Black Butler: Season 1 — The Ultimate Recap

A recap of our favourite fantasy series with its amazing "Master-Servant" trope!

Have you ever encountered a fantasy anime featuring a demon butler? If your answer is no, then this article is for you! Black Butler revolves around the captivating story of a young boy named Ciel and his loyal Butler, Sebastian Michaelis.

However, in this compelling series, not everything is as straightforward as it may seem. With the announcement of its fourth season, let’s revisit Black Butler Season 1 and see the story till now so you’re ready for when its new season drops. If your curiosity is piqued, continue reading until the end!

Black Butler | Giphy

Black Butler Season 1, Quick Summary

Set in Victorian England, the story centers around a young boy residing in a prestigious estate. This boy, known as Ciel Phantomhive, holds the title of “the Queen’s Guard Dog” and is responsible for handling unsettling events on behalf of Her Majesty.

Alongside him is his extraordinary butler, Sebastian Michaelis, who possesses inhuman abilities that add a touch of eccentricity to his character. The story proceeds and it is revealed that Ciel is far from a simple, innocent boy. He has his ways when it comes to fulfilling his duties.

Black Butler | Giphy

As the narrative unfolds, we are transported into the depths of Ciel’s tragic past. The boy showcases a state of confusion and agony. The story takes an unexpected turn when we learn that Ciel has signed a contract with Sebastian. But Sebastian is not a human, (drum roll) he is a DEMON! (tdaaaaa). Ciel traded his soul in return for vengeance against those responsible for his parent’s murder.

On top of this, Sebastian is not only a loyal butler but also a patient predator waiting to execute a feast upon Ciel’s soul. Together, the unlikely duo begins to unravel the mystery behind Ciel’s string of misfortunes. But instead, they forge a strong unbreakable bond.

Note: In this episodic review we have only included the canon episodes of Black Butler Season 1. No filler recap is included to give you a simple and accurate recap of the series.
Black Butler | WallpaperDog

Episode 1: His Butler, Able

The first episode introduces us to Earl Ciel Phantomhive, who is awakened by his loyal butler, Sebastian Michaelis. Sebastian informs Ciel that Damian, the head of Funtom Company, Ciel’s own confectionery toy manufacturing company, will be visiting.

To prepare for Damian’s arrival, Sebastian assigns the household staff their respective tasks but unfortunately, their attempts end in disaster. To salvage the situation, Sebastian takes charge and impresses Damian.

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Later Damian decides to play a board game with Ciel. But later we get to see that Damian privately contacts his associate, revealing his plans to defraud Ciel by selling the factory he owns and attempting to acquire more money from him deceitfully.

As Damian tries to return to the lounge, he experiences a scenario from the board game in real life. His leg is broken and Sebastian locks him in the oven, alongside the dessert. Eventually, Damian runs away from the mansion, saving his life from Sebastian.

Black Butler Season 1 | WallpaperCrafter

Episode 2: His Butler, Strongest

During a meeting with Madame Red and Lau, Ciel is suddenly kidnapped and held for ransom by the notorious Italian mafia leader and drug dealer, Azzurro. In an attempt to assassinate Sebastian, Azzurro’s henchmen try to snipe him through the garden but ultimately miss and drive away.

Unfazed by the attack, Sebastian quickly devises a plan and eventually tilts their car off of a cliff. With his enemies now disposed of, Sebastian infiltrates Azzurro’s secret base and engages in a showdown with his guards. Despite being shot multiple times, Sebastian displays remarkable resilience, recovering from his injuries almost instantly. Upon locating Ciel, who is still held captive, Sebastian defeats Azzurro and saves his master.

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Episode 3: His Butler, Omnipotent

At the request of Madame Red, her butler Grell is sent to train under the tutelage of Sebastian. During this time, Grell uncovers a devastating truth about the Phantomhive estate. Meanwhile, Ciel’s fiancee, Elizabeth Middleford, often referred to as Lizzie, pays a visit to the Phantomhive manor.

With her arrival, Lizzie takes it upon herself to decorate the entire house according to her tastes. She also insists that Ciel should dance with her. Recognizing the need to preserve Ciel’s social standing, Sebastian takes it upon himself to teach Ciel how to dance.

However, tensions rise when Lizzie breaks Ciel’s family ring as a result of his refusal to wear the ring she had given him. Ciel discards the broken ring out the window, pretending it holds no value to him. Recognizing the true significance of the ring to Ciel, Sebastian retrieves it and restores it to its original condition.

Black Butler | WallpaperCrafter

Episode 4: His Butler, Capricious

The city of London is thrown into fear as news of the notorious serial killer, Jack the Ripper, spreads. Utilizing information provided by the Undertaker, Sebastian narrows down the list of suspects to a man known as the Viscount of Druitt.

To catch the culprit, Madame Red devises a plan that involves Sebastian, Ciel, and Lau attending a ball. To blend in and gather information, Ciel is dressed in a gown and wig, posing as Madame Red’s young niece. On the other hand, Sebastian plays the role of Ciel’s tutor.

Black Butler | Giphy

However, complications arise when they discover that Elizabeth is also in attendance, and they must avoid her to maintain the secrecy of their mission. During the ball, the Viscount takes an interest in Ciel, who flirts with him in hopes of uncovering his intentions. While Sebastian distracts Elizabeth and the other guests with a magical performance, Ciel finds himself alone in a room with the Viscount.

