"What kind of servent attempts to eat his master with an excuse of 'I could not help myself'? You bloody devil." - Ciel
Black Butler is both a manga and anime revolving around the young Earl Ciel Phantomhive and his demon butler Sebastian as they clean up the dark and twisted underbelly of Victorian London while seeking revenge on those responsible for the murder of Ciel's parents. Following the death of his parents, Ciel was taken into slavery and he was only able to get out of his horrible predicament by selling his soul to Sebastian. Sebastian took up the guise of Ciel's faithful butler and promised to protect and remain loyal to Ciel until the time that their contract was fulfilled and he could finally devour his young master's soul. While both the manga and the anime follow this same basic premise, the story told in the manga is infinitely more cohesive and interesting than in the anime.
I first became introduced to Black Butler through the anime, and while the first season had promise, it really went off the rails somewhere along the way. I had fallen in love with the core group of characters and thought that the show had so much wasted potential. When I eventually picked up the manga, I realized that everything that I disliked about the anime was not actually included in the original source material. There was no Angela, no child version of Queen Victoria sewn together, and nothing from the horrible season 2 at all. The manga focuses on the characters I liked and puts them in arc after arc of interesting storylines. The greatest thing the anime did was to go back and rectify their mistake of trying to expand the Black Butler universe with original storylines, and just stick to the manga explicitly. The more recent releases have been making their way through the manga in chronological order, letting those who have not had the pleasure of reading it to see a much more well thought out and executed version of Black Butler.
While the story of Black Butler is necessarily and expectedly dark at times, it is a dark comedy, and is at its best when the humor shines through. Ciel and Sebastian enjoy what they do immensely, and absolutely love toying with people for their amusement before they deliver them their just punishments. Prince Soma and Agni, as well as the Grim Reapers and Phantomhive servants are always a joy to see, and it has been great to see them all come into their own and gain more facets to their personalities as the storylines evolve. Each arc of the manga may be self contained, but there is amazing continuity and each story flows right into the next. As it stands, Black Butler is the longest running manga that I own (over 20 volumes and counting), and it remains compelling even after so many volumes. You never know what's going to happen next, and with no end in sight, we should be able to follow Ciel and Sebastian's story for years to come.
||Sebastian, Grell, Agni, Charles Gray
||Competing, Able, Book of Murder
||On Ice, Competing, The Tale of Will the Shinigami
||VI, XI, XII, XV, XXI
||Sebastian and Ciel, Sebastian and Grell, Sebastian and William, Agni and Prince Soma
||Sebastian and Ciel, Grell and Sebastian, the grim reapers