House of Five Leaves Episode #04 (of 12) (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Thursday, May 06, 2010
Release Date: Thursday, May 06, 2010

Masanosuke is definitely having a hard time holding a job, but can you really still be a bodyguard if the body you're guarding is kidnapped?

What They Say
Masanosuke gets hired as a bodyguard at the brothel where Yaichi lives. If he can keep from getting fired, he'll be able to send his family some money - and maybe learn more about the elusive leader of the Five Leaves.

The Review!
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The relaxed and slow moving pace of the House of Five Leaves continues on with this episode, but that's not a bad thing as I continue to really like it's approach to storytelling. What's frustrating with the show at times is Masanosuke himself who seems to be quite dull of wit as he still hasn't really figured out what the House of Five Leaves is all about, even as he continues to take work from Yaichi. And generally, so far at least, Masanosuke has been incurious about people outside of Yaichi and even there he's been supremely cautious about asking too many questions.

With the bodyguard job done, Yaichi ends up getting Masanosuke some work as a guard at the brothel where he stays. It's kind of cute because Masanosuke is so timid and uncertain of himself that the girls are all feeling silly about him as they watch him from a slight distance. They're not laughing at him exactly, but they're not taking him seriously either. While there, he slowly gets to know Otake better and tries to get a bit more understanding about Yaichi from her since it turns out that she knows him the longest, not that she'll really reveal much. It's an interesting relationship that's slowly building up there, especially as Otake takes up residence in his old place while he lives in the brothel, rent free, for his new bodyguard job.

Much as he tries, Masanosuke doesn't learn all that much about Yaichi other than it seems like most everyone was helped out by him some time back and they feel that they owe him a lot. At the same time, there's a perception that Masanosuke is slowing down in his physical health as he's eating less and having less energy, but there's also a moment where he reveals that his legs have been feeling heavier lately and he's having a hard time getting them to work sometimes. Masanosuke has been somewhat "off" since the beginning but with this episode he seems even more out of sorts than usual with no real clue as to what's going on.

In Summary:
Similar to Tatami Galaxy, I really like the general flow and feel of the show and I like that the character designs are as off as they are. The overall story idea so far is good as well, which is definitely one of the draws, but it's at a point where it needs to really provide just a touch more of a hook. The show is being carried by the two leads of Masanosuke and Yaichi but neither of them have a commanding enough presence to really pull it off. This is one of those shows that you really want to like, and like lots of parts of, but it hasn't come together in a way to really make it must-see material. It's definitely not a show that's going to have wide appeal but it's one that will definitely work well for a particular audience. I just wish it was clicking a bit better for me because it's one that I want to like more.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles

Review Equipment
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70" LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.



Mania Grade: C+
Audio Rating: NA
Video Rating: NA
Packaging Rating: NA
Menus Rating: NA
Extras Rating: NA
Age Rating: 13 and Up
Region: All Region DVD
Released By: FUNimation Entertainment, Ltd.
Running time: 23
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen
Disc Resolution: 480i/p
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: House of Five Leaves