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Black Butler Vol. #17 Manga Review

4 min read

Black Butler Volume 17 CoverA devil of a game will be played as the mask covering the activities at Weston College finally is removed.

Creative Staff
Story/Art: Yana Toboso
Translation/Adaptation: Tomo Kimura

What They Say
Due in no small part to Sebastian, his uncommon butler, Earl Ciel Phantomhive finally succeeds in earning an audience with the enigmatic headmaster of Weston College following the outcome of the annual cricket tourney. As moon-pale petals bloom on the lapels of the students who have been granted a place at the Midnight Tea Party, the man who holds all authority at the school reveals himself to his guests. Will his appearance shed light on the fate of the students who have gone missing, or will the mysteries continue to pile up within these hallowed school grounds?

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
The final Cricket matchup to decide house championship is upon them and Blue House is matched against the overwhelming favorite Green House in a contest that should be a rout by any objective judgment in a contest of fair play. The Earl Phantomhive however has no belief in sportsmanship however and his need to meet up with the mysterious Weston headmaster has him writing a new book of tricks in order to try to surmount the enormous odds stacked against his team. As Ciel’s ploys start to fall away as his various schemes are either thwarted or finally seen through he is going to have to count on the hope that just because he isn’t inclined to play fair it doesn’t mean that others won’t either out of misguided sportsmanship or an obliviousness to just how dirty Ciel is playing.

As the score of the game tightens and victory looks to be slipping away Sebastian is combing the school in an attempt to find the headmaster and thus negate the need for results on the field to bring Ciel the true prize he seeks. But as the noose looks to close around the headmaster as Sebastian tracks him down events take a turn as the mysterious figure seems to be able to out run the devil himself leaving Ciel to have to rely on one last trick and perhaps the devil’s luck in order to get to the mysterious Midnight Tea Party.

While the road there is bumpy the ultimate results will give Ciel a chance at dispelling the fog that covers the mysteries at Weston College that have hidden the whereabouts of Derrick Arden and other missing students. But will triumph actually turn to peril when the secret party becomes a bloodbath as an old face is reveled to be behind the events at the College and the body count looks like it is going to be heading much, much higher.

When the battle to find out who the Headmaster of Weston College was turned out to revolve around the playing out of a (shortened) Cricket match I feared that things would go South and I experienced a bit of what I imagine those unfamiliar with baseball (or occasionally football) feel when other series suddenly insert a game into the pages seemingly out of the blue because the author fancies the sport. And in all honesty, the matches in the previous volume didn’t really click with me and I figured going in that this volume would probably end the same way. To my surprise though Yana Toboso managed to turn this dread on its head as the events here are presented in such a way that the drama produced is the focus rather than the sport itself which helps create a strong start and exciting narrative that helped hide (at least from me) a pretty big clue as to the identity of the Headmaster as my attention was more on the game than Sebastian’s pursuit which left me with a pretty big emotional punch when the big reveal arrived.

In addition to the drama behind the sports contest and pursuit of the mystery it was welcome to see the title still manages to work in a fair amount of humor to help let some of the tension escape from the sporting match before the tale delves into the Midnight Tea Party and the horror that will be unleashed there. As Ciel starts to interrogate his captive audience using the College’s own rules and standards against them and the truth is reveled the tension grows to a fervent level and I was drawn along as each layer got peeled back until the core was revealed with spectacular flourish that seemed like a perfectly staged moment for the true architect/villain to take their place on center stage and the cliffhanger of where these events will go is fantastically set.

In Summary
The Cricket tournament continues as Ciel is forced to use all of his wits to make up for his own as well as the rest of his team’s lack of physical prowess on the field. The stakes get even higher as Sebastian finds that somehow –unbelievably- the target of Ciel’s mission has the ability to out run the devil himself leaving the pair with only one way to get into the mysterious Midnight Tea Party and have any chance of solving the mystery before them anytime soon. But will all their efforts produce a hollow victory when the true mastermind steps forward and all the potential outcomes that the pair could have expected are narrowed down to incredibly dangerous and deadly?

Content Grade: A-
Art Grade: A-
Packaging Grade: A-
Text/Translation Grade: A

Age Rating: 16+
Released By: Yen Press
Release Date: July 22nd, 2014
MSRP: $13.00

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