Guardians of the Louvre is part of the Louvre series of bande dessinée, a long-running series of full-color comics comissioned by that museum. Like other comics in this series, the Louvre and its artworks are featured prominently. However, despite its French-style presentation, this work is also a manga-- it is written in the standard right-to-left format, and adheres to other standards of Japanese-style storytelling, particularly in terms of its pacing and emphasis on setting.
The tale concerns an unnamed Japanese artist who, during a visit to Paris, finds himself bedridden with a cold and fever. Upon feeling a little better the next day, he goes out to visit some mueums, starting with the Louvre. However, he starts feeling unwell again and soon finds himself in a dreamlike state with a self-described Guardian of the Louvre at his side. Over the next few days, he visits the Louvre and sites related to famous artists through this "space-time in [his] reveries", going back in time and even meeting said artists. I won't spoil who these artists are, except to say that nearly all of them have a special connection to Japanese art and art history.
The nameless main character is given only enough personality to move the plot along; he mainly serves as a conduit through which the reader learns about and appreciates the art being discussed. We do learn about a specific, important detail in his life at the very end, which, though it arrives unexpectedly, serves as a neat and tidy way to help conclude the story. As for the other characters, the Guardian mainly serves as a guide, and the historical figures feel believeable enough.
This was my first time reading something by the late Jiro Taniguchi, and his reputation is well-deserved. The pacing is tranquil, and the art is detailed and refined. I particularly enjoyed how various masterpieces of European art were recreated and woven into the story, and his renderings of the Louvre's interiors are gorgeous.
While not a masterpiece itself, Guardians of the Louvre is a lovely slice of European art appreciation and history, as seen through a Japanese perspective. Although some of the information presented wasn't new to me, most of it was, and as such, I found it quite educational. It's also beautiful to look at, and very much worth your time if you're an art lover.