Rummanah Aasi
  The Black Butler manga series seems to be increasing in popularity. Its later volumes have been listed on the New York Times best selling manga series. The manga has been adapted into an anime series with the same name. I haven't watched the anime but have read that the two forms have very different story arcs. I enjoyed reading the first volume and was curious to see where this manga goes.

Description (from Amazon): As high society's social calendar opens up and the Season draws to a close, London is gripped by fear. Someone has taken to stalking women of the night and painting the town red...in their blood. The name on everyone's lips seems to be "Jack the Ripper" - and as a result, the name on Queen Victoria's lips is Phantomhive. Summoned to London to clean up the mess created by this madman, Ciel Phantomhive arrives with Sebastian, his extraordinary butler, at his side to pour him tea, polish his silver, and...investigate a serial killer. And with the aid (and occasional interference) of a few of the Phantomhive house's numerous acquaintances, little stands in the way of the young earl getting to the bottom of this mystery. However, one question remains...can he handle the shattering truth behind it?

Review: The second volume of Black Butler seems to switch its focus from character development to plot. I was surprised that the manga takes an interest in covering the Jack the Ripper tale. Though the infamous serial killer story seems less rooted in historical details but used rather for its horrific possibilities and fits well with the dark, supernatural overtone of the series. The Jack the Ripper tale is also used as a jumping point to begin exploring Ciel's past, especially the death of his parents, as well as demonstrating to the readers that evil is much more complex that a devious butler.
  We are introduced to several new characters in this volume, each with motives uncertain to both readers and to Ciel. Though their motives and connections are revealed, it was slightly predictable. I loved the beginning of this volume which well paced. I found Sebastian's irritation of trying to get his work done while also fixing the disasters caused by the other incompetent Phantomhive staff hilarious. Who knew supernatural creatures could also get stressed out and frustrated? This chapter effectively introduces Sebastian, shows off his abilities, sets the scene at the Phantomhive residence, lays out the relationships between the characters, and tells a little bit of the previous volume’s plot.   From there the story takes a slightly slower turn, getting a touch soggy by the end, but it picks up dramatically on the last page, leaving readers eager for the next volume and the promised confrontation.
  As I mentioned in my review of the first novel, humor is also used in between horrific moments of this manga series. There is a situation that calls for Ciel to dress and behave as a girl, which is quite amusing to other characters and to the reader. While there are hints at homoerotic tensions, it is subtle and doesn't push the boundaries of the manga's rating. Though the manga starts off quickly but then slows in the middle, it moves quickly towards the end leaving lots of room for more questions and action.

Rating: 4 stars


Words of Caution: There is some strong violence and same language. Rated OT for Older Teens.

If you like this book try: Black Butler Vol 3 by Yana Toboso, Vampire Knight by Matsuri Hino, Godchild by Kaori Yuki
3 Responses
  1. Jenny Says:

    I've always been kind of morbidly fascinated with the Jack the Ripper tale, it's interesting to me that it's even made it's way into manga! This series seems to balance humor and darkness really well which I like:) Nice review Rummanah!


  2. Alison Says:

    This really does sound fascinating. I'm definitely going to have to look for it. I was searching through the different manga series at my library today. They have tons of volumes but they all start at volume 3:-( I'll have to specially request new books. I did get Vampire Knight 12 today :-) Hopefully I can pick up Dengeki Daisy 4 soon.


  3. Jenny: Me too! I think it's the fact that it was never really solved makes it that much more morbidly interesting. The humor is really well done and does balance the darkness of the book.

    Alison: I have the same problem too. I also got an email notification that VK Vol 12 is ready for pick up! I have to get to the Dengeki Daisy series soon. I've heard good things about it.


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