Kuroshitsuji (Black Butler)

If you’ve been an anime fan for a while, chances are that you have already watched Kuroshitsuji or at least saw a couple of pictures of Ciel and Sebastian floating around the internet. I watched all the anime seasons and I am currently reading the manga. I will be covering both the anime and the manga in this post.

Kuroshitsuji is a story about Ciel, a guy who formed a contract with a demon for the sake of revenge. The demon is called Sebastian. The contract states that Sebastian will have to follow Ciel’s every order while making sure that Ciel isn’t killed until he extracts his revenge. Sebastian gets to feed on Ciel’s soul once he fulfills the contract.

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Ciel- That mark on right eye is their contract seal

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Sebastian

This little detail itself makes Kuroshitsuji different from other normal shounen. We have seen a lot of characters burning for revenge. We saw Sasuke wanting to kill Itachi first and then wanting to damage the Leaf Village once he learned the truth. We also saw Kurapika sitting in a basement filled with dead eyes and planning to kill the Phantom Troupe. Here comes the question, what do these people plan to do after getting their revenge? Killing people for the sake of revenge will damage them but at least they get to live. Even if they end up being a broken mess we can at least hope that time might heal these people and give them enough reason to live. With Ciel this is just not possible. Once he gets his revenge he will be dead and Sebastian will eat his soul. There will be nothing of him left. He has no future. This makes Ciel’s revenge scheme even more cruel and brutal.

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It doesn’t mean Ciel is a good guy

Ciel isn’t the kind of guy who would happily play the tragic hero role. He is fixated on revenge but he isn’t seething mad like Sasuke and at the same time he isn’t laughing and having fun with friends occasionally like Kurapika. He is cold and calculating. Imagine Aizen or Izaya wanting revenge. They won’t take a gun and run around the town shooting their enemies. Instead they will sit calmly in their houses, lay traps everywhere, wait for the enemies to come attack them and then torture them to death with a mocking smile on their face. Ciel is the same, he just shows a little more emotions than Aizen or Izaya.

Ciel is the England Queen’s watchdog. He deals with underground crimes when he gets a request from the queen. It is a job that his family members have been doing for a long time. Ciel’s parents were murdered by a weird cult, leaving a ten year old Ciel behind. Those murderers then tortured Ciel as part of their weird rituals. We don’t know much about what had happened to Ciel during that time (Maybe it is revealed in the later chapters of the manga and I haven’t read them yet). We just know that Ciel was broken beyond repair at that point. He decided to become the head of the family and take the responsibility of being the Queen’s watchdog. He takes care of criminals and thugs that the queen can’t punish directly. People around him don’t treat him kindly for that. Some even say that he is just a dog with a collar around his neck.

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I wish these people will remember that they are dealing with a 13 year old kid

There was a time Ciel had to decide between capturing a serial killer or saving the victim. He knew that he might not get another chance to capture the killer. He decided to capture the killer and let the victim die. He even said that he has no regrets regarding what he has done. There was also another time Ciel told Sebastain to kill a bunch of people since he believed that they could no longer be saved. He felt they were better off dead. So he went ahead and ordered Sebastain to kill them all. That is not something a typical Shounen protagonist would do. Actually Ciel might be the only one who would do something like that. He might even be more of an antagonist than a protagonist. You usually end up liking him though, despite all the things he does.

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The relationship between Sebastian and Ciel also makes it even more interesting. Sebastian has to follow Ciel’s order and has to protect him but it doesn’t mean that he is Ciel’s knight in shining armour.  There was a time Ciel had to sneak into a room to find something. There were snakes guarding the room. He ordered Sebastian to capture them and put them in a cage. He told Sebastian to release the snakes before the room’s owner comes back. He then went in to investigate the room. It took longer than he expected and he didn’t manage to get out in time. Sebastian released the snakes anyway knowing full well that Ciel was still inside. He wouldn’t let Ciel die but he doesn’t mind letting Ciel get bitten by a snake. He thinks it is more amusing that way. Here is their conversation during that incident.

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Sebastian is indeed a powerful demon but he is a double edged knife. If Ciel isn’t careful he will get end up hurting himself more than he hurts his enemies. Also Sebastian only cares about keeping Ciel safe from physical harm. He doesn’t care about his mental state. If someone important to Ciel was in harm’s way, he wouldn’t lift a finger to save that person unless Ciel orders him to do so. If Ciel was unable to give the order in time, he would just stand by and let that person get killed. He doesn’t care about how much damage it might do to Ciel. If they were trying to catch a criminal and Ciel makes a mistake, Sebastian won’t say anything and he won’t try to correct him. If the criminal ends up escaping because of that and Ciel has to face the consequences of it, Sebastain will just smile and say ‘Too bad.’

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He says that he is just a pawn. He won’t move until the king orders him to move.

The fact that Ciel used to be a nice little kid before his parents’ murder makes this whole situation even more difficult to digest. He occasionally shows that he is just a child, especially when he wakes up screaming and trembling because of a nightmare. He quickly recovers from that and goes back to being the calm and calculating Queen’s watchdog. He is just a kid who should have been having fun playing with his friends and enjoying life and yet here he is, walking through blood covered streets, examining dead bodies for clues, catching criminals, getting kidnapped, getting hit and killing people.

