Full of wonder and excitement, the Noah's Arc Circus troupe has captured audiences with their dazzling performances. Yet these fantastic acts don't come without a price. Children have mysteriously gone missing around London, correlating to that of the groups' movements. Unsettled by these kidnappings, Queen Victoria sends in her notorious guard dog, Ciel Phantomhive, and his ever-faithful demon butler, Sebastian Michaelis, on an undercover mission to find these missing children.
Trying to balance their new circus acts with their covert investigation under the big top, however, proves to be quite a challenge. With the other performers growing suspicious and the threat of the circus' mysterious benefactor looming overhead, what the two discover will shake Ciel to his very core.
Entertainment is a broad word to be honest. People tend to define entertainment as something of enjoyment and value that is provoked. And what better place to get entertainment than at a circus? As an attraction and adaptation, Black Butler: Book of Circus adapts the Noah's Ark Circus arc from the manga. (Volumes 6-8, chapters 24-37) Previously, the arc was skipped from season 1 (occurs after the Curry Arc). Nonetheless, the show establishes the assumption that you are already familiarized with the franchise; either anime or manga. Taken for granted though, Black Butler: Book of Circus continues the fantasy adventure of a young boy and
his butler. They return and takes part of an attraction at a circus where there’s much more than just entertainment.
The first episode essentially starts off as anime original filler that serves as a way to get fans refreshed and fired up for the main course. The main course here is of course, Noah’s Circus led by a man named Jack. It doesn’t take long for the main course to sink as the majority of the actors and actresses are introduced. But to get the best experience out of this series, it’s important to get attached with Ciel and Sebastian. They play their roles in this arc in a detective-esque role as they investigate the underworld relating to a case of missing children. Point taken, this arc has a combination of both lighthearted and dark moments. The latter is easily realized as the arc progresses with secrets unrivaled and boundaries of civilized behavior shattered in pieces.
There’s not much change however when it comes to our investigators, Ciel and Sebastian. Their personalities remains generally the same as the previous season. One thing noticeable is their growing attachment such as Sebastian looking after the well-being of his master. At the same time, he also plays the fool and pokes fun at Ciel; in particular his outfit and stage name. On the other hand, Ciel realizes what he must do to secure the case and takes action. Despite seeming like a timid boy, Ciel can be quite courageous and dedicated as evidenced when he gets a flu yet still wishes to continue with the case. Inspiration is perhaps a word to describe this young boy as well when we see how much he despises the darkness that roams behind the circus. And despite being childish at times, Ciel is a clever boy with ideas. Sebastian on the other hand uses his seductiveness to advantage and intellect to aid in the case. His relationship with another grim reaper in this arc adds a touch of comedy with their mutual dislike. The “rivalry” between the two takes various turns and exaggerates itself with oddball humor. Nonetheless, Ciel and Sebastian are still the main duo of this show. They might not be Sherlock Holmes of the century but they got guts.
Mystery becomes a pivotal point throughout this series’ story as we find out more about the origins of the circus. Ringleader Joker makes his highlight entrance as he performs for the crowd. The show gives the circus performance an extravagant elegance when the characters come to the stage. Characters such as Beast, Jumbo, Dagger, and Wendy all demonstrate their skills with praise. Despite the tongue-in-cheek humor (especially during Beast’s act), the show maintains a good posture with its comedy. It also has a degree of realism as the circus acts are symmetrical to real life circus performances. Joker in particular serves as an entertaining host with his cheerful personality and is able to hide his emotions from others at will. In a way, he is almost similar to Sebastian as both characters are able to hide their true motives while putting on a poker face. At the same time, there’s also adequate relationship dynamics as seen with the case of Beast. Her inner struggles is highlighted through her feelings as we see a more vulnerable side of her. The negative side of this is that we don’t get much characterization of the circus members. We only glance at the motives/ambitions, their personalities, and perhaps where their true purpose lies. There’s minimal amount of flashback or background story to flesh out with these characters as it only scratches on the surface. Unfortunately, a series covered by a mere 10 episodes isn’t’ enough to develop them enough which is a shame. The plus side is how we can appreciate the closeness of the Noah’s Circus Trope members. They might be travelers and entertainers but at a closer glance, they almost seem and act like a family as brothers and sisters.
