Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Reader's Diary #1218- Yana Toboso, translated by Tomo Kimura: Black Butler, Vol. 1

I'm starting to think that it's shonen and shojo manga that I have most difficulty with. It's definitely the most manga-ish of the mangas, filled with a lot of (to me) unfamiliar styles and symbols. Characters get mad and suddenly their pupils are gone, they have fangs. Insignificant characters who are acting silly suddenly appear as doll/puppet versions of themselves.

This is in no way a complaint on my part. North American comics have their own lexicon that I'm sure must look crazy and confusing to other audiences. It's more of an issue with myself, who clearly needs more practice and familiarity. Right now it's a distraction more than anything else. Still, it might serve as a warning to other English adults who are hoping to get into manga; maybe starting at manga aimed at teens (i.e., shonen for boys, shojo for girls) is not the easiest place to start.

With that all in mind, the premise of Black Butler was pretty engaging. Sebastian, the Black Butler himself, is butler to a young preteen looking boy named Ciel who seems rather mopey, wears an eye patch, and is the head of the notable Phantomhive family. Already there are questions you're just dying to figure out. But even better, as some of those answers do get answered in 1st volume, new questions arise. Why is Sebastian so skilled at everything. First more domestic stuff, but gradually fighting, and even... well, I don't want to give too much away.

The art, aside from all the aforementioned manga iconography, has a rather goth appearance. (Goth as in the modern black eye-liner and finger nails look rather than Gothic, the medieval European style). It seems rather fitting, nonetheless, as there's something cool and questionably sinister about Sebastian from the get-go.

On those notes, I can see why it's been a popular series. As for me, I'm unlikely to return to it any time soon. The slapstick of the peripheral characters annoyed me, I'll admit, but more than that I'm just not interested in starting a 21 volume series at this point.

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