Black Butler 9

August 13, 2012

Yana Toboso – Yen Press – 2012 – 14+ volumes

I was really looking forward to the new story arc, mostly because the last one absolutely blew me away. I was very surprised when the story format took a turn from the action of the last few volumes to an intimate mystery setting, where the Phantomhive mansion is sealed and a murder suspect is among those attending a soiree thrown by the young Earl. And it’s still good! The volume ended with one of the absolute worst cliffhangers imaginable, so I’m glad 10 is out already.

As a necessary act of good faith to the crown after his last disastrous mission (where Ciel wound up roasting children alive), Earl Phantomhive is asked to host a party in honor of a German businessman that the English government wishes to impress. There are a handful of people still around at the party’s end, including Arthur Conan Doyle, when the mood turns sour and the guests retire for the night. But! Then! The most disagreeable guest is murdered! And the only one without an alibi is the young Earl! Paranoia! Chaos! A storm prevents anybody from entering or leaving the mansion, and as the volume continues, the bodies keep piling up.

Honestly, there aren’t too many supernatural shenanigans at work here. This is basically a straight-up mystery, in the tradition of… well, you know. Having Arthur Conan Doyle as one of the people in the mansion is an interesting touch, although at this point he’s more of an outsider, a blue collar perspective among the other high society guests.

As a straight-up mystery, it’s still really great. I love this kind of thing, and I can appreciate the break from the weird stuff that was afoot last time, as much as I would love to know more about it. I can’t really go into much more detail than that, unfortunately, because the reason I liked this storyline so much was at the end of the volume, and it would be absolutely criminal to spoil the surprise. Rest assured, it’s an awesome one, and I almost wish I fell for such things still. Even if I know it’s not true, I still badly need to know how things go down from there, though.

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