As the season is more story oriented, expect plot twists and revelations. As mentioned before, the arc gets darker as each episode progresses. Mystery envelops itself with characters such as Doll and Snake. The latter demonstrates a malevolent presence while Doll becomes an epitome for mysteriousness. The imagery the show presents with the story is that there is something dark going on behind the scenes. And seemingly enough, there’s also a mastermind pulling the strings that is even a higher order than the host, Joker himself. The story gets grimmer with sinfully crafted themes that can be stomach indulging at times. It still remains culturally developed with the European like style but gets more complicated. Its gothic style is stylized by the behavior of the characters. Add a touch of fantasy and dream-like atmosphere and we get even more artistic story. Because behind the circus acts lies a dark secret in which this series explores with. Combined with the motivation of the mastermind, the story becomes something of a shadowy theater. Expect the unexpected.
A-1 Studios attempts to bring back the style fans were used to with the previous season. Luckily enough, it achieves its purpose. Action scenes are fluid with well-coordinated movements and pacing. The backgrounds of this series still looks elegant with detailed designs such as the Victorian themes. I’m not just referring elegance with the structures but also the way characters are designed. Indeed, characters are lavishly decorated such as the flamboyant clothes of Joker, the fiery outfit Beasts wears, or the fashionable dress up that Doll puts on. It’s not just wholly imaginative but also makes sense for its circus theme. Similarly, Ciel and Sebastian has style when it comes to their choice of clothing. There’s also minimal fan service except a few cases with the seductive Sebastian. Every demonic butler has to a have a little bit of fun though, right?
Soundtrack is fluid with orchestral tones and a folklore-like OST. The distinctiveness of the Circus’ theme plays out well with matching background music. And with our characters, voice mannerisms fits quite well with them. The big newcomer, Joker perhaps stands out as a centerpiece of this testament as he plays the sort of ringleader, host, and of pierrot of the show. Make no mistake though. The circus conveys a darker image as the soundtrack gets darker and darker with an unsettling atmosphere on more occasions. Even with the smooth fantasy elements added, the message is there to create an abstract feeling. Oh and OP/ED songs of this series is brilliantly presented. It’s like opening the stage of each episode and finishes it off with an encore.
There’s a sense of nostalgia with this series. Even though Black Butler didn’t air too long ago, the show feels refreshing. Color me surprised but this adaptation did justice to itself. Despite some fillers inserted in, there’s an impeccable performance with the characters and the story it works with. The spectacle is top notch with clever humor, neatly timed battle scenarios, and well-rounded dialogues. While it doesn’t have too much action compared to the previous seasons, Black Butler: Book of Circus stands out in its own way. It’s an epic feast of a fantasy adventure with the circus and return of Ciel and Sebastian. An accomplished series with goals met. This show is definitely something to keep an eye on if you’re a fan of the original series and manga. Take notice now.
Can you imagine how frustrating it is to be a heterosexual male who HATES paedophilia who also happens to like Kuroshitsuji? Damn it, A-1 Pictures why did it take you guys THIS long to do Kuroshitsuji right, especially after all the shit you guys did to sour everyone else's view of the series? The first season had a lot of problems behind it that could've easily been fixed with a little more foresight and Kuroshitsuji II was a pointless cash-grab that just REEKED of corporate greed and yaoi-fangirl pandering that would make even make Hetalia fan fiction look like Dr. Seuss. With all of this
damage done to Kuroshitsuji's reputation, why did it take you THIS long to finally get it right? If you're one of the many people who've been hesitating to give Kuroshitsuji a try because of its reputation as shameless fangirl pandering, I HIGHLY urge you to watch Book of Circus before coming to any conclusions.
