Story/Art: Natsume Ono
Translation/Adaptation: Joe Yamazaki
What They Say
As Yaichi’s pursuers draw closer, Yagi also steps up his investigation into the man and his past. Masa, who’s caught between them, becomes privy to secrets about Yaichi unknown even to the original members of the Five Leaves. Matters grow even more complicated as Masa’s younger brother becomes increasingly entangled in his difficulties back home. Slowly but steadily, the pressure on the Five Leaves mounts.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
At the end of the last volume there was an uncertainty about the continuance of the Five Leaves as an active group. With Ginta’s skills making the whole kidnapping business smoother, there’s an added risk because the kid does like to run his mouth. From the outside, it looks like Ginta and Masa have cramped Yaichi’s style, and Ane-san still blames Masa on driving Yaichi back into his shell. We saw all these points touched upon in the last volume, and they’re rehashed upon during moments in this one, dragging the pace of the volume down in the process.
While the rest of the members of the Five Leaves contemplate the fact that the authorities seem to be hanging around more than they used to, none can guess the real reason why. Only Ginta and Masa know that Yaichi’s past has caught up with him, although I suspect that the others might have guessed that.
While the Five Leaves remain on a hiatus, Superintendent Yagi reaches out to Masa and helps him find a job instructing children at a Dojo. It’s a perfect fit for Masa, and he actually manages to make a good impression and enjoy himself. It’s nice to see something finally go right for him. Even if Yagi’s motive for helping Masa was questionable. His confidence growing, he reaches out to Yaichi and for a moment it looks like things might return to normal for the Five Leaves. Sadly, Yaichi plans for the next big job to be the group’s last. While the gang would probably miss the money, what they really miss is getting together at izakaya.
Masa’s life in the city is also under threat, although he doesn’t realize it yet. His younger brother, now the head of the household, has been relying on his brother’s money to booster his own reputation and that of their family. He doesn’t know that Masa’s fear of crowds crippled Masa’s confidence, and doesn’t think talent with a sword plays any part in being a samurai anymore. With spiteful glee he thought to punish his brother, who he felt was nothing more than a coward. Suspicion over how Masa is acquiring the money he sends home is growing.
It looks like everything is working its way toward a climax with the last big job. There’s a lot that could go wrong for the group, and it’ll be interesting to see how the whole thing goes down and the fallout from what follows.
The tension has slowly been ratcheting up over the course of the last two volumes of House of Five Leaves. It’s becoming a matter of who is going to call out Yaichi first, the authorities or the wronged members of his former gang. Meanwhile, Masa is growing in confidence, and may have finally found a job that he is good and and truly enjoys. House of Five Leaves slow pace and rough art makes the series a hard sell, but it continues to be an enjoyable character drama and a quieter look at the life of a down-on-his-luck samurai.
Content Grade: B
Art Grade: C
Packaging Grade: A –
Text/Translation Grade: A
Readers Rating: [ratings]
Age Rating: 16+
Released By: Viz Media
Release Date: December 13th, 2011