The cover of the first volume of the original Japanese manga release featuring Sebastian Michaelis
|Genre||Historical fiction, Black comedy, Dark fantasy, Psychological thriller|
|Written by||Yana Toboso|
|Published by||Square Enix|
|Original run||September 16, 2006 – present|
|Anime television series|
|Directed by||Toshiya Shinohara|
|Produced by||Hiroko Takahashi|
|Written by||Mari Okada|
|Music by||Taku Iwasaki|
|Original network||MBS, CBC, TBS, TBC, SBS, RCC, HBC, RKB, Animax|
|Original run||October 2, 2008 – March 27, 2009|
|Episodes||24 + 1 OVA|
|Anime television series|
|Black Butler II|
|Directed by||Hirofumi Ogura|
|Written by||Mari Okada|
|Music by||Taku Iwasaki|
|Original network||MBS, TBS, SBS, TBC, RCC, HBC, RKB, CBC, Animax|
|Original run||July 2, 2010 – September 17, 2010|
|Episodes||12 + 6 OVAs|
|Anime television series|
|Black Butler: Book of Circus|
|Directed by||Noriyuki Abe|
|Written by||Hiroyuki Yoshino|
|Music by||Yasunori Mitsuda|
|Original network||MBS, TBS, CBC, BS-TBS|
|Original run||July 10, 2014 – September 12, 2014|
|Original video animation|
|Black Butler: Book of Murder|
|Directed by||Noriyuki Abe|
|Written by||Hiroyuki Yoshino|
|Music by||Yasunori Mitsuda|
|Released||October 25, 2014 – November 15, 2014|
|Runtime||60 minutes (each)|
Black Butler (Japanese: 黒執事 Hepburn: Kuroshitsuji?) is a Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Yana Toboso. Since its debut on September 16, 2006, it has been serialized in Square Enix's shōnen manga magazine Monthly GFantasy.
The series follows Ciel Phantomhive, the thirteen-year-old (as of chapter 14) head of the Phantomhive family, an aristocratic family known as the Queen's Guarddog, and tasked with solving crimes in London's underworld. Ciel has formed a contract with Sebastian Michaelis to seek revenge against those who tortured him and murdered his parents. Sebastian is a demon who has taken on the disguise of a butler, and in exchange for his services he will be allowed to consume Ciel's soul. The series has been licensed by Yen Press in North America and published in Yen Press' August 2009 issue for the magazine's first anniversary.
A 24-episode anime adaption, with 3 seasons, directed by Toshiya Shinohara and produced by A-1 Pictures, aired from October 2008 to March 2009. The second season, Kuroshitsuji II, aired in 2010 spanning 12 episodes with two new main characters, Alois Trancy and Claude Faustus, following the aftermath of the first season. This series had an original storyline and did not feature manga content. A live action film adaptation was released in Japan on January 18, 2014. A third anime series, titled Kuroshitsuji: Book of Circus, was broadcast between July 10 and September 12, 2014. A two-part theatrical OVA titled Kuroshitsuji: Book of Murder screened in Japanese theaters on October 25, and November 15, 2014. An animated film for the series, titled Kuroshitsuji: Book of the Atlantic, premiered in Japan on January 21, 2017.
In Victorian-era London lives a young boy named Ciel Phantomhive. Ciel lives with his wealthy parents in a manor in England. On the night of his tenth birthday, Ciel comes across his mother, father, and dog dead and surrounded by flames. The manor was set on fire, and he is captured by cultists. He is sold by his kidnappers, and then given a mark on his abdomen that's supposed to be the mark of a "noble beast". After enduring a month of excruciating and humiliating torture, Ciel unknowingly summons the demon, who he names Sebastian after his childhood dog. Ciel returns to the Phantomhive household with an enigmatic black-clad butler, Sebastian Michaelis. To others, it seems that the butler is simply the best at his craft, from anticipating his young master's needs to carrying them out to the best of his inexplicable abilities.
In truth, Sebastian is actually a demon that has entered into a contract with Ciel. In exchange for the boy's soul, the demon will help him exact revenge on those who have wronged him. As the Queen's guard dog and standing at the top of the British underworld, Ciel solves the crimes plaguing London while waiting for the day of his revenge.
