Posts Tagged 'House of Five Leaves'

The Anime Music Tournament 2013 Bracket Ichijou – Round 1 – Polls 1-8 “Analysis”

By TheBigN

The Ichijou Festival commenced already here, with the first set of polls already closed, and this last half pretty much done with one day to go. That being said, this was an interesting bracket after the last few brackets that have been pretty strong. And by interesting, also in the sense that I haven’t heard several of these songs before now. 😛 Continue reading ‘The Anime Music Tournament 2013 Bracket Ichijou – Round 1 – Polls 1-8 “Analysis”’

Manga: House of Five Leaves ends

by dm00

All in the family

Viz’s Ikki imprint recently finished their run of the eight-volume manga series House of Five Leaves by Natsume Ono.

The series tells the story of an Edo-era gang of kidnappers, who ransom members of rich families. Masanosuke is a mostly honest, but disgraced ronin who reluctantly becomes involved with the gang when he meets the enigmatic Yaichi, their leader. Others in the gang are Ume, the sake-house owner; Otake, a geisha whom Yaichi redeemed from bondage in a brothel; Matsukichi, the distrustful burglar and spy. They’re not Robin Hoods — the proceeds go to various purposes, though in at least one case the victim stays his vengeful hand when he discovers where the money went.

Like most of Ono’s work, it is a slow, subtle character study. Many readers may have found it too slow, especially in volumes five through seven. I think that frustration at pacing has been aggravated by the wait between volumes. The wait is over: now is the time to pick up the series, so you can read it all through from beginning to end, with no need to wait for the payoff.

The final volume wraps up the story nicely, providing a wonderful conclusion to the subtle development that’s gone on in the past few volumes.

In the end, the manga is about family. It weaves its story with threads of several (mostly) dysfunctional families — kidnapping victims, Yaichi’s past and his ghosts, Masanosuke’s trouble with his brother, to the various gangs past and present. The Five Leaves may be the healthiest of the lot, even if we’ve spent the last few volumes wondering if Yaichi is going to betray them all in order to escape the past that is catching up with him.

The past several volumes carry the story beyond the end of the anime, introducing a new major character (a foil for Yaichi) In them, Masanosuke grows to accept his lot (and to achieve a good deal of nobility in the process): he teaches his brother a lesson about duty, he sacrifices to save his friends, he becomes Yaichi’s path to redemption; we learn the story of Yaichi’s past and the reason the Five Leaves works through kidnapping; we see the retiring of some old debts, and the forgiveness of others.

Ono’s art is a little like deliberately-crude CLAMP: her characters are long and lanky, drawn with heavy lines with dark voids for eyes. An acquired taste, perhaps, but a refreshing change from BESM cliche, well-suited to the subtle play of expression on her characters’ faces. Melancholy CLAMP: her characters have made mistakes and are living with the consequences. Adult CLAMP: there’s not a pretty boy to be seen, but Otake would be fine company for XxxHoLic’s Yuuko.

I like the presentation of the series, with the paperback covers folded over like dust-jackets, with page-sizes large enough to do Ono’s artwork justice, and inks and paper that gives the contrast and weight that her line-work demands. Viz might be better served by re-releasing the series as a pair of omnibus volumes.

House of Five Leaves GN4

by dm00

No, the new character is not the girl from Ristorante Paradiso

Volume four of Natsume Ono’s wonderful House of Five Leaves manga finally leaves the anime behind. A new potential leaf appears for the gang of kidnappers — a go-between, who offers his negotiating services to kidnap victims’ families to negotiate with the kidnappers. Meanwhile, on the sly, he’s part of the kidnapping gang. Or that’s his proposal, at least.

But Masa is the only member of the gang who takes a liking to him. Yaichi, in particular, does not like the fellow — a case of like repelling like, as it develops.

The series is starting to take a darker turn, and Yaichi, in particular, reveals more about the darkness in his nature and his willingness to betray old comrades. Future volumes promise to skirt tragedy.

If you’ve been waiting for new material, or if the anime left you curious about Yaichi’s true nature, now might be a good time to start in this series. If you’ve been reading the series all along, I think you’ll find that Natsume Ono has decided to step it up a notch.

It’s still slow, with little action, but you can feel the tension building. Something is going to happen soon.


The Authors (with others, too.)

The Good Old Days

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