Hooooboy. I’ve been wanting to write about Black Butler (or as some people might know it, Kuroshitsuji) for so long. I want to do it justice, because it’s one of my favorite manga of all time and one of the few consistently good manga that I follow.
So let’s do this crazy thing.
If you are an anime fan or have ever been to an anime convention, you have probably seen something related to this manga’s anime counterpart. (It’s regained popularity recently because of a second season that premiered. Do not, I repeat, do not, watch the second season. It is bad for so many reasons. Read the manga instead. It is still ongoing, and it is awesome.)
The basic plot of Black Butler is this: someone killed a young boy’s parents and sold him into slavery. This boy sold his soul to a demon, payable upon his receiving revenge on said someone. The demon became his butler in the meantime.
Seems sort of bleak, I know, and there are certainly some harsh truths and brutal actions revealed over the course of the story. But 1) that’s not necessarily a bad thing – it’s nice to have an utilitarian antihero sometimes rather than a truth-and-justice-and-niceness-always typical manga-boy-lead. And 2) the story can actually be heartwarming and/or hilarious at times.
The supporting cast is really a large part of what makes this a fabulous series. You may have heard of TVTropes Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass concept? (If not, educate yourself.) Most of Ciel (our main boy)’s staff and friends are the epitome of this trope, and display it in the most mindblowing of ways. A bumbing housemaid becomes a sharpshooter, a cutesy girl is revealed as a killer swordswoman. (Trying not to give away too many spoilers is hard…)
And as far as this blog’s overarching concerns are, well, concerned, Black Butler is one of those rare manga where you can find badass females in scores AND even a badass transgender death god, who is my absolute favorite character and go-to Black Butler cosplay, Grell Sutcliffe.
The morality of the actual decision to sell his soul is never really dealt with in the series, nor is the overarching theology in which there are demons (evil) and death gods (neutral) with whom to barter and converse but no complementary ‘good’ supernatural force. And on the topic of morality, I mean, we as the audience are generally inclined to root for the Sebastian the amoral demon butler, who will maim, seduce, or kill anything that stands in the way of his master’s goals.
But it’s fun to read something that actually gives you food for thought once in a while. So go read Black Butler: check out the intense storyline, the baller characters, the wild philosophical dilemmas, and the insanely beautiful art. Oh yeah, did I mention that the art was insanely beautiful? Because if there is a manga out there that is more consistently pretty to look at than Black Butler (besides maybe Alichino) I will eat my fancy cardboard chainsaw/death scythe.