Before I begin, I just want to get one thing out of the way: yes, this is technically a continuation of the first season which picks up the manga's story where the first season left off (which is around Episode 16-onward). HOWEVER, Book of Circus is inexplicably formatted as if it was geared toward newcomers to the franchise. This is of course both good and bad. The good is the fact that you don't have to sit through the first 15 episodes of the first season to actually familiarise yourself with the characters and the like since any events that happened within the first season are quickly recapped for your convenience. The bad news is that if you are in fact, a complete newcomer to the franchise... chances are that you might get a bit lost somewhere down the road. Keep in mind that this is only 10 episodes long though, so you should just kind of roll with it if you're watching and look it up later if you really are that curious.
Aside from the stuff I mentioned before, another reason why people don't give Kuroshitsuji a chance is because well... the concept sounds kind of boring in hindsight and that's something I really can't defend because truth be told, it DOES get boring. HOWEVER, that's not entirely the case with Book of Circus. Book of Circus adapts the much-lauded Noah's Ark Circus portion of the manga's story which is where Toboso actually cut all of the superfluous bullshit and actually focused on giving us involving plot that sucks us in. Here's the deal: a travelling circus comes to London, but the problem is that children keep getting abducted in every city that the circus has been in. Considering Ciel's reputation as the Queen's guard dog, it was only a matter of time before he's ordered by Her Majesty to conduct an investigation.
Right off the bat, we have an awesome set-up. People unfamiliar with Black Butler tend to dismiss this show as a slice-of-life supernatural comedy taking place in Victorian England, which couldn't be farther from the truth. The biggest reason that I can think of as to why people tend to have this misconception is because the first half of Kuroshitsuji's first season REALLY dialled up the comedy which really affected the overall tone of the story. The manga does retain a similar style of humour which mostly consists of visual gags and slapstick, but it's far less prevalent. Considering the fact that the vast majority of this show takes place in a circus, it's no surprise that there would be some hint of a light-hearted tone with a little bit of comedy present. However, that's mostly evident within the first four episodes where the Noah's Ark Circus is being introduced and the mystery was being touched upon.
As the show progresses, the mystery surrounding the Noah's Ark Circus is gradually explored and good GOD does it get morbid. I'm not even joking when I tell you that there's actually a point in the penultimate episodes where there actually was censorship put into effect for a good 20-30 seconds (parts of the screen end up being blacked out). For people who come into Kuroshitsuji expecting some kind of bishie festival full of yaoi subtext and shota undertones full of over-the-top comedy akin to something like say... Ouran HSHC, this will be a MAJOR shock to the system. Whenever Yana Toboso actually gets to work on an arc with a serious story that has the potential to suck you in, she more or less drops most of the bullshit and actually focuses on developing the story with minimal interruptions whatsoever. Speaking of which, there's actually not a lot of shota/yaoi subtext throughout the entirety of the Noah's Ark Circus. I mean... there's bits and pieces of it here and there, but it's a hell of a lot more bearable than that fucking corset scene from Episode 4.
As for the pacing, the actual mystery surrounding the Noah's Ark Circus is handled quite well, which you might think is rather surprising given that this is a 10-episode season. HOWEVER, the entirety of the Noah's Ark Circus portion of the manga was only 13 chapters long to begin with which means that it's adapted at a ratio of about 1 chapter:1 episode ratio. Keep in mind that's also roughly 468 pages of material to adapt, where each chapter was around 35-40 pages long. I'd say that 10 episodes was enough to work with to give this part of the manga a fair adaptation. It's not a perfect adaptation though, given that the first episode is more or less an introduction to Ciel, Sebas-chan, and everyone else and has next-to-nothing to do with the Noah's Ark Circus until the end of the episode. I still found it pretty entertaining though, although that mostly stems from my fondness of Sebas-chan (and of course, the amazing visuals/OST that A-1 Pictures provides).
