Anime: Saraiya Gouyou

better known by its English title – The House Five Leaves.

is what I consider to be a masterpiece. Even though it’s set in the Edo time period and the story revolves around a gang of kidnappers, there’s little to no action. What we get instead is a mature, well written, character driven drama with a tinge of mystery.

Note of warning for those with no patience, House of Five leaves is VERY slow-moving. There’s a good deal of talking, but the anime holds fast to the idea of showing rather than telling. Each of the 5 characters backgrounds are slowly revealed in the show and mystery shrouding Yaichi is slowly unraveled. It’s one of the few character driven animes that I’ve had the pleasure of seeing. Each of the main 5 characters have a story to tell and they continue to change through the course of events that occur. I think it’s the creation of strong well-rounded characters and the opportunity to see them grow in this anime that really made me fall in love. The story is well crafted, nothing is expected, even at the last episode I wasn’t sure what was going to happen and it is refreshing to find an anime that can still keep me guessing to the end.

The character design and art of the anime may not sit well with some viewers, but I thought it was different and a lot of attention was placed on details which added to the atmosphere being created. Animation was fluid and background music was interesting. I’ve come to realize that Manglobe really sets itself apart in the animes they have produced. I’ve begun to pay a bit more attention to animation companies and the animes that they produce. It’s always interesting to see the trend that some companies seem to have. For Manglobe it’s definitely one that is a bit more quirky, daring perhaps, but has produced two of my favourite animes to date – House of Five Leaves and Michiko to Hatchin. Ergo Proxy and Samurai Champloo are also animes they have produced that have left an impact on me.

Anyways, House of Five Leaves is a well-crafted anime, with a good plot consisting of mostly individual episodes although there is an overarching plot that ties the entire anime together. The characters are continuously growing and changing, even the minor characters are memorable. It is for me a story with no gaping plot holes, logical progression, believable change yet it keeps you guessing and wondering what will happen next. I would highly recommend giving it a watch. There was this sense of satisfaction I got from watching it.


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