The final show to get the spotlight in this series is Saraiya Goyou. The House of Five Leaves kidnaps heirs to corrupt houses in exchange for ransom as a sort of noble cause. Or so the wilting samurai Masa is led to believe so by the charismatic Ichi. In truth, the robbers are just a bunch of thieves constantly turning to their criminal roots because there is little else they can do. Except Ichi seems to have no use for money, frivolously spending it on the women in the brothel that he resides. Ichi seems to have taken a liking to the idealistic Masa, and with each new mission, Masa tries to break past his cavalier attitude and understand the man who rarely speaks about himself.
Saraiya Goyou creates an electric atmosphere rife with tension and anticipation in a way that no other show this season does. Everything from the art to the voice acting is executed with such intention that I trust what the creators are doing and just sit along for the ride. The show doesn’t really do anything with characters individually that I haven’t seen before. What it does do is nail interactions in such a way that I immediately feel comfortable with someone after a few lines of dialogue. This is especially evident with the subtle, sexual tension between the main characters Masa and Ichi. Ichi is this irresistibly attractive young man with a laissez-faire attitude. Sure, he beds women every now and then, but according to the whores he sleeps with, he is never all that interested in anyone. Or anything. The fact that everyone mentions how differently Ichi acts after meeting Masa only fuels the flame. And Masa all but voices his crush on Ichi.
If you ask me, this is the gayest show of the season. The author of the source is no stranger to yaoi, but unlike shows like Uraboku that cater almost explicitly to the desires and fantasies of female readers (leaving characters feel wooden), The House of Five Leaves has characters who don’t fall into the traditional, yaoi archetypes of seme and uke. Instead, we have a cast of well-rounded characters, both men and women, displaying attributes that anyone would fall in love with. I’m sure that many straight, male viewers won’t even notice the undertones, and will simply love it for the samurai, thieves, and action.
I give Saraiya Goyou 5 diamond-studded katana out of 5.
That’s all for the Spring Season. Summer starts in July.
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