Kaori Yuki manga art from Godchild and Angel Sanctuary. Gothic Lolita artwork and drawings.
Roku requested a post on Kaori Yuki, a Tokyo-born manga artist whose work is associated with Gothic Lolita, both in style and substance. I’m not much of a manga reader, but I love how Gothic Lolita is represented in this medium. Artistic renderings of the fashion (and the girls that wear it) may not always be true to life – but they can express subtexts that are impossible to capture in a photograph. Without a doubt, Yuki’s work falls in this special category.

Gothic Lolita manga and art by Kaori Yuki. Godchild manga cover art.
One reason I find Gothic Lolita so compelling is that it brings what we hide or deny – mortality, morbidity – right to the surface. And Yuki does that to the furthest extent. Her tortured protagonists have closets full of skeletons; Cain Hargreaves (Count Cain, Godchild) is the son of incest, Ian (Fairy Cube) can see fairies and ends up trapped in their world, Setsuna (Angel Sanctuary) commits incest with his sister.

It’s easy to write off her shocking storylines – along with the graphic sadism and heresy – as gratuitous. In fact, Yuki has great empathy and humanity for her characters. She probes our darkest impulses, inviting us to question our prejudices and contradictions.

Gothic Lolita artwork. Gothic manga by Kaori Yuki, author of novels Angel Sanctuary, Godchild, Count Cain.
And in her Gothic art, Kaori Yuki turns this frightening psychological journey into something beautiful. Many of her female characters wear Victorian-era dresses, hats, and bonnets; she has a knack for capturing the intricate details of their clothing. I love the expression in the couple’s eyes above. So much meaning can be read into that single frame – the chains, the black roses, the way they grasp at each other (is she struggling or swooning? )

Gothic Lolita can be thought of as nothing more than a black and white fashion. But I think underneath the petticoat layers, it is full of tensions, fears, nuances. Kaori Yuki’s art resonates with me because of what it exposes. If all you see are pretty Goth Lolis… it’s time to take a deeper look!