The Gentleman’s Alliance Cross

The Gentleman’s Alliance Cross

imageHaine Otomiya is a 15-year-old students at the elite private Imperial Academy. She was apparently sold to the Otomiya family by her father, Kazuhito Kamiya, for 50 million yen. Feeling confused and unwanted, Haine becomes a gang member. She continues down a bad path until she meets Shizumasa Tougu, who made Haine see that she didn’t have to lead that kind of life if she didn’t want to. When she realises this, Haine also recognises Shizumasa as the author of a treasured picture book that her father once gave to her. Now determined to win Shizumasa’s love, Haine reforms herself and enters the Imperial Academy that he attends as a Bronze level student.

Shizumasa is the Koutei (the ‘Emporer’) of the school, the sole Gold level student and the admired President of the Student Council. Throught no fault of her own, Haine is tricked into becoming Shizumasa’s bodyguard and her initial Bronze rank is upped to the special rank of Platinum, and this designates her as the Koutei’s companion. She is delighted to have the chance to be close to the person that she loves, but Shizumasa is cold to her, and claims not to know her. Disappointed, but still determined to win his love, Haine eventually discovers that the Koutei is not Shizumasa as she first expected, but his twin brother Takanari.

During childhood, Shizumasa won the right to become the heir of prestigious Tougu family, which left Takanari to effectively become his brother’s ‘shadow’, and his existence was erased. Shizumasa’s ill-health means that Takanari regularly has to fill in for him as Koutei, and his time with Haine has caused him to reluctantly fall in love with her. Haine must work out which twin she really loves: Shizumasa, whose words saved her during her darkest times; or Takanari, who she discovers is the real author of her cherished story book.

imageAnother gorgeously-drawn manga by Arina Tanemura. The Gentleman’s Alliance Cross has a cast of characters that are colourful on the service but conflicted and complex underneath it all. What we see at the start of this manga is a group of privileged students at an expensive school, but they all have their own problems hidden under their typical teenage appearances. Haine appears to be the happiest and most upbeat one of them all, but she is just as damaged as everyone else. True, the love triangle between her and the twins first looked like a superficial teenage drama, but as the story unfolds the reader realises that Haine was in love with the idea of a person she thought she knew. She is an incredibly loyal person and only succeeded in becoming confused with the words and actions of the twins. The two most important events in her life starred not just one person, but two. In actual fact, Haine has to really consider which twin helped her the most, and is torn between two precious memories.

Haine herself is a great character. It’s not often that we see a female lead in a shoujo manga that is so strong both emotionally (and physically – she looked awesome as her yankee alias Seashore Cinderella) but yet is so sensitive and vulnerable at times. She has been through a lot of traumatic events with her family, but remains positive and upbeat and arguably keeps the other characters smiling amidst all their problems. She sees the best in everyone and even convinces the reader that the deceptive Tougo twins are good, kind people and shouldn’t be judged too harshly for the actions of their wealthy, elitist parents.

imageAs always, the artwork here is simply spectacular. The detail Tanemura puts into clothes, eyes and hair (and this isn’t just the girls – the boys look stunning too). It makes you look at every panel a little longer to take in those intricate details. You can see the subtle changes in the drawings of Haine from when she was Seashore Cinderella and as the Koutei’s Platinum. It adds an extra facet to each character that you don’t expect, and makes you appreciate the effort that went into creating this manga. I admit, I always look forward to reading a manga drawn by Arina Tanemura because of the little extra that you get along with a good story.

imageThe Gentleman’s Alliance Cross was a great read. I found myself flying through the tankobon volumes at record speed. It was such an intricate and fascinating work – a really great shoujo manga that contained all the quintessential elements but played them in such a unique way that made this story really stand on its own. The characters were beautiful, unique and complex (just the way I like ’em) with an interesting concept and an ending that didn’t disappoint. It’s difficult to arrive at an impressive ending in a shoujo manga – particularly when a story is mainly about the journey rather than the destination – but I always remain hopeful that these stories don’t just fizzle out and fade away. In this regard (and in most) The Gentleman’s Alliance Cross really made an impact.