Moving over to the character side of things, let's take a look at Ciel and Sebas-chan first. Ciel is for lack of better words, a 13-year-old Bruce Wayne but with an eye patch. The thing is that he suffers from a REALLY traumatic past (which actually DOES get explored in Book of Circus), but it's that traumatic past that causes him to constantly brood and never know when to lighten up... you know, unless he's faking it for the sake of Her Majesty. He will lie and cheat if it means that whatever he's doing for the sake of the Queen will go further which is clearly evident whenever he has to weasel his way out of some less-than-ideal situations. For the most part, Ciel doesn't really change throughout Book of Circus but that's kind of understandable given that he BARELY changed throughout the entirety of the manga (I'm 97 chapters in, and I can safely say that he hasn't had all that much character growth).
Now we get to Sebastian Michaelis, affectionately referred to as "Sebby" by the fans and "Sebas-chan" or "Bassy" by Grell (depends on whether or not you watch sub/dub). He's one hell of a bishie demon butler who made a contract with Ciel to help him exact revenge on those who wronged him in exchange for being able to consume his soul once the deed is done. In all honesty, I love Sebas-chan as a character. In many ways, Ciel and Sebas-chan have a relationship similar to that of Integra and Alucard from Hellsing. At the same time, Sebastian likes to toy around with his master and keep things fresh and entertaining for him.
A lot of people don't like Sebastian because of the fact that he's overpowered, but that's like hating on the Gundam franchise because it involves giant robots. The biggest draw to Sebastian is his personality and his approach to the various situations that he gets put into. The terms of the contract that he has with Ciel are only effective if he's alive... but just barely. Ciel also has to be very careful about what he orders Sebastian to do, otherwise he'll just do whatever and get off on a technicality. So in that sense, it keeps the relationship between the two of them fresh and is just a joy to watch on-screen... whenever there isn't any shota subtext. Much like Ciel, Sebas-chan really doesn't change throughout Book of Circus and that's kind of the way he is throughout the vast majority of the manga. Well, then again this manga's been going on for like eight years via monthly serialisation. It's no surprise that Toboso hasn't quite fleshed out the characters yet.
As for the new characters introduced in Book of Circus like Joker, Beast, Doll, and Snake... they're all pretty interesting to say the least. With the exception of Joker, Beast, and Doll, the vast majority of the Noah's Ark Circus characters aren't really developed all that much (with the possible exception of Snake, but he shows up later in the manga's run WAY past the end of the Noah's Ark Circus). Well... then again, this is a 10-episode long series that adapts a relatively short part of the manga. I guess it's only natural for character development to not exactly be up-to-snuff. I will say this though: Episodes 7-9 which feature this show's main antagonist will DEFINITELY catch you off-guard. On another note, Episode 8 features the Phantomhive servants kicking ass like they did in the episode "His Butler, Engaging Servants" from the first season and I have to say... I NEVER get tired of Mey-Rin without her glasses on. I can't wait to hear Monica Rial voicing her in the English dub.
On the technical side of things, the art/animation for Book of Circus is absolutely GORGEOUS and is quite possibly some of A-1 Pictures' best work to date. This season alone makes the other two pretty damn hard to watch. I guess it's similar to The Boondocks where the art/animation quality continuously improves throughout each season. I honestly can't wait for the Book of Murder OVAs to come out so that I can see how A-1 Pictures is going to top themselves. What I really love about the art/animation is how A-1 Pictures actually implemented stuff like shading and lighting to quite a realistic degree in a vein similar to Death Note. Now if only A-1 Pictures' adaptations were as good as Madhouse's. Whatever, that's none of my business *drinks a cup of Earl Grey tea* As for the art/animation for the OP and ED, I quite like the OP but the ED felt a bit too... fangirl-pandering for my liking. Whatever, this is Black Butler... fangirl pandering is something that's part of the course and it's something I've made peace with a long time ago.
