July 9, 2012

Black Butler

BLACK BUTLER. TV adaptation. (Directed by Shinohara Toshiya. Based on the manga by Yana Toboso. Distributed by Funimation)
GENRE: Action (anime)

REVIEW: Black Butler chronicles the Faustian contract between Ciel, the twelve-year-old head of the Phantomhive family and his demonic butler, Sebastian Michaelis. It is stated throughout the series that Sebastian is “one hell of a butler”, and he is. In addition to overseeing the vast Phantomhive Estate, Sebastian acts as bodyguard, confidant and advisor to his young master as they pursue vengeance upon the villains who killed Ciel’s parents. The premise of Black Butler is rock solid – a young boy in a position of great power wields a secret weapon against those who have crossed him. The pseudo-Victorian setting provides a nice veneer of civilization and Victorian gothic appeal. The overall darkness of the series is leavened by the sometimes heavy-handed antics of the other servants, but though the drama and comedy are, at times, unbalanced, the series is well done, compelling and lovely to look at.

OPINION: Black Butler is a compulsively watchable gothic romp. Girls will find Sebastian to be an attractive, if unattainable figure, while boys will most likely get right behind Ciel’s quest for vengeance and the (moderate) violence that results. The manga, in particular, would be a strong addition to a tween collection, while the anime adaptation is a good suggestion to have on hand.

IDEAS: Both the manga and the anime adaptation are a great suggestion for young readers interested in historical or gothic fiction, but a too young for some of the more intense YA options. It also pairs nicely with Eoin Colfer’s Artemis Fowle series, which chronicles the nefarious doings of a young, diabolical genius. 

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