In my first year of participation, I got to choose between Tekkon Kinkreet, Manabi Straight, and House of Five Leaves. Since I’ve already been interested in the last one since a while ago, I decided to go with that. Both my and my santa’s hunch was right. This show is definitely one I’d recommend to all of you.
House of Five Leaves is a short but sweet series, taking place during the Edo period in, well, Edo. Our main point of view is the shy yet honest rounin samurai, Masanosuke Akitsu. In the need of money, he is seduced by the charismatic Yaichi, leader of the Five Leaves, to join their group of kidnappers.
The anime is able to tell a clear story in just twelve episodes. The manga spans eight volumes, but the anime didn’t feel particularly rushed. This is in part due to the atmosphere of the series being rather calm and slow, reserving a lot of time for reflection and flashbacks. Combined with a unique art style and the tunes in a style that remember Edo Japan, we get a historical series perhaps very new to many westerners.
I must add that I’m not familiar with historical dramas, least of all samurai ones. There are some other examples in anime, the first comparable ones springing to my mind is the Sword of the Stranger movie and the Rurouni Kenshin OVAs. House of Five Leaves contains none of the action found in the previously mentioned and its length allows for several arcs that develop more characters fully. Still, when it comes to the sense of sorts I get from these three titles, I find them very similar so if you like one, definitely check out the other.
One more aspect I need to mention about House of Five Leaves are its characters. The group, Five Leaves, is made up of, surprise, five characters. With the exception of one (I’ll attribute that to lack of episodes, time to read the manga), the other four characters get some very noticeable growth in the way they see the world and how they interact with each other. All of this comes to fruition in a very satisfying ending.
All in all, it’s a series I’d recommend to all of you. It’s not as action packed as you’d expect from samurai, but in return we get a great set of characters in a great historical drama with a great atmosphere.