Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The dark world of Kaori Yuki

I like dark stories and unlike some other people, especially in Germany, I'm not ashamed about it at all. I am 32 and still read Manga and I'm not afraid to admit that either. As a result of my tastes, one of my favourite Manga artists is Kaori Yuki.

She has a very special style with a lot more grey than most other artists I know. Manga tend to be black/white mostly, as they are printed without any colours. The only thing an artist can use to create different shades in a picture is grey. Mostly this is done with special foil that brings structures (from a simple dot pattern right up to complete shapes like hearts done in dots) into the picture. Kaori Yuki uses those, of course, most Manga artists do. She even uses more of them than most other artists. What fascinates me about her pictures is the intensity the reaches through those fairly simple means. She gives her pictures a surprising depth for a simple Manga (which in Japan is considered something to read and throw away, we're not talking about lasting art here).

I first came in contact with her style when "Angel Sanctuary" was published in Germany. It's up to the present her longest running series, complete in 20 volumes of softcover pocketbooks. The background of the story is a dark one, telling of the disappearance of god and the effects this had on Heaven and subsequently on Earth as well. I will not go around retelling the whole story here, but it's complicated and sometimes full of surprises.

Short stories, gathered in the two paperbacks "Boys next door" and "Neji - Screw" followed soon afterwards. "Boys next door" contains stories about gruesome happenings in more or less everyday life, while all three stories of "Neji - Screw" are centred around a young boy who is deadly wounded and awakes in a future in which he's supposed to just be a little piece (like a screw) in the machinery, something against which he rebels.

Then her second longer series was published as well: "God Child", one of my all time favourites. "God Child" is set in a Victorian environment and deals with madness, murder and the occult - all things I'm really interested in. Besides, for a drawn character both the hero of the tale, Cain C. Hargreaves, and one of his adversaries, Dr. Jezebel Disraeli, are quite cute (check the end of this post for a little picture of Dr. Disraeli's cute SD-form).

Recently four more one-volume paperbacks have been published in German, namely "Ludwig Revolutions", "Bloodhound", "Gravel Kingdom" and "Cruel Fairytales". "Ludwig Revolutions" retells four European fairytales (Snow White, Little Red Riding Hood, Sleeping Beauty and Bluebeard) with certain changes, making them all revolve around a prince named Ludwig searching for a bride. "Bloodhound" is a vampire story in which the vampires actually are the good guys - mostly. It's more funny than it sounds. Both "Gravel Kingdom" and "Cruel Fairytales" are collections of short stories with similar background ("Gravel Kingdom" mostly deals with fantasy environments, while "Cruel Fairytales" is based on crime stories).

What I like most about Kaori Yuki's stories, however, is the way she manages to combine horror, death, blood and crimes with humour. This makes for an interesting reading and, as is always the case in such combinations, even intensifies the dark aspects of the story.

© 2000 Kaori Yuki

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