Posts Tagged ‘House of Five Leaves’

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Manga of the Month: House of Five Leaves

April 2, 2013

House of Five Leaves (さらい屋五葉) by Natsume Ono

House of Five Leaves introduced me to the incredibly talented Natsume Ono. In this quiet and dark tale, she weaves together a character-driven story of family and morality with an unlikely group, a gang of kidnappers, during the Edo period.

Masa is a talented swordsman, but awkward and shy, who can’t keep a job despite his best efforts. One day, Masa meets the charismatic criminal Yaichi and before Masa knows it he is swept up in a kidnapping plot and the lives of the other members of the gang.

Masa’s dilemma and change over the course of the story has an odd air to it because his growth you want to applaud and yet the undercurrent is so dark. The story really began to weigh on me as Yaichi’s past slowly unfolds and things go from bad to worse for the Five Leaves. The characters all possessed such a pull on my heart and mind that when it came to its final conclusion I was emotionally exhausted.

Natsume Ono’s art style is always a treat, but with House of Fives Leaves it is particularly special. The brush work (reminiscent of calligraphy) combined with the flatness of her designs and shadows (reminiscent of woodblock prints) click perfectly with the time period. It actually seeps you even deeper into the setting.

Natsume Ono transforms a story starring a kidnapping ring into a compelling character drama that whispers suspense.

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Narutaki & Hisui VS. 2010

December 27, 2010

It is time for the most anticipated and respected anime awards show of the year! (De gustibus non est disputandum.) On the Speakeasy we looked back at the trends that defined anime and manga in 2010. This is an examination of the individual titles and characters that made the biggest impact on us this year. We discuss what made us laugh and cry (for the better and the worse.) Feel free to chime in with your picks as well. If you have a suggested category you would like us to use next year just leave us a comment and we will try to work it in next year.

I really enjoy doing this post. Yeah, everyone does one, but that is because they are fun! For good or ill I know what kind of year I’ve had when I do this post.

Best Anime of 2010 or the Junmai Daiginjo-shu of Anime

Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn by Sunrise I know it seems impossible but Gundam Unicorn might actually be the one modern series that a majority of Gundam fans can get behind without their normal bickering. It incorporates the newest and flashiest technology while keeping true to the strength and spirit of the original Universal Century series. If you did not know better you would assume that Yoshiyuki Tomino played a part in the creation of this series for who seamlessly it works itself into the universe. The characters for the series harken back to the former archetypes set by its predecessors while not seeming like clones. Obviously a good deal of money and love was poured into this series because it consistently looks amazing. I look forward to learning the secrets of the Laplace Box and the RX-0.

Runner up: House of Five Leaves by Manglobe An absorbing and atmospheric character based historical drama. Based on seinen manga it is an adult work for both sexes that continues the tradition of great noitaminA anime.

Giant Killing by Studio DEEN When thinking this over, I had to ask myself what was I most anxious to watch each week? What did I want another season of (and thought it could sustain it)? I arrived at my answer pretty quickly. It was Giant Killing’s approach to characters that impressed me throughout the season. Never did the show bang you over the head with who these people were, instead we were shown through small actions, bits of conversations, and of course their approach to soccer. And best of all we got to see everyone involved when it comes to sports from the players to the fans, from the press to the managing staff. Everyone had a role but our main character was not a star or up and coming player, but rather the coach. Tatsumi makes this show and gives a new perspective for a sports anime. Perhaps Giant Killing isn’t the most thought-provoking showing of the year, but it did things just a little bit differently and it never faltered.

Runner up: Kuragehime by Brain’s Base (second mostly because I haven’t seen how it ends yet) This is a very absorbing comedy about a house full of girl geeks whose lives get turned upside down when cross-dressing Kurnosuke takes an interest in them. This is the most genuine depiction of geeky girls I’ve seen to date without being pandering. And it is also turning into a tender romance as well.

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2010: A Year of Great Openings

December 20, 2010

When looking back at this year, I was struck by how many great openings came to mind so I thought,”hey, let’s call that out in a post!” And the way I see, to have a good opening you need a good song, good animation, and both of them need to fit together distinctly. When watching an opening, I’m looking for a feeling, it should set a tone and a pace for what I’m about to watch. I think openings can have a lot of power so I have to give props when they are done well.

A good opening draws you and sets a tone for the anime. It can be the vanguard and frontman for a series giving you your first impression of what the show is about and what mood you should be feeling when you watch. Plus the animation on the opening usually at least one level higher quality than anything in the show itself so most openings are a joy to watch. There are some exceptions to this rule but we are not here to talk about them today. Today we will discuss some of the best openings of 2010 and why they stand out.

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Ongoing Investigations: Case #092

July 16, 2010

House of Five Leaves was a quietly compelling series that came full-circle in its story. Something about beginning and ending with the same gesture really gets to me in a good way. As Masa starts to connect to each member of The Five Leaves he is changed but through his gentle and honest (minus, you know, being part of a kidnapping ring) nature he genuinely surprises and moves the people around him. Yaichi remains a bit of an enigma throughout to the people around him, even Masa is still making the connection with him in the end but learning about his past allows him to be more of an open book atleast to the audience. It wasn’t immediately obvious from the first couple of episodes that this story would be more of a personal journey rather than about the crimes playing out. As the you begin to puzzle out the story it becomes gripping despite the languid pacing. House of Five Leaves has atmosphere and characters who tell you who they are with the slightest of actions. Beautiful and recommended, I am looking forward to picking up the manga as well.

hisuiconI must say that the House of Five Leaves anime picked the perfect place to end. When adapting an ongoing manga it can be hard to decide where to end especially when the source material is very character and plot driven. But Tomomi Mochizuki ended at the point where you had insight into all the main characters and everyone had a good arc of character development. You got the impression that everyone had changed greatly since you had first met them and you had a decent idea of who they were. Masanosuke still has growing to do, Yaichi still has unfinished business, and we could have learned a bit more about Otake but overall if the manga had ended here I don’t think anyone would have felt cheated. I was sad to hear that this was got fairly low ratings for a noitaminA show in Japan. When something that is extremely experimental like Trapeze gets ratings like that I am not too surprised. But I would have assumed the mature quality would hook a noitaminA audience. That is a shame because this is a well done historical character piece that while not extremely fast in it’s execution is great at building up an atmosphere that draws you into a group of very unusual kidnappers and their stories. I hope to finish the story through the VIZ manga.

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