Black Butler —Book of Circus— : Into the darkness

Well…I didn’t really like how…fake the OP looked…

After the anime-original travesty that was created four-and-a-half years ago for Black Butler [Kuroshitsuji], many viewers probably never expected to see some of the more interesting later arcs of the manga in animated form. After all, a sequel to even perennial (Western) fan favourite Fruits Basket has never gotten past the rumour stage. Fullmetal Alchemist did get a reboot, with the cooperation of its mangaka, but that was one of the most successful manga of last decade. I’m actually still quite surprised that Black Butler —Book of Circus— has somehow come our way.

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…but they really did take Ciel out of his comfort zone in style!

From what I understand, Book of Circus is arguably the darkest and most well-written story arc of this manga. After a one-episode reminder of Ciel Phantomhive, his overly capable butler Sebastien, and three other retainers who were selected not for the skills that their official roles suggest, the show segued smoothly into the plot of concern: mysterious kidnappings of children. The kidnappings, which have been happening all around England, have but one thing in common: they occur when a certain circus is in town. So Queen Victoria once again tasks her trusted watchdog with the task of sniffing out their secrets. This time, however, the secrets run deeper than even Ciel expected…

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This scene really stunned someone I know…how did you fare?

The darkness of Book of Circus lies in plot elements that should be seen or read for yourself. The meaning that what he discovers holds for Ciel in particular also contributes to the twisted path that the series has slowly crept down. The elements of comedy in the form of Grell and Undertaker often belied it in the first few volumes, but this arc makes it clear that mangaka Toboso Yana is not going to back away from the more sordid aspects of the Victorian underworld, where deception, torture and sex rule. I remember a friend telling me how shocked she was by the scene where Sebastien seduces Beast in order to obtain information about the inner workings of the circus and its mysterious patron. Admittedly, she was pretty young when she read that part, but nevertheless: don’t judge a book by its cover indeed.

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And most importantly, what has this all done to Ciel?

If Black Butler —Book of Circus— represents the renewal of the anime arm of the franchise, then I’m sure many fans will continue to rejoice. Indeed, going by the merchandise, events and specials I see on twitter, I don’t doubt its money-making potential. But given how long it has continued, all I can hope is that the rest of the story is as good as this arc was.

About karice
MAG fan, translator, and localization project manager. I also love musicals, travel and figure skating!

2 Responses to Black Butler —Book of Circus— : Into the darkness

  1. landofthekwt says:

    Thanks for your review I think I will try Black Butler Book of Circus. I have been a fan of the manga for years,but the ending to season 1 of the anime made me refuse to watch the second season of the anime.


    • karice says:

      It’s probably a good thing you didn’t! The second season of the anime was…pretty bad, to put it mildly! Hope you enjoy this -Book of Circus- though – I know several other manga readers did.


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