‘Black Butler: Book of Circus’ Season 3 Blu-ray Review
Now I don’t know much about the Black Butler series, but I do know one thing: Black Butler: Book of Circus is dark, gritty, playful at times, but most importantly, pretty damn good. Black Butler: Book of Circus is season 3 in the Black Butler series, based off the manga of the same title.
Book of Circus follows the well-known Earl Ciel Phantomhive and Sebastian, his overly mysterious, but forever loyal butler. A circus troupe has been moving from town to town and, along with Noah’s Ark circus, there has been an increase in missing children. Destined to carry out the Queen’s bidding, Ciel and Sebastian attend the circus and quickly realize that something is…off. Indicating interest, the troupe welcomes Ciel and Sebastian as their own and honorary members of the circus. After some investigating around the circus, learning more about this band of misfits, the heir of the Phantom hive quickly realizes that to understand the present he will have to grapple with the monsters and demons he has sought so hard to forget.
From my general research, I’ve come to learn that there have been some issues with Black Butler deviating from the manga. Fans have argued online that season 1 and 2 diverged a good bit from the original manga source, and as a result, have lost interest in the series. Well, hopefully those who did not like the deviation will come back for season 3 as Book of Circus has a stronger relationship with the manga than previous series, which helps with additional structure, but allows it to retain that humor and dark tones that were missing from the earlier seasons.
As previously mentioned, the story centers around Noah’s Ark circus and the case of finding out what is going on with the missing children. The mystery of the missing children is engaging, the circus is a nice backdrop for a relatively quick series (more on that later), and the supporting cast is pretty good. The supporting characters from the circus and from Phantomhive’s mansion have substantial development and layers built in a short period. Here we see comedy, suspense, mystery, and some more comedy quickly develop between the primary and secondary characters.
Ciel’s harsh and traumatic backstory (which is flashed back to throughout the series, more so towards the end of the season) is explored and explained a bit more and adds a tremendous amount of development. It lets us learn a bit more about where his ruthlessness and anger comes from (which was nice). He displays clear disgust with the abhorrent crimes occurring not because it is truly tragic, but because he has experienced it and feels only he can save them from their misery.
Further exploring the relationship between Ciel and Sebastian the butler, Ciel definitely carries the plot over Sebastian in Book of Circus. This is more than likely due to the extremely close connection Ciel feels he has with the missing children and at times, it felt as if Sebastian was almost a secondary character (which makes sense somewhat, as he is Ciel’s butler, but still…).
The animation was decent. At times, the overall animation felt rigid and forced and lacked that natural human fluidity. I did appreciate the color schemes as they seemed to fit the background of the series (later 19th century; flashback scenes felt old and when they were at the circus, it had a slightly grimy feel to it).
We see Black Butler: Book of Circus coming in hot at 1080p high definition 16:9 ratio on Blu-ray. As I said in my Boy and the Beast Blu-ray review, if anyone knows me, y’all should know that I am an original source kind of guy. To get the full experience, I would highly encourage you to watch the film as originally intended, Japanese dubs, English subs.
Black Butler: Book of Circus had some pretty cool extra features and gave a bit more insight into the development of 2 episodes from a handful of English voice actors from the series. One thing that I would have liked to see as an extra feature would be a quick history of Black Butler; it would have been helpful for a little bit of additional backstory to piece everything together, rather than the crumbs we got from the series.
- Episode 4 and episode 10 audio commentary
- U.S. Trailers
- Trailers for upcoming releases
Although perfectly contained in 10 episodes, it was just that: only 10 episodes. Book of Circus was slow to get going and was quick to end. I feel that if it was given 13 episodes or even 15, it would allow for a bit more development of the characters and not make it seem so rushed. As soon as I was getting to understand the characters, the final credits were rolling. Despite a short season, we have seen the release of two OVAs.
Though feeling rushed and ending prematurely, overall, Book of Circus delivers a decent story, a return to source material, and just enough character development to feel and understand the characters, but not as much as one might like. Black Butler: Book of Circus is now available on DVD and Blu-ray so be sure to snag it up next time you are on your way to the traveling circus.