Sunday, March 2, 2014

Rosy's scrawled manga recommendation: Kuroshitsuji (Black Butler) by Yana Toboso

Kuroshitsuji (Black Butler)
Yana Toboso

To what extent must a housekeeper do things to be acceptable? One of the noble families of England: Phantomhive's butler: Sebastian Michaels has got unquestionably perfect knowledge, manners, talent with materials, martial arts, et cetera: but is also able to serve a 12 year old master. Wearing a grey tailcoat, gracefully brewing the worlds strongest red tea, please read on to see how such a perfect butler copes with such a master...

Alternative names

Black Butler
Dark Butler
Kuro Shitsuji



Manga reader sites

Manga Reader, Manga Fox, Kuroshitsuji Manga

Rosy's scrawlings on Kuroshitsuji

I watched the anime for this manga a year or so ago and recently decided it was time for a revisit. This time though, I chose to read the manga from the beginning. As far as I can tell there are some differences but not enough to distort the characters or general plot. Now, for the sake of my brain, I'm going to call this story Black Butler as that's how I'd remembered it. Black Butler is one of those mangas that draws on cuteness, style and horror. The blend is always interesting as while style and horror have become part of what most consider classic horror, the cuteness is almost never present. In Black Butler, both Ceil and Sebastian have their cute sides (mainly in looks but sometimes attitudes) and their harsh and murderous sides (Sebastian only slightly more so that Ceil but he's mostly kept in check). The result is that Black Butler isn't quite all horror as the comedic and the cutesy make their appearance in every episode. In this way, Black Butler really is what you'd expect from a manga and delightfully so even though there's a hint of the horror losing too much its edge at times. To be honest, I can't wait for the build up to finally reach a point where both Sebastian and Ceil go just plain vicious.
As with most mangas led by two males, especially with one rather cute one, there's a hint of yoai but nothing much happens except that you begin to suspect Sebastian might actually sot of like Ceil as a person rather than look at him as an interesting project/alien being/annoying brat/tasty meal (and I mean that in the I'm going to consume your soul sense even though at times it reads a little different in the manga). The dynamics between the two leads is what propels the story forward as although Ceil and Sebastian continually delve into the underworld of the British Empire (but mainly London-based horrors) these adventures ultimately serve to distort and corrupt Ceils soul all the more, making it a tastier treat for Sebastian when Ceil finally dies. The adventures though, are quite fun as they include techy versions of zombies, witches and werewolves as well as drug lords, Jack The Ripper, grim reapers, devils, an Indian prince, school rules and murders, circus kids with strange powers and satanic rituals. Not to mention the odd cooking competition, as one expects from any manga or anime story involving someone who's duties include cooking.
The art of Black Butler is neat and accents eyes and the roundness of faces. Occasionally the less featured characters appear sketchy or if fast action is required on their part they appear blurred. But mostly the drawing is highly detailed, darkened for horror or lightened for comedy. Sebastian is always a figure of class and sophistication, even while bloodied and demonic while Ceil is always endearing in his harsh cuteness even while mad and calling for other peoples' deaths. But most important all, Sebastian is always dressed in black.

I'd recommend this manga to: Anyone aged teens and up who likes a bit of silly horror, the classic horror characters, cutesy manga and yaoi.

Notes on manga reader sites

The quality of manga readers can vary. The uploads are often done cheaply or as a serious hobby by a collective. Be aware that sometimes licence hasn't been given but the sites noted above, Manga Fox in particular, are extremely careful about adding and pulling mangas according to license agreements. So you shouldn't have to worry too much about the material being pirated. There are also translated works and non-translated. Amongst the translated works you will find that the quality of translation may vary according to the skills of the translators. Usually the works are perfectly readable anyway, with only a few added or dropped words or a word in the incorrect tense or with/out plurals. But sometimes the text becomes gobbledygook. In which case, either seek another version or give up and buy an official copy once a printed translation comes out. The other issue of note is you may need to expand the screen to read the text easily as sometimes the scans are minimised a little.
I find that if a page doesn't download properly or some other issue occurs (too slow or someone ordered the pages incorrectly etc.) with one reader then skipping across to another reader and picking up where I was is quite easy and rarely annoying.
Otherwise, enjoy and watch out you don't get too addicted you forget about the necessary things in life.

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