By Leroy Douresseaux
Oct 3, 2010 - 12:15
|Grand Guignol Orchestra Volume 1 cover image is courtesy of barnesandnoble.com.|
Rated T+ for “Older Teen”
Grand Guignol Orchestra is a supernatural horror manga from creator Kaori Yuki (Godchild, The Cain Saga). The series follows a beautiful singer named Lucille, who leads a small orchestra that travels the countryside singing for the masses. The land is infested by people infected with the Guignol Virus, which turns them into “zombie dolls” intent on killing humans.
In Grand Guignol Orchestra, Vol. 1, the Grand Guignol Orchestra (Lucille, Kohaku, and Gwindel) arrive at the walled town of Toussaint. It is a year after the tragic event that virtually destroyed the town, and the villagers are not in the mood to hear music. Lucille and company, however, are here to discover why visitors to Toussaint never return, and the heart of the mystery is in a young boy named Elestial.
THE LOWDOWN: While she has earned a reputation for creating Gothic comics, Kaori Yuki is a mistress of the just-plain-creepy, but not in a superficial or stylish way. Her comics use complex characters existing in richly conceived settings, so her series have some traction as engaging narratives. Kaori’s uses of disconcerting, weird elements don’t feel like stylish stunts, but immerse readers in the macabre.
Grand Guignol Orchestra is, in one word, macabre. The zombies here just aren’t the usual shambling dead of the George Romero variety or even the track team infected of the 28 Days Later franchise. They are emotional and hanging onto life in a way that is supposed to bend the readers’ minds or even freak ‘em out. The characters, both the regulars and guests, are nothing if not a collection of contradictions and shifting allegiances and motivations. This is macabre that is as bracing as high-octane action, and it is mesmerizing. This first volume was a joy to read, and future volumes have a lot to live up to.
POSSIBLE AUDIENCE: Kaori Yuki fans will certainly want this, but readers looking for something completely different in zombie apocalypse might also want to try Grand Guignol Orchestra.