Manga Review: Kuroshitsuji Volume Two by Yana Toboso

Black Butler, Vol. 2The first chapter mainly involves Sebastian’s various adventures fixing the problems created by the servants. As much as he is exasperated by them, they seem to be there to make the results of his endeavors seem even more exceptional. (Incidentally, we learn that Bardroy has a fixation on guns, and that Finnie is as strong as he is inept at gardening.) In this case, Sebastian attempts to make a giant chocolate statue while the servants create disasters all around him. At the end of the day, the statue has lost its head, and the person at fault is none other than Ciel, who apparently wanted a snack.

The next story arc in the manga is the “Jack the Ripper” arc. The anime and the manga are more or less in accord here, though some things in the anime have been shortened due to pacing issues. The victims of Jack the Ripper are all prostitutes who have “undergone a certain operation” (it is implied to be abortion, but I thought that abortions were pretty much illegal in most countries during this time period; it’s possible I’m wrong, or this is another anachronism). The victims all had their uteruses removed by the killer. Ciel investigates the crimes and Sebastian comes up with a list of suspects, narrowing them down to Viscount Druitt, who is a womanizing fop who appears to meet all of the criteria. Ciel goes with Sebastian and his aunt to the party disguised as a little girl. (He makes a very cute girl by the way.)

After narrowly escaping being spotted by Elizabeth, Ciel manages to encounter Druitt who decides to kidnap Ciel from the party and sell “her.” (Apparently somehow missing the detail that the little girl he kidnapped is in fact a little boy.) The activity Druitt is engaging in is human trafficking, not necessarily murder. Ciel however believes that Druitt must be the culprit since part of his “inventory” is sold to people who engage in rituals involving human sacrifice. Ciel summons Sebastian, who rescues Ciel while making snarky comments about how Ciel’s only skill involves being kidnapped all of the time. Druitt is arrested.

The next day, Ciel (and Lau and Madam Red) discover that the murderer has struck again. The conversation between Madam Red and Ciel where she professes concern for Ciel’s wellbeing is a little longer, and involves images of graveyards, and Madam Red’s memories of Ciel being born. I think I like the way that the conversation plays out in the manga better, as opposed to the way the conversation goes in the anime. (The wording is more or less the same, but the imagery is different.)

Later, Ciel and Sebastian are talking about the case. Logically, with the available evidence, Druitt is the only possible culprit. Equally logically, Druitt is not the culprit because he had been apprehended before the murder occurred. Sebastian points out that he can only work with the information provided, and within the orders given. Ciel realizes what that means, and Sebastian suggests that they go find the killer and the chapter ends on that note.

In the next chapter we find out what Ciel realizes. This is told in flashback while Ciel and Sebastian are on a stake out. Sebastian explains that the murderer was not human and that Ciel forgot to include, or did not think of including “non-human” in the list of factors. Ciel is angry, but Sebastian points out that he never lied and that he was following Ciel’s orders precisely. He also explains that Ciel has absolutely no reason for complaining because he knows Sebastian’s true nature. (Actually, he only says “you know what I’m like,” but I’m pretty sure he means “I’m a demon, if there’s a loophole I’m going for it.”)

Ciel asks Sebastian if the real culprit is a demon, but Sebastian states that this is not the case, but the flash back is cut off before Sebastian reveals anything. We are back to the alley outside the tenement where the most recent potential victim is located. There’s a scream, and apparently Ciel and Sebastian are much too late to stop the killer–who is apparently Grell, Madam Red’s rather silly butler. Grell is spattered with blood, and *she tries to deny having anything to do with the murder.

She is not believed, and it turns out that she has an accomplice. This would be Madam Red, who had been a potential suspect, but had a good alibi. Madam Red says something to the effect that she regrets that Ciel had been so insistent on pursuing the case. Then she says that she won’t “yield” in this situation, prompting Grell to attack Sebastian with a chainsaw. Ciel orders Sebastian to hunt down Grell and Madam Red, and we close volume two on that note.

*The Writer Herself has said that Grell is actually a transgender woman. Grell is a very polarizing character because most of the fandom professes to see her either as a homosexual male or as “genderless like an angel.” It’s only vaguely implied that Grell considers herself to be female in the manga, and much of what she says can be interpreted as being the statements of a drag queen. (I however felt that she seemed to sympathizing with a character as another woman might as opposed to a male who dresses in drag on occasion.) The big confirmation that Grell thinks of herself as female is in a “character interview” where this is directly addressed.

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Filed under fantasy, horror, Kamisama Kiss, manga/anime, mystery, Review: Manga

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