Image source: アニプレックス on YouTube

Let’s take a cruise across the sea with a demon to uncover a secret society that’s trying to raise the dead. What could possibly go wrong?

Black Butler is the story of a young earl, Ciel Phantomhive who, through great tragedy, enlists the service of the demon, Sebastian Michaelis, as his butler. The Black Butler series has enjoyed three seasons of anime, and OVA, and now the new movie, Black Butler: Book of the Atlantic.

Based on the Luxury Liner arc of the original manga, in Book of the Atlantic, Ciel is tasked with investigating the mystery of an underground secret society that is in turn seeking to uncover the mysteries of life itself and gain the ability to resurrect the dead. The society is set to meet on the luxury cruise vessel Campania on its maiden voyage across the Atlantic to reveal the fruits of their research. Ciel, and his servants, Sebastian and Snake, board the ship to try to discover the truth behind the secret society.

Video source: moviecollectionjp on YouTube

Right off the bat, Book of the Atlantic sets itself up to be a very ambitious movie with an all-star cast of old and new characters and a very strong and evolving storyline. There are scenes of riveting action and pivotal character arcs for certain characters.

Unlike most anime movies of existing franchises, Book of the Atlantic is very much a part of a much larger overarching storyline, and the developments within the movie have lasting and important effects on the story as a whole and for any subsequent movies or series that may come out. Throughout the course of the movie, the audience’s fundamental perception of more than one established primary character changes, and as a result, the movie has a much most substantial feel to it than a stand-alone story that would have no consequence.

One of the key elements of to the story is the resurrection of the dead. And as Mary Shelly warned us nearly 200 years ago, tampering with that shit is bad news. Without going into detail, what results is a mix of supernatural horror, suspense, and pure unbridled action. That, compounded with the fact that it all takes place on a luxury cruise ship, makes for some Titanic-level spectacle, both figuratively and literally.

Image source: アニメ「黒執事」公式 on Twitter

If the movie has a weakness, it lies in the pacing. Overall, the main story moves along at a steady pace and maintains a captivating atmosphere. However, twice within the movie, the plot screeches to a halt in order to insert some expositional TV series recap. These seem to be in order to give any audience members who are unfamiliar with the series some background information. Unfortunately, these scenes are rather long and both happen in the dead center of action sequences, completely disrupting the flow of the action.

In a way, these scenes feel like the movie trying to have its cake and eat it too. Throughout the movie, characters appear that have their own history within the series, but no time is devoted to explaining them to newcomers. That’s fine. The plot of the movie takes place after three seasons and an OVA’s worth of story. It’s not exactly a jumping-on point. But then the flashback scenes serve to retread things fans of the series already know to almost painstaking detail–and as a result end up disrupting the flow of the story more than adding to its momentum. It feel like there had to have been a way to add these scenes that wouldn’t have ended up making such pronounced breaks in the ongoing story.

Similarly, and without going into detail, a certain character disappears at a rather climactic scene late in the movie and never returns. Considering the circumstances, it feels like there should be some kind of explanation as to his fate. He’s important enough that he shouldn’t be dead, but looking at the mechanics established in the story, he kind of would have to be. It ends up as a dangling thread that remains completely unanswered.

Image source: アニメ「黒執事」公式 on Twitter

In the broad perspective, the movie is pure entertainment for fans of the series. People who want to see the various characters in action will not be disappointed. On a personal level, the movie is also an interesting and satisfying story about the relationship between the two protagonists, Ciel and Sebastian and the complex bond the two share. The movie also expands on the main protagonists, adding some rather major changes and developments that are genuinely interesting. However, the story does feel like it could have been paced better with those aforementioned flashbacks and the story also leaves a lot of dangling threads without a concrete promise to deliver on them.

All in all, Black Butler: Book of the Atlantic is a pleasantly entertaining expansion on the Black Butler saga. The resulting movie is still a gratifying spectacle that even fans of the original manga who have already read and know all the details of the story arc can enjoy.

Image source: アニメ「黒執事」公式 on Twitter

Black Butler: Book of the Atlantic is currently showing in Japanese theaters. No word yet on an international release.

Comments (1)
  1. Yes finally, another black butler movie.. Can’t wait for it to release international

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