House of Five Leaves 6

July 25, 2012

Natsume Ono – Viz – 2012 – 8 volumes

The eighth and final volume of this is coming out next month, I believe, so I’m a bit behind. No time like the present to catch up, though.

As good as it is (the writing and the art are both superb), I always find this a difficult read. There’s something so terribly awkward about Masanosuke and the way he interacts with the characters. That Ono really gets across the fact that these characters have things they would really, really rather not talk about is quite remarkable. However, what started out as a curiousity has become more and more painful with every volume. Masanosuke has a run-in with his disappointed younger brother in this volume, there’s a Five Leaves job that goes awry, and Yaichi and Masa have to deal with the fact that the former’s past now lies between them. Rather than getting more comfortable with these characters as time goes on, it gets increasingly awkward. It’s an interesting technique, but it also makes it a bit hard for me to enjoy these volumes as much as I’d like.

The interactions between Masanosuke and his brother Bunnosuke were what interested me most here. The story introduction at the front of the volume divulged the fact that the money that Masa sends home was not to cover a gambling debt, but was rather to cover a bribe Bunnosuke was collecting in order to score a prominent post. I either don’t remember this detail or didn’t understand when it was divulged, but it’s not really mentioned here. Masa feels like he’s let his family down, and the very strict Bunnosuke seems to use Masa’s shame and guilt as leverage to cover his own wrong-doing. The end of the volume takes an interesting turn when Masa begins to suspect Bunnosuke is tied up in something rather sinister, and I’m curious to see where that heads.

Though it looks like the next volume may be tied up with more flashbacks about the various gang characters and Yaichi’s past. Somehow, this has become less important to me, but with two volumes to go, I’d be happy if the Bunnosuke story wound up being the finale to the series. As awkward as it is to read, it’s still very good, and likely worth picking up for anyone that enjoys Japanese period drama-type stories.

This was a review copy provided by Viz.

One Response to “House of Five Leaves 6”

  1. I wonder if this will be a series that will be better or worse with a marathon when the final volume comes out . . . I am definitely impressed by how well the artist conveys the Super Awkwardness of all of Masa’s social interactions, but you’re right that this makes it, well, kind of as embarrassing to read as it is to watch in real life.

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