House of Five Leaves (Saraiya Goyou). Story and art by Natsume Ono. 8 Volumes. Completed.
Natsume Ono is an amazing storyteller. Her characters are quietly compelling. Her unique style of art is simple yet striking.
The House of Five Leaves brings together an unlikely group of individuals. A shy, masterless samurai. A lonely gangster. A thief. A tavern owner and his daughter. And a geisha.
The story is subtle and winding. It gradually draws you in. You are caught up and entangled in the story before you realize it.
There is a high level of emotion running through the story that is quiet and loud at the same time. The story slowly gnaws at you and quietly tears you apart. It leaves a tight knot in your chest. It leaves you gasping for air. It leaves you parched. And in the end, thoroughly satisfied.
I read the entire 8 volume series over the span of two days. I cannot imagine what it was like to wait for each new chapter or for each new volume. But, then again, maybe it was so compelling because I read one volume after another. I was like a starved animal devouring one page after the next.
Note: The anime and manga have different endings. Though equally beautiful, I prefer the manga ending. The manga ending truly captures the impact of the sacrifices made and the friendships forged. Do not miss it.
Thanks for reading.