Black Butler: Book of the Atlantic
Ciel Phantomhive and his demon butler Sebastian book passage on The Campania, sailing from England to New York, to investigate the Aurora Society, which is alleged to have been experimenting with re-animating the dead, even though we know this sort of thing NEVER turns out well... and even though the ship, and its voyage, look strangely familiar.
WARNING: NECESSARY SPOILERS HERE!
In the review for Love After World Domination, I mentioned the "High Concept" idea- a story constructed by melding two separate ideas or genres, often disparate ones. In THIS case (SPOILER RIGHT HERE!) we have Titanic plus Zombies- in fact, a whole shipload of zombies. (Sorry!) (How passage was booked for the myriad "corpses" I have no idea, and apparently neither does the screenplay.) Sebastian's quip from the series, "A full-course menu of crises", certainly applies here as well. No wonder that iceberg got missed, with the crew busy battling zombies and all.
Elizabeth Midford, Ciel's nominal "fiancee", turns out to also be sailing on the Campania, a coincidence that Ciel uses as additional cover for his mission. To me, Elizabeth always seemed sweet but not very substantial, in addition to being unaware of the true natures of either Ciel or Sebastian; but this movie hits us with a sudden revelation about Elizabeth that was so startling it caused my jaw to drop all the way to the floor, where I had to search for it briefly. After locating my jaw, and putting it back on, I said something like, "What the HELL?", but I only said something LIKE that, because I used a much stronger expletive. ALL OF THIS CAME OUT OF THE BLUE, WITH NO FORESHADOWING. If Book of the Atlantic had been this surprising in other departments, I could have easily gone 4 stars or more.
But, no. The movie plays its "High Concept" scenario in a completely pedestrian way, with one exception- which did NOT help: the Reapers reappear, to add to the general chaos. Once again we have Grell Sutcliff, Black Butler's hysterical (though NOT as in "funny"), campy stereotype of an LGBT person. Really, after much more sympathetic portrayals of LGBT individuals in shows like Tokyo Godfathers, Blue Period, Heaven Official's Blessing, Tiger and Bunny, and even in the likes of Fuuka (!), the stereotype seems dated and embarrassing. (Though it is kind of a good joke that all the Reapers- the ACTIVE ones, anyway- have poor eyesight, and have to wear glasses.) Viscount Druitt, who always seems to be backing the wrong cause at the wrong time, also shows up to annoy us. The show also picks a very peculiar time- in the middle of a battle, in fact- to give us a lengthy flashback on the beginnings, and early stages, of Ciel's and Sebastian's relationship. (And this seems to demonstrate that these two really DO deserve each other.)
Balancing the bad out were some other factors in addition to Elizabeth's revelation. I really didn't remember the snake-handling guy from the series (either my memory's really bad, or he was in Season 3 or the OVAs), but his schtick- quoting what his snakes are supposedly saying- was fine, in moderation. Reaper Ronald Knox at least has a nice dry sense of humor, which was refreshing compared to Grell's ranting-and-raving. The Aurora Society's re-animation procedures pay homage to the film versions of Frankenstein. There's plenty of "action" (violence), if you're here for that.
So many mixed-bag shows out there, and I seem to be finding most of them. "Action" fans should be fine with it. Personally, I would have preferred more Elizabethan (sorry again!) sorts of developments. — Allen Moody
Recommended Audience: As I said, there's plenty of violence (including impalement) and horror elements. No fanservice. I guess it must be the violence that makes Rightstuf rate the Blu-Ray/DVD 17+.
Version(s) Viewed: Crunchyroll video stream
Review Status: Full (1/1)
Black Butler: Book of the Atlantic © 2017 Aniplex, A-1 Pictures.
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