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Book of Circus: Episode 2 Review - Sunshine and Rainbows and Cats
Previously on Book of Circus:
Ciel and Sebastian dealt with the unscrupulous head of Brandel tea, who wanted to smuggle weapons into England and therefore had planned to have Ciel assassinated. It didn’t work out so well for him. After getting rid of Brandel, Ciel gets a mysterious letter containing two tickets to the Noah’s Arc Circus, a circus that has just come to London.
Read my review of the first episode, here.
Let's get down to business:
The episode opens with Ciel and Sebastian leaving in a carriage for London, where they will be staying in Ciel’s townhouse as they investigate the Noah’s Arc Circus. While riding in the carriage, Ciel re-reads the letter that the queen sent enclosed in the envelope with the circus tickets.
The queen explains that there have been children disappearing in towns where the circus has visited. The children always disappear in the middle of the night. She asks that Ciel investigate and find the children.
Ciel and Sebastian start their search by stopping by the Scotland Yard file room to get some more information on the missing children. The officer in charge of the records is none other than Fred Abberline whom Ciel has just met recently during the Indian incident of the first series.
Abberline insists that Ciel can’t just barge in and look at police records, but Ciel doesn’t listen very well and Abberline ends up arguging with Ciel the entire time that it takes Sebastian to locate and read the correct file. Ciel takes the pictures of the missing children and leaves the file with Abberline.
As they are leaving, Ciel urges Abberline, sarcastically probably, to hurry up and get himself promoted so that he can do some real police work. It seems the children are filed as missing persons, meaning that no bodies have been found.
Next stop: the Undertaker. If anyone would know whether the underworld of England had done away with the children, the undertaker would know. Ciel and Sebastian walk in on two long lines of lit candles, where Undertaker is bowling with skulls.
Ciel asks if he has heard of or tended to any of the children on their list, but as usual, the Undertaker refuses to help until Ciel makes him laugh.
Sebastian steps forward, but Undertaker scoffs at Ciel for always making Sebastian do the work. Ciel can’t stand when someone questions his ability, so Ciel decides to make Undertaker laugh, himself. He tells Sebastian—making it an official order—to leave the tent and not to come in until Ciel says it’s okay.
Sebastian goes outside and waits hours. Finally, after sunset, the Undertaker’s laughter shakes the building. Sebastian goes into the tent and finds a very tired, frustrated, and disheveled-looking Ciel.
The Undertaker looks over the missing children’s papers and says that he doesn’t know anything about it. When Ciel thinks that they have wasted their time, Undertaker clarifies that if he knows nothing about it, it means that the underworld didn’t kill the children either, meaning that they are still alive.
Ciel and Sebastian attend the circus that night in a lavish and bright tent with lots of other well-to-do Londoners. They notice that the ringleader, Joker, has a prosthetic right hand, fashioned to look skeletal.
The performances seem standard. A large man named Jumbo blows fire, Peter and Wendy do stunts on trapeze, Dagger throws knives, Snake does some sort of dance with his snakes, Doll walks the tightrope, and the star of the show, Beast, tames a tiger.
There is no sign of the missing children.
Joker calls for audience participation with Beast and her tiger. Without missing a beat, Sebastian stands. Is he doing this to make contact with the performers? To get a better look? Ciel wonders. Sebastian goes into the ring and walks straight up to the tiger.
Of course. Tigers are cats and Sebastian is completely obsessed with cats. Sebastian fawns over the tiger for a while until the tiger puts Sebastian’s head in its mouth. Everyone is shocked and the crowd screams in fear.
When the circus is over, Ciel warns Sebastian not to do something like that again, and tells him to keep his distance because he’s allergic to cats. Sebastian is beaming, as cats are the only creatures he has not been able to figure out and are therefore his favorite.
Joker calls “Mr. Coattails!” from behind and runs to catch up to them. He is concerned that Sebastian is hurt and insists that he see the circus doctor. Sebastian is fine, but he goes with Joker anyway while Ciel waits in the carriage.
They find the wheelchair-bound doctor in a tent attending to Dagger. Joker explains that Sebastian got bit by the tiger, and the doctor quickly attends to him, though he doesn’t find any injuries.
Joker is relieved, explaining that he would have gotten in trouble if one of the audience got hurt. Sebastian is surprised that Joker isn’t the troupe leader. Joker says that he is just the stand-in, as the real troupe leader is scary.
Beast comes into the tent, wanting the doctor to look at her leg. She sees Sebastian and tells him off for acting so carelessly with her tiger. As Sebastian seems alright, the doctor moves on to inspecting Beast’s leg, which is a prosthetic as well.
The doctor explains that he makes all the prosthetics in the circus out of a special kind of ceramic that is smooth, lightweight, and chip-resistant.
Sebastian lifts Beast’s leg into the air to get a closer look and notices a seal stamped near the top, not thinking anything of how obscene it is to lift a woman’s leg and look under her skirt.
Everyone is embarrassed and Dagger, who has a huge crush on Beast, is outraged. Beast and Dagger attack Sebastian with knives and whip, but Sebastian is too quick and agile and he easily jumps to a rope near the top of the tent.
Joker stops Beast from attacking, giving her an uncharacteristically threatening look in place of his usual smile.
Just as quickly as it comes, the look is gone and replaced with a smile as Joker’s cane turns into a bouquet of flowers. He gives the flowers to Beast and tells her to forget about Sebastian.
Sebastian gets himself and Ciel hired as new recruits for the circus. There will be an entry test the next morning.
On his way back to the carriage, Sebastian makes a detour and walks among the tents, going to the fenced-off area of much larger tents. He is stopped by a large snake, which he realizes is wound carelessly around the shoulders of the performer, Snake. Snake informs Sebastian that the fenced-off area is off limits.
What I thought of it:
Now this is the kind of episode I was waiting for! Humor, intrigue, Sebastian antics, and finally the circus! I was a little concerned after watching the first episode that Book of Circus would try to ride on the success of the original series and fall flat in the attempt: a problem many sequels have.
The problem with sequels is that you can’t force a sequel to be good by making it just like the original series; it has to bring something more--its own story, its own character development-- and it has to have quality writing and acting.
After seeing the second episode, it doesn’t seem like Book of Circus will suffer from this bad-sequel-disease. The writers are really trying—and they are succeeding!—to bring a new story in the Black Butler world that is full of humor, wit, and adventure, all at a pace that isn’t too fast or too slow: just the kind of quality I would expect from Black Butler.
Also, I’m loving Joker already. They couldn’t have chosen a better voice actor for him. He seems like he’ll be an interesting character. He is exceedingly cheerful and kind, but then there was that look he gave Beast when he told her to stop.
That look shows a dark side that is not apparent from his outside persona. It piques my interest and makes me wonder what is really going on with this circus.
All in all, a fantastic second episode.