Friendly reminder in advance that it’s only my opinion and you don’t have to agree. However if you don’t, no need to get aggressive because, guess what? I don’t answer violent arguments. :)
Also very lengthy post ahead.
Comic relief has always been a part of Kuroshitsuji since the very beginning, after all we know how Yana loves her jokes and it also helps to cope with the darker side of the story. However for every comical touch that we see too often, it’s natural to wonder if making us laugh is all that Yana has in mind when she draws these moments. A few examples…
Elizabeth’s strength whenever she almost strangles Ciel or when she KO’ed Edward with just one punch -> considering how she fought on the Campania, one might wonder if it’s just a joke.
Lau being an air-headed opium dealer haha -> there have been several theories explaining that he could be betraying Ciel before the end (my fav is this one by rationalkuroshitsuji)
Ciel apparently never growing up -> how many people wondered if that wasn’t a hint for the 2CT or other theories about him?
And one of my favorite, the Undertaker asking for laugh as payment for his information, I’m sure we all smiled once -> we now know he is a Shinigami because he killed himself, so laughing and having fun are probably feelings he discovered post mortem and that’s actually really sad.
So it’s hard to really draw a limit between comic relief and small hints meaning more serious business, which is why Frances Midford’s character is quite complicated to theorize about, because she’s one of the best examples of “comic relief” in Kuroshitsuji. I’ll try though.
1) First introduction and her dislike of Sebastian
It starts right at the moment she’s introduced for the very first time in ch14.
What a way to start, huh? Ah well, but it’s true that Ciel has known her since his birth so he probably had a few bad experiences with her, especially since we know that his own mother was definitely not as physically strong and at this moment, he doesn’t know about Lizzie’s strength either.
So it’s understandable that he sees his aunt in a different light when the other women of his family certainly aren’t as terrifying as her, and terrifying is the accurate word since even Sebastian isn’t at ease with her.
After all, Frances hates two things: Sebastian’s indecent looks and every haircuts with bangs (and unfortunately for Seb…..). I’d like to emphasize that these are 2 different things: hate for haircuts is general (which means that even Snake and Ciel are sometimes punished)…
… While her dislike for Sebastian’s face is very personal.
And everyone knows what problems are hiding behind this recurrent joke:
Sebastian is in general considered to be quite the handsome man, both by women and men (Arthur Conan Doyle :)) and it was confirmed by Yana that him sharing similar looks with Vincent, Frances’ brother, was on purpose. eviltwintheory is asking the right questions about this point in this post, highlighting two possibilities: either Frances also made this kind of comments to Vincent (it’s true we have no idea what their relationship was like, but with Lizzie and Ciel engaged so young and the two children often spending time together, I’m guessing they were close) or the matter really is about Sebastian himself…
There is only one kind of characters who’d disagree about Sebastian being a handsome man, outside of Frances (who’s supposed to be human as far as we know): the Shinigamis.
According to the 3 panels above, it seems Shinigamis are able to perceive demons’ aura and also to see past their disguise, which explains Grell knowing how Sebastian was a demon at first glance, even though they still find him to be quite hot. In other words, Shinigamis are not fooled by Sebastian’s disguise since they can see right through it and because of that, they often see demons for what they are: “beasts”.
The question is, is Frances like the Shinigamis or does she just have a strong dislike for her brother and Sebastian’s faces? Is it just comic relief, because we need one character to be able to impress Sebastian a little, or is it deeper than that?
2) Frances in the Campania and Weston Arcs
This happens right after he helps her in the Campania arc and it’s the first verbal mention of the 2 things she dislikes about him since ch14.
As you can see, Sebastian understands the “slovenly hairstyle” part but he doesn’t exactly get why she’d call his face that way (lol). Doesn’t it make sense though? After all she’s supposed to be human, so all she can technically see is what many people consider to be his “handsome face”. But no, Frances Midford call that ‘slovenly’.
The more interesting part is still during the Weston arc in which, might I remind you, butlers and servants were forbidden, which is why Sebastian had to become “Professor Michaelis”.
Druitt annoying her aside, as you can see (I’m sure you can recognize Alexis Midford’s haircut under the red arrow) a crowd is separating Frances from her disguised target, who she couldn’t have known was present in the first place.
I won’t mention the fact that she recognized him from afar and with dozens of people separating them, however…
“I’m amazed you managed to grab me.”
