If you spend your whole life trying to be the opposite of what your parents were, do you really have your own identity? This is the question faced by golden boy Georges when troublemaker Robert arrives at the elite Saint Grollo boys’ school. Georges has spent his life trying to make up for his father’s evil deeds by being the perfect student, but Robert seems determined to make Georges lose his cool. While Georges tries hard to get along with everyone, Robert doesn’t care who he pisses off. The cynical older boy feels compelled to shatter Georges’ angelic image, yet the two find themselves forming a friendship that will transform them both. Georges and Robert have more in common than they realize–both are afraid to let anyone get too close, and both have a troubled past they try to hide. Their relationship, while platonic, soon becomes the most important thing in their lives–much to the dismay of jealous and protective classmates. In the deliciously overwrought atmosphere of Chigusa Kawai’s pseudo-European Catholic school, Georges’ faith in Robert will be tested and Robert will fight to protect the boy whose innocence he both hates and admires. Though La Esperança can be soap-operatic, the story deals with surprisingly complex emotions; Chigusa Kawai has created characters who are more than just types. Sure, they talk about their feelings more than most teen guys I know, but there’s plenty of humor in La Esperança to go with all the angst. The art is lush (all the bishonen certainly help), with a slightly gothic flavor. Chigusa Kawai tantalizes readers with hints about Georges and Robert’s past, but doesn’t give away her plans. Does Robert want more than just friendship from Georges? Whatever the answer, La Esperança promises to be a satisfying tale.