Shinshi Doumei Cross (The Gentleman Alliance) by Tanemura Arina
Age Rating: 13+
– Serialised in Ribon Shoujo Comics Monthly
– Number of books: 2 so far (Japan)
REVIEW APPLIES TO: Chapters 1-14 (Tankoubon 1, 2, and then some)
(Reviewer’s note: this is an ongoing review meaning that at some point, this will be reborn as a full review someday when it finishes. Ongoing review means that there are no ratings for specific aspects of the series yet as a full conclusion has yet to be reached. You’ll know when it’s done, though: no worries ^_^)
Review: Undoubtedly the most mature of Tanemura Arina’s work yet, this story of lies, betrayal, love, deciet, and friendship will remind most readers of Shoujo Kakumei Utena with how the story revolves around a girl trying to overcome the boundaries set by a school rank system and the very odd student council at its setting, Imperial Academy. Oh, and the gender-bending too. This series is only 2 books long so far (a long serialization looks promising given the nature of the story thus far) and the story is quite ridiculous with its strange concepts and systems, but it is as equally intriguing with twists and turns all over the already very complex story. Arina always lightens up what would otherwise be a very heavy atmosphere with her usual odd sense of humour and silliness that is so effervescant it’s almost distracting. However, the trademark happiness, shoujo optimism, and persistent moral-telling undertones are all there as well.
The characters have a great range. The main character, Otomiya Haine, is a standard shoujo heroine: determined, fussy, klutzy, and very obviously the centre of things revolving. She fell in love with the koutei (or president) of the Imperial Academy student council long before both of them were at the school. The koutei, Tougu Shizumasa, however, is hiding a LOT of dirty secrets. Haine, luckily, is supported by a group of colourful friends. Arina dips into the waters of homosexuality quote a few times in this manga. Sexual references are much more present, especially when regarding the corruption that surrounds the Academy, than in any of her previous works, but it doesn’t overshadow the story.
Arina’s artwork does not disappoint her many fans. It is as elegant and strikingly beautiful as always, if not much much more, and echoes so wonderfully with the atmosphere of every scene. Every moment between anyone that’s not Haine (My favorite so far are whenever the doctor and Usio, the student council secretary and Haine’s best friend.confidante are together. The chemistry between them is just amazing.) seems to possess this undertone of maliciousness that propels the addictiveness of this series to new heights, where it refuses to descend until we know just what is going on around Haine.
Rather highly recommended. Arina’s fast-paced, spastic, and hole-filled (until the end, of course) storytelling takes a bit to get used to, but once you do, it’s usually worth it. So here’s to hoping that this stands true for this series as well.