09 Oct / House of Five Leaves (vol. 1) by Natsume Ono, translated by Joe Yamazaki
Natsume Ono is one versatile manga artist. She can go from contemporary lost souls (not simple) to an estranged mother/daughter relationship (Ristorante Paradiso) to a cozy Italian restaurant (Gente) and then effortlessly tackle feudal Japan’s wandering warriors.
Welcome to the uncertain world of Akitsu Masanosuke who just can’t seem to hold down a job. A warrior bodyguard (yojimbo) for hire, young Akitsu is definitively told he is “not intimidating” by the old woman who runs the boarding house where he has a simple room. Indeed, while his samurai skills are impressive, his demeanor appears overly meek and mild. Masterless once more, Akitsu’s hunger and desperation grow as he’s told again and again, that no openings are available for timid yojimbo.
Out on the streets once more, his timidity attracts unwanted attention, but he’s saved by the mysterious (and powerful!) Yaichi, who offers him a job … as an outlaw. The leader of “The Five Leaves,” Yaichi makes quite a living by kidnapping. Before he knows it, Akitsu becomes their accomplice … and he must decide quickly what kind of man Yaichi really is … and, most importantly, if he’s in or not.
Ono creates a long-ago world where rules and laws were still rather fluid, and right and wrong appears certainly more in the eyes of the beholder than set in stone. She examines complex issues without easy answers, training Akitsu to see beyond black and white. The ‘House of Five Leaves’ is an intriguing destination … and Akitsu can’t stand at the threshold for much longer.
Readers: Young Adult, Adult
Published: 2010 (United States)
SARAIYA GOYOU © Natsume Ono
Original Japanese edition published by Shogakukan Inc.