On the sound side of things... I REALLY wish that the Book of Circus OST was released by now because there were a LOT of BGM tracks that I happened to pick up on and thoroughly enjoy. Now if only they retained the song "Si Deus Me Relinquit" from the first season. Speaking of which, they actually got SID back to do the opening for Book of Circus (these are also the guys that did the first ED and fifth OP of Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood). "Enamel" has to be the catchiest OP theme I've heard yet, and this is coming from a guy who couldn't get the fifth OP for Naruto PT1 out of his head for a good six years (and I REALLY wish that was hyperbole). I also quite like the ED track, "Aoki Tsuki Michite" by AKIRA... although to be brutally honest, it's the visuals I don't quite care much for and is the main reason why I skipped over the ED altogether. If it were just you know... just a black screen with text in the foreground, I'd stay around and listen to the song because it really is that good. There is no English dub to speak of at the time of writing, but on the subtitled side of things, we've got familiar faces like Maaya Sakamoto and Daisuke Ono voicing Ciel and Sebas-chan respectively. In other words: REALLY good performances from these two. Considering the fact that Funimation licensed Book of Circus for simulcasting, I'm guessing that the dub will be the same as the first two seasons. In other words: Brina Palencia and J. Michael Tatum voicing Ciel and Sebastian with fake British accents. I'm game for that.
Would I say that I enjoyed Book of Circus? Absolutely. This was actually the show that got me to pick up a Kuroshitsuji volume because I couldn't stand waiting for episodes every week while watching the show when it was still airing. If a show manages to get me to read something, it gets a pass from me. As for how much you'd enjoy it? I'd say that you'd probabl enjoy it quite a bit, maybe not as much as I do, but chances are that it'll probably exceed your expectations. Like, if you have some REALLY low expectations for the Kuroshitsuji franchise, I can't think of a better series to watch than Book of Circus. If you had a sour taste in your mouth because of the first two seasons, I heartily recommend watching this one as it will more than likely change your preconceptions about this series.
In the year of 2008, appear an anime that draws all the female audience into the front of the screen. Yes, it's Kuroshitsuji.
The Book of Circus is a sequel from the middle of the 1st season.
Basically, at the early episode, the story doesn't have an orientation on its way, but after that episode, the story continues with a well-organized plot, it is successfully done well in a short periodic of time (10 episodes), although there are some points that lack in source.
As for the animation, the Book of Circus have the same animation like the other previous season, the characters have unique designs
The opening song really matched with the entire season, as well as the ending song. The seiyuu did a good job in bringing such character to the scene.
Book of Circus have a decent character development, all characters seems to have their own role to play, the only problem is the story is just 10 episodes, is hard to create an excellent and precise development in that short time. So the characters have a development, but not described perfectly within the series.
The Book of Circus major success is located in the enjoyment of the season. The season practically different from the other season, it fills all the excitement into the screen.
Well, Kuroshitsuji mainly aim to the female audience, SOME male viewers may not found this interesting, it is fully recommended for those who seeks exciting action movies
Okay, before I continue with this review. I want to point out two things 1. I didn't read the manga so keep that in mind and 2. I hated the other two seasons of Black Butler, the first one is one of the dullest animes I've ever seen and the less I say about the second one (fans don't even like that, what more do I need to say?) So I was not looking forward to this one, I wanted nothing to do with it. The only reason I did was that a friend of mine told me that he was enjoying it so much
more than the other ones and the details he gave me, I had a hard time believing so I decided to at least watch the first episode and see how things would turn out
Well, I'll be damned (no pun intended). This actually wasn't half bad, I had alot of fun with this one. I gotta say fangirls, if this is the Sebastian you love from the manga then by all means, have at it. Before I couldn't for the life of me figure out why Sebastian had a huge fanbase outside of his looks (Because it's not like there aren't enough bishies in anime. More than enough if you ask me) all he did in those other ones was smirk alot, be the perfect butler, say "I'm one hell of butler" (My god what a stupid joke) and "yes my lord" and kiss Ciel's ass and cry like a bitch when Ciel didn't want him anymore in season 2 (GOD THAT WAS FUCKING RETARDED). He was boring and not the least bit intimidating. The Sebastian in this anime is a lying, devious bastard who takes every opportunity he can to fuck with his master. This is a guy who I would buy is actually a demon (if there were any traces of THIS Sebastian from the other two animes, they were way to vague for me to notice) and he's really funny, when Ciel is going to join the circus he says that he can't do any tricks and Sebby says he can do plenty like roll over and play fetch