Written and drawn by Yana Toboso, the chapters of Black Butler have been serialized in the shōnen manga magazine Monthly GFantasy since its debut in the October 2006 issue. The chapters are also published in collected volumes by Square Enix. The first volume was released on February 27, 2007 and as of May 27, 2016, twenty-three volumes have been released. Yen Press licensed the series for an English language release and serialized the manga in Yen Plus' August 2009 issue for the magazine's first anniversary. The publisher released the first volume in January 2010. The second volume was released in May 2010. French publisher Kana licensed the series in under the Dark Kana imprint as Black Butler. The publisher released the first volume in November 2009. Carlsen Comics has licensed the series in Germany as Black Butler, the same title used for the French and English releases. Black Butler have been also published in Italy by Panini Comics. In Poland, Waneko is publishing the manga as original Kuroshitsuji with subtitle Mroczny kamerdyner – as of February 2013, nine volumes have been released. The series has been published in Finland under the original Japanese name Kuroshitsuji by Punainen jättiläinen since July 2012. In Spain, the series has been published in Norma Editorial since November 2011 under the title Black Butler. The series is currently ongoing.
On August 10, 2007 a drama CD was released by Frontier Works. It featured many of the characters appearing in volumes one and two. A second drama CD was released on November 26, 2008 under the Aniplex label.
In July 2008, it was announced that an anime adaption of Black Butler, directed by Toshiya Shinohara and produced by A-1 Pictures, was expected. It premiered in October 2008 and broadcast on MBS as well as the TBS. On January 1, 2009, a limited edition DVD containing the first episode was released by Aniplex. The next three episodes were released on another DVD on February 25, 2009. On an event on June 14, 2009, it was announced that the anime would be returning for a second series. Japanese voice actor Junichi Suwabe confirmed this news on his official blog later that day. The second series, Kuroshitsuji II, premiered in July and follows a butler, Claude Faustus, and his master, Alois Trancy, as well as Sebastian and Ciel. Both new characters were designed by Toboso.
On March 29, 2010, North American anime distributor Funimation Entertainment announced on their online FuniCon 3.0 panel that they had licensed Black Butler. At Anime Expo 2010, Funimation also announced that they would stream the simulcast series, Black Butler II. Funimation announced on their Facebook page that they had fully licensed the second season. Funimation released Black Butler Combo Pack Blu-ray/DVD first and second season on April 3, 2012. The series made its North American television debut on February 8, 2011 on the Funimation Channel.
On January 16, 2014, it was announced that Black Butler had been green-lit for another anime adaptation. Unlike most of the previous seasons, the third series was a close adaptation of the original manga storyline, adapting the Noah's Ark Circus arc and titled Kuroshitsuji Book of Circus. The series was directed by Noriyuki Abe at A-1 Pictures, with Hiroyuki Yoshino in charge of scripts, along with Ichiro Okuchi and Yuka Miyata as script writers. The main cast from the previous anime series returned, along with new cast members, and the series aired from July 10, 2014 to September 12, 2014. In addition, a two-part OVA titled the Book of Murder, an adaptation of the Phantomhive Manor Murders arc, was screened in Japanese theaters on October 25, and November 15, 2014.
On August 7, 2014, Funimation announced that they have licensed the third season of the series, and have streamed it on their simulcast. On February 13, 2016, Funimation announced that they will release it on Blu-ray and DVD on April 19, 2016. Additionally, Funimation has licensed the two-part OVA and released it on May 17, 2016.
That Butler, Friendship (その執事、友好 Sono Shitsuji, Yūkō?), a musical adaptation of the manga, had run at the Sunshine Theater in Ikebukuro between May 28, 2009 and June 7, 2009. Yuya Matsushita portrayed Sebastian Michaelis, Shougo Sakamoto played Ciel Phantomhive and Uehara Takuya as Grell Sutcliff.
Musical Black Butler: The Most Beautiful Death in The World – A Thousand Souls and The Fallen Grim Reaper (ミュージカル｢黒執事｣〜ザ・モースト・ビューティフル・デス・イン・ザ・ワールド〜千の魂と堕ちた死神 Miūjikaru Kuroshitsuji – Za Mōsuto Byūtifuru Desu in za Wārudo – Sen no Tamashii to Ochita Shinigami?), the second musical adaptation of the manga, ran at Akasaka Act Theater (1300 seats) in Akasaka, Tokyo, Nagoya, and Osaka, between May 3 and May 23, 2010. Yuya Matsushita reprised his role as Sebastian Michaelis, Yukito Nishii played Ciel Phantomhive, and Uehara Takuya reprised his role as Grell Sutcliff. The other two main characters, Eric Slingby and Alan Humphries, were portrayed by Taisuke Saeki and Matsumoto Shinya, respectively. The musical was written by Mari Okada, directed by Sakurako Fukuyama, with music composed by Taku Iwasaki, and lyrics by Yukinojo Mori.