In an unexpected turn of events, Ciel loses consciousness, only to wake up later to find himself bound and blindfolded, being sold in a large underground auction. Keeping his eyes closed, Ciel manages to signal Sebastian when the Viscount removes the blindfold to display his eyes. With a call for Sebastian, the room goes dark, cries are heard, and when the candles are relit, Sebastian appears and rescues Ciel.

Black Butler | WallpaperCrafer

Episode 5: His Butler, Chance Encounter

In a dramatic conclusion to the case of Jack the Ripper, Ciel and Sebastian confront the killer in front of Mary Jane Kelly’s house. To their surprise, the murderer is revealed to be Madame Red, in conjunction with her butler, Grim Reaper Grell Sutcliff.

As Sebastian engages in a physical battle with Grell, Madame Red attempts to kill Ciel. Grell turns on Madame Red when she refuses to sacrifice Ciel, killing her instead. As she dies, her memories play back before her eyes, revealing a tragic story of jealousy and loss.

Grell, The Grimm Reaper | Giphy

Madame Red had been envious of her sister, Rachel, who had married the man Madame Red loved, Vincent Phantomhive. Even after Rachel had married Earl Ciel’s father, Madame Red continued to harbor feelings for him.

After a tragedy that resulted in the loss of her husband and the unborn child she conceived, Madame Red turned to killing prostitutes who had abortions under the guise of Jack the Ripper. Sebastian, acting upon Ciel’s orders, is forced to kill Grell.

Black Butler | WallpaperCrafter

Episode 6: His Butler, At The Funeral

The day after the intense events involving Madame Red’s true identity and her demise, Ciel and Sebastian attend her funeral. In accordance with tradition, Madame Red is dressed in a white gown inside her coffin. However, Ciel surprises everyone by bringing a red dress and draping it over her body, stating that red is truly her color.

After the funeral, Ciel and Sebastian pay a visit to Mary Kelly’s tombstone. The Undertaker commends Ciel for providing her with a proper grave, calling him kind. Ciel reflects on his choices, acknowledging that he could have potentially saved both Madame Red and Angelina if he had made their lives his priority. However, he states that he does not regret his decisions now that Jack the Ripper is no longer a threat.

The Undertaker of Black Butler | Giphy

The Undertaker teases Ciel for his unwavering sense of duty towards the Queen. Sebastian interjects, suggesting that Ciel’s kindness or weakness, as he puts it, led to his hesitation in killing a relative who was trying to harm him.

Ciel deflects the comment and asserts that it is Sebastian’s duty to protect his life. To solidify their bond, Ciel orders Sebastian to never betray or leave him, to which the butler agrees wholeheartedly.

Black Butler Season 1 | WallpaperCrafter

Episode 13: His Butler, Freeloader

While strolling through the bustling streets of London, Ciel and Sebastian unexpectedly come across Prince Soma and his loyal servant, Agni. The prince and his servant are in search of an Indian woman, whose identity remains unknown.

Ciel invites Prince Soma and Agni to temporarily stay at the Phantomhive estate. Ciel and Prince Soma propose a fencing match between Sebastian and Agni. Despite their best efforts, the duel ends in a draw, showcasing the remarkable abilities of both combatants.

Black Butler | WallpaperAbyss

Later, Agni shares the reason for their search and how they are seeking a former nursemaid, Mina. Mina had left her master for an unknown Englishman of wealth. This leaves Prince Soma in despair and fueled by the desire to reunite with Mina again.

Episode 14: His Butler, Supremely Talented

The plot thickens as the wealthy businessman, Harold West, is revealed to be the mastermind behind Agni’s betrayal and Mina’s marriage to another man. The confrontation between Prince Soma and West comes to a head when he orders Agni to attack the prince.

Agni, reflecting on his past, remembers his life before meeting Prince Soma, in which he lived in hopelessness and despair. Meeting the kind and benevolent prince changed his life forever. Prince Soma eventually finds Mina, who confesses that she had escaped from India in order to free herself from the restrictive caste system.

Black Butler | WallpaperAbyss

Episode 24: His Butler, Fluent

The story takes a dark and ominous turn as Ciel and Sebastian head to Tower Bridge which is still under construction, where they come face to face with a merged Angela and Ashe. In a bold and terrifying move, Ciel commands Sebastian to kill the angel, revealing the brutal and merciless side of the young earl.

But the events only get stranger from there, as Ciel suddenly wakes up being ferried by Sebastian on an eerie and uncertain river, to an unknown location. Sebastian then hands Ciel Tanaka’s diary, which describes the former Earl Phantomhive’s knowledge of his impending death.

Landing at the ruins of a mansion, Ciel calmly waits for Sebastian to take his soul, revealing the true plan behind their partnership all along. Ciel’s final order to Sebastian is to make the process as painful as possible, in order to engrave the pain of his life into his soul. This shocking turn of events reveals the true nature of their relationship and raises deep questions about the meaning behind revenge and the ultimate price of power.

Black Butler | WallpaperAbyss

Final Verdict

Black Butler is a great anime, especially if you enjoy watching Victorian Gothic-themed shows. The demon servant aspect is executed really well and the storytelling is always mysterious and intriguing, even for new viewers. If you’re a fan of our ultimate recaps, check out our articles on Psycho-Pass or you can also read our article on Muzan if you’re a fan of demons!

We rate Black Butler a solid 7 out of 10 in its current run.

Zrish Khan

Zrish is a passionate critic in the world of anime, manga/manhwa, and KPop. She offers in-depth insights that illuminate the nuances of these genres with deep analysis. With a keen eye for detail, her reviews take readers on an enlightening journey through both classic and contemporary series.