True isn’t it? I believe this part is a very important one. After all…
she managed to distinguish him through the crowd, which was the easiest part since she knows him and he’s not exactly that well disguised
she managed to go after him and to stop him from running away, even though he had decided to back off and he’s a demon
as always he looks nasty to her
That moment is immediately broken by her usual tantrum about his hair which makes it look like it was all for fun but honestly I don’t buy it.
You can argue over whether she rather noticed him through the crowd or if she “felt” him (like a Shinigami would feel his demonic aura, I have to say I can’t decide myself), but I don’t think you can argue over her apparent speed.
Sebastian is a demon, we witnessed his strength, speed and powers several times, and he said it himself “I’m amazed you manage to grab me”: because he wanted to back off in order for her not to notice him; and not only did she notice him but she also managed to stop him when he was about to flee, even though she wasn’t exactly near him in the first place (big failure there, Sebby).
As always, it’s my interpretation and you don’t have to agree. :) However, when you add the scene of ch75 to the “superhuman strength” joke of ch14 and to what we witnessed of her on the Campania, without forgetting Lizzie who’s quite amazing herself and who learned from her mom, I don’t think you can consider Frances to be just the ‘funny and fearful aunt able to scare the bad demon’.
And if it’s more than that then it definitely stops being comic relief.
3) So… badass character with a true potential?
As I said above, aside from Frances, only Shinigamis showed an equal distaste for Sebastian’s appearance (oops, Grell aside) and we do know of one Shinigami who deserted but who also seemed to have a close relationship to both Frances’ mother and brother (and with her nephew until a few months ago in the story)… The Undertaker of course.
We don’t know for sure yet what kind of relationship he had with Claudia Phantomhive, so there are several possibilities. However, if you take in consideration the possible lineage Rudgar mentioned for Ciel in ch103…
…Well, you might as well think seriously about Frances’ superhuman strength and the fact she was able to stop a demon who was trying to get away from her.
I know quite a few people aren’t fond of the theory saying that the Undertaker might have procreated with Claudia Phantomhive (because for some of them, intercourse is okay but not procreation, seeing as he was dead while Claudia was alive, and seriously I understand) but unfortunately, only Yana has the answer to this for the moment. Still:
From Book of Circus and a close up on Claudia’s funeral locket, she was dark-haired like Vincent and Ciel while Frances is probably blond or has an even lighter hair color, so if Yana plays by the laws of genetics, her father preferably had a similar hair color (and the Undertaker matches for this criteria)
I already mentioned her strength and Shinigamis are known to be stronger than humans (and sometimes even stronger than demons) so even if she doesn’t have as much as strength as a Shinigami or as a demon, she could probably still be stronger than a normal human if her father was extraordinary
Even though this started as a joke, I wouldn’t even be surprised if it turned out to be true: they look like they tried to stop a storm with their bare hands and one cricket bat
Finally, as for her eyes: I’m hesitating on whether or not she really knows about Sebastian’s nature. As wondrouswatchdog once commented here, she might have the feeling that something about him feels wrong but she might not know exactly why. Or she really knows but proof for that is hard to find. She thinks he’s nasty so she might be able to see through his disguise but this is another point on which we’ll need Yana’s confirmation.
Last point is, Frances is Vincent’s sister (and he’s one of the main points of the plot since we still don’t know why he was killed) and the only real Phantomhive left outside of Ciel, as in she knows what this life is like because she was raised in the same world and saw her mother probably die of the Watchdog job at a young age (if Vincent was 15 then she was probably 13 at best).
For now she’s not getting involved directly in Ciel’s business, but Vincent was her brother and even if we don’t know if they got along or not, she might be really grieving over his murder. And as far as we know, she could even be after revenge herself (also, if Claudia died of unnatural causes like Vincent, it could be an even more motivating factor for her, especially considering her daughter is supposed to join the Phantomhive family in a near future) .
Between you and me, I don’t get why Ciel doesn’t realize he probably has 2 ways to find info on Claudia and the Undertaker if he really needs them: the first way is Frances who, as Claudia’s daughter and Vincent’s sister, probably knew him at least a little and the second way is Tanaka who was Vincent’s butler which means he was acquainted with the other Evil Nobles (but this part is irrelevant to this post :)).
So I’m guessing Frances could turn out to be important or more present when Yana will really start to link everything back to the main plot which, outside of Ciel’s own story, is probably also linked to the Phantomhive family in general and their duty as the Queen’s watchdogs.
Sebastian once said he was hoping to see Ciel take example on Frances (ch14) and I don’t know if he really meant it or not, but if Ciel ends up seeking advice it will have to be from someone who knows how to play this game and she might be the only one left.
(Thanks for reading, as always feel free to ask/add anything)