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kuroshitsuji (Black Butler): Twins

Posted on 2015.12.23 at 22:24
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I've read the manga and watched the various anime out there, but am intrigued by the discussion around whether Ciel is a twin or only child. I've read compelling evidence on both sides but I'm going to voice my own thoughts here. Either is possible at this point with where the manga has led and ultimately we will just have to wait and see where it leads.

First, one of the things that draws me to this manga is that it can be read on two levels; face value or a deeper more symbolic meaning. Much like Le Petit Prince. Second, whatever the truth turns out to be, I think it is evidence of Yana Toboso's skills as an author and artist that either is plausible.

Most of this begins with questions raised from memories of Ciel's imprisonment and whether he was a sacrifice himself, symbolically, or was watching someone else. Yes, the other boy is intriguing and I can see how it could be a twin...but I can also see how it could be another boy he viewed symbolically as himself or even himself. It is possible that because Sebastian was summoned Ciel's "life flashed before his eyes" and he saw the final moments of his life that never took place. This would also fit with some of the Reapers' comments/interest in Ciel.

As for the price that was paid, it could be have been from the death of his parents. Particularly his father. The latest chapters hint at something Undertaker knows regarding the late Vincent Phantomhive, but we do not know what. There are things about his death that seem unusual, but I can't yet put my finger on it. If he is a twin, it is entirely possible that he was the one who tried to protect and watched his brother being carried off...and is suffering horrible guilt from being unable to save him. There is also the bit about PTSD. Trauma can resurface and confuse the present with the past. Not to mention if he was able to see any of his cinematic record that was about to take place, it may also be adding to the mix. It also could be a reason for his hesitation when asked his name. After a concussion I was unable to answer that question myself even though I knew the answer. My brain just wouldn't work. It is entirely possible the scenes are being remembered out of chronological order rather than simultaneously. When working in the restaurant, I also crouched to the ground and covered my ears when someone dropped a rack of glasses after that accident. While a very mild reaction, I can only imagine how strongly it might affect someone with PTSD. Especially a child.

Sebastian's reaction to Ciel's comment about being the head of the Phantomhive household could easily mean Ciel is concealing the fact that he is not Ciel but his twin (just another child does not makes sense although some think this is possible), but it could also mean he is laughing at the way Ciel is trying to present himself as strong, relentless, unwavering, and hardened...knowing he truly is not. Sebastian and Ciel's relationship is not just demon and master or butler and lord, at least in the manga. It would make sense that he would recognize what Ciel was trying to do and might tease him about it later.

Next, during Ciel's time in Germany he is battling in his own mind and we see two Ciel's depicted. This could mean another physical person or his symbolic old self. If you have read the manga I have read, you have seen plenty of both so to use that as the basis of a theory is very weak. At one point he asks if he is wanting forgiveness or revenge (I can't recall), and Ciel says no, he has done this for himself. Unless he used his brother as the sacrifice to summon Sebastian, I'm not sure that makes sense. It is possible that death was the price for crossing the river, but it is also possible that Ciel turning his back on all he knew that was good and "holy" was the price. Either way, in essence Ciel died that day. Be it figuratively or physically, ultimately he chose to give up his soul and life to a demon in exchange for the time to enact pain and suffering on those who hurt him.

The next bit is about when Baron Kelvin meets Vincent and Ciel, which is what I find the most suspicious. They talk about the boy on either side of him being obscured so we only ever see one. It's entirely possible and some of the angles are suspicious. However, I also have seen young children--especially shy ones--flit around their parents in their unease. The fact that he ran to Claus also did not strike me as strange since it is obviously someone he knows and trusts. Also, Kelvin says at one point that he changed (after he introduced himself) which is when we see Ciel hiding behind his father again. It is just as possible that Ciel really looked at Kelvin and recognized the predatory vibe he was giving off at that moment.

They also talk of Ciel comment about how he had a fever the next day so they couldn't go out on the boat. And how Tanaka was happy to see him feeling better with two of everything on his food tray. Yes, but again...it is entirely possible that, as he was often sick himself, became ill again the next day (for all we know he got it from his mother's illness) and was so hungry he ate two of everything. This also doesn't really line up with all the memories Ciel has if these are really his twin's memories. There is the matter of Ciel stating he doesn't need fake brothers, to the surprise of Vincent. He could mean because he has a real one or it could be because his underlying character is showing through to demonstrate independence.

His memories of Elizabeth and Aunt An, of his father in the kitchen, etc. They aren't secondhand so unless his twin was somehow able to imprint them into his mind they are genuine memories. (Granted with Undertaker it might actually be possible such a thing happened, but I think that plot is probably much deeper and more sinister than merely bringing back a twin...I am also VERY curious as to Undertaker's relationship to Vincent Phantomhive, but that is an entirely other post in itself.) Some say he is neutral towards blood relatives but is happy to see Tanaka because he spent so much time with him as he was sick. But that isn't the picture we were given of Ciel's memories...he spent most the time with his PARENTS. It would make sense for Tanaka to be the one taking care of him yes, so of course it makes sense for him to be happy to see someone he (and his father) viewed as trustworthy and a protector of the family. If he was a twin I would expect the other to react the same. While I have not witnessed that level of trauma, I have experienced it more than I would like and I will say it changes a person. You are still you inside, but your perspective is so different it does feel like you don't know people you have known your whole life and it certainly can change your relationship with people. I would prefer to spend time with a handful of close friends to family because of it.

