English: House of Five Leaves
Synonyms: Sarai-ya Goyou
Japanese: さらい屋 五葉
Status: Finished Airing
Aired: Apr 16, 2010 to Jul 2, 2010
23 min. per episode
PG-13 - Teens 13 or older
L represents licensing company
Score: 7.961 (scored by 8095 users)
1 indicates a weighted score
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SynopsisMasterless samurai Akitsu Masanosuke is a skilled and loyal swordsman, but his naïve, diffident nature has time and again caused him to be let go by the lords who have employed him. Hungry and desperate, he becomes a bodyguard for Yaichi, the charismatic leader of a gang called “Five Leaves.” Although disturbed by the gang’s sinister activities, Masa begins to suspect that Yaichi’s motivations are not what they seem. And despite his misgivings, the deeper he’s drawn into the world of the Five Leaves, the more he finds himself fascinated by these devious, mysterious outlaws.
Related AnimeAdaptation: Saraiya Goyou
Characters & Voice Actors
Saraiya Goyou is about a gang called “Five Leaves” during the Edo period in Japan. There is very little action, the artwork is nontraditional, and the story moves at a snail’s pace. So why should anyone pay attention to this? Actually, I’d say that those points work to Saraiya Goyou’s advantage, resulting in a well-written, mature story.
Story & Characters
The members of Five Leaves make their money through undercover jobs such as kidnapping, but they are not the usual rough and tough gangsters. Most of them appear to be friendly, thoughtful people who spend their time lounging around in a relaxed environment, discussing personal issues until their next job. The gang includes a charismatic leader, a shy swordsman, a shop owner, a metallic ornament craftsman, and a woman. Their varied personalities make them an unlikely group to hang out, but they manage to work together on behalf of Five Leaves.
This series is completely character-driven and wastes no time in exploring the member’s personal backgrounds, revealing each of their motives for joining the gang in the first place. Perhaps the most intriguing member of Five Leaves is the leader himself, Yaichi. He is admired for his calm demeanor, yet he is perceived as mysterious because he seems to hide a lot of information about himself. The show delves into how the other members feel about Yaichi, particularly the shy swordsman who is new to the group.
The scenes move slowly and quietly as you watch the characters contemplate about things, plan their missions, and embark on a few short travels. You won’t see a lot of sword fighting or other eventful action here. Even when the members carry out a job, it is more about information gathering and sneaking around places rather than fighting. That is not to say that the show never has its intense moments though; it masterfully weaves in tension and drama just at the right times.
The characters are so down-to-earth and believable that the pleasure of this series comes from observing their close interactions, facial expressions, dialogue, and the subtle changes in their personalities. If you don’t particularly enjoy concentrating on such details, this series might be perceived as a bit dull.
Artwork & Animation
I know a few people who thought that Saraiya Goyou was quite interesting, but they couldn’t continue watching it because they were distracted by the character designs. They're distinguished by having dark, gloomy eyes, pointy noses, and low, wide mouths. Some people just say "frog faces." Even though they are a little odd, I find the designs to be personally fitting in the context of this series. I've also known them to grow on viewers who have given them a chance.
The amount of detail in the animation is very impressive. For example, I appreciate how well they animated the momentum of water in a cup while it was being swayed or tilted, the breeze effect on a lighted candle after a door was just closed, and the fluid movement of the characters. The artwork is finely detailed as well and really captures the look and feel of the Edo period.
There always seems to be a dark cloud looming over the characters. Their minds are heavy with thoughts of their pasts and current responsibilities. Some viewers say that the show is merely all about "gloomy people," and they are right to a certain degree. The characters aren't that upbeat, but despite that, the atmosphere doesn't feel depressing all of the time. I found that there's also a lighter air of relaxation and occasional amusement which adds to the enjoyment of watching.
The opening song, “Sign of Love” by Immi, is a melodic, electronic beat which surprised me. I took a liking to it, so I had high hopes for the rest of the soundtrack. Fortunately, the background music has been superb. Nearly every musical piece is a calm, soothing melody that enhances the show’s atmosphere. Some of the tunes are also catchy, and I’ve found myself randomly playing them in my head.
Without a doubt, Saraiya Goyou is a must-see from the Spring 2010 season. Rather than relying on action to tell its story, the show excels in rich characterization, detailed animation, sound, subtleness, and realism. Saraiya Goyou is an example of maturity in anime at its best. read more
What if there was an anime, an anime that was about samurai. This anime wasn't about "the strongest samurai" or "the path to glory" or even a "demon sword," but instead it was about meek looking samurai with slightly above average skills. He wasn't looking to fight the strongest fight, or defeat the overlord and free his people, but maybe, he was just looking to make his living and help his little sister back at home. That would be, if not anything, interesting. That's exactly what Sarai-ya Goyou (House of the Five Leaves) is about. This anime isn't for those who live to see explosions and special effects and isn't even for people who want to see some fight scenes - there's only about two or three in the entire series, and for an anime that has its main protagonist as a bodyguard, that's pretty strange.
Welcome to the Five Leaves, an association of almost chivalrous robbers (I say almost because, well, they keep what they "earn" but do their jobs for the greater good). The story follows our already stated protagonist, Masa, the not-so-scary swordsman. Masa is in need of a job, since he keeps getting fired, because well, he just isn't good at being a bodyguard. It doesn't suit him. This is when he runs into the Five Leaves. The leader of the Five Leaves, Yaichi, is a bouncer at the local brothel. After a chain of events Masa joins up with Yaichi to take on jobs such as smuggling, theft, kidnapping, and so on. Also in the group are many other interesting characters - Ume the tavern owner, Okinu his daughter, Otake a local prostitute, and Matsu an unfriendly swordsman. The stories behind each of these characters are all eventually divulged, thus I don't want to ruin any of the fun here. All I can say about the story is that while at the beginning of the series it looks pretty weak, and by the end, it comes and hits you in the face pretty dang strong.
