Chapter 107: A Status Update on the Relationship Between Sebastian and Ciel (and Back to Basics?)
[N.B. Chapter 107 scan and translation credit to prince-lordie. Thank you for the use of your scan!!]
Chapter 107 may seem like a light and fluffy chapter on the surface, but it has brought us back to basics by revisiting a theme from the Circus arc.
The end of Chapter 107 reminds us of several things about Ciel and Sebastian:
1. Ciel is different than other humans
2. Ciel is a cold, calculating individual
3. Ciel has a habit of imposing his will on others
4. Sebastian questions Ciel’s kindness (or lack thereof.)
Because of these reminders, 107 might actually be bringing us back to basics.
It’s easy to see 1. and 2. We saw 3., Ciel imposing his will on others, in a most horrifying manner at the end of the Circus arc when he justified his ordering the children to be burned by stating that he knew what was best for them. It seems that Ciel still retains that mindset.
Though Ciel’s order was given during a state of panic, he justifies his actions later while calm. His reasons, that he thinks he knows what is best for those children, are a bit troubling. It is a cautionary tale that thinking you know what is best for others can lead to tragedy, that past weaknesses will forever haunt you and may cause you to act in a manner you otherwise normally wouldn’t. It is, sadly, a cautionary tale that Ciel hasn’t yet taken to heart.
Chapter 107 again revisits this theme of Ciel imposing his worldview on others:
At the end of the Circus arc, upon encountering the abandoned warehouse, Ciel professes that humans are more evil than demons, but Sebastian notices what sets humans apart from demons: unlike demons, we lie about our own evilness and believe, perhaps in vain, that we can be something better. We are proverbially reaching “over the hills and far away,” falsely thinking to ourselves that we can someday hope to escape our own wickedness. We, as humans, are able to forever chase a lie, whereas a demon is too honest to live under such a delusion.
We are ending the current arc, as we have many times before, with Sebastian commenting on Ciel’s kindness (or lack thereof.) However, in previous arcs (Jack the Ripper, and the Circus arc, most notably,) Sebastian often seems puzzled by Ciel’s comments about the end of a mission. He’s usually asking Ciel for clarification regarding Ciel’s motives, perhaps so that he can better understand his master’s motives.
With Chapter 107, we now see that Sebastian has grown confident enough to dispense with the questioning and go right on to the criticisms of Ciel:
Why is Sebastian suddenly so sure of himself?
Is it that during this arc Sebastian has gained a new insight into humanity that he lacked previously? Does he perhaps now understand what it should look like when humans are kind to each other?
There is of course, a supreme irony in this:
A demon is literally telling a human to be more kind.
However, the irony in this situation isn’t where you think it is. At first glance, it seems ironic for a demon, a more-evil creature, to be telling human, a less-evil creature, to be nicer. To see where the irony really lies, we have to go back to a moment in Chapter 99.
Remember in Chapter 99 when Ciel left Sebastian to his own devices (he has given Sebastian some autonomy, a theme to be revisited later, no doubt,) and Sebastian is thinking to himself?
He says that now (implying a change from before) what he enjoys more than being a vicious beast is playing butler in his game with Ciel. Sebastian has somehow grown throughout his time with Ciel, to the point where he would rather leave behind an essential part of what it means to be a demon because he no longer finds that as enjoyable as pretending to be a butler.
Chapter 99, therefore, gave us a glimpse of some growth in Sebastian’s character, which Ciel, by assuming that Sebastian enjoys acting like a frenzied beast, unknowingly put a stop to.
Now in Chapter 107 we have this:
Ciel saying that Sebastian cannot ever hope to understand human emotions, plus Ciel coldly reminding Sebastian that with one order, he can make Sebastian act like a vicious beast. In short, he can take away all the apparent progress that Sebastian has made, sending him back to being a cruel beast again.
A cold-blooded reminder that Ciel made Sebastian, and that he can unmake him.
Even Sebastian says outright that that reminder is quite harsh.
And Ciel laughs.
It’s almost as if Ciel finds this notion laughable: that Sebastian thinks Ciel is being harsh to a demon, and perhaps even the idea that Sebastian could perhaps want to be something more than a demon is grounds for laughter, too. After all, how can a demon understand kindness if he can’t even understand human emotions? The idea, to Ciel, is preposterous.
And here is where the real irony of the situation lies: at this point in the story, Sebastian may just understand kindness better than Ciel does. Further, Sebastian, a demon, is attempting to give advice to a human about how to be a better person, but his words are falling on deaf ears. After all, what authority does a demon have in matters of kindness and human emotions? Especially if you think that demon is incapable of them? Yet Chapter 99 gave us a hint that Sebastian may have grown beyond what he started out as.
Sebastian has changed, whereas Ciel has remained the same.
Who then, is more cruel in this situation? The demon who asks questions to understand human sympathy and kindness and who has changed somewhat, or the boy who still views people as pawns? Though Ciel has shown hints of remorse and kindness and is in no way 100% evil, he still thinks of himself as a cold and cruel human being:
This is what Ciel professed on that hill next to the abandoned workhouse: this what humans are: dishonest, cruel, cold. And Ciel is no different.
So cold that not only is Ciel unaware of Sebastian’s growth, he doesn’t even think Sebastian is capable of that kind of growth. The idea is, to him, laughable. So cruel as to coldly remind Sebastian that his actions, his persona, his very identity, are all completely at Ciel’s mercy.
Ciel laughs when Sebastian says he intends to be an obedient butler, and the irony is that Sebastian is not only saying he’ll play the part of butler, he’s also saying that he will act like a cruel beast if that is what Ciel orders him to do. He will still be faithful and obedient, both as butler and beast, acting however it pleases his master, and carrying out his master’s every order.
Even if that order means Sebastian denying his own growth and stripping away the progress he has made for the sake of obedience to Ciel. Sebastian is ready, quite literally, to destroy himself for his master.
He need only wait for the order.
And should that order come, would Ciel even realize the progress he was ordering Sebastian to undo?
It is again that theme from the Circus arc, come back yet again: that perhaps the more demonic one is not the demon, but is instead the human.