Black Butler: Book of Circus Overview:
In Black Butler: Book of Circus, Ciel is asked by the Queen to investigate a circus after a number of children have gone missing and the police have no clues. In order to get close to the performers, Ciel and his butler, Sebastian, audition and take on jobs within the Circus in this 10 episode story arc.
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Black Butler: Book of Circus Review:
I’ve previously reviewed Black Butler (loved it) and Black Butler 2 (be gone from my sight). However, after watching Book of Circus I 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. Despite that, this may very well become my very favourite narrative within the entire franchise.
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. 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 not too intrusive given the short run time of this particular story arc. And that’s perhaps the strength of this instalment. It really does focus on a single narrative arc and it does it quite well.
Also, the opening theme here 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.
If you have the time, you should definitely just watch the OP and pay attention to the visuals within it as there’s a lot going on and as an opening theme should it gives you a good sense of the characters, the world, and the overall themes to be explored within.
This arc also revisits 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 lost.
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. Of course Ciel does suffer from one of those odd anime ailments that sees him bed-ridden during one of the episodes but that does give us some adorable moments between him and Sebastian.
Outside of the central duo, the support cast that we are introduced to here 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.
It’s a shame some of these characters don’t get to hang around for further narrative arcs because this is perhaps the best cast Black Butler has ever introduced us to.
But all the colourful characters in the world won’t make up for a poor story. Fortunately, Book of Circus is a well told story.
By focussing 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.
In fact, this narrative arc is so self-contained you could almost watch it without prior knowledge of the franchise, though fans of Ciel and Sebastian will clearly get a lot more enjoyment from it. Still, if someone was new to Black Butler, this could be an okay place to start.
Overall though, this is just fun to watch.
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.
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