Here you will find honest, intelligent manga reviews for shojo fans of all ages.

Jul 20, 2009

The Gentlemen's Alliance Cross - Arina Tanemura

The Gentlemen's Alliance Cross, aka. Shinshi Doumei Cross, ran in Ribon magazine from 2004-2008. This is Arina Tanemura's sixth work to be translated into English.

Synopsis: Haine Otomiya is a first year high school student at the elite Imperial Academy. Having been sold for 50 million yen to her foster father as a child, she believes her real father no longer loves her, and her mother no longer communicates with her. Lonely and unhappy, she becomes part of a gang. She decides to reform when she reunites with Shizumasa Togu, a childhood love, who reminds her that she has the power to make herself happy. She then is accepted at Imperial Academy where she seeks to find Shizumasa and try to win his love. She is tricked by a member of the student council into becoming the body guard of the emperor, or the student council president, an office held by none other than Shizumasa. Unexpectedly, when Haine meets him again he is cold to her. Through her interactions with him, Haine discovers why he has become this way, and must use her wits and her heart to save the love of her life.

Review: There's way more to the story than I could summarize, and that's because the rest of the synopsis would include spoilers. I was quite torn over writing this review. The girly side of me so loved this story. Yet, the academic side was looking for every little thing wrong with it. At first I found Haine to be sappy and dim-witted. I wasn't impressed with her goal of trying to win Shizumasa's love. As the story developed, Haine endures much, and I realized that not only was she strong but also very caring and sensitive. I found myself irritated with Shizumasa-sama, until his situation is revealed, and then I couldn't help but sympathize with them both. Tanemura takes the story from being very shallow to very deep, using character development and complex plot threads. Every time I would try to step away and become objective about the story, Tanemura would pull me back in with the next engrossing plot arc. She cleverly constructs the plot so that each arc builds upon the main story, skillfully intertwining all the characters and their relationships. I think part of my issue with this manga is that Tanemura's drawing style seems too fluffy for the dramatic elements. Admittedly, I think her ability as an artist is gifted. Her figure drawing is fantastic, as well as clothing and backgrounds. The panels and compositions are also well done. My complaint is that her character designs from her works all look too similar. In Gentlemen's Alliance Cross, I had a hard time telling Haine and Ushio-chan (another student council member) apart, until Tanemura "cut" Haine's hair. Then there are all the sparkles, flowers, and ribbons which I consider the "fluffy" aspects of the drawing. It looks nice when it's kept simple, but sometimes Tanemura doesn't know when to stop and it gets distracting.

Romance Rating: Cuddly - sweet kisses is all you get. I was hoping it would get steamy :D...but so far Tanemura keeps it age appropriate.

Media Status: Currently there are 9 volumes of Gentlemen's Alliance Cross available from Viz Media. Volume 10 will be released in October 2009. The series will be complete at 11 volumes. Also being released in November 2009 will be the art book for this series known in Japan as Shinshi Dōmei Kurosu Tanemura Arina Irasuto Shuu.


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