The Devil Butler

This week’s Manga Wednesday selection is Black Butler (Kuroshitsuji) by Yana Toboso. I’ve finally got on the bandwagon and decided to read Black Butler.

I found Black Butler, volume five at my local library (my library has an extensive manga collection) and it was the sole Black Butler volume, which speaks volume about the popularity of the series. I immediately checked it out, scanning around me if there was anyone who was after the Black Butler series (laughs).

I had originally thought Black Butler was a shojo series because so many girls who normally don’t read shonen manga read it. However, after doing some research on Wikipedia, I was informed that the series was a shonen manga. #fail

I’ve already read my library copy of volume five of Black Butler over more than ten times since I first checked the volume out, which was 5 days ago. The story is very, very addicting. It’s one of those rare manga, or even comic  that is good and understandable, even when you start in the middle of the story.  Not that I recommend starting in the middle of a series but Black Butler is written so well that you can start in the middle of series and still understand what’s going on.

Black Butler is about the adventures of Ciel Phantomhive, a young earl, and his butler, Sebastian. Ciel’s family has been the invisible right arm of the government, solving mysteries and Ciel is no different. Normally, such family business would have the younger generation under the tutelage of the older generation, however in Ciel’s case, he has no one. Ciel’s parents died in a grisly murder, which has hardened Ciel. With the help of Sebastian who is actually a devil, Ciel solves mysteries while having some fun on the side.

In volume five, Sebastian tries to master the art of curry-making since he’s going to have to go against Agni, an Indian chef and the master of curry. Harold West, Ciel’s nemesis , is trying to use Agni, the butler of Prince Soma (somewhat of a friend of Ciel’s), to try and gain a Royal Warrant. Can Sebastian master the art of curry making and make a dish that’s better than a master Indian chef?

I’m an Anglophile and one of my favorite time periods is the Victorian era, so I immediately fell in love with Black Butler with its Victorian era setting. The art is so, so detailed, in the clothes, backgrounds, etc, but it’s not so detailed to the point of overwhelming. There’s a nice balance to the art and I love how controlled Toboso’s lines are- there’s a nice variation of thick and thin in the right places.

Yen Press has spent a lot of time on the design of the book and it’s evident in every detail. Even though the cover and design are simple, there was a great deal of thought placed into to the design, such as the swirly motif at the top left corner (heavily ornate designs were common during the Victorian era) and the series logo. The series logo fits the series just right, and the white border around the logo is faded nicely so that the logo isn’t too harsh on the cover. I recently read a Yen Press article about the making behind the re-release of Alice in the Country of Hearts and the graphic design team created 9 different logos, each a little different, in the search to find the perfect logo. Perfection is tantamount, it seems at Yen Press.

I also loved how there was a color insert, which I don’t normally see included in manga volumes. Another plus was how the sound effects was left as it was, but there were small translations on the side. It kept the original feel of the art but it still had explanations for what the sound effect was.
Side note: I’ve noticed that my Manga Wednesday posts are all Yen Press related… Is this a sign of a new obsession?

Side note 2: I just went on the Yen Press site ( and found so many cool comics. *shiny eyes* Must. Go. To. Bookstore. Now. (laughs)

Oh yes, happy Fourth of July everyone!

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Maira Gall