BookDragon Books for the Diverse Reader

House of Five Leaves (vol. 2) by Natsume Ono, translated by Joe Yamazaki

House of Five Leaves 2Being madly appreciative of Natsume Ono’s not simple, one of the most clever, time-bending manga I’ve ever been so lucky to read, I definitely felt a personal sense of pride when I heard this week that Ono’s latest series-in-English-translation, House of Five Leaves (click here for volume 1), got nominated for a 2011 Eisner (the Oscar of manga/graphic novels!) in the Best U.S. Edition of International Material-Asia category.

I’m betting Ono’s signature eyes drew the judges in: with just a few, spare strokes, Ono has the uncanny ability to render remarkably expressive eyes that give her characters depth far beyond the flat, printed page. For now, we’ll (impatiently) have to wait until July 22 to hear the final Eisner results …

Welcome back to the ‘House of Five Leaves’: “We make our living by kidnapping. We’re outlaws,” announces Yaichi, the leader of the motley group as he proudly opens the volume 2. Akitsu Masanosuke, the timid but accomplished swordsman, has somehow become the gang’s newest member. For now, he’s been sent out to the country to gain back some of his waning strength with the kind, caring Goinkyo. Of course, nothing is as it seems, as the observant Masa learns: “All of us here have something in our pasts.”

Little by little, as he recovers his strength and keeps near-silent watch, Masa pieces together stories of  forbidden love, violent betrayal, and unwavering loyalty from a faraway past that binds the Five Leaves together. Outlaws they might be, kidnappers they certainly are, but Masa begins to realize that their law-breaking motivations are not about money or profit. When unfinished business from that past literally comes knocking, Masa proves his own newfound dedication to the Leaves to be swift and solid.

The more Masa learns, the more enigmatic Yaichi becomes, proving even more mysterious when a stranger arrives in town claiming to be Yaichi’s “good friend” … talk about an unsettled ending! Volume 3 debuts in a couple of weeks … let the mysteries unfold.

Readers: Young Adult, Adult

Published: 2010 (United States)
Original Japanese edition published by Shogakukan Inc.


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