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Black Butler: Book of the Atlantic

RP13: Bloody violence

Spoiler alert

This page outlines how the classification criteria were applied. We do our best to discuss the content while avoiding spoilers, but please avoid reading this information if you do not want to learn anything about the content of this movie.

About the film

Black Butler: Book of the Atlantic is one of a large number of television series and films produced under the Black Butler stable of content.

The film is a fantastical action-drama about young Earl Ciel Phantomhive and his demon butler Sebastian as they battle a supernatural menace aboard a doomed passenger ship. Ciel and Sebastian’s mysterious pasts are portrayed in flashback, while aboard the luxury liner a secret society demonstrate an experimental technology designed to resurrect the dead. However, something goes wrong with the experiments and hordes of re-animated corpses become flesh-eating zombies.

Black Butler: Book of the Atlantic

Date registered: 27/06/2017

Classification criteria: Sex

Matters of sex is dealt with through occasional oblique verbal references, such as when a character speaks metaphorically about the cruise liner striking the iceberg as “ramming something so big into a girl [for the] first time.” This and a small number of other references, including clues to a possible physical relationship between an older male character and a young boy, are restrained and contribute little to the publication’s classification.

Sebastian kissing Ciel's gloved hand

Classification criteria: Horror

The zombies are pallid creatures with large mouths and masks across the eyes, some bearing suture marks across the skin. They swarm and bite peoples’ necks, resulting in large sprays of blood. Some of the scenes early on are quite atmospheric, particularly one scene in which Elizabeth and Ciel are on their own surrounded by coffins. The pair are cornered moments later by a large swarm of zombies, and only narrowly escape being eaten.

Zombies in Black Butler: Book of the Atlantic

Classification criteria: Cruelty and violence

The film depicts a relatively high extent of the infliction of serious physical harm, sometimes involving acts of cruelty and horror. The head of the Aurora Society attempts to demonstrate his resurrection technology on the body of a young woman. The woman sits up in her coffin, apparently revivified, but then bites her mother’s neck releasing a large blood spray across the room. Sebastian throws three knives at the zombie that stick in its chest, but the zombie gets up and still tries to attack people. It is eventually killed by the arrival of a “Reaper” character, who uses a lawnmower to attack its head.

There are several action sequences in which large groups of zombies are brought down by people slicing their heads in half with swords and other weapons. In one scene Sebastian dispatches a big group of zombies by crushing their heads in his hands, although this is only shown once or twice before cutting to other angles. Afterwards he is left standing in a large pool of blood. Towards the end of the film very little of the ‘killing’ is shown onscreen.

Ciel and Sebastian from Black Butler: Book of the Atlantic perform a Phoenix pose, with their arms lifted, in front of a fiery background

So why the RP13?

In coming to this conclusion the office took into account a number of factors in addition to the classification criteria described above. The film is a well-made, if surreal, Japanese anime from a popular film and television franchise. It will be appealing to young audiences and fans of the Black Butler franchise. It contains scenes of zombies and bloodletting which young children may find shocking and frightening. The RP classification highlights to parents and guardians that they need to check whether young people under their care could be harmed by this kind of material.

Further supporting restriction is that there is also a small risk of inurement to violence as it is sensationalized and made to seem entertaining. However, older children and teenagers, in particular those with a pre-existing knowledge of the Black Butler franchise or anime more generally, can more readily view this material in context and are less likely to be negatively affected. Other elements that help mitigate the effects of the violence include the far-fetched and bizarre nature of the storylines and characters – did we mention a character uses a lawnmower as his primary weapon?!

You can read more about how we use the RP classification here. You can also contact the Information Unit if you require further information on a classification decision.

RP13 label
RP13: Bloody violence