Okay, so I watched Book of Murder without any prior experience of Black Butler. The extent of the knowledge I have on Black Butler comes from Tumblr. All I knew before starting this OVA was that Sebastian was a butler from hell (I know this fact in no context, so it makes no sense to me), and that Ciel’s parents are deceased (like every other anime protagonist’s). I’ve always wanted to get into this series, but I was hesitant at the thought of starting with an OVA. However, with a little research, I learned that this OVA isn’t part of the canon plot, so I went ahead and watched it anyway.
Black Butler’s animation series first premiered in 2008, and has been renewed for 3 seasons so far. Book of Murder, a two-part OVA, was released after Book of Circus, the third season, had finished its run. Since Book of Murder is not part of the canon plot, you can watch it without worrying about missing out on important plot lines or any major arcs. Book of Murder is an animated adaptation of the Phantomhive Manor Murders arc from the original manga. The two parts are approximately an hour each, and makes for a great watch on a movie night. I should make it clear that the OVA is split into two parts – watching just the first part will leave you unsatisfied, and watching just the second part will leave you incredibly confused.
Book of Murder is based in late 17th Century England, where Queen Victoria is still the reigning monarch. Ciel Phantomhive is a surly yet polite thirteen-year-old Earl who hides something underneath an eyepatch covering his right eye. Sebastian Michaelis is the Phantomhive Manor’s head butler, and this dude can quite literally do anything and everything. By animation standards, I guess I’d say he’s significantly attractive as well. Book of Murder revolves around the mystery surrounding the murders of party guests at the Phantomhive Manor, and the remaining party guests trying to apprehend the killer before any more of them die. For all you literature nerds out there, the cast of characters include the legendary Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, who plays a pivotal role in the story.
The plot of Book of Murder is both incredibly entertaining and intriguing. It’s set up like a classic murder-mystery, where the viewer can take part in trying to figure out who the murderer is. But Book of Murder is a little more complicated than a typical who-dunnit type of story. I don’t want to spoil anything, mainly because the plot itself is too complex and has too many plot twists for me to be able to do so, but also because I think everyone should experience the inexplicably wild ride I went through. The plot is a little serious at most points, but there are plenty of tiny bits of comedy here and there to help disperse the seriousness. Overall, I found the story both captivating and enjoyable.
Black Butler’s art style is definitely reflective of what’s currently popular, which I personally quite like. The character designs were creative, but not too crazy. The animation in this OVA was smooth and visually pleasing, not that surprising since I watched this in a DVD format. Even if you don’t watch Book of Murder for the plot, watch it for the aesthetics.
After watching Book of Murder, I now know a little more about Ciel and Sebastian. Ciel is a little too flirtatious for a thirteen-year-old, and Sebastian is a sassy as heck demon (still no context on this). Even if you haven’t watched the main anime series, or read the manga, Book of Murder is still an entertaining watch, and definitely good if you want a smooth and easy entry into the series. Black Butler is now on my incredibly long list of anime to watch, and I’ll probably get into it sometime in the upcoming summer.
Thanks heaps to Madman for the copy of Black Butler: Book of Murder!