Manga Review: Kuroshitsuji Volume Five, by Yana Toboso

Kuroshitsuji Volume Five (yeah, I’m just going to keep calling it Kuroshitsuji instead of Black Butler even though the English translation uses Black Butler) opens with Sebastian attempting to come up with a curry recipe that is the equal of Agni’s. His first attempt is less than successful because store-bought “curry powder” and paste while convenient, lacks the depth and personality that Agni’s curry does. Feeling extremely challenged by this, Sebastian embarks on an epic montage of culinary experimentation with poor Prince Soma as his taste-tester. Just when poor Soma hits his absolute limit, Sebastian hits upon the correct combination of spices but there is still something that is not quite right. After some more experimentation, Sebastian creates a completely unique curry that Soma dubs “divine in its own right.”

After some dramatic moments and some extremely disturbing commentary from Viscount of Druitt, Sebastian’s curry is judged the best. (Druitt continues to be my least favorite character in the series.) The truth of the situation with Agni and his apparent betrayal is revealed, and Soma is briefly reunited with his former servant who explains exactly why she left India. (From the narrative, we are supposed to dislike her for her disloyalty to Soma. I however like the poor woman a great deal and see no problem with her desire to leave Soma’s service though I think moving to England could not have improved her situation that much, even if she married a rich businessman–but I have a low opinion of the time period.)

We end the curry arc with good humor and an extremely flustered Ciel on one hand, and a somewhat darker ending on the other as Harold West and his wife encounter an extremely unhappy Lau. Lau is extremely displeased with the activities of both. He may have been displeased enough to kill them though this is not entirely clear. (I think the matter is mostly up in the air for me because the last line of one of them sounds more like a kid getting the whaling of their life than someone being murdered.)

The curry arc is where the anime and the manga part company. In the anime, there was a more supernatural ending to the curry arc, and the following episodes were on the nonsensical side. The very ending of the manga curry arc is a teaser for the Noah’s Circus arc, which will prove to be extremely dark and harrowing for Ciel. The final chapter of the volume is a slightly slapstick story in which Ciel annoys Lord Randall who has arrived with payment for settling the “Anglo-Indian hanging incidents,” while Sebastian works to keep Agni from turning himself in.

We end the volume with Ciel putting Soma in charge of the townhouse in London. Later, we see him leaving for London to work. (Sebastian refers to this trip as a “visit to the circus.”)

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Filed under fantasy, Kuroshitsuji, Review: Manga

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