The manga industry has been very kind to Kaori Yuki. Having achieved major success with two previous works (Angel Sanctuary, God Child)as well as a host of minor titles under her belt, the author/ artist has unleashed her latest gothic thriller that will leave fans chomping at the bit for more. Infusing horror elements with the shojo genre is something Yuki has grown accustomed to and excelled at and though Grand Guignol Orchestra is lacking on the shojo side, fans of horror and gothic fantasy will definitely want to give her newest effort a peek.
The series follows the talented musician Lucille as he and his fellow orchestra players travel to a town infested with zombie like dolls referred to as guignol. Lucille is a brilliant singer and while his feminine features are prone to cause unrest, his singing leaves many under his enchantment. Upon arriving ath the Queen’s request, they are immediately met with hostility from the town’s people who were hoping for a more combat oriented group. The travelers are also met with resistance by the young master of the city named Eles. To say that Eles has suffered a traumatizing past would be an understatement. Left as the only child in the city due to the rest becoming afflicted by the virus as well as suffering a crippling injury. While I won’t spoil everything, there is much more to Eles than initially meets the eye and will have leave more than a few jaws hanging when all is said and done.
The rest of the orchestra comprises a motley assortment of individuals whose talents are put to use combating the guignol. Kohaku is a violinist who carries a small armory of guns and knives hidden in his coat while the cellist Gwin is a force to be reckoned with, made possible by his freakish strength. For the most part, the orchestra holds a grudge against Lucille for one reason or another and all are forced to join Lucille against their will as they attest to at various points in the volume’s span. Despite this, they are shown to display incredible loyalty toward him regardless of their initial dislike shown toward him.
As one would expect from a series penned by Kaori Yuki, the artwork is superb, combining a mix of gothic sensibilities infused with shojo style artwork. The resulting visuals would be more befitting of a horror title from the grotesque sights of the guignol’s cracked deteriorating bodies to the period clothing that adds to the darker nature of the series.
Grand Guignol Orchestra is a unique beast. While it can still be classified as shojo, its roots are firmly steeped in horror, giving it a multi-centric appeal. Fans already associated with Yuki’s past works will undoubtedly want to pick up Grand Guignol Orchestra for her continued bending of the shojo genre. Those looking for a dark twisted narrative with multi-faceted characters will find Yuki’s latest effort compulsively readable.