Author: Kaori Yuki
Series: Grand Guignol Orchestra #1
Published: October 5th 2010 by VIZ Media, under Shojo Beat. First published January 2011
Length: 208 pages
Warnings: gore, zombies, guns, violence (my rating) "Fantasy violence and some mature themes" (Viz rating)
Other info: Original title The Royal doll Orchestra. Kaori Yuki has lots of other manga to her name such as Angel Sanctuary and Godchild.
Summary : Lucille and his orchestra encounter a town overrun with the worst kind of audience: the Living Dead! Well, not really. They’re people who have been turned into doll-like zombies. And they are definitely not a crowd to take lightly. Can a group of roving musicians use their skills to calm the beasts? Or is this curtains for the Royal Orchestra?!
Review: We start off with a quick part of Coppelia, the part when everyone becomes dolls. However this spans only two pages and really only sets the scene. Then we have a Guignol, which is basically a cross between a zombie and a wooden doll, attacking a carriage as it rolls into a town. Someone fights off the Guignol off and they get into the town. The drawbridge is pulled up, leaving the Guignols outside.
The black carriage carries the Grand Orchestra: long straight haired quiet cellist Gwindel, scarred trigger-happy violinist Kohaku and long curly haired vocalist Lucille. Making it clear now: Lucille is male. Despite what it looks like, Lucille is a man. And the Grand Orchestra, because this is the unofficial one, is in possession of the the Black Oratio, a book containing forbidden songs that the Orchestra will play for the right price.
We also meet Eles, young 'son' of the lord of the town. Who, it becomes apparent, is actually sister Celes because Eles died in a Guignol attack. But she wants to keep being taken as a boy, and carries on pretending to be Eles.
Various things happen and Eles becomes part of the orchestra.
They then travel on to another town where Lucille is mistaken for a girl and the Grand Orchestra ends up having to defeat another lot of Guignols. Underneath all this there is also the story of (C)Eles trying to seperate herself from her brother, because it was her piano playing that caused her brother to die, and Lucille attempting to find someone for the Royal Court.
I picked this up because I've read Kaori Yuki's other works, Godchild and Angel Sanctuary. And this was advertised in the back as a historical manga with zombie dolls.
So the story. Some parts of it were a little confusing because there's a lot going on. Which is similar to Godchild and Angel Sanctuary. Really, I think all her works need to be read twice through to get perfect sense.
The characters were fun and original. They all had individual personalities that made it easy to tell them apart. However there are still a lot of things I want to know more about them, such as why Kohaku gets pain whenever there's a Guignol around, what's up with Gwindol and his overprotectiveness of a hedgehog, who's that girl with ringlets Lucille's thinking about that seems to haunt him and exactly what is the relationship between the members of the Orchestra because it seems they're not together just because they're musical and friends.
On a completely different note, both Kohaku and Gwindel remind me of Undertaker from Black Butler: Kohaku's scar and Gwindel's hair that is almost always covering his eyes.
The art is pretty, obviously a shojo style but in Kaori's signature style. Its realistic and the speciall effects such as the speedlines and blood splatters work well where they are.
However some of the sound effect lettering is a bit distracting and some of via actual speech and thoughts were a little out of the way and unnoticable meaning I skipped them out when reading sometimes.