A second run of The Most Beautiful Death in the World was announced in December 2012. It ran between May 17 and June 9, 2013 in the Akasaka ACT Theater (Akasaka, Tokyo) again, and the Umeda Arts Theater in Osaka. It was announced in February 2013 that Yuya Matsushita, Uehara Takuya, and Shuhei Izumi would reprise their roles as Sebastian Michaelis, Grell Sutcliff, and the Undertaker, respectively. The rest of the roles were re-cast, with Taketo Tanaka replacing Yukito Nishii as Ciel Phantomhive, and Shinji Rachi and Masataka Nakagauchi replacing Taisuke Saeki and Matsumoto Shinya in the roles of Eric Slingby and Alan Humphries.
A third musical Lycoris that Blazes the Earth (地に燃えるリコリス Chi ni Moeru Lycoris?) was performed in September 2014. Most of the cast reprised their roles from the re-run of The Most Beautiful Death in the World although Fukuzaki Nayuta replaced Taketo Tanaka as Ciel Phantomhive and Yuka Terasaki replaced Saki Matsuda as Mey-Rin. Akane Liv was introduced as Madam Red, Yuusuke Hirose as Charles Phipps, Oota Motohiro as Charles Grey and Araki Hirofumi as Lau.
A re-run of the third Black Butler musical "Lycoris that Blazes the Earth" was scheduled to perform in November–December 2015. It will premiere in Osaka in November 7 then travel to Miyagi, Tokyo and Fukuoka. The new run of the third musical will also make its first oversea tour in China (Shanghai, Beijing, Shenzhen) in December 2015. Yuta Furukawa is replacing Yuya Matsushita as Sebastian Michaelis, who had been playing Sebastian since the first musical. Meanwhile, most of the cast from the third musical reprise their roles.
A fourth Black Butler musical, based on the Noah's Ark Circus arc of the manga, ran between November–December 2016. Yuta Furukawa reprised his role as Sebastian Michaelis, with Reo Uchikawa replacing Nayuta Fukuzaki as Ciel. Miura Ryosuke was introduced as Joker, Tano Asami as Beast and Tamaki Yuki as Snake, among others. Notably, Izumi Shuuhei reprised his role as the Undertaker again, making him the only original cast member still performing.
A video game for Nintendo DS, called Kuroshitsuji Phantom & Ghost was developed by Square Enix and was released on March 19, 2009. The game is sold in two versions, a limited first-press edition with a higher price and numerous extra goods, and a regular edition.
On February 27, 2009, the Black Butler Character Book "That Butler, Assembles" (黒執事 キャラクターガイド ｢その執事、集合｣ Kuroshitsuji Character Guide "Sono Shitsuji, Shūgō"?) was released. The TV Animation Black Butler Black Record (TVアニメーション｢黒執事｣ Black Record?) was released on March 27, 2009. An official comics anthology Rainbow Butler (虹執事 Nijishitsuji?) was also released on that date.
It was announced in January 18, 2013 that the manga would be made into a live-action film starring Ayame Goriki as Genpou Shiori, Hiro Mizushima as Sebastian Michaelis. Filming began in April 2013 and the film was released on January 18, 2014. However, upon its release, it was met with negative reviews.
On October 10, 2015, it was announced an animated film for the series has been green-lit, and the original anime cast will return to reprise their roles. On February 17, 2016, the film, now titled Black Butler: Book of the Atlantic, was confirmed to be an animated adaptation of the Luxury Liner (豪華客船 Gōka Kyakusen?) arc from the original manga. It was released in Japan on January 21, 2017. On April 1, 2017, FUNimation announced that they have licensed the animated film and will screen it in a limited theatrical release in North America later in the year.
Black Butler has sold over 20 million copies worldwide, 5 million outside Japan. Individual volumes alone have done well in weekly polls in Japan, taking several high spots. In addition to the volumes, the comics anthology Rainbow Butler ranked seventeenth during the week of March 31 to April 6 selling 41,083 copies after ranking thirty-third the previous week. The fourth and fifth volumes ranked thirty-third and thirty-ninth of the top-selling manga in Japan during 2008, selling 529,210 copies and 468,550 copies respectively. The sixth volume ranked thirteenth of the top-selling manga in Japan during the first half of 2009, selling 619,501 copies. The series itself was ranked tenth of the top-selling manga series in Japan during 2009, selling a total of 1,603,197 estimated copies. The series is also quite popular in other countries.
The Japanese music distributor Recochoku has created an annual survey of which anime characters that people would like to marry. Sebastian Michaelis ranked ninth in the category "The Character I Want to Be My Groom".
- Earl Cain (also known as Count Cain), a similar Victorian-themed Gothic manga from 1991.
- The Earl and The Fairy, a Victorian-themed romance novel, manga and anime series from 2004.
- Devils and Realist, a Victorian-themed manga and anime series from 2009 with a similar premise.
- List of Square Enix franchises
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