House of Five Leaves 8

April 21, 2013

Natsume Ono – Viz – 2012 – 8 volumes

Speaking of things that slid to the bottom of my to read pile, this is high on that list. The last volume of House of Five Leaves, which has been a fantastic series about a group of thieves, their pasts, and how they interact with one another. Wonderfully illustrated, to boot.

The last volume (and a large one at that) deals mostly with the fate of the Five Leaves in general, and Yaichi in particular. He’s still reluctant to open up, but everyone seems to know his secrets. Yagi is being forced to act, but isn’t sure what to make of it all. Yaichi is rather harmless. The gang business is behind him. The Five Leaves were never the criminals the rumors made them out to be. And Yaichi has led a hard life in general. Yagi has to confront Yaichi to settle the matters to his satisfaction. Similarly, his old gang members also confront him to settle matters to their satisfaction.

There’s dissension in the Five Leaves as ugly rumors about them begin to spread, and when one of them is imprisoned, they all consider turning themselves in, as they all have lived a peaceful life and don’t want the single member to take the blame.

One of the best scenes in the series, though, is an artful conversation between Yagi and Masanosuke to delicately try to figure a way out of the predicament, without either saying out loud that they know the full circumstances of what’s going on. It’s intense, very personal, and the type of scene you can only find in House of Five Leaves. I loved it dearly, and was happy to see that the whole series built up to that.

The ending itself isn’t anything spectacular or outrageous, which was fine by me, as that would go against the nature of things. It’s friendly, somewhat mysterious, and open-ended, which is the only way to leave things.

Overall, I liked this series an awful lot. It’s a different flavor than what I normally read, a very subtle story, mostly based on conversations and how one collects information, with subtle, but likable characters and a plot that doesn’t move fast but sucks you in anyway. And again, Ono’s spare, ink-heavy art suits the story perfectly. Highly recommended to those that enjoy period stories or love the slow buildup and payoff.

This was a review copy provided by Viz.

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