Most manga begin by firmly establishing their story in the first few chapters. They introduce the main characters and lay out the rules for the world they are operating in. Instead of keeping with this common practice Toboso decided to use the first few chapters of Black Butler to totally fake-out the readers.
My husband read the first few chapters of this series and thought the series would be a little like Benson with the ultra-competent butler Sebastian overseeing a staff of fools. The first chapter features Sebastian saving the day after a cook, maid, and various other staff members manage to destroy all of his carefully laid dinner party plans. In the second chapter he teaches his twelve year old master how to dance. In the third and fourth chapter the young master is kidnapped so Sebastian tracks down and slaughters his kidnappers, revealing that Sebastian is much more than a simple butler. He’s also an immortal demon contracted to serve Ciel Phantomhive on his quest to avenge the deaths of his parents.
It’s at this point that the story morphs into something that is part mystery, part horror, part drama, and part comedy. That’s a lot of genres to juggle, but somehow Toboso manages to make the story work.
Overall this is a fun title for those who enjoy supernatural mysteries (without the romance). A Jack the Ripper mystery storyline makes an early appearance in the series and meets a satisfying conclusion. The jokes are good even if some of the puns are lost in translation. The action is also entertaining and the series features some fantastic artwork. Don’t let the slow-start and genre fake-out in the first volume stop you from reading this one.
Black Butler is here!