Grand Guignol Orchestra, vol. 2 by Kaori Yuki – review

Shojo Beat, 2011, 200 pages, 978-1421536378, Paperback, $9.99

Genre: Manga/Gothic

The first story in this volume of Grand Guignol Orchestra is surprisingly full of revelations. In “The Queen and the Jester,” the nature of Lucille’s relationship to Queen Gemsilica is uncovered, as are some other surprising aspects of his past. The second story, however, “Tragedie Lyrique,” introduces yet another set of questions when Lucille and Eles infiltrate a convent in search of the Black Oratorio.

We are also introduced to Le Sénat (a group which opposes Queen Gemsilica), the Accordeur (or Piano Tuner, who is delightfully and disturbingly insane), and a member of the Rhodonite family (yet another faction opposed to the Queen). These characters promise an interesting backstory chapter or two should Kaori Yuki provide her usual flashback scenes.

I was surprised when the first story included such a large reveal on Lucille’s past. To be honest, I’m not used to such up-front information; when a manga doesn’t lead me on for five or ten volumes, I don’t know how to feel (it’s just so unexpected!). Ultimately, though, I’m excited by the disclosure. It brings into question Lucille’s motives, particularly concerning Eles, and provides us with the familial gloom that Kaori Yuki is so very good at invoking. In addition, we discover that more than one character has been infected by the Galatea virus, yet they remain remarkably unaffected by it for the time being. I suspect that the reasons behind this ability to suppress the virus will be connected to at least one of the characters introduced in the second story.

There’s an overarching sense of futility in this volume, particularly in “The Queen and the Jester.” Despite Lucille’s remarkable abilities when fighting guignols, there is very little that he can do against his queen. As a reader, I can’t help but sympathize with the position that he’s in, particularly when confronted with the story of his past. Not only does it make the Accordeur’s parting accusation at the volume’s end seem plausible, but even understandable. Even so, should the accusation prove true, it would cast Lucille’s evolving relationship with Eles in a very different light.

Volume three of this manga is slated for release in June. Following up on these events should be both illuminating and exciting.



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