Anime Reporter returns to the world of demons and decorum, monsters and masters, evil and etiquette, for a peek into Black Butler, (Kuroshitsuji in Japanese), Volume 18. Volume 18 is made up of chapters 82-87 of the series and sees the Weston College arc come to a close.
Newcomers and fans of the series unacquainted with the events of Volume 17 would do best to avoid this review, for there be spoilers in its depths. But worry not, there are still plenty of earlier reviews to choose from here.
When Volume 17 came to a close, it was with the revelation that the principal, the revered and respected, all powerful and unquestioned, (am I overselling this?), headmaster of the school was none other than Undertaker himself. Ciel Phantomhive’s and Sebastian’s one time ally, revealed as a former shinigami and all-around diabolical villain. The revelations don’t stop there; we’re given the scoop on why and how exactly Derrick Arden was killed and the answer may not be what readers were expecting. There’s a rather messy standoff between Sebastian and Undertaker, but ultimately, things are left to be resolved another day.
Once the investigation is brought to a close, Ciel is free to leave his school days behind him once more and take a well deserved rest. This rest lasts for about two chapters, during which he’s welcomed home by his servants, recaps and resolves just a few lingering threads of the story, and sets about London for some serious shopping and promotional work for his company.
The volume comes to a close with the start of a new story arc in which Ciel is pulled very much out of his element when he’s dispatched to South Germany to investigate claims of mysterious deaths and a curse in the forest known as the ‘Werewolf Woods’ to the locals. Ciel is surprisingly quick to dismiss all talk of witches, werewolves and curses as superstitious nonsense for a boy with a demon on his payroll, but time will likely reveal if his scepticism is well placed. Their first few steps into the unknown seem to go relatively smoothly, though more than a few surprises wait inside the forest.
Volume 18 brings one arc to a close and wastes little time in setting up a new one. Fans of the series won’t be surprised by the superb attention to detail and plot consistency, with quite a lot of thought clearly being put into even side stories and filler chapters. Character traits and the mythology of the series are being allowed to slowly develop to further the story, but not without proper credit to what has come before. Without giving too much away, as an example, the zombies we first encountered at sea are not necessarily the same types of zombies we’ll be seeing in the future, but this is explained and given attention as a plot point rather than as something to spring upon readers when convenient.
Black Butler Volume 18 is currently available in English and if you’re a fan of what’s come before, there’s no reason for disappointment here.
Plot Development: 8
Mystery and Suspense: 8
Humour and Entertainment: 7.5
Character Development: 7
Supernatural Spookiness: 8.5
78% – “A Grand Affair” – Kuroshitsuji Volume 18 carries on the supernatural sleuthing and demonic detective work in full form, wrapping up one mystery with style, villainy and a satisfying resolution, while moving on to taunt us with yet another mystery waiting to be solved. When a series has established itself as well as this one has, it is a testament to its creators that it can maintain high quality storytelling, intriguing characters and a depth of suspense. Volume 18 shows that this series is more than capable of doing so.