You can tell just from that synopsis that we’re not in standard Black Butler territory anymore. This live-action film departs from the source material in its very first scene, plunging us into modern-day Japan rather than Victorian England. For sure, it relies on convoluted worldbuilding to try to keep some of that atmosphere, like the grand European estates and mentions of an offscreen queen. It’s an admirable effort to justify the movie’s all-Japanese cast, but it can feel like a betrayal if you’re attached to the show’s original 1800’s setting.
That odd mix of the familiar and the unfamiliar looms over the whole film like a shadow. You might not always be thinking about it, especially since the main plot is excellent high-stakes drama, but it still lingers in the back of your mind. For starters, Sebastian is the only character straight from the original cast. All the other main characters have new Japanese names and differing identities. Ciel is now Kiyoharu Genpo but retains his original costume. (Hey, at least that sounds like a real surname unlike “Phantomhive.”) The film interprets Kiyoharu’s morality and motivations a little differently from Ciel’s and puts an extra twist in his backstory, but