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Title:
  The Gentleman's Alliance Cross vol 1

UK Distributor:  VIZ Media

Created by:  Arina Tanemura

Suggested Retail Price (SRP):  5.99

Number of Pages:  184

ISBN:  978-1421511832 

Reviewed:  21st March 2008 

Reviewer:  Ami-chan

 

The story of the Gentleman's Alliance Cross is written by Arina Tanermura who is a Shojo artist for the Ribbon magazine in Japan.  Her titles include Kamikaze Kaito Jeane and Full Moon.

The story is about a girl called Haine, who was sold away to another family in order to solve her birth family's debt problems.  The story begins with poor Haine struggling to fit in a school filled with the most influential families in the country.  She finds herself positioned at the bottom of the ladder as a 'Bronze', with the Silvers and the one Gold (the president of the school, Shizumasa) ranked students above her.  It is the president of the school who Haine loves as he offered her comfort in her time of need when she was younger.  The first volume of this manga shows how Haine comes back into contact with Shizumasa by becoming his bodyguard and thus become a part of the student committee.  However, the man that Haine used to know seems to be different, with a split personality with one moment he acts cold towards her and the next he treats her with kindness.
 

One aspect that always stands out in Arina's work is her art style.  The entire manga is beautifully drawn and incredibly detailed.  Anime is famous for big eyes, and Arina certainly does use them in her character design.  In fact this is one element which makes her art distinctive compared to other manga-kas.  A nice touch in the manga is the school uniform, as it varies dependent on the persons position within the school, with the school committee (in my opinion) having the nicest uniform.  Another element of the uniform is the fact that the boys have to wear a bow as part of their uniform whereas the girls wear ties.  However, if they date someone in the school they exchange so that they wear the right accessory for their gender.  This allows others in school to see that they are in a relationship; this adds a touching and thoughtful element to the manga.

However, it should be pointed out that the character design used here is not totally original.  Both Haine and Shizumasa simply seem to be Full Moon and Takuto (both from Full Moon wo Sagashite) with different hair colours.  Another problem I found while reading the manga was that I often found it difficult to distinguish between Ushio and Haine, who both look very similar to each other.  This is because the traditional black & white manga art manga makes it more difficult to tell them apart and their character design is similar.


The story in the first volume is very introductory in nature, with introductions to many of the main characters.  Some could argue that this in a way is too overwhelming and that some of the characters could of been introduced in later manga volumes.  However, the first volume does do a good job of making you relate to the main character, Haine.  I find her personality unusual and intriguing as she isn't the normal sweet girl with hard circumstances thrust upon her.  She is instead someone who has a dark past and because of this she walked down the wrong path in the past by joining gangs and picking fights.  One of the terms that is frequently used to describe her is the word 'Yanki'.  This caused me great confusion when reading it for the first time as I thought it meant American.  In fact the true meaning is described at the back of the manga as "a juvenile delinquent or young gangster".

A surprising element of the manga is the fact that it has small elements of yaoi and yuri within it.  This is in fact, something that I believe Arina has not used before in any of her manga, which may show how she is using this manga to challenge herself story wise.  If this is not your cup of tea, do not let this put you off as it is only a very small element of the story and it is very sweet in nature.

Overall, although you could argue that it's not completely original in character design compared to her other manga, The Gentleman's Alliance Cross is still beautifully drawn and has a great story concept that makes you wish to read the manga further.

Extras

At the back of the first manga there are a number of different features that may be of interest to yourself.  For a start there are introductions to the five main characters in the manga.  This is interesting as it gives you insight into Arina's thoughts into why she created these characters.  There is also comments on her visit to a local private school in order to get inspiration on the school featured in the manga.

Further to this there is a bonus mini manga which is a sweet portrayal of Haine and Ushio's relationship.  In this manga just like Full Moon the four panel manga makes a return.  These are just normally just a bit of fun, and show that Arina is not afraid to make fun of the characters that she has created.

Finally there is a glossary, which as mentioned above proves very useful in filling in the missing gaps between the Japanese / English cultural divide.

Product: Extras:
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