This is the first anime film adaptation of the Black Butler manga series. In the film Ciel, Sebastian and Snake, a newcomer to the phantomhive servants, infiltrates a ship, The Campania, in order to investigate a mysterious occult society on orders of the queen. The society, Aurora, is holding a secret meeting aboard the ship and Ciel and his companions plan to find out what Aurora’s plans are and to stop the group.
Book of the Atlantic is set on a high-end luxury liner, “The Campania” modeled of The Titanic. The film introduces prominent characters that finally make their debut in the anime. The Midfords, who happen to be Ciel’s family on his mother’s side finally make an appearance. They have a long history of master swordsmanship and service to the queen. Along the way, many other characters from the previous arcs return such as the two Charles, who were initially introduced in the book of circus, however, their appearance is brief. Ronald Knox and Grell Sutcliffe, aka The Grim Reapers make a return and they are also investigating the Aurora society.
Book of the Atlantic is faithful to the original story arc even with its few changes.
Everything seems to be fine to the trip from England to the States and the main attraction of the Campania is resurrection experiments. Bizarre Dolls, a common enemy seen in the manga make their debut in this adaptation. Bizarre dolls are deceased corpses being brought back to life through experimentation. These are violent zombie that are difficult to kill. When the bizarre dolls begin to attack everyone in the ship, it is up to Ciel, Sebastian, Snake and the other survivors to find out the truth behind the events.
Elizabeth Midford is a more helpful character after being seen as a troublemaker in the phantomhive estate. She shows her true self in the battle with the Bizarre Dolls as she uses her sword with great skill and courage. I was surprised by this as she often always seen as a spoiled rich girl who is accustomed to getting everything she wants.
The character development in the film is surprising as you see different sides of characters that you wouldn’t be able to expect from them. You learn new things about the characters that is surprising. The Undertaker serves as an underworld informant and works at a funeral home. He serves as the main villain of the series as he planned the events from the beginning. This is quite surprising given his demeanor and it is unthinkable the he is capable of such atrocities. You learn a good amount of Ciel and Sebastian's past as well and a more detailed approach of how they met and how Sebastian became the perfect butler. The added backstory gives more clarity to the relationship between demonic butler and the human master. This while interesting, detracts from the present sometimes.
The story is pretty fast paced and it combines mystery solving with horror elements and a lot of action in it. The art style is the same Victorian Gothic look throughout the series and the character designs are still the same. The films atmosphere does a good job of mixing in horror, action and mystery with touches of black comedy and things do get intense quite quickly and there is not a moment to waste.
In Book of the Atlantic, the action has a much more higher stakes then what seen in the previous series. Action scenes are more frequent and anybody could be killed at any moment either from the dolls or from the ship itself. The film doesn’t hold back on the violence as you see a higher body count, guts and mutilation and lots of gore. It’s not just the bizarre dolls that are threat, the ship is also badly damaged during the rampage by the dolls and it becomes death trap.
The animation for the most part is a step up from what has been previously seen in the shows thanks to the bigger budget. The CGI was ok but it can be obvious at certain moments and because of that it didn’t really blend in that well with the overall hand drawn cells.
The musical score is quite dramatic and it works for the mysterious and horror styled tone of Book of the Atlantic. The usual voice acting cast returns and is excellent. There is a good amount of comedy that provides a balance of the gruesome events.
If you are a newcomer to the series its recommended to watch the previous seasons to catch up as characters are already established and your expected to know what happened previously. The movie is one of the best arcs in the series.
It is an overall a 4 out of 5.
If you are a big black butler fan and you enjoy zombie films then you would enjoy Black Butler: Book of the Atlantic.