House of Five Leaves – First Impressions

Rundown: Technically sound but weak-willed ronin hired by a gangster who turns out to be a member of a band of thieves who have kidnapped a boy. He initially questions whose side he’s on, but once he finds out the thieves have a code and their victims are hardly sympathetic, he decides not to back out and joins the group.

The Samurai Champloo similarities are here: both center around ronin in the Edo period; both are done by Manglobe…but I loved the character design in Champloo and I don’t care for it at all in Five Leaves. This show had a beautifully-done opening sequence, a decent intro story, and gorgeous landscapes throughout, but the character design ruins it for me. The last straw was when the main guy laid eyes on whom he believed “the most beautiful woman he’s ever seen.” IMO she looked like a man in drag. Everybody looks tired, worn-out, and ugly, like they’re strung out on drugs or starving. Maybe that’s the point, but usually, to enjoy an anime I have to like how the characters are drawn, which simply isn’t the case here. The only character design I liked was the cat, which is why it’s pictured so prominently.