How Close is the Shinigami Realm to Modern Day Society?
Throughout Kuroshitsuji, we’ve seen plenty of technology used that wouldn’t yet exist in the Victorian Era, and one of the most highly recognized examples of this are the Shinigami Death Scythes. (Grell Sutcliff using a chainsaw, William T. Spears a pruner, and Ronald Knox a lawn mower.) Often we’ve dismissed much of it as humor, convenience, or just something unique to add to the AU that the series has introduced. However, the Shinigami themselves are further identical in their division from the timeline in the mortal realm by their dress, the manners in which their work is conducted, and (for those of us who accept the OVA, “The Tale of Will the Shinigami” as canon) their architecture.
Most notably though, I’d like to direct attention to a piece of art Yana Toboso included in the publication of the first Black Butler Artbook.
This one, which served as the title page in GFantay’s Dec. 2008 issue, according to the book. In the back, where Yana Toboso has added commentary on several artworks, the official English translation for her commentary on this image reads as follows:
“My idea of the Grim Reapers’ world is that their technology is awfully advanced, so I placed a plastic bench in front of a concrete background and a R*Iodex for contact management on top if it. I didn’t draw any outlines, and I used pens for colouring to give the illustration a different kind of feel.”
There’s also Grell’s comment on the human world in the OVA, which hints that the Shinigami would even have improved means of sanitation (Even though he might not have been away from it since he was alive for very long as a new recruit…) :
“The living world is always so filthy… Ugh…”
When you really think about it, it’s not a difficult thing to imagine that the Shinigami would have a farther advanced society than humans. If they keep their memories from their lives as humans (I know some people have wondered if they lose them) then they don’t have to obtain lost knowledge. No one has to start over, learning what someone else already knew, and they can just keep improving their society without obstacle beyond their work as Grim Reapers. Perhap Reapers–maybe even retired ones, who haven’t moved on and been forgiven–have even found a focus in doing just that, seeing as Dispatch has several branches and not all Shinigami collect souls.
Also, where humans would lose inventors and scientists within a few decades, Shinigami instead have those who possess brilliant minds and committed suicide at their disposal for any length of time. Such examples would include Nicolas Leblanc, 18th Century France chemist and surgeon; Empedocles, poet, philosopher, and physician of mid/late-400 BC Sicily (presumed anyway, since I’ve seen some mixed information); and Robert Fitzroy, politician and scientist who captained the HMS Beagle. (Note: Most of the historically known suicides I read about weren’t even recorded until the 20th Century, and people who committed suicide were often meant to be forgotten as if they were no better than criminals in the past, so who knows who else they could’ve gotten.)
But just how far ahead of history are the Grim Reapers? What could their regular society be like outside of Dispatch, and what would it be like for a new recruit to adjust to what would be almost another, futuristic world entirely?