Title: Grand Guignol Orchestra
Author: Kaori Yuki
Publisher: Viz Media (Shojo Beat)
Volume: Volume 3 (of 5), $9.99
Vintage: 2009 by Hakusensha, June 2011 by Viz Media
Genre: Supernatural horror, drama, zombies
Lucille and his orchestra were searching for the Black Oratorio in the Vienne Abbey last volume. Things took a turn for the worse when two of the nuns were found dead. As Lucille and Eles closed in on what they thought was the secret location of the Black Oratorio, they were attacked by a face from Lucille’s past – a former orchestra member named Berthier, who was supposed to be dead. After upsetting Eles by trying to turn her against Lucille, Berthier releases the child, but Lucille and Eles quickly find that they’re in a room full of coffins containing guignols! Only Sister Garnet can control them, but she demands the object given to Eles by Cinnabar first. Yet even this person is a face from Lucille’s past. Garnet was adopted into the Rhodonite family from the royal monastery in order to give the Rhodonites the means to compete with the royal family. Garnet was once a boy named Carnelian, and raised to be Lucille’s counter for rule in the area. Carnelian blames his fate on Lucille, and holds a deep grudge against him, particularly since Lucille didn’t ascend the throne, essentially making Carnelian’s harsh upbringing pointless. From one troublesome situation to another, Lucille drops in on Duke Rhodonite to try and uncover the Rhodonites’ plans and their ties to Le Sénat, which opposes the Queen. A surprising face is also investigating Duke Rhodonite, however – feisty and short-tempered Spinel, who is not at all thrilled to see Lucille again. Spinel is currently acting as the Duke’s spoiled fiancée. They’re both there for the same reason, however. Both Spinel and Lucille are investigating the guignol-turning enzyme found at Nepheline’s castle. The Duke’s home is exceptionally creepy, decorated with row after row of sculptures of guignols, created by the shunned sculptor Jadeite. As if that weren’t sinister enough, the true purpose of the Duke’s engagement party is to auction off Spinel…as a new guignol. That’s not the end of the surprises, however, as Gwindel suddenly turns on Lucille and turns him over to the Duke to also be turned into a guignol. It’s up to Kohaku, Spinel, and Eles to find a way to break Lucille free before it’s too late. Along the way, Gwindel’s past and true colors will be revealed, as well as the origin of the guignol-turning galatea virus.
This was a good volume, but there’s not a whole lot to talk about without revealing some of the secrets and twists of the story that are revealed in its pages. The best parts of the volume are the flashbacks that reveal pieces of the main casts’ pasts, which take up a good bulk of the book. Elements of Lucille’s past intertwine with those of Spinel, Carnelian, Gwindel, and Berthier. A dark and bloody past ties them all together, with Lucille at the center. They each view Lucille in their own unique way – Spinel as a traitor, Carnelian as a rival, Gwindel as a savior, and Berthier…well, I’m not entirely sure. They’re enemies, in that Berthier now works for Le Sénat, but his personality is so twisted that it’s hard to pick out his motivations other than a lust for bloody entertainment. The way Gwindel’s story plays out is really nice; it keeps you guessing until the end, even with Eles’s innocent insistence that all is not what it appears. And, of course, we learn a lot about Gwindel. We’re also given a better look at the trail of blood that is Lucille’s past. Lucille and Gwindel (and possibly Kohaku, though really we don’t know a ton about him just yet) both view Eles as an anchor, someone to remind them of innocence and compassion, and keep them sane. It’s clear they’d like to protect her innocence, but clearly that’s not going to happen with danger around every turn, and everyone’s pasts suddenly catching up to them. Yuki’s art continues to beautifully grace each page, though there were a couple of confusing panels in this volume. Their placement and pacing spun my head a bit. Otherwise, it’s another excellent volume that Kaori Yuki fans should love.
Review copy provided by Viz Media.