House of Five Leaves 4

November 28, 2011

Natsume Ono – Viz – 2011 – 8 volumes

Somehow, the beginning of volume four had me a little lost, and I was hoping that reading it so soon after volume three would help me get into the story a little more. The problem is that it starts in the middle of a kidnapping negotiation, with a disguised Yaichi and Masanosuke talking with a character we haven’t met yet. Since I didn’t recognize any of the characters, I thought it was somehow supposed to relate to Yaichi’s past, then I was disoriented when characters that looked like Yaichi and Masa appeared… I don’t know if that’s my fault or the story’s fault, though.

This volume is all about a negotiator named Ginta. Ginta begins to hire himself out as a kidnapping negotiator, mostly dealing with the high-profile kidnappings of the other organization that tends to slay its victims. But the Five Leaves crosses paths with Ginta, and through a set of coincidences, Ginta winds up learning their identities, about their organization, and where their hideout is. So then he has to become one of them, except nobody accepts or trusts him.

The story takes its time about introducing him. It’s not clear whether he’s going to turn on Five Leaves, and this ambiguity makes learning about him a little daunting, since you’re not sure whether you should sympathize with him, or if he’s lying to gain the trust of Five Leaves. Masa does his usual act, where he’s nosy and makes Ginta spill all his secrets. Unusuallly, Ginta turns the table, and we finally find out all the details of Masa’s trip to the capital, too. I wasn’t expecting any more details about that, so I enjoyed that little bit of story.

We are also still dancing around some of the uglier issues surrounding Yaichi. Ginta walks in on a brutal scene between Yaichi and someone from his past, and Yaichi seems to have given up on Masa and the Five Leaves by the end of the book as his past catches up to him.

As interesting as the story was here, I’m still having problems with flashbacks and distinguishing the characters from one another. I was a little less enamored this time around. Maybe reading the volumes back to back was too much of a good thing, then? I’m curious to see how the next volume will go for me.

This was a review copy provided by Viz.

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