“Monochrome no Kiss:” A Pinnacle Expose of Ciel’s Mind

I have a serious discussion to get down to today, revolving around “Monochrome no Kiss.” TO GET DIRECTLY TO THE SERIOUS LYRICAL INTERPRETATION, skip to the triple line break just before the embedded video. If not planning to skip, read on.

Rambling rife! Word economy not undertaken. NO apologies will be issued. You have been warned.


Today, I started writing in attempting to escape. As I began what was intended to be a brief explanation of my feelings, my fingers took on quite the mind of their own. I found myself revealing far too personal information, readers. This blog is anonymous for a reason, after all. So, in starting my post over, I will say that—though I am upset, stressed out, (also probably a little dramatic, admittedly—but we can’t always help how we feel) and ready to just scream at everything, “FORGET IT!!”—I will instead turn to you, random computer anime friendly people (is that a proper term of address, dear readers?), and ask you to help me forget my woes. I am so tired of trying to do the right thing and being bested at every turn by the powers that be. The frustration is real. I could use a little anime-inspired distraction.

Being an English major and literature lover, I am overtly familiar with lyrical interpretation. I was graded on it, you know? I love such analysis, and I do so frequently as a pastime. SO TODAY I WANT TO DISCUSS MY INTERPRETATION OF A SONG THAT I LOVE—“Monochrome no Kiss” by Sid. (The theme song from “Black Butler” season 1!)

Before you get bored and turn away, trust me when I say I’m not going to get super annoying and technical about it, because—regardless of what a highly formulistic professor may say (PICK A SCHOOL! PICK A PHILOSOPHY!)—that is not what interpretation is about. I’m not going to write you a paper here, I just want to talk. ❤


On YouTube, I found a singer who calls himself “Shadels (Shadowlink4321).” Truly named Daniel Alvarez, the guy’s got skill, yo. He sings an English cover of the song “Monochrome no Kiss,” and it captured my heart. I listen to it now, in my emotional state, and I want to cry, guys (which might just be me, but he’s still really talented). It’s a real thing.

His (and Y. Chang’s) translation’s lyrics are as follows:

I close my eyes, the touch of your fingers
Through monochrome the memory lingers
Into your hands I’m resting the pain inside me

I clear my mind, of this unforgiveness.
All of my scars, and all it’s traces
You and me, I see
A dream of blind destiny

And it’s into your arms I’m melting
And it’s the first time I’ve ever felt like this
You are the hand that’s dealt me
The tempter sealing my fate
With a kiss

And in a flash, the stars align
I search beyond the words, wanting a sign
But lost inside your eyes
Lies become clearer to see
They tell a different story
So take the reins and don’t let go
I want this pain to scar deep, for I know
All our past receives healing, with memories concealing,
We cry to the light of the moon.

This night’s become a wonderful haven
And in my heart, it’s what I’ve craven.*
Addicted to this sea.
I’ve even lost the need to breathe.

And it’s out of my life, you’re fading.
And it’s the warmth of your arms I still desire.
Stuck all alone, I’m praying
to never share my one kiss with a liar.

And in the dark, I’m left alone.
My heart inside is losing every tone.
And spotting all your lies,
Wise of this path to be free
I’m writing a new story
I fall asleep to tainted dreams
I know that there is more to all that seems
Wanting all my desires to never retire,
I live by the light of the moon.

And it’s straight to the sky, I’m flying
And it’s the knowledge that you will not be there
Struggling through, I’m trying
To find my own escape out of this snare.

And in a flash, the stars align
I search beyond the words, still wanting a sign
But lost inside your eyes
Lies become clearer to see
They tell a different story
So take the reins and don’t let go
I want this pain to scar deep, for I know
In spite of every sign crying this night to be true
The sun will rise without you

So here’s another kiss
To tainted bliss
A toast to empty promise
With virtue pretending love as our ending
We fall by the light of the moon

*I choose to believe the line should read, “I’m craving,” because it makes perfect sense and “craven” is not a verb. Typo? Linguistic mistake? Doesn’t matter, moving on.




Having read this, take a listen to the song as it plays below, and then we can begin our discussion around a central theme: “Monochrome no Kiss,” as transcribed, is a PERFECT representation of the show from which it stems. It is a pinnacle, a figurative expose, and an ultimately accurate portrayal of Ceil’s relationships with his demon, himself, and his world (including those non-demonic entities that said world inhabit).

Song:

Before we begin, I must be clear. This show is not shonen ai. There is no love or romance between Ciel and Sebastian. “Monochrome no Kiss” is, however, rife with seemingly romantic imagery, both entirely figurative and entirely perfect. Sebastian is a demon, and as such, the temptation he presents, while not sexual, can be easily expressed in those terms. Please also keep in mind that you are being subject to my interpretation and, as such, nothing can be spoken of definitely, though for the sake of brevity I will do so here. Finally, this is a narration from Ciel’s mind. Ciel is fighting a battle within himself. What Sebastian thinks or feels has no bearing on the interpretation, and is a discussion for another day. And so, without further ado (as I often say) we begin.

