Manga Village

House of Five Leaves Volume 4

September 13, 2012

Getting halfway through a series and finding things to talk about can sometimes be quite challenging; with Natsume Ono’s work, it’s a fairly simple matter. It may be my love for her characters, her designs, and her writing, but the complexities are fascinating and are great for discussion.

By Natsume Ono
Publisher: Viz Media Sig IKKI
Age Rating: Older Teen
Genre: Seinen/Historical/Slice of Life
Price: $12.99 USA| $14.99 CDN| £8.99 UK
ISBN-13: 978-1421532134

Volume 4 introduces us to the cast again, and in this volume, introduces us to a new character, Ginta. Ginta is a self-styled negotiator, and works with a rival gang to help them negotiate hostage returns. He tries initially to insert himself into the gang, and after a first failed attempt, becomes more direct in his actions. He eventually succeeds, and ends up working with the House of Five Leaves.

Masterful character drama is not always about profound moments and sweeping changes; but at times, these things help bring tension and change to what could be a fairly noninteractive script. Clearly there is some of that in this volume of House of Five Leaves; the introduction of a new cast member, Ginta the negotiator, shakes up the crew, and a certain scene involving Yaichi, which I won’t spoil, also reveals a lot about the future tone of the series. There are also the quiet moments that I have come to expect from Ono in this series. Masa’s interactions with the whole cast are endearing at times, and he is an excellent focus on what has clearly become a very broad and complicated story.

But what is truly interesting about House of Five Leaves, and has been from the start, is Masa’s interaction with Yaichi. The tenuous “friendship” that they share, and their interaction here is beginning to be tested by Yaichi’s past, and Masa begins to feel the weight of Yaichi’s true feelings. To complicate the story further, Masa has begun to spend more time with Yagi, a police superintendent, which makes things difficult for the gang.

Ono’s art continues to be fantastic. I’ve written about her unique camera angles before, and I think she uses them to great effect in this volume. The story reads very smoothly, and the paneling allows the timing of the story to come across perfectly.

House of Five Leaves has always been about the build up, and we are inching ever closer to it in volume 4. I expect to see some big changes in the next 2-3 volumes, and I know that I am excited to read them.

About the author

Alex is a comics critic and writer at the blog Sequential State. His previous writing has included work for Manga Village and for the now defunct Manga Widget.

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