Er well... If you don't like the art then well, there's no hope. You won't like this anime. The art I believe, is incredibly important to setting the mood of the anime. Awkward. No not like "that's so awkward" but like... It brings you out of your comfort zone of what you usually see in anime, while not being CrAzY like Trapeze or Yojou-han. The Animation is fine, but there really isn't a whole lot if it. The anime heavily relies on dialogue to explain things, unlike other samurai anime like Sword of the Stranger that heavily relies on animation to tell it's tale. If you liked the artist behind Ristorante Paradiso, you're in luck because well, it's the exact same one - Ono Natsume!
Simply brilliant. Each track of this anime got me snapping or tapping my finger, even if just a little bit. Every song sounded original and interesting and just... fun! The sound is like elevator music, infused with light techno, and a little jazz. It doesn't distract you from the anime, but you simply can't ignore it. The opening song, "Sign of Love" by immi is also just awesome - a light technopop opening in MY anime about samurais? Magnificent. The ending was nice too, but barely compares to the soundtrack and opening. The voice acting was great too. Namikawa Daisuke (Hohenheim from FMA:B) and Takahiro Sakurai (Suzaku from Code Geass) voice the two protagonists, Masa and Yaichi. If you like either you now have a very good reason to sitting your arse down and watching this anime. But fear not! The rest of the casts voices are also just so... right! So spot on! Takahiro Ai (who I've never heard of before until this anime) voiced Okinu, the young girl who assists at the tavern where the Five Leaves meets has such a cute voice it's deadly! I hope to hear more of her in the future. Overall, the sound is a feast for the ears and skipping out on it is like saying you don't like your ears. Your ears would be very sad if they heard that.
I've actually addressed most of the characters at this point. Yaichi, the "lone mysterious cool guy" actually gets some of the most character development I've ever seen and part of the second half of the anime hinges on him alone. To be blunt, he isn't as cool and suave as he is first introduced to be. Masa obviously is a deeper character than first presented and I noticed a lot of people complaining how much of a "wimp" and "loser" he is. Let me say this, if all the protagonists in anime were AWESOME and COOL then anime itself as a medium would suck. Masa actually doesn't even whine or complain at ALL throughout the series, and saying he's a wimp is like calling Shinji from NGE cool. It's just not gonna fly. He undergoes some serious character development and by the end of the series he well, can be seen in a different light than before. Matsu is another character I'd like to talk about. He at first appears to be another cold and unfriendly character, but by goodness this anime manages to make even him look good. The secondary characters are all strong and interesting in themselves but a few here and there are kind of shallow (not many, but some). Whilst not perfect, House of Five Leaves has some of the most realistic characters I've seen to date that are simply just - human.
Even with all these awesome aspects, the show can at times be a mixed-bag. Flashbacks at confusing times, with confusing material addressed, in a confusing way, and backgrounds that usually don't have much color or vibrancy in them (but seeing as a lot of the anime takes place at night I can accept that). The weird pacing that takes place early in the series, while very different, can be a major turn-off. The latter half of the series is totally amazing and ties off and puts a nice bow on top of everything occurring at the start of the series. It's not hard to miss something in this anime too, which was kind of a problem, because if you space out for a little while, you can miss some serious plot. If you don't like heavy dialogues and minimal action, then I don't recommend you try this anime, but if you could see yourself giving it a try, then heck, go for it.
There's nothing disappointing about this anime while I believe there could have been improvement. It's an intelligent anime that is better watched alone, and focus is definitely necessary, but a rewarding anime it is. You'll be glad you checked out House of Five Leaves.
This anime will never be popular. You will never see someone wearing a Sarai-ya Goyou T-Shirt. You will never see someone pretend to be Masa and do his samurai techniques. It's not that kind of anime. It's an anime that is doomed to be unpopular and only spoken of on the smallest portions of internet forums and be referenced as "a hidden gem." I don't know why all gems have to be hidden, but the statement stands true with Sarai-ya Goyou. It's an anime that can easily be overlooked if you didn't take the time to check it out, so go take 12 episodes of your time (and a fast 12 it is) and enjoy yourself with House of Five Leaves. read more
slow moving, calm pace, presentation that is strongly supported by an excellent music score and a unique animation style, story has a mysterious feel to it and it all falls together slowly piece by piece. Mushishi is episodic and more plot/world focused, and Saraiya Goyou is more character centric.
There is a relaxed feel to both anime. Good for a rainy day when the pace will not bore you to death. At times it can seem a bit dark and sad, but at the same time, it's light hearted and doesn't sadden you too much. You'll enjoy one if you like the other, when you're in the right kind of mood to watch it ;)
It gives you the same feeling when you're watching Mushishi. Both are very atmospheric.
Both have peaceful atmospheric episodes. Gives you the same feel as the other.
There's a similar sense of feeling and backgrounds in both series. Mushishi and Saraiya Goyou (House of the Five Leaves) both has a slow pacing with a elegant mood to them.
Both series follows a more episodic path rather than arcs/linear story.
Both series' main male protagonist has great development and interactions with other characters and also bears some similar physical features. The coloring in both series is also natural and again has that elegance to them.
Both series presents a mature way of nature.
Opening Theme"Sign of Love" by immi
Ending Theme"all I need is..." by Rake
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