ANIME & MANGA - Article
17:00 - 25th December 2014, by NEO Staff

Black Butler: Book of Circus

The Earl of Phantomhive and his devoted demon butler are back once more, with a brand new series taking Ciel and Sebastian far from their comfort zones on their latest mission for Queen Victoria. But... aren’t both of these guys dead already?

A brief refresher for anyone coming to Black Butler for the first time: Ciel Phantomhive is the 13-year-old sole heir of his family’s estate, who by day oversees the affairs of the Funtom toy company, and by night secretly serves as the Queen’s Guard Dog, undertaking missions of national importance. Following the murder of his parents and his own torture, his sheer hatred summoned Sebastian Michaelis from hell, forming a Faustian pact for the demon’s service and tracking down those responsible for his misfortune. Despite his grim countenance, Ciel has a habit of making friends – whether he wants to or not – including a trio of mostly useless servants at his manor house, and several other figures touched by the supernatural.

Book of Circus adapts the fan-favourite Noah’s Ark Circus storyline of creator Yana Toboso’s original manga, something the first anime series from 2008 never got around to. When Ciel receives word of a travelling performance troupe coinciding with the disappearance of dozens of children along its route, he and Sebastian go undercover to search for evidence. Under the aliases of ‘Smile’ and ‘Black’, the duo join up with Noah’s Ark, Sebastian delivering crowd-pleasing performances and leaving Ciel opportunity to investigate.

What they find is a world unlike any they knew before. The circus is bright and friendly, with a great sense of camaraderie between most of the performers. However, disturbing patterns begin to emerge. Ring leader Joker has a skeletal right hand; tiger tamer Beast and knife thrower Dagger both have prosthetic legs; tightrope walker Doll is missing an eye. Each of the ‘first string’ acts has some form of disability or deformity, and a shared past at an East End orphanage. But are they just misunderstood victims of Victorian-era prejudices, or are they actually a sinister force connected to the missing children?

By staying closer to Toboso’s manga, especially with the macabre subject matter and inherently creepy concept of circuses, Book of Circus is the strongest entry yet. The series streams to the UK via Crunchyroll.com.

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