I’ve previously reviewed Black Butler (loved it) and Black Butler 2 (be gone from my sight). However, I wrote my review of Book of Circus after watching Book of Circus on Crunchyroll and fell in love with Black Butler all over again, which may seem inconsistent as it does a few of the things that I berated Black Butler 2 for doing. Revisiting this post just reminded me that my opinion of this one really hasn’t changed.
Yes, there are unnecessary appearances by characters simply because they are part of the original series. And there’s some timeline inconsistencies in this story (mainly due to Book of Circus apparently following something from the source rather than carrying on from the anime adaptation). Kind of on the same level as between Firefly (TV series) and Serenity (movie) where some of the key events are changed to better further the current narrative. That said, the minor discrepancies aren’t enough to break the deal with this show and the unnecessary character cameos are less intrusive than they felt in Black Butler 2.
So why should you watch Book of Circus?
1. The opening theme is incredible. I loved the original Black Butler opening but Book of Circus perfectly matches the circus theme with the dark undertones of the story and creates something really special. And clearly I’m not the only one who thinks so given how many YouTube channels have a version of this opening up to watch.
2. We revisit Ciel and Sebastian’s relationship and the complexities in their master/butler, contractor/demon roles and Ciel’s character arc in this narrative is possibly the best of the lot. While I loved Ciel in the original series because he didn’t undergo overt transformation but reaffirmed his existing status, Ciel in this arc actually manages to develop and grow (and break apart at times) without derailing who Ciel is at his core. It’s fascinating to watch and it doesn’t feel like they’ve cheapened his character. Plus, Ciel is adorable in his circus clothes (this is a point I have to reiterate – Ciel is at his absolute cutest in this story).
3. The support cast are great. My biggest issue with Black Butler 2 was the introduction of Alois and Claude, both of whom I despised. Book of Circus bring us a colourful cast of interesting and flawed characters to follow and get to know, even if the end is inevitable from the get-go.
These characters probably deserve a bit more time and attention than I gave them originally in my review. The majority of the employees at the circus were orphans and they are incredibly close. It makes it hard to Sebastian and Ciel to infiltrate because even after they become employed by the circus they aren’t part of that inner group. The relationship between the supporting characters is an absolute asset to this story and makes everything feel more real and dramatic than it might otherwise be.
We also revisit some of the other characters from Black Butler and each one is used to fairly solid affect, though it should definitely be noted that this is a story about the circus and Sebastian and Ciel. The other characters are there to help connect this story to other stories in the Black Butler universe but they are not the focus.
4. It’s a well told story. By focusing on one investigation and the steps Ciel will take to solve it, there’s no feeling that this is simply being rushed along as another bump in Ciel’s journey. It feels like the events were given the time they needed without lingering overly long. While it would have been nice for a villain with just a little more motivation (or sanity) the lack of this doesn’t detract from enjoying the journey and having a satisfying resolution.
5. Seriously, it’s just fun. Visually it’s appealing, the music works, the characters come together well, and for any criticism I could give this series, I could dismiss it just as quick because I really enjoyed watching it. And that is why I watch anime.
I’d love to know your thoughts on this instalment of Black Butler, however it was fantastic to watch through and it remains one of my favourite parts of this franchise.