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.
I 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.