaker, William, Lau, Madame Red, and Edgar Allan Poe.
Overall:  Strength 4.5 tea because of everything I said above. (The picture shows 5 because that’s how you rounding to the nearest whole number works).

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Thanks for taking time to read this!
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Nina xxx

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