OP Sequence

OP: 「Sign of Love」 by immi
Watch the OP!: Download, Streaming ▼

「形ばかりの」 (Katachi Bakari no)
“In Appearance Only”

Manglobe studio and samurai. It’s not the same hip-hop style as Samurai Champloo, but Sarai-ya Goyou, a.k.a. “House of Five Leaves”, takes a seinen spin on the Edo period in noitaminA‘s newly expanded time slot. Admittedly, this series had me quite interested not so much because it was about samurai but because of its roots. As an adaptation of a manga by the same author that created Ristorante Paradiso, I had a good idea of the character designs and realistic depiction I was in store for here and was looking forward to how they’re refreshingly different from the usual stuff. Some people may not be a fan of Ono Natsume‘s unique character designs or her omission of excessive fan-service-oriented action scenes, but I rather enjoy the change up on both fronts and even the slower flow of things in general. With how heavily focused series these days seem to be on satisfying impatient fans, seinen series and their emphasis on dialogue and simple character interactions have always been my escape from the shounen crowd.

This first episode served as a fairly laid back introduction to the story, which entails a timid samurai named Akitsu Masanosuke (Namikawa Daisuke) who is relieved of his position as a bodyguard and desperately in search of a new master. Starving for food, he inevitably ends up working for a charismatic individual named Yaichi (Sakurai Takahiro), only to find out later that he’s the leader of a group of kidnappers called the House of Five Leaves. This revelation in turn makes for some interesting moments, as Masanosuke soon learns that Yaichi and the other members of his gang aren’t your typical sinister-like villains. For one, they only seem to target inherently bad people for ransom money with have no real intention of harming whoever they abducted. Be that as it may, Yaichi’s still not quite the Robin Hood of the Edo period, but his group does appear to have some chivalrous nuances. Now with the timid yet surprisingly skillful Masanosuke in their ranks, I’m curious as to whether there will be any clashes between his sense of justice and Sarai-ya Goyou’s.

While that’s what I’d personally like to see more about, it’s hard to tell which direction the series will take in its short twelve episode run. Seeing as the manga’s still ongoing since 2006 and has seven volumes released, I’m guessing it’s safe to say that they have options. With Twin Spica‘s Mochizuki Tomomi directing and writing this anime, it shouldn’t be too difficult to get one or two really good arcs adapted in this awesome setting Manglobe has laid before us. Like the character designs, the backdrops and artwork in general have a really unique stylistic touch to them and I love the vibe the “Sign of Love” opening theme gives the series as a whole. I was all over that song in the promotional video anyway and have been looping it for the past while, so I’m already in the mood of seeing more of this samurai series that’s very much unlike your typical samurai series.


ED Sequence

ED: 「all I need is…」 by Rake
Watch the ED!: Download, Streaming ▼


  1. ill probably avoid this not only because of the characters but also because I already following several anime this season(and maybe watch some “older” anime I never heard or seen before cause of still being fresh on watching anime on the net).

      1. Well if the women look like men with lipstick, then we have a problem….this isn’t supposed to be a genderbender anime, I think. When the ronin said that the “woman” was hot, I almost threw up.

        To be fair, the background art is alright, but who cares about that when I’m looking at the characters.

  2. Finally, the only series worth watching this season. The art is simply amazing, I wasn’t expecting such a good animated form of Natsume Ono’s amazing artwork. Big up, manglobe!

  3. Probably the nicest series so far this season, though the other noitaminA series has the chance to top it. The art is nice, especially the colouring for the OP and some of the first scenes. A teal filter for flashbacks; that’s one I haven’t seen before.

  4. I liked the first ep, the animation is great and the character designs are very unique too. I’m looking forward to the next ep.

    On a side note, you wrote that, Divine:

    “Ono Natsume’s unique character designs or his omission of excessive fan-service-oriented action scenes”

    Ono Natsume is female, isn’t she?

  5. The art is unique, not horrible , it’s supposed to be the way it is.
    Also this isn’t a fan-service anime so of course women won’t be hot nor anything like it. Still after watching the first episode I liked it a lot it’s relaxing and has a great atmosphere,the plot is promising and the characters are interesting.

    1. ….it can be as unique as you say it is…it’s still ugly. Don’t give me the “it’s art” crap. Ugly is ugly, no matter how you look at it. Can you swear to your God that you find the females in this anime beautiful?

