Grand Guignol Orchestra, Vol. 1
written by Kaori Yuki
Not all dolls are pretty and fun to play with. Some dolls like the taste of human blood.
They’re called “Guignol,” from the French word, and they’re more like zombies. In Kaori Yuki’s latest series, a virus turns people into zombielike dolls that prey on the still living. And it’s up to musicians to stop them.
Enter the Grand Orchestra, which consists of three people. The leader, Lucille, is a beautiful man with an enchanting voice. Somehow with his voice he has power over the Guignol. Soon he gets a fourth member in his orchestra and they wander out to do what they can to help humanity.
Grand Guignol Orchestra is based on a gory concept, and while it has some creepy images, it’s far from being a gorefest. In fact, its art is often baroque, graceful, and charming. There are only certain parts in the story where eerie images show up, and it probably wouldn’t scare anyone except very young readers. But this book isn’t aimed for very young readers, so that’s not meant to be an issue.
Lucille is an intriguing character, especially the mystery of what’s so special about his voice. There’s some implication he might be a castrato (this story takes place in the past), but that might not be the case. Since this is a supernaturally themed book, it might just be magic. He gets mistaken for a woman quite often, and this is particularly awkward for him when he gets hit on by a duke and doesn’t want to cause problems by admitting he’s really a man. Androgyny is something often used in manga, particularly manga aimed for a female audience.
Kaori Yuki is a prolific mangaka, having also done the series Angel Sanctuary, Godchild, The Cain Saga, and Fairy Cube. She’s also proved herself to be a very popular mangaka, and I think this has a lot to do with her artistic skills and her gift for making edgy stories. A series about cannibalistic dolls could easily be disgusting, cheesy or absurd, but somehow she makes it look ornate. I’ve always liked her artwork, and her talent for drawing is as evident in Grand Guignol Orchestra as it is in her other works. Like her past series, this one is pretty much guaranteed to bring in eager readers.-- Danica Davidson