Black Butler has been a mixed bag for me. I like the premise. I like the pair of Ciel of Sebastian. Everything else falls just short of its potential. The pacing of the series is inconsistent and the humor ill-timed. Granted, Yana Toboso seems to be improving on her weaknesses with each volume, but the introduction of an overly cheery prince and his butler exemplify what is wrong with the series.
The Queen once again calls upon Ciel, this time to investigate a string of crimes that see’s British-Indian citizens tied up and hung upside down. While investigating, he runs into snarky Prince Soma who quickly entangles himself in Ciel’s life. The two engage in clashes both physically and in personality, and before long, their butlers are pulled into the mix. Soma’s butler, Agni proves himself more than competent in his duties and an even match for Sebastian.
Soma is the perfect foil for Ciel. He’s cheerful, completely dependent on his butler, and a braggart. Unfortunately, Toboso’s inordinate sense of humor rears its head, and gag after gag is thrown at the reader, resulting in the jokes becoming tired. Soma’s interaction with Ciel initially proves lighthearted and comical, before becoming forced and overdone.
The arc continues into the next volume with the rivalry between Sebastian and Agni taking center stage. The pair engage in a curry cook off that entices even the Queen into making an appearance. As the volume draws to a close, Soma finds the woman he came to England for, and the reasons for Agni’s betrayal are made clear.
Black Butler has been inconsistent in its humor and out-of-nowhere plots. Toboso’s use of jokes is overdone and amateurish. Fortunately, volume 5 saw a reduction in the happy-go-lucky attitude of Soma, as he came to terms with his shortcomings and fought to regain what was taken from him. Once again, Black Butler proved itself a mixed bag. The reliance on humor hurts the series the most and will almost surely hinder the plot when it begins treading darker territory.