Ciel hasn't changed that much and I still don't like him that much but the cool thing here is that all the other supernatural characters don't treat him like fucking royalty like they pretty much did in the other ones and why should they? Sure he's rich and he's smart for his age but that should be nothing compare to a demon or grim reaper and that's how they treat him, it's a job. I knew I was in for something different when the Under taker dare Ciel to do something without his servant, I was like "Wait, did a character in this show just imply that Ciel is just a rich little nothing brat without his Butler. Wow! I did not see that coming" so yeah I still don't like him but they do fuck with him more which is a plus for me and even by the end of the show I grew to respect him a little bit more
I'll bring up one more improvement on the characters and then I'll move on from there and that's the servants. Mey Rin, Finny, Baldroy are all done way better. Before I though they were worthless, they either fucked everything as servants or they did shit that Sebby could easily do. That's not the case here. Through out the show, we don't see them that much and they're just their regular selves but here they're able to build up their badass-ness much properly. They're there to guard the house when Sebastian and Ciel are out of the house. That makes sense because even Sebastian can't be everywhere at once (Which makes the first one even more stupid because why the fuck would you bring those 3 guys on trips? Who the fuck's gonna guard your house?) It's all about how you present something so now I can respect these guys so much more
That fucking Soma guy is still in here (Seriously, someone kill him. He will not be missed. His girlfriend didn't need to be evil, any reasonable person would leave that dumbass) but thankfully he's not in it that much
As for everything else. This anime was what I wanted this series to be in the first place, a sorta Sherlock Holmes deal with supernatural elements, that sounds cool but that's not how the first two were like at all, they mostly stand around drinking tea and talked about crap I could care less about. Here, there's this whole mystery about missing children and the circus and all the clues make sense but they don't make it so obvious as to what's going and when the twist as to who is responsible, it makes sense that this person would be behind it unlike Hana from Black Butler 2 (Seriously what the fuck was that)
The animation is definitely an improvement from before, I mean it's no Bones or Ghibli but it gets the job done. Some times it looks really good and then other times it's stiff but I can forgive decent animation if the art is good and thankfully the artwork has always been in the franchise's favor
The music also WAY better. I actually remember the music here (no wonder, they got a different composer for this one same as with different director and writer). It has really nice classical music but not just that, they mix it up a bit with music that has a french vibe to it as well as Ireland river dance kinda music (Sorry I don't know the name of these kinds of music but when you listen to the music, you'll know what I mean). The soundtrack actually stands out here. I'm thinking of actually looking up the ost for this show when it comes out (when it comes out).
Although there's one thing that ruins the music for me and that's the opening song, not because the song itself is bad (granted I don't like J pop / J rock anyway) but because I hate misused theme songs. You look at animes like Trigun, Ghost In The Shell SAC, Samurai Champloo, Baccano!, they all have theme songs that are not only unique but fit the overall feel of their respected shows and then there are animes like this where instead of using a theme song that matches up with the rest of the music of the show, uses some shitty generic j pop/rock song. It's a total whiplash, may seem like I'm nitpicking but that's really a pet peeve of mine with anime
All in all, I'm surprised how much I enjoyed this show. That's one of the best things you can say about something that it's surprisingly good and Black Butler: Book Of Circus is from now on my definition of Surprisingly Good. Is it now one of the perfect animes out there like Cowboy Bebop, Monster, LOGH, or Ghost In the Shell. No, not even close. I think it could've wrapped up a little tighter (the show's real ending really is episode 9, episode 10's more of an epilogue) and there still are stupid stuff I could make fun like grim reapers using garden tools as weapons (Seriously, who uses a lawnmower as a weapon?) and like I said the animation's not one of the best but like I said before, this is an example on how to take something I don't like at all and transform it into something I do like. Thanks alot, director of GTO and writer of Planetes
It's funny, dark, well paced (for the most part) and it's a good mystery that actually makes sense and best of all, there are no scenes of shota boys butt ass naked