Slowly but surely, Masanosuke is being drawn into the world that Yaichi lives in, though he can't tell what kind of world that is just yet.
What They Say
Masanosuke begins to grow more comfortable within the world of the Five Leaves, but despite his efforts to learn more about Yaichi, the gang leader remains a riddle.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The House of Five Leaves was certainly an intriguing show from its first episode for two reasons. The first was its stylistic approach to the animation, right from the opening sequence, that carried all the way through. The characters are fascinating to look at as they're not like others we generally see and they have a sort of odd movement to them at times. The second was that it was so laid back that it was almost moving backwards at times yet still felt like it was actively going somewhere. It was an interesting choice from which to launch the new venture for Fuji TV with FUNimation and it likely earned them some notice from fans looking for something outside the norm, but it's not a show that's going to win over a mainstream audience, even on Hulu.
The second episode is in a way more of the same though without quite the same kind of setup material. Masanosuke has gotten closer to Yaichi as the two men find each other quite intriguing and hard to figure out. Yaichi finds himself to be never bored when watching Masanosuke and wants to know more about him. He's also fascinated with how easily Masanosuke has managed to become a part of the group, to potentially be the fifth leaf, without even realizing what he's been doing. Masanosuke for his part can't fathom a man like Yaichi yet finds himself highly drawn to him. Yaichi's life is fairly obvious when you really look at it, but it's not something that Masanosuke can wrap his head around and it takes him awhile to realize exactly what this little gang is all about.
And a lot of that comes when he realizes that he's helping to transport a kidnapped person in a basket. It's sort of amusing that Masanosuke doesn't get it until the lid pops off, nor that he gets that the place they hang out at of Ume's is essentially the gang headquarters for shady deals. It's in this place where Masanosuke now finds himself spending his time and getting closer to those there, as well as meeting one or two of the regulars who don't even spare him a glance. This sense of friendship and belonging is new to the very lanky samurai and even the fleeting moments of it that are really there are things he's very much drawn to. So much so that the thought of leaving it all behind when he starts to get the big picture really isn't even an option.
House of Five Leaves is all about mood and atmosphere as the small cast of characters is slowly expanded upon. Masanosuke's time with them, nudged more by Yaichi telling him to hang out there and have his meals there, helps to make him feel closer to them even if they aren't exactly welcoming him with open arms. These few moments he has are powerful things for Masanosuke considering how his life has gone and the way he takes to the life there is endlessly fascinating for Yaichi. The two are very much made for each other in that neither is like anything they've seen before and the more time they spend together, the more they really want to figure the other out. At least in a very laid back and mellow way. The strength of the show is still in its overall design and the way it's easing us into things, but it's not a show that's going to wow a lot of people or draw large crowds. It's a show that's going to captivate a very particular audience that's usually not well served though.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles
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.