Manga: Black Butler Volumes 10 & 11

These two volumes continue and then finish up the murder mystery story that started in volume 9. I had a lot of high hopes for this storyline, but in the end I found myself a little disappointed. Arthur, a character introduced last volume meant to represent Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, goes over all the clues to figure out the reason for the murders, only to have all the clues looked at again when a mysterious vicar, playing the part of a hyper-observant Sherlock Holmes, shows up to analyze everything again. This is stretched over the entire tenth volume, resulting in a drag in the story.

At the very end of volume 10 Arthur figures out what we all knew pretty much the entire time — that Sebastian is not really dead. (sorry if I spoiled anything, but did you really think that the supernatural title character would go out because someone whapped him on the head?) The real culprit turns out to be the Queen’s butler, who was exacting his own punishment for Ciel’s final actions at the end of the circus story arc. While this creates an interesting dynamic for later on — will this butler prove an enemy — it feels like a bit of a cheat to this storyline. Also disappointing is that, in the end, Arthur’s character serves as nothing more than a narrator, and as someone to whom Sebastian and Ciel can reveal the real underlying plot for the benefit of the reader.

The most interesting twist comes at the end of volume 11, when it’s revealed that one of the three deaths was not in the plan. The revelation of another killer ties this story arc more firmly with the preceding one, and the decision to keep him as part of the overall plot reminds us that Ciel is not actually a good person, and may even have more darkness in him than his devilish butler.

While I didn’t turn out to love this story arc as much as I hoped, it’s still far from being the most boring part of this manga. It’s a pity that this storyline started to slog, but as usual it picked up again when the supernatural aspect became a more natural part of the plot. These volumes have their far-too-goofy moments, such as how they reveal to the other servants that Sebastian isn’t actually dead (the biggest plot hole I’ve seen yet in this manga) and the expected but still disappointing way that the older butler Tanaka returns to his super-deformed, derpy state after spending so many chapters being clearheaded and formidable. The manga takes a disturbing (and welcomed!) turn at the end of volume 11, and I look forward to seeing what Toboso decides to do with it.

ISBN: 9780316189880 • Released July 24, 2012

ISBN: 9780316225335 • Released October 30, 2012

Review copies provided by Yen Press.


New Manga Review: Black Butler 9

I haven’t been able to update this lately; I’ve been horrendously busy finishing everything for this semester of school (craft essay is the devil) and starting a new part-time job. I haven’t even been able to write reviews much, but I finally got a new one up the other day.

Black Butler volume 9 was another good installment to the series; the goofiness was limited, and the plot was exciting. I hope that Toboso can keep it up in the next volume. The review is up at Suite 101.

I hope to get another review done this week. At the very least, I’ll make an actual, real blog post about something.

Review Recap: Black Butler, Gossip Girl, Avatar

I’ve gotten three new reviews up in the last week. The first is a look at the last two volumes of Black Butler by Yana Toboso. It took me a while to read through these two because, quite frankly, they’re a lot more boring than other volumes. But the manga starts to pick up again by volume 6.

On the Fandom Post, I reviewed the second volume of the Gossip Girl manga from Yen Press. This manga is what you’d think it is – rich girls with rich girl problems – but it’s entertaining.

Today I posted my review for Avatar: The Last Airbender – The Lost Adventures, which has a bunch of short comics, most of which appeared in Nickelodeon Magazine. It’s a wicked fun read, but it didn’t answer some of the things I was hoping for.

Coming up will be a review of Velveteen & Mandala, the first review copy I’ve received from Vetical, Inc. It’s really, really weird, and I’m not sure what I’ll say. I also have some Yen Press volumes piled up, and some books from Digital Manga I want to look at.

New Books: Manga, School Reading, Neil Gaiman

Tuesday saw a sudden sharp increase in my book supply. Volume 7 of Twin Spica, the best manga about astronaut school there ever was, came in from Right Stuf yesterday. Which means I immediately sat down and did nothing else until I finished it.

I also bought two books from the used bookstore, Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman and The Grass Dancer by Susan Powers. I’ve only read two other Neil Gaiman books before, American Gods and The Graveyard Book, but I loved both of them, so I was excited to find this book. Grass Dancer was a suggested reading for one of the seminars I’m taking next week, so I figured I’d get a few pages read before I showed up.

And then, while I was reading Twin Spica UPS arrived at my door with a package from Yen Press! I received my review copies for A Bride’s Story by Kaoru Mori, the author of Emma, and the latest volume of Black Butler. Reviews for those should be up within the next month.

This Week’s Manga Reviews: Very! Very! Sweet Vol 7, Black Butler 4 & Soul Eater 5

On Tuesday my latest review was posted, Very! Very! Sweet Volume 7. I took a look at the final volume of this manhwa (Korean comic) back in November when Yen Press sent me the last volumes of three series. I’ve read earlier volumes of the manhwa, and I have to say I really, really enjoy it.

I also got two short reviews posted on Suite 101 for Black Butler volume 4 and Soul Eater volume 5. I reviewed the earlier volumes of both  manga series, and gave them similar grades. For this review, Black Butler got a slightly lower score, while I think Soul Eater is improving.

Two manga from VIZ media came from FedEx the other day, Cross Game volume 2 and Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan volume 1. Seven Seas Entertainment also sent me digital screeners for two of their manga. I should have a review of at least one, hopefully two, of those manga next week.

New Reviews, Hero Tales, Black Butler & Cross Game :: Jobs at DMP?

Black Butler Manga by Yana TobosoOne review went up on this week, on the fourth volume of Hero Tales. It’s by Hiromu Arakawa, the same woman who wrote my favorite series, Fullmetal Alchemist, but it’s not proving as good.  I’m just not feeling as emotionally involved in Hero Tales, and since it’s coming out so slowly I don’t think I’ll be super excited as each volume comes out. Not that I won’t buy it, of course.

Two other reviews went up on Suite 101, too. First I reviewed the first 3 volumes of Black Butler from Yen Press. It’s interesting, and I actually do get why people love this series so much, but I don’t think it’s for me. Yesterday I posted my review of Cross Game from VIZ Media. This is a really well done manga about playing baseball and growing up, and is definitely one of my new favorite series. VIZ printed the first 3 volumes in one, so I got to read the book in a big chunk, which was awesome.

Something neat I found out yesterday: Digital Manga Publishing is creating a “guild,” where they will be letting people translate, edit, and retouch manga to be distributed digitally. If this works, it sounds really fantastic. I’ve already applied to be an editor, so we’ll see if I get taken on. I heard the information from Daniella Orihuela-Gruber, who posted the information on her website All About Manga. She posted more information, and more potential questions about the Digital Manga Guild, in her blog post.

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