Black Butler, Vol. 4 - Yana Toboso I've decided that I like Ciel more than Sebastian. Sure, Sebastian is made to be scarier and more charming, but honestly, I don't find him either scary or charming. He's not a bad character or anything, but it seems to me like most of the cool stuff he does, is just a long series of set-ups that are actually designed to make him look cool.

Ciel doesn't have this problem. He's actually got weaknesses - he hates the cold, for instance, and he actually is frightened and insecure from time to time. He's one darned tough twelve-year-old, and although he occasionally drives me insane, I do think he's a much better and much more sympathetic character. I'm actually curious about him and his past, whereas I don't care at all about Seb. He's a demon, he's a butler, he likes fiddling with his gloves - big deal.

I will point out, though, that some of the time Ciel is a boy genius, and the rest of the time he's so thickheaded he must have filled his skull with concrete. I'm hoping these inconsistencies will pass, because I think he should be a lot smarter and more perceptive than he is.

This volume was boring and somewhat annoying to me, because it brought us mostly back to Ciel's mansion, and a whole new round of domestic stuff. We get to see Seb's butler vs. butler war against Agni. We get to see Ciel learning to play music and paint. We get treated to a long and involved episode of Demon Butlers in the Kitchen. (Yes, I made that up. I think it's what this series should really be called, instead of Black Butler, because he spends more time cooking than anything else.)

Too much domestic stuff. I reiterate, I want to read this manga because it has the word "demon" plastered all over it. I don't want to read it because I want to watch food being prepared - if that was what I wanted, I'd go to the Food Network.

And the servants. Good grief, the servants. I'm so tired of complaining about them, but I wish they would all die painful deaths.

A couple of new characters are introduced in this volume. I don't hate either of them, but I'm hoping that both will get better. The prince is an immature, spoiled crybaby, and his antics are almost as annoying as those of Ciel's servants . . . almost. Agni is just pointless. Again, he's not a bad character, but everything he does is so overly dramatic and exaggerated that none of it feels real. He could be really cool if Toboso tones him down a little.

One thing I will say: the character design for these two is really great. Their faces are unique and their costumes are very detailed and just beautifully rendered in general. Also, the background scenery is markedly improving in quality. I look forward to seeing what Toboso can really do with her art in later volumes.

I have thirty-three status updates for this volume. Wow. That's a record.