House of Five Leaves is a manga by Natsume Ono (Not Simple, and Ristorante Paradiso) about a washed-up ronin named Akitsu Masanosuke (nicknamed Masa), who possesses great skill with a blade but also a timid personality that often causes him problems. After continually failing to find work in Edo, he meets a mysterious man named Yaichi (nicknamed Ichi) who takes a liking to Masa and offers him employment as his bodyguard. Yaichi is leader of a group called the "Five Leaves", which kidnaps the heirs of wealthy businesses and holds them to ransom. Though initially reluctant to participate in their shady activities, Masa finds himself becoming more and more involved with the other members, all of whom have their own secrets to hide.
Recognisable for its distinctive art style, it is a very beautiful manga with an intricate plot and fascinating characters that teach you that people are often far more than they first appear.
Not to be confused with House of Leaves.
House of Five Leaves provides examples of:
- Bait-and-Switch Credits: Makes the story seem much more cheerful and happy than it really is.
- Black and Gray Morality: The "heroes" are not exactly what you'd call nice but the "bad guys" are far worse.
- Book-Ends: When Yaichi and Masa first meet in episode one, Yaichi offers a dango to him while saying the page quote. In the last scene of the last episode, Masa offers a dango to Yaichi repeating the same line.
- Breaking the Fourth Wall: The preview voice in episode eleven. Nyao.
- Comically Missing the Point: Masa constantly misunderstands what is really happening around him and other people's intentions, especially Yaichi's. But in the end, he often does get it right, and he has a way of speaking out uncomfortable truths out loud.
- Dark and Troubled Past: Everyone, particularly Ume and Yaichi.
- Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette: Everyone except Yaichi.
- Gratuitous English: Both the Opening Theme (sign of love/ show me your soul) and the Ending Theme (everytime I breath/ I wanna hold you in my arms/ every word you whisper/ makes my heart beat up and down).
- Heroic BSoD: Yaichi does not take it well when Jin tells him that he lied about the original Yaichi betraying him.
- Honor Before Reason: Masa refuses to accept any work he deems beneath a samurai, like manual labour, even though he's too poor to even afford a decent meal at the beginning.
- Kabuki Sounds: Used to punctuate important moments.
- Keigo: One of Masa's charming points. He refers to himself as "sessha" or "soregashi" and ends his sentences with "de gozaru". He also adresses everyone with the suffix "-dono", whatever their social standing.
- Melancholy Moon: In the last episode. Averted in the sequence, when the moon disappears and it starts to snow.
- Never Trust a Trailer: The trailer makes looks like is some kind of happy love story between two samurai (one of them, dressed in pink). Don't believe it? Check for yourself.
- One-Liner: One of the characters always says the episode's title in the beginning of each episode.
- Purely Aesthetic Era: Just as a few examples, Yaichi has white hair, and there is a French tango in the soundtrack.
- Scars Are Forever: Seinoshin has a burn scar in the shape of a maple leaf on his back. Yaichi has the same scar on his back, revealing him to be the boy in question.
- Soundtrack Dissonance: In the most intense and troubled moments you can nearly always hear some happy song.
- Verbal Tic: Masa's "de gozaru", an archaic form of "desu".
- You Are Not Alone: In the last episode, Masa appears when Yaichi is on the verge of despair to offer an umbrella and his support. Yaichi finally drops his tough face and cries leaning on his lap.
- You Can Keep Her: One of the House of Five Leaves' kidnapping plots go awry when one of their targets decides to pay only half the ransom... and tells them to kill the kidnapped heir in secret. This hits a little too close to home for Yaichi.