[Review] Grand Guignol Orchestra by Kaori Yuki

Title: Grand Guignol Orchestra/Ningyou Kyuutei Gakudan

Artist & Writer: Kaori Yuki

# of Volumes: 5

The gothic horror manga by Kaori Yuki takes you on an adventure through an unnamed world that has been overwhelmed by the infestation of guignols. Lucille,a beautiful philomela, leads the Royal Court Orchestra around the country on his quest to rid the small towns of the guignols with his singing. His minuscule band of convicts struggle with their terms of contract but are nonetheless committed to their job.

Kaori Yuki provides us with a type of story that certainly feels different to some of her previous works, most certainly works like Cain Saga, Godchild and Angel Sanctuary. In saying this, I absolutely believe that it does not make the sadness or tragedy in her stories any less potent! Undoubtedly there is something about her work that always contains such a rich power, something in there to evoke feeling from you. Whether that feeling is happiness, sadness, anger or disgust entirely depends on how merciful of a mood she is in.

Lucille’s background is gradually revealed throughout the five volumes while the other band members, Kohaku, Gwindel and Eles, have their pasts revealed either at their entrance or during an arc in which they are given more importance and there is constantly a craving to learn more about them.

If you’re looking for complete and immediate answers to each and every question you can’t help but ask then you would be reading the wrong series. Kaori Yuki is able to pace the story incredibly well but keeping much of the answers you crave to herself for as long as she is able to do so. Despite this there is not a single moment that can be considered dull as she constantly has new twists and turns thrown into an already-captivating story. Some may say that this is far too much; some people tire from having so much darkness and so much complexity consistently throughout a story. I, personally, found that it captivated me that much more but I really do enjoy stories that capture my full attention and make me use my head. If I’m reading something I enjoy, I don’t need any breaks.

The introduction of new characters and antagonists happens a little less frequently as it does in some other of Kaori Yuki’s works; works which are, amongst other things, known for their variety and increasing number of characters. When a new character is introduced you immediately can’t help but have uneasy first impressions of them but are also immediately keen and captivated by them, dying to know more.

A review of Kaori Yuki’s works is, no doubt, incomplete until her art work has been critiqued. Without a doubt she is known for her beautifully art that is kept clean and unchanging throughout the series and Grand Guignol Orchestra is not an exception. The amount of detail hidden throughout the well-drawn work says a lot about the time and energy Kaori Yuki gives her work; certain things will only be noticed after either many hours of staring at the same pages or after numerous readings. Her work is incredibly captivating, done in a style that appeals to most viewers that can tolerate the androgynous appearances, particularly of the men. The delicate appearance of her art certainly draws you in, making you feel safe and comforted if you’re new to Kaori Yuki. If you’re a long time fan of hers then the appearance of her art typically makes you feel fear and unease, knowing full well that she is pulling you into a false sense of safety and security before she, presumably successfully, attempts to rip your heart out.

In Short:

Grand Guignol Orchestra keeps you intrigued and impressed throughout the duration of the series, most certainly with her impressive art style. Typical Kaori Yuki then, correct? Not quite. Once more there are a series of twists and turns that, in Kaori Yuki’s hands, become something beyond anything a reader could expect or even imagine. So while the story and the art is of typical high-quality the series itself is anything but typical.

  • Beautiful, delicate and detailed artwork
  • Bewitching characters
  • Fascinating story-lines and suspense-building twists

Rating: 10/10

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