Grand Guignol Orchestra 5

November 2, 2011

Kaori Yuki – Viz – 2011 – 5 volumes

Uh… yeah. I do like Kaori Yuki, and this is probably my favorite of her series. But man… she really knows how to write a complicated and convoluted plot. And this was probably the simplest! It’s probably much better if you read all five volumes straight through. It has a lot of complicated things going on in its world that are difficult to remember from volume to volume, but not so many that it’s actually difficult to understand.

But here, we finally find out the truth of what happened when Lucille entered the chamber to become the new queen and Cordie wound up saddled with the responsibility instead. We find out Morion’s role in their childhood, and how all three were deceived. Well, two of them were deceived. Morion actually had a role in what happened. He loves Cordie though, which is the important part. There’s dolls, corpses, forged letters, evil servants, a chair made of heads, and a curse. All of it is good, and feels right at home in this story. It’s just as sad, dark, and gothic as you’d expect from Kaori Yuki, and this flashback was my favorite part of the series.

The actual resolution to the problems in the present was… problematic. I hated that Lucille forgave Eles her deception, and I hated that the solution was supposed to kill everyone, but didn’t. That’s unlike Yuki, actually. It was a little half-hearted. She mentions herself that a happy ending is unlike her, which makes me feel a little better. I wasn’t expecting something too far out in left field.

There’s an unrelated short story that fills the last third of the volume. Normally, I hate these space fillers, but this one was quite good. It was about a strange purgatory world full of students ranked by card number and suits (hearts, spades, et cetera). Among the students, there’s a White Card that is exempt from the laws and rules over all. He’s the only one that can heal wounds, and he’s generally worshiped by all the other students. The main character suddenly shows up, and is the only one that calls attention to all the strange customs, rituals, and laws in this world. He insists that he will save the White Card. The reality of the situation is a maddening puzzle throughout the whole thing, and I kept waiting for it to go all After School Nightmare on me. The truth of the thing is the usual slightly-too-complicated Kaori Yuki explanation, and I was disappointed by the ending, but it was still a really good story.

But yes. Grand Guignol Orchestra has been my favorite Yuki series so far. The art and atmosphere are first rate, and I loved the dark singing and infectious puppet zombies. Plus, Lucille was one of her best characters yet, and the series is worth reading for him alone. There’s lots of interesting details crammed into every chapter, and Yuki is quite good at fleshing out her own unique world here. I thought the ending was a little disappointing, but again, maybe I would have liked it better had I read all five volumes in a row. Yuki’s a great artist to check out, and this is definitely her best work in English.

This was a review copy provided by Viz.

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