By Leroy Douresseaux
September 1, 2007 - 15:22
The Gentlemen’s Alliance †, Vol. 3 opens with a flashback sequence of what is essentially the birth of an intense relationship between Haine and Shizumasa – one that would transform Haine from delinquent to lovelorn teen. One chapter later and Haine is trying to break into the Togu mansion so that she can talk to Shizumasa after an earlier quarrel. Meanwhile, two members of Haine’s former family reappear, and one of them has claims on the Emperor.
THE LOWDOWN: There is no doubt about it. Manga-ka Arina Tanemura can draw beautiful comic art. Frequent showers of ornate plants and flowers rain across the panels and fill the backgrounds. Toning, shading, crosshatching, decorative patterns, etc. embellish elaborate and striking art design and set decoration. Handsome characters wear the most expensive finery and have hair so beautiful it can only be the work of a hairdresser who sold his or her soul to the devil.
In spots, The Gentlemen’s Alliance † is hard (or boring) to read. As intensely dry as it can be in spots, the series finds moments of inspired lunacy that border of soap opera brilliance. Volume 2 was arid until the mid point when a bucketful of dirty laundry, old secrets, and machinations spilled all over the narrative, and then, Vol. 2 was suddenly a page-turner. Vol. 3 is more consistent, less hot and cold, and is probably the best jumping on point for new readers, as it precisely details the series’ central concept and many plotlines.
POSSIBLE AUDIENCE: Part of VIZ Media’s, “Shojo Beat” line, The Gentlemen’s Alliance † is an intricate teen drama (think “One Tree Hill”) with the flavor of old primetime soaps like “Dallas” and “Dynasty.”
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