  6. I don’t care if it’s supposed to have fansevervice or not, ugly is ugly, no matter the reason. And those women are UGLY. Especially funny when he called her the most beautiful woman he’s seen. By FAR the ugliest characters this season. Also…this made Fairy Tail look animated, compared to this slideshow.

  7. I’ve seen the ep — it was just utterly amazing. I love the pace, the unique art that requires an acquired taste. Yaichi’s past has certainly intrigued me, and the plot shows a lot of promise. It’s a niche anime that’s not for everybody, but I really hope Divine continues to cover this series!

  8. I’m liking these seinin series you’ve been posting about recently. I know exactly how you feel when you talk about an “escape from the shounen crowd”.
    As for the art style, I’m just glad someone is willing to break the mould and not try to depict every character as a good-looking adolescent.

  9. I thought the first episode was excellent. It may take a couple of minutes to get used to the different art style compared to most anime, but it looks like it will be one of the best series of the season.

  10. My only problem with this show is that everyone’s mouths look a little too wide. It’s like they pulled their mouths and kept it like that for a day, thus making it permanent.

  11. The art is gorgeous…. Very Kabuki-ish character designs.
    Nice to see actual beauty instead of the usual embryo-eyed moe shit.

    Was decent for a first ep. So far, it’s this and RAINBOW for me for this season. Maybe Arakawa as well, but I’ve yet to make time for it.

  12. @Lol – Hells yes! Manglobe has always been boss at setting, and setting atmosphere. Looks like this series continues in good name.

    As for those character designs though . . . I”ve come to love them, they fit the period beautifully. I guess you could say Ristorante Paradiso was my warm up to the aesthetic.

  13. I didn’t have much expectations for it after seeing the promo and all that.

    But this anime immediately got me right from the OP. The soundtrack is fabulous. It creates an awesome Edo-like atmosphere including some modern touches.

    Character seiyuus are perfectly chosen, they sorta… make their character shine. Sakurai Takahiro certainly made his character very colorful.

    The whole way the story is brought makes me want to see more. It’s rather slow paced and quiet, with fast motion here and there, but it’s reeeeeally hard to to pause it and go away to do something else instead.

    I so loved it. I also loved the character designs. It’s so GREAT to see something new.

    Those who dislike the character design, can return to watching something generic like Angel Beats, B Gata H-something and all that crap. I wanna enjoy an anime with a good taste.

  14. I think i’ll give it a try, the story sounds nice and all but the art and all seems weird to me…
    Then again, this isn’t your usual kind of animation you’d find in a anime these day’s.

  15. I just watched it and its a awesome anime but the only thing is that the women are ugly but atleast its realistic :). The animation is great and the calm atmosphere is special with all the noisy and ecchi series around i will definetly watch every episode and i recommend it to everyone who can appriciate a good quality anime.

  16. I’m going to be 100% honest here. I have nothing against this anime. I have nothing against people who like this anime. I have nothing against people who hate Angel Beast, or K-ON!!, or whatever. But I, honest to God, hope that this anime fails/is canceled/is not subbed. And you want to know why? Because of you people, that’s why. Because of people like Jane and shiryoenbou, and the like. People who, if you say something bad about an anime like this, will automatically insult you, call you a “7 year old with no taste”, or insult the anime you watch. People who think that if you don’t watch this, you are a looser. You are the most annoying people I’ve ever seen, who get all high and mighty because you watch something different, and look down of those who watch mainstream anime. So, for all those reasons, I hope you get less and less anime for you to enjoy.

    1. It goes both ways though, so it’s probably not a good idea to fan the fire here.

      The reason why people who enjoy these shows defend it in such a way is because mainstream fans ridicule them by saying they’re crap, ugly, boring, etc. Often, they’re just personal preferences and ill-weighted because they never even gave the series a chance, which is met with more frustration from the vocal fans on the other side.

      As a viewer who enjoys both sides of the coin, I see this as a problem compounded by the attitude of fans on both sides, so arguing over who started it first isn’t going to get anywhere.

      Let’s just leave it at that here and not start a flame war. I don’t want to be deleting a bunch of comments, so please don’t make me have to do so.

      1. Yeah, but it’s because the negative comments aren’t founded on anything more than, “I don’t like X, so it’s crap.” They’re not taking the high road by saying something along the lines of, “Well I don’t really like the style here, but it sounds interesting so I may give it a chance.”

        No one would angry about the latter comment, but the first one lacks any level of maturity and comes off very troll-like.