And of course there are the graves. Some say the other grave is for his brother, the real Ciel. Or it could be for his dog, Sebastian. Or it could be for his Aunt An's dead husband who might have been buried around the same time as she was close to her sister and brother-in-law. People forget about that poor bloke. It could also be a grandparent. The point is there are many graves and we simply don't know.

Finally, many have commented on the language and I will say Japanese is intentionally ambiguous given their levels of politeness. As I can understand some of it when watching Book of Circus and Book of Murder, I can also say I didn't notice anything that stands out as different other than the voice acting is...more gentle in Japanese. It seems more in line with the manga.

While I think either is possible, I see this as a story that can be read on two levels: face value or symbolic. Just like humans are more complex in their intents and will, I think so too is this story that so beautifully illustrates the depth and darkness in the human spirit by illuminating it by the light of unending hope that brings unbearable anguish. I think the answer to this question lies with Sebastian and Undertaker as there seems to be something just under the surface with those two that makes me feel there is much more going on before these tragic events ever took place. Sebastian is more like a demon being humanized while trying to genuinely raise a child, he even states at one point what he loves most now is the game he plays with Ciel. Undertaker...the funeral lockets, his tears at the photo of Vincent, his words to Ciel about souls...it is just more interest than a retired Shinigami should have.

A few ideas if there are twins... It could be that Ciel (either) sacrificed the other's soul as payment and made the agreement with Sebastian, and carries horrific guilt. It would make sense with some of what Ciel said at the end of Book of Circus when he is talking about how selfish and base humans are. It also could be the other sacrificed himself as payment and the surviving brother feels responsible anyway. It could be that the physically weaker Ciel was actually the stronger emotionally and mentally of the two and may have seen his brother broken emotionally and mentally despite the memory of one saying he has the other. In this case, it would be quite possible that the current Ciel is exchanging his soul to Sebastian to place his brother's in his body and perhaps his twin's body was the sacrifice that was referred to when Ciel made the pact.

It might also be that at the moment of the sacrifice, this Ciel decided to give his soul to Sebastian after his mission in exchange for bringing his brother's soul into his body. I have also considered if Vincent had something to do with what happened to protect one of his sons or something went very awry in a ritual of some sort--like what if he placed his own soul into that of his son's body to enact revenge. I don't really picture that, but Vincent's character leaves a lot of questions as to his true intentions...but I do feel he loved his wife and child/ren. If he did have something to do with it, I wonder if Sebastian knowingly accepted the contract with Ciel understanding he would never be able to fulfill it but drawn in by the intensity of Ciel's soul and anguish. Just random ideas...

I think the key piece will be Vincent and Undertaker here. I have considered that perhaps Vincent had some doing in making Sebastian appear, or perhaps there was tampering to Ciel's soul. The fact that Undertaker is seen giving something to Ciel in his sleep makes me wonder is it to free him of Sebastian? Or, if they were twins and somehow their souls were combined, is he trying to silence one or awaken the other? Or perhaps Ciel is just another experiment to try to bring either the other brother or Vincent back using Ciel's body--especially knowing Ciel's soul is already sacrificed? While I don't outright mistrust Vincent, something just feels a little off. I feel Sebastian is more trustworthy at this point than Undertaker and I fear the outcome of this will not be good.

Edit: In rereading the latest arc, when Ciel is ill, a few other thoughts arose. What if Sebastian was the twin or Vincent? Perhaps that was the sacrifice that was made. Perhaps the sacrifice was to become a demon. You could also read part of it as Sebastian ate the twin's soul or a piece of Ciel's. In that sense, Ciel's closeness to Sebastian is they only way he stays close to his family despite knowing the terms of his contract. It could be that offering the soul to Sebastian specifically is what summon him and what enabled Ciel to "summon" him. Also the conversation Ciel has with his twin or himself, might actually be with Sebastian. Sebastian may or may not be conscious of it at the time. It would explain his comment about unconsciously reacting to Ceil's behavior.

Personally I can see this going either way, but if there are twins I hope the plot does not become trite like many of the overdone twin plot lines. Regardless, the character Ciel is still the same no matter the name. Mostly I just hope the story avoids a trite ending. We will have to wait and see what Yana Toboso reveals in future chapters...so far the depth of characters and their relationships, as well as the dark plot into the truth of the human spirit, has raised many questions. I supposed ultimately whether it was physical or symbolic doesn't change much...which also fits into the theme of life's futility as we struggle to find our way over the hill.

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