Reviewed by: Dallas Marshall
Released by: Viz
Publishing Country: USA
Author: Natsume Ono
Age Rating: 16+
Page Count: 208
Masterless samurai Akitsu Masanosuke is a skilled and loyal swordsman, but his naïve, diffident nature has time and again caused him to be let go by the lords who have employed him. Hungry and desperate, he becomes a bodyguard for Yaichi, the charismatic leader of a gang called "Five Leaves." Although disturbed by the gang's sinister activities, Masa begins to suspect that Yaichi's motivations are not what they seem. And despite his misgivings, the deeper he's drawn into the world of the Five Leaves, the more he finds himself fascinated by these devious, mysterious outlaws.
Ronin, Akitsu Masanosuke is great with a sword but on the outside seems like a really shy man. This results in him being dropped by his former employers as a bodyguard, so he roams the streets hungry. In a state of desperation he decides become a bodyguard for Yaichi, leader of the intriguing group of scoundrels calling themselves "Five Leaves".
House of Five Leaves is a decent slice-of-life and period manga. Although it is a story about a master-less samurai and a group of rogue outlaws, there really is not that much going on.
The style of the author; Natsume Ono, is one all her own, using sketchy lines and minimalist art, which gives House of Five Leaves a sense of old-time appeal. The character design on this manga is unusual, showcasing a cast of characters that border along the line of being deadpan-except Akitsu, the bug-eyed hero of our story who has the most expressive face out of all the characters.
Akitsu is a talented swordsman but his skill is rarely shown and even though this manga is a Edo-period piece; there is little to no action, so do not expect any swashbuckling sword play here. The House Of Five Leaves is a character study of Akitsu and nothing more. This manga is an acquired taste and the lack of action in a story that seems like it would be full of action, might be off-putting to some readers. The main focus of House Of Five Leaves is its dependency on character development to see itself through. Characters sit and discuss ideologies and feelings or lounge about and enjoy the breeze of a spring day-Instead of swinging swords.
For what it's worth, House Of Five Leaves is a adequate read even though at times it totters along the line of being meandering and slow-paced a little too much. House Of Five Leaves is available through Viz at $12.99. Is it worth that much? Is it worth borrowing it from a friend or the library and reading it on a lazy afternoon? I think so.