        On that note, one of my goals in blogging is to open the eyes of the more biased/ignorant fans out there (not pointing fingers or anything), so that they’re more open-minded to things, anime or otherwise.

  17. Well, let’s face it, neither side is being very beneficial.

    One side calls the show ugly, failing to understand that some people find the unique art style quite attractive (myself included). You must remember that art is subjective. You may not like/appreciate an art style, but that doesn’t mean others don’t.

    The other side insults the maturity or refinement of other shows fanbase. Again, failing to understand the various tastes.

    I for one, enjoy both House of Five Leaves and Angel Beats. I also enjoy RAINBOW as well as Kaichou wa Maid-sama.

  18. For me, character design and animation quality have never really been deciding factors for me when determining whether or not I enjoy a particular show. I judge a show primarily on its story (if it is the basis of the show), the characters and their interactions, and (very subjectively) the overall feeling I get after watching an episode. I don’t even need originality in my shows. If you can take the most unoriginal concept and execute it masterfully, I will love the show. Visually appealing character designs and fluid animation is merely icing on the cake for me.

    The popularity of a show has never been a concern for me. Using all of these factors, I am able to find and enjoy many kinds of shows from any genre. I enjoyed Saraiya Goyou, but I also like Angel Beats, K-ON, Giant Killing, and several other shows with wildly varying premises, designs, and stories (or lack of story). I never understood why some fans feel as if it is impossible to enjoy many kinds of shows. There is a false dilemma of mutual exclusivity here. Perhaps some of these fans give too much credence to critical reception or a highly vocal fan base. These are simply opinions and should be taken with a grain of salt.

    If you are choosing which shows to watch based on visceral reaction or are choosing to despise a show because its “out of your genre” then I feel you are doing a great injustice to yourself. There are many great shows out there and you can find them if you give them a chance. Don’t worry so much about if others love or hate your shows because you will never be satisfied seeking approval. You don’t have to defend what you enjoy from others.

    Anyway, sorry for the monologue. 🙂

    1. For the longest time I’ve been waiting for an anime with a unique style and Sarai-ya Goyou is just that. I absolutely love the art style. The quality of this anime is great, the music is fantastic but more so the characters and plot are interesting. It has been a while since I’ve watched an anime I enjoyed this much.

      People are free to like what they like but I agree a 100% that people are doing themselves an injustice if they just dismiss an anime just because of it’s art style.

  19. The art of this anime may look weird compare to maintream series, but I get used to it at the end of this episode. And the story looks promising too. Heck, when I first watch codegeass, I find Clam-style charaters (long climb and all that) weird, but still get used to it anyway. So if you give it a try and find something you like, then doesnt matter how weird the characters look like, you would get used to it by the time the anime finishs (hopefully).

  20. I, personally, find the character-designs attractive in their own way.

    Sure there’s no lolis or bishounen, but who gives a crap?
    I wish some people would stop being so shallow when there’s no hot characters around to fap to. Looks aren’t everything. I’m more interested in their personalities & interactions with eachother & the story behind them.

    Putting that aside, I thought the episode was decent.
    It didn’t ‘wow’ me or anything but I’m willing to watch more.
    And I really liked the OP song.

  21. I’m one of those that almost skipped over this when I saw the art style, but thanks to your writeup I gave it a try. The art actually looks much better when in motion, and it seems like I has potential to be a pretty good show. I’m interested to see how it progresses.

  22. Well, I’m not going to say more to what’s already been said. Haters will always hate and lovers will hate the haters, or whatever that means. Really, we can’t satisfy everybody. Even ourselves.

    On the other hand, I love the ED sequence (not the song though. Or I might need more listening to it before I could enjoy it.) And I love the cat too. I named it “Tama” lol. And to answer whoever asked before (sorry I was too lazy to look up), I’m thinking that the boy who with the scar is actually Masa when he was a kid. But I guess it will be revealed soon.

    Lil' Lilly
  23. This might be the greatest show of the season. Seriously was awesome. The character design reminded me of old hobbit animated films. The story with the depth of characters looks awesome! I am really really looking forward to what they are going to do with this series. None the less this may be one of the season’s best.

  24. yeah, i like the art, too. i find long, angular lines catchy. i wanted to like “night raid” past episode one, but i am much happier watching this smooth one. of course, if another shrieky china goil surfaces, i’ll be moovin on.


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