I’ve been hearing about House of Five Leaves ever since it debuted on Viz’s SigIKKI website over a year ago. Still, it was only just a few weeks back when, deprived of sufficient access to my own books, that I finally took the time to check it out online.
Here are a few quotes from my write-up in a recent installment of Off the Shelf:
I’ve had mixed reactions to Natsume Ono’s work so far. I liked Ristorante Paradiso, but had issues with Not Simple. *This*, however, I loved. It’s really my kind of manga in so many ways … What I love most about this story is its unusually passive protagonist. Akitsu is a wonderful character. He’s incredibly conflicted on just about every level … He’s just about as lost as a person could be, and yet there’s a survivor’s instinct somewhere in there that keeps him living and makes him weirdly compelling, despite his limp personality. I can’t help liking him and it’s definitely not out of pity. Ono’s unique art style is especially poignant here, too, and I think that really helps develop the character.
The story moves quite slowly, but that’s really not the point. It’s all about this strange, vulnerable man, and whether he can truly discover family in a bunch of morally ambiguous outlaws. I had a lot of difficulty stopping after the first volume. It grabbed me that strongly.
According to the press release I just received from Viz, the first print volume hits stores on September 21st. It is rated for older teens.
Here’s more info from the press release:
HOUSE OF FIVE LEAVES is a dramatic tale of intrigue and action. 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.
Natsume Ono is one of today’s top creators of seinen manga – designed for adult readers of mature and more sophisticated stories. She made her professional debut in 2003 with the web comic La Quinta Camera, and her subsequent works not simple, Ristorante Paradiso, and Gente (a continuation of Ristorante Paradiso) have met with both critical and popular acclaim. In 2009, Ristorante Paradiso was adapted into an animated TV series. Her current series, House of Five Leaves (Saraiya Goyou), also adapted into a TV anime series in 2010, is currently published in Japan in IKKI magazine.