House of Five Leaves - Season 1 - Episode 1 - Review: "In Name Only"

Based on the manga by Natsume Ono, which is set for release in May here in the US, House of Five Leaves is originally known as Saraiya Goyou and will run for twelve episodes. Ono gained some popularity in the last couple of years for the manga Ristorante Paradiso which has a distinctive art style to it and was adapted into an anime itself. FUNimation's stream of the House of Five Leaves is part of their new deal with Fuji TV to stream their NoitaminA block alongside Tatami Galaxy. The original source material for this has been running since 2006 and has gotten up to seven volumes so far, so there's a good bit of material they can work with for a twelve episode series.

The opening episode to this series is fairly laid back and relaxed, but with that edge of tension to it that's really appealing. The bulk of it focuses around a ronin named Akitsu who hasn't had any luck in finding a job recently. While he's physically something that can be impressive, he's also somewhat lanky in a way that can be off-putting. What has him standing out amongst others is that he's fairly tall, though his nature has it so that other people generally aren't intimidated by him. Where his luck changes is when a man named Yaichi comes across him and decides to use him for his own purposes. Yaichi is part of a group known as the Five Leaves, which is something of a group of "chivalrous robbers" as they put it. Yaichi needs a bodyguard in name and form only and Akitsu fits the bill perfectly, so he brings him into the fold slowly but surely.

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