Take a Walk Through London’s Dark Underbelly in “Black Butler”
Yana Toboso’s manga Black Butler follows a young earl named Ciel Phantomhive who lives in a manor house right outside of London and is known for being a giant of commerce. There’s only one problem: Earl Phantomhive is a 12–year-old boy who just lazes around his house while others in the corporation slave away to produce both candy and toys. Although Phantomhive has a team of devoted staff members, none can touch his butler, a mysterious man named Sebastian, who is always ready, willing, and able to carry out his master’s wishes. Whether he needs to probe London’s seedy and dark underbelly or save his master from a dinner party gone awry, Sebastian is good at his job—almost too good to be human.
Set in an alternate universe of Victorian London, Toboso’s characters come to life in all their dark glory as she sets up an elaborate mystery for her readers to uncover. Plus, the beautiful designs allow you to immerse yourself into Toboso’s version of the 19th Century and bring both Phantomhive and his mysterious butler to life with exquisite detail.
However, although the manga does have quite a bit of mystery to it, namely surrounding Sebastian and his superhuman gifts of completing his tasks with ease, Toboso makes sure to add some humor into the storyline too. Her witty dialogue adds a bit of much-needed levity when the characters start treading down a darker path. Both engaging and mysterious, Black Butler is a fascinating read for those who like supernatural elements and Victorian-era London.