Gorgeous Carat Galaxy
written by You Higuri
Gorgeous Carat Galaxy is a one-shot spin-off set after the four-volume manga Gorgeous Carat. The original series follows the wealthy loan shark Ray Balzaac Courland and his secret double life as the phantom thief Noir. Noir has terrorized the Parisian elite by pilfering their precious jewels, but no jewel is more precious than his handsome, indentured friend Florian Rochefort.
Now, Florian isn't the only member of the Rochefort family in serious debt. A distance relative of his is desperately trying to sell his estate's works of art or be left penniless. Florian convinces Ray to travel to the estate and buy some pieces to help. When a snowstorm rolls in and another buyer is murdered, that is merely the beginning of Ray and Florian's troubles.
The pair find themselves swept up in a young girl's madness as she tries to stop her cousin from selling the estate. Her love for the uncle who raised her and her obsession with Florian threaten to destroy them all. Ray will have to use all his cunning and stealth to escape with his his allies...and his life.
The story is full of intrigue and mystery, and yet something still feels like it's missing. The book is 250+ pages, far longer than normal manga, and yet it still feels rushed. It is difficult to grasp the motivation of these characters, and the explanations don't fully make sense. The reader is supposed to just accept what they are told.
Nonetheless, Gorgeous Carat Galaxy is an enjoyable continuation for those who like the original series as well as You Higuri's other works. Higuri's strength lies in her stunning artwork and atmosphere. Her stories are complex and mysterious. Unlike many yaoi series, her male-male relationships are more subtle and focused on the character dynamic rather than just sex, which can be very refreshing for those looking to explore beyond the generally unbalanced uke/seme makeup. In the first series, Florian was as weak as a wilting flower, but has clearly grown a backbone since, which will greatly please his fans.
You Higuri's works are always worth reading, and the relationships she depicts always develop organically. Her stories expand to plots far more important than a budding romance. Gorgeous Carat Galaxy only hints at the emotional connection between Ray and Florian when it becomes relevant to the plot. This title would be appropriate for teen readers and older who enjoyed the first series and wants to expand on Higuri's library of stunning works.