Let us go segment by segment.

“I close my eyes, the touch of your fingers
Through monochrome the memory lingers
Into your hands I’m resting the pain inside me”

Ciel’s mind reaches back. He remembers that time when his contract was made. Though his life has become black and white in comparison to it’s once happy, youthful color, he can remember through the present to that final time when everything was truly alive in color–everything was awash in crimson, painted with his blood. Ciel recalls sealing his fate, and throwing his desperation and pain into the hands of the only entity that answered him, the demon he would come to name Sebastian.

“I clear my mind, of this unforgiveness.
All of my scars, and all it’s traces
You and me, I see
A dream of blind destiny”

As he makes the contract, the horribly broken, tortured, abused Ciel is able to clear his mind and take Sebastian’s hand, using him as a lifeline to escape his fate and falling into a dream of his destiny. As stated in “Book of Circus,” any normal child who went through what Ceil went through would never be able to function again. Ceil can only function because he has Sebastian. This is that moment in which Ciel’s future is realized.

“And it’s into your arms I’m melting
And it’s the first time I’ve ever felt like this
You are the hand that’s dealt me
The tempter sealing my fate
With a kiss

”

Ciel makes the contract, and with that contract comes the overwhelming power and capability brought by summoning and mastering a demon. He’s never felt like this before. Sebastian is that hand that has been dealt to him in life, the orchestrator of Ciel’s fate, his tempter, promising him a better future (at least short term) than the death and suffering from which he flees.

“And in a flash, the stars align
I search beyond the words, wanting a sign
But lost inside your eyes
Lies become clearer to see
They tell a different story
So take the reins and don’t let go
I want this pain to scar deep, for I know
All our past receives healing, with memories concealing,
We cry to the light of the moon.”

The moment the contact is made, everything becomes clear to Ciel. He tries to reason what he’s just done–to see beyond what Sebastian has painted for him merely by existing–but he’s lost in the promises of what this new power and capability can mean in besting his enemies. Ciel has been warped by torture and pain. The little boy he was is no more. (Ciel says many times, after all, that he has forgotten even how to truly smile.) The lies spoken of here (those that paint a different story) are those that promise a form of salvation, even as Ciel knows that his soul is forfeit. At the moment, Sebastian IS his only salvation. The revenge (or more aptly, opportunity) he offers tell a story other than that of his true ultimatum: damnation.

Ciel, though often boasting the king’s position in the chessboard that his life has become, knows inside that without Sebastian, he could not continue to function. (Again, we’ve touched on this here and the show touches on it in “Book of Circus.”) Thus, he throws himself to the wolves (Sebastian, as it were) and allows himself to be saved (damned, as it were), as contrary as that sounds. As Ciel says at the end of season 1 (Though I know it is not cannon, it is aptly characterized.), he wants the pain to be a mark. In this instance, however, it is not a sign of a life lived; it is an assertion that, upon this contracting, his pain will no longer matter. It will “heal.” He will only remember at night, when it seems that we all, as humans, remember those things that we’d rather forget. It also signifies that his life is now lived in the figurative darkness of night.

“This night’s become a wonderful haven
And in my heart, it’s what I’ve craven.*
Addicted to this sea.
I’ve even lost the need to breathe.”

(*Consider rather, “I’m craving.”)

We’ve moved past the point at which the contract was made. Back at present, Ciel insists that his life has become want he expected it could be at that moment of clarity (when the star’s aligned, as it were). Ciel has become that young man we know him to be in the series. He is comfortable in role, though not truly happy. He is ambitious; he is dark. He no longer runs from evil, as he did when he cried out that night of the contract for aide, but rather revels in its execution for his own gain. In a sense, he masters evil personified, Sebastian.

“And it’s out of my life, you’re fading.
And it’s the warmth of your arms I still desire.
Stuck all alone, I’m praying
to never share my one kiss with a liar.”

(Here, our interpretation can go one of two ways. The subject identified by “you” could shift to encompass those left in Ciel’s life which whom he still feels a lingering emotional connection (think Lizzy), or it could remain as an identifier for Sebastian. I quite prefer one over the other (the “Lizzy” one, to be fair), but I will include both.

A) If season 1 had been entirely cannon, these lines would be easy to interpret. Sebastian leaves Ciel, and Ciel does not know what to do when he finds himself seemingly abandoned by his demon. (Remember, Sebastian did not actually leave him permanently; their contract was maintained; Ciel can still spiritually function.) Ciel is alone and desperately wonders if his demon, who promised  not to leave him until his goal is realized, has lied.