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Young Ciel

If you haven’t watched Kuroshitsuji yet I recommend reading the first 22 chapters of the manga and then watching the Book of Circus followed by the Book of Murder and Book of Atlantic. The original Kuroshitsuji season changed the story drastically and Kuroshitsuji II has nothing to do with the manga. They are not bad but the original story is much better and darker. You can watch the first two seasons of the anime after watching the Book of Atlantic. You will be able to appreciate the story more that way.

Kuroshitsuji has many interesting characters and good comedy.

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Ciel’s Servants. They are an interesting bunch

Kuroshitsuji is a good anime and I highly recommend watching it. Let me warn you that it has a dark story and can leave a bitter aftertaste.

See you next time ^^/

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14 thoughts on “Kuroshitsuji (Black Butler)

  1. So the newer seasons (OVAs and such) of Black Butler sort of happen in a different timeline from the first two? Didn’t know that, that’s interesting =) Long time ago I’ve watched a review on both the original seasons, and if I remember right the story with Ciel dying after the contract is fulfilled was played out in the first season, but then the second season changed that, allowing Ciel to live. That is a huge spoiler I suppose :D I would be happier if you tell me that it doesn’t happen in the manga ^^/

    By the way, why do you think Ciel needs to be a kid? Wouldn’t it be more interesting and realistic to make him an adult? Thirteen years old working as a secret agent for the queen, doesn’t seem real at all :D And a kid outsmarting actual criminals, even less so. Going from what you’ve written, everything seems like it would demand a grown up protagonist. Even the revenge theme, making him a kid only takes away from the seriousness of it :/

    • Yup. It is kind of like FMA and FMAB. FMA doesn’t follow the manga but is interesting anyway. Neither Ciel dying nor Ciel getting to live has happened yet XD

      To the mangaka it might just be the other way around. Why do you think Ciel needs to be an adult? Because bad things can’t happen to a kid? Because kids can’t become cold and cruel? People rarely ever treat Ciel like a kid. He accepted the responsibility and they don’t intend to cut him any slack. Don’t you think it is more messed up for the queen, an adult and the head of a country to make a kid deal with crimes? Once she even tried to frame Ciel for a murder just because he didn’t follow her orders correctly. And Ciel doesn’t necessarily have to outsmart criminals. Even if he messes up Sebastian makes sure that Ciel doesn’t get killed. He can do things over again. Isn’t it realistic to believe that Ciel learned to be smart after going after criminals over and over again? It doesn’t really take the seriousness from it. Read the manga and watch the anime. You will know what I mean :P

      • That’s good =)

        I know, you are saying the writer might have specifically wanted to write about a kid in these circumstances. But then, if you specifically wanted write about a kid, you would probably try to talk about childish problems, such as finding your place in live, figuring out how the world works, trying to blend in, trying to stand out, or something else yet. I don’t question Naruto being a kid because the story is revolving around children’s problem, if can only work with a very young cast. Same with lots of other good shows with children protagonists.

        You are right, it is messed up for any adult to employ a child to deal with the crimes. So unless the queen is supposed to be a weirdo I say her actions seem unrealistic as well =) And children who have learned to be smart have usually grown up by that time :P If catching criminals was so easy that a kid could do it we wouldn’t have any crime to begin with :D

        So do you think there is something in the manga that will change the way I see it? =) I mean, just using Occam’s razor, I’d assume the writer only wanted to have this young boy-grown man trope going, to boost the sales. It would explain Ciel’s age, the character designs, why Ciel wears earnings and such. Wouldn’t be the first time Yana Toboso did it :P

        • I feel that the story wouldn’t have been that sad if Ciel was an adult. Most adults usually think in a logical manner while kids don’t. Ciel is a kid who was forced to grow up. Also, it seems more realistic for a kid to get scared because of a nightmare to the point that he becomes a shaking mess and it also seems more realistic for a kid to be selfish.

          Of course it is easy for Ciel :P He has Sebastian by his side. Let us say that a crime had occurred and a witness told him that the killer was a tall guy. He could ask Sebastian to check all the tall guys in his city and confirm their alibis. Even if there were over a million people, Sebastian could collect the details and filter the data based on Ciel’s criteria in less than an hour :3
          Also, a kid like Ciel could catch criminals because he doesn’t have to be careful. He can be as reckless as he wants because he won’t be killed no matter how much he messes up.

          I do admit that the mangaka was probably trying to boost the sales with the whole gothic setting but it doesn’t take the seriousness from the manga. I want to know what you will say after watching the Book of Circus >:)

  2. I really love this story and I liked very much your post, I like the way you analyzed the whole thing, it makes it way more interesting to watch and honestly I used to consider myself as a fan of it until I realized I’ve got no idea what you’re talking about when you name the book of circus and stuff. I wish you could tell me where to watch them because I’ve only seen the first two seasons. Also, I’ve been trying to fix a fanfic that I made years ago about Kuroshitsuji so I’d love pretty much to see more of it. >.<
    PS: excuse me if I've made any mistake, because English is not my first language.
    XoXo

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