House of Five Leaves Episode #08 (of 12) (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Thursday, June 03, 2010
Release Date: Thursday, June 03, 2010

Tensions start to rise in the group as there's some unease about what Matsukichi's up to.

What They Say
When Matsukichi hears that Kiku-ya's owner is having problems, his decision to try and help out results in even bigger troubles. Masanosuke and Umezo's growing concerns lead them to investigate.

The Review!
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The little group that Yaichi has pulled together has never seemed terribly cohesive, though they do watch out for each other. Matsukichi has been acting a bit oddly lately and has seemed less interested in the group as a whole than usual, causing others to be a bit more wary of him. Little things start to surface that cause the others to view him a little more critically and he even finds himself not coming to Umezo's place anymore after a very restrained falling out with Okitake. When Masanosuke goes to visit him at his home with some pickles given to him from Okinu, Masanosuke notices that some things just don't fit in there, particularly the brooch that Matsukichi won't let him get near in the slightest.

As it turns out, Matsukichi is finding himself indebted to the owner of the Kiku-ya for things in the past and that has him getting involved in situations that don't help, even after being told by the owner to stay out of it because he can be reckless at times. The situation has Yaichi feeling a little less than thrilled at what may happen when one of his guys starts doing things like this and that pushes him towards nudging Masanosuke and Umezo into investigating it a bit more for him so he can keep a bit of distance from everything.

This leads them back to Kiku-ya where they learn that Matsukichi is missing so they start to try and piece things together so they can track him down. Understanding why Matsukichi is coming crimes slowly comes to light as the owner of Kiku-ya reveals some basic but important information from the past. Matsukichi's a fairly straightforward character and his motivations are simple enough so it works well, especially for the time period, while also highlighting his sense of honor and integrity even as he commits crimes to repay a debt. I've been ambivalent about Matsukichi at best since his introduction because of his demeanor, but this episode does a nice enough job of fleshing him out just a touch to make him more human and explain some of his particular attitude.

In Summary:
Once a part of the group, it's very hard to leave. This isn't too much of a surprise but some of it comes from the idea that these people are simply getting closer and that it's more than just the initial bonds to Yaichi that were fostered. As Matsukichi finds himself in a rough spot because of his past and as he tries to keep it secret, the others care enough to find out what's wrong and to try and do something about it. And they do that in their fairly languid and quiet way that works well, but can be frustrating at times since it almost goes just a bit too slow. The weekly nature of the show is a double edged sword as I think it's just a bit too slow to allow the overreaching threads tie together but I also think seeing this over the course of a day in a collection for example would prove to be too mind numbing. I like what's here well enough, but it's still not a series that has me primed to tune in to each episode no matter what each weekn, even if I do do that.

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: 24
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen
Disc Resolution: 480i/p
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: House of Five Leaves