B ) “You” has shifted to represent those in Ciel’s life that he still feels lingering attachment to. Think Lizzy, for example. Those people become less important to him in the course of his demon-aided pursuits. His old life is becoming in some ways meaningless, and he recognizes this with a mental panic. He does still care for these people that he has always known. He still desires that warmth of human contact, though his life has grown cold, cynical, and fixed upon one goal. He finds himself desperately hoping that the future painted for him by Sebastian at the moment of contract is worth his sacrifice. This is also a form of self-delusion, because Sebastian never lied to Ciel directly. He warned Ciel frankly that Ciel would, in the end, loose his soul. He never painted himself as true salvation, but rather as the only salvation at hand.

“And in the dark, I’m left alone.
My heart inside is losing every tone.
And spotting all your lies,
Wise of this path to be free
I’m writing a new story
I fall asleep to tainted dreams
I know that there is more to all that seems
Wanting all my desires to never retire,
I live by the light of the moon.”

(Please note that “you” now again references Ciel’s demon and will continue to so do.)

In his black and white, monochrome abyss–his mental state-Ciel is left bereft of those attachments he once had to his happy childhood and truly emotional, human existence. He withers. He sees that the future he envisioned at the moment of contract is hollow. He still refers to these visions as Sebastian’s lies, but this is still a form of self-delusion or self-preservation, as we have established that Sebastian never directly lied to his “young master.” While Sebastian has no compulsions about honestly or morality, is not in the demon aesthetic to lie. Ciel, in his recognition, mentally attempts to alter his thoughts, knowing that it would be wise to break way from the path he’s taken to becoming the young man he now is. Alas, it is futile. Ciel knows that there is a truth (an untainted view of life–Remember, Ceil’s views, personality, and goals have become very warped since his torture.), in contrast to the lies (his current perspective) in which he now lives, but he has been tainted, and there is, for lack of a better term, no going back. As Ciel has said, things that are lost can never be recovered. The old Ciel is gone. He lives his life in his current manner now. He is the Ciel that in the series we know.

“And it’s straight to the sky, I’m flying
And it’s the knowledge that you will not be there
Struggling through, I’m trying
To find my own escape out of this snare.”

Even knowing that it is impossible, the part of Ciel that is still pure cries out for redemption, freedom from the self-imposed exile from those he once felt connection with and escape from damnation of the soul. Even though that part of him so badly craves freedom and a return to truly living as he might have, that same part is still terrified of being without his demon. Again, Ciel is a normal child bereft of Sebastian. It is a truth and promise that Ciel cannot psychologically function without the support of his demon, as any normal child could not function having been exposed to that level of torture and depravity. We see how deeply Ciel’s scars run in the plot line revolving around Baron Kelvin. Ciel literally clings to Sebastian like a lifeline. And yet, inside, Ciel struggles.

“And in a flash, the stars align
I search beyond the words, still wanting a sign
But lost inside your eyes
Lies become clearer to see
They tell a different story
So take the reins and don’t let go
I want this pain to scar deep, for I know
In spite of every sign crying this night to be true
The sun will rise without you

”

Ciel has not changed. His does not and cannot deviate from his path. (Remember when Fred Abberline lay dying and says that Ciel could have a normal life, if he chose, and we as the audience were forced to disagree no matter how much it hurt us to know as much?) Part of Ciel rebels, yes, but the greater part is still taken. The greater part is still driven absolutely by his goals, his revenge, his game. He will still rely on and attach himself to Sebastian in spite of, or rather because of, his psychological trauma–Sebastian will be his “salvation.”

Now, when he feels that horrible pain (in that all of him feels the pain of his bloody past and part of him is lost in current regret/despair), he does not believe that it will “heal,” only to be felt at night. Rather, he wants the pain to scar as a curse upon him, a mark, because he knows that, despite the way the better part of him feels or makes himself believe, this situation is…wrong. He can’t deny as much, at least not to himself. And even it is wrong, even if every sign points that he is down a path of damnation, he will continue to walk it as if it alone were salvation.

“So here’s another kiss
To tainted bliss
A toast to empty promise
With virtue pretending love as our ending
We fall by the light of the moon”

Ciel renews his commitment. Ciel knows the truth inside himself, and in spite of this continues down his path. He carries out his duties and goals wearing the Phantomhive name and without remorse or visible regret, working toward a single minded salvation. He plays the game. He uses his pieces. He poises himself an earl, that being his own aesthetic and virtue. Eventually, living in the monochrome that is now is life, he will fall and die, with Sebastian standing and waiting by his side.


If you’d like to see more of such interpretation, comment and share. Let me know your own thoughts. I don’t think I’m the only one moved by the poignancy of Sid’s creation.

If you want, you can find me on WordPress (obviously) and Twitter.

Until next time, I leave this with you. May it find you well.

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5 thoughts on ““Monochrome no Kiss:” A Pinnacle Expose of Ciel’s Mind

  1. heyitszel says:

    “Being an English major and literature lover, I am overtly familiar with lyrical interpretation. ” I’m not an English major – but I love lyrical interpretation! Critical Thinking and analysis of anything is my absolute favorite! 😀 sounds nerdy of me but I love it!
    I still have to read through most of this but I JUST had to comment!

    Liked by 1 person

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