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House of Five Leaves, Vol. 1 Paperback – Sep 21 2010

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: VIZ Media LLC (Sept. 21 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1421532107
  • ISBN-13: 978-1421532103
  • Product Dimensions: 21 x 1.8 x 13.5 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 322 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #624,495 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

About the Author

Natsume Ono made her professional debut in 2003 with the webcomic La Quinta Camera. Her next works, not simple and Ristorante Paradiso, met with both critical and popular acclaim. Her current series House of Five Leaves (Saraiya Goyou) is running in IKKI magazine, and Gente (a continuation of Ristorante Paradiso) appears in Erotics F magazine.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 9 reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Little flash, big story May 28 2011
By Cheryl - Published on
Format: Paperback
This series is not for manga fans who like a lot of continuous action sequences, half naked guys and gals, and paper thin plots. This series IS for manga fans who love a good, well-developed story that will stick with you well after reading.

While the art may take some getting used to for some, I personally fell in love with HoFL after the first chapter. It remains one of my favorites and I highly recommend it.
7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Long and Meandering Feb. 23 2011
By Bernard Kwan - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I bought volumes 1 and 2 of the House of Five Leaves in order to get a good idea of the style and the storyline before writing a review, as I had heard good things about Natsume Ono. However I was left scratching my head somewhat with regards to how I felt about the story. It's not that I don't like historical or jidaigekki manga or shojo manga, or that I am a hopeless philistine who is only attracted by the blood, sex and violence of say a Lone Wolf and Cub.

Part of the reason is the languid pacing, as though it were a movie shot by an European Auteur, where people talk and talk but not much happens. Part of the "hook" of the story line is meant to revolve around Yaichi, the leader of the group of Five Leaves, who is meant to be a beautiful and mysterious character, and the author wants us to be intrigued by him and want to find out more. I thought he was pretty two dimensional (all mysterious airs and no substance). Without an interest in the main plot device, it was hard to get into the story.

The style also did not help as the characters, be they men or women, all seem to be tall and effete, making the main character Akitsu Masanosuke quite unbelievable. He is meant to be shy and reserved but quite good with the sword. The set piece where he shows his "true abilities" and chases off some threating ronin was terrible because he looked too skinny to be wielding a sword properly and did not look threatening at all. There was also no way to distinguish the fact that he is meant to be "tall", everyone looked the same size. The female characters all start to look the same as the manga goes on.

There are some good dramatic parts such as when Akitsu Masanosuke bonds with the child that the group is looking to kidnap, but these good parts didn't outweigh the nagging feeling I had that I had better things to do with my time than read this manga. Also a glossary would have helped, as many Japanese terms such as yojimbo, etc are tossed around and unexplained.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
A unique read, which will both benefit and hinder it Aug. 10 2011
By - Published on
Format: Paperback
House of Five Leaves is a very unique read, which will both benefit and hinder it. It's not a mainstream read, but it definitely has a niche.

Despite being about samurai, it's actually a very slow-moving story. Samurai stories mean action, adventure, and fight scenes, right? Well, not so much in this case. The lead character, Masa, is a timid and moping samurai in need of money. While he looks as if he'd be no threat, he is in fact a good fighter. He's trying to find employment, and ends up getting involved with the gang House of Five Leaves. The gang might try to think of itself as a group of chivalrous thieves, but when you get down to it, they kidnap. Masa is appalled, and yet this doesn't stop him from drawing ever closer to the people in this gang.

Taking place in the Edo Period, this manga is more about characters than it is about action. Masa seems to constantly look either sad or frightened, which can get readers to feel sympathy for him. On the other hand, it's kind of hard to get behind such a downer of a character.

It gets more interesting as some of the other characters get to be better known. There are some touching moments here.

The art style is most certainly not that of the average manga. Natsume Ono has her own way of doing things. She's a good artist, but the art is rough. Characters look jagged, scratchy and sloppy, as if they're early doodles and not the finished pieces meant to be published. It's an avant-garde way of drawing, but it's hard to get used to, especially if one is a fan of beautifully illustrated graphic novels.

House of Five Leaves is one of those stories that feels as if it's going to build up, but unfortunately its slow pace may have readers leaving it before it has a chance to get anywhere. It has a simple feel at the same time it has an artsy feel, in the sense that it's artsy by doing something different. It doesn't try to be bombastic like so many other books out there. It may not be for everyone, but it does have fans who appreciate the story's pace and the very unique take it has on the manga format.

-- Danica Davidson
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
enjoyable first volume May 25 2011
By spacedog - Published on
Format: Paperback
i'd really enjoyed not simple, so i thought i would give this one a try. this is a period series, featuring an unemployed samurai who gets caught up in a somewhat unlikely crime gang. the book is clearly an introduction to the series and we don't end up learning a whole lot about the characters, but they all seem intriguing. the sense of melancholy that pervades the artwork is what makes it all work. the moral dilemma of the protagonist who needs the money for his family but doesn't want to join the group, along with his equally pressing need to belong somewhere and not continue in his loneliness are conveyed well, as are the shyness of the protagonist and the magnetic personality of the leader of the group. looking forward to reading vol. 2.
Style obscures the narrative? Nov. 1 2014
By M. Collier-Zans - Published on
Format: Paperback
My issues with this are almost purely "stylistic", or even almost "logistical" (the characters and story are decent enough,and the whole tone is definitely "different"... nevertheless, I am docking a star):

- The stylistic nature of the artwork makes it difficult (for me, at least) to differentiate incidental characters; For instance, I am finding Matsukichi resembles any number of the less regular characters, including Yagi; appearance (face, hairstyle, clothing) and mannerisms all often seem to be indistinguishable

- Dialog is often delivered by characters who are "out of frame", appearing in anonymous "bubbles" with no indication of who is speaking; if a given "scene" contains only two characters, there is no difficulty, but often there are several (3 or more) characters in a "scene", all of whom are participating (at least intermittently) in the dialog

These seem like trivial issues, but they are atypical in my experience with manga, and I am having difficulty with them. I find myself having to invest special effort in tracking context, often becoming confused, having to backtrack, etc. In the case of dialog, often I just have to accept not knowing which character originated it.

Perhaps my facility with the author's style will improve as I get deeper into the story. For now, I guess I will chalk this up as just another case of style obscuring the narrative (which is a common enough problem in fiction of all kinds).