House of Five Leaves Episode #09 (of 12) (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Thursday, June 10, 2010
Release Date: Thursday, June 10, 2010

When family enters the picture it can never go well, especially for someone like Masanosuke.

What They Say
Masanosuke sets out to rescue Matsukichi and settle the matter of the stolen wooden tags. Meanwhile, Sachi, Masanosuke's little sister, is on a mission of her own after running away from home.

The Review!
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
House of Five Leaves is one of those shows that really gets to me in that you can watch half an episode and practically nothing really happens at all. There's a lot of dialogue but it's like listening to neighbors or friends who have a whole lot to say but nothing of any serious substance. What makes this a bit tougher to watch is that Masanosuke doesn't have much to say but his demeanor can drag you down a little bit to make you feel like he looks where the weight of everything is on your shoulders but you're not quite sure what's causing that weight.

The subplot involving Matsukichi and what was stolen is relatively taken care of here but it's the kind of storyline that seems to end in something of a whimper, or even just a sigh, as it wasn't a story that was all that engaging to begin with. With Masanosuke doing what he can to help out and getting Matsukichi back into some form of good standing, it says a lot about Masanosuke in how he wants to do right by people whenever he can. There's a lot of talk of debt and loyalty to things, but it's all stuff that Matsukichi doesn't want to talk about. He's in such a rough place, so downcast and unlike himself, that just watching Matsukichi can be fairly depressing. Put him in the same room with Masanosuke and it's even more so.

An interesting turn of events comes when Masanosuke's younger sister Sachi arrives in Edo to check on her bum of an older brother who is likely up to no good. She does a little bit of investigation into things, things that Umezo and Otake have no problem talking about, and she starts to get a better idea of what he's up to out here. Learning that he's working as a bodyguard in an unauthorized brothel doesn't exactly seem like the kind of thing that will help the relationship between brother and sister, but Sachi takes a curious interest in everything about her brother, even though some people are playing her a little bit about the truth of his life. It's kind of cute at first, but knowing how simple and trusting that Sachi is, it feels a little cruel as well.

In Summary:
Bringing Masanosuke's sister into the show certainly isn't a bad thing since there has been talk of his family previously and she can give a little more insight into who he is. The subplot with Matsukichi moves along just as slowly as it has for what, two or three episodes now, and it's hard to really care about it. Yaichi spends a little bit of time talking here and there while most of it is spent with secondary and other supporting characters talking about things. While the House of Five Leaves started off strong with an interesting sense of atmosphere and some really intriguing characters, it hasn't carried through on that premise and has instead become a show that seems to be meandering more than it should. I'm still feeling that it's hard to see all the pieces that are coming together in a weekly form, pieces that may be more visible when watched in one lazy afternoon all at once. There's a lot I like about this series but so far its story is down at the bottom of the list and episodes like this really don't change 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