House of Five Leaves

House of Five Leaves (さらい屋五葉, Sarai-ya Goyou) is a manga written and illustrated by Natsume Ono. It was serialized in Ikki magazine in July 2006 (until February 2010) and has a total of 7 volumes to date. Viz Media (in North America) later published it under Ikki’s imprint and is also released online on the Sigikki site. It was then adapted to anime by Manglobe and aired on April 15, 2010 with 12 episodes. The anime is licensed to FUNimation, which allows it to simulcasting from the noitaminA block on Fuji TV to its website at the same time that it is aired in Japan. It is also aired on Hulu and YouTube.

There is an opening and ending theme:

1. “Sign of Love” by immi
2. “All I need is…” by Rake

Masanosuke Akitsu is a shy and reticent ronin. Even though he is a highly skilled and loyal swordsman, his personality makes him unemployable by the lords. Destitute, he meets a charismatic but suspicious individual whose dealings are dubious. Yaichi of the “Five Leaves” hires the unassuming Akitsu as a front on one of his kidnaps. The story of the leader of Five Leaves unfolds in an unhurried and placid pace as Akitsu slowly peels off the layers of protective barrier built over the years.

APRILMAYJUNEJULY


April 15, 2010, Episode 1: In Name Only
A young man is kidnapped, tied and muffled, then stashed and locked away in the basement of a house.

Flashback to a few years earlier. Young Seinoshin is the apparent heir to his father’s fortune, even though he is adopted. His stepmother despises him. But he is doted on by the family’s servants, particularly Yaichi and Heiza. Even though the young boy knows of his mother’s hatred towards him, he tries to be a good son in hopes that she will accept him one day. His mother loves beautiful things, unfortunately, he has a scar the shape of a leaf on his back. Yaichi teaches him, that all things are beautiful, and he should learn to be more confident of himself. Heiza teaches him the beginnings of swordplay. The world in the eyes of the young master seems to look much brighter, until news of the mistress’ pregnancy is announced.


In the current time, suave but laid-back Yaichi plans to hire a bodyguard by name only for one of his impending jobs. Yaichi’s past is not known by others, but he lives in a local brothel and protects the women working there. As the leader of the “Five Leaves,” he stands out with his distinct pale hair and his nonchalant attitude while smoking a pipe.

Enter Masanosuke Akitsu, a samurai who has been recently fired. His previous masters have all called him “undependable” and resorted to hire others. Jobless and penniless, Akitsu wanders the streets and sees a beautiful young lady in the company of a questionable man, who he assumes as a yakuza/mafia. When the man turns and looks at Akitsu, he turns tail and run. As his stomach rumbles from hunger, a stick of dango (candied dumplings) is stuck infront of him, held by that strange man.

Yaichi introduces himself and immediately tells Akitsu that he is in the market to hire a temporary bodyguard for protection. On the way back to his inn to further discuss the prospective employment, the duo bump into samurais who make trouble for Akitsu. Instead of Akitsu protecting his new master, his master stands up for him and his honor.

At an inn, Yaichi introduces Akitsu to the storekeeper, Umezo, who feeds the hungry master-less samurai. Yaichi convinces Akitsu to join him, at least for this one easy job. That night, the two creep into the darkness of night. Yaichi tells Akitsu to “just stand behind me. This won’t take long.” True to his word, the transaction was a swift one. When the bodyguards of the other man spring into action, Akitsu immediately dispatches them with lightning speed and skills to match. Yaichi is pleasantly surprised by the turn of events. The bodyguards flee, leaving the man to defend for himself. He crawls out from the bushes and presents the ransom money for his son. Now Akitsu is surprised and disturbed. He is abetting a rogue kidnapper?! Back in the inn, the money is split. Yaichi asks Akitsu if he’s ready to join the “team.”

Akitsu & Yaichi

He leaves the inn, and ponders his decision. The next day, the beautiful lady who he saw with Yaichi the first time, looks him up. “Ichi-san wants to see you.”

Akitsu enters the inn, and his treacherous stomach rumbles again. “You didn’t use the money?” Yaichi asks quizzically. Umezo enters the room to tell them to use the upstairs to talk business as his daughter is still asleep. In the room, Yaichi immediately holds Akitsu at knife point. “If you’re not with us, you’re against us.… Just kidding.” He lets him go, but since Akitsu cannot hold his alcohol, he promptly falls asleep.

Akitsu awakes to a young girl bringing his food to him. She introduces herself as the daughter of Umezo. She is the reason they started the “place.” Her boss at her old work place was being a bully. To stand up for her, Yaichi decides to kidnap this rich man’s son to teach him a lesson. Turns out, they are the chivalrous robbers, a Robin Hood of kind.

Akitsu seeks out Yaichi and finds him at the bridge. Akitsu tells Yaichi that he looses his composure when people look at him. He wants to train himself to be better (more self-assured like Yaichi) to get into the government in Edo. His part of the ransom money has been sent to his younger brother who got into debt. But he doesn’t answer Yaichi.

I guess they will be working together for a while. Two totally different people, yet they found the other. Akitsu, a quiet but skilled samurai, who has no qualms in sharing his past, tries to break out of his shell. Yaichi, an enigmatic man with a mysterious past, recruits an unsuspecting hungry samurai into the underworld of Five Leaves.

April 22, 2010, Episode 2: Make Love to Me

Yaichi visits a medicine man, for his supplies and gives the apothecary a huge sum of hush money.

Even though Akitsu has not officially joined the Five Leaves, he freeloads at Ume’s inn for the food. But Ume is one to remind him, that as long as he has not joined the club, he is still an outsider, which means Akitsu will be indebted to him. Akitsu, totally embarrassed by this confrontation, follows Yaichi as he leaves for “home” that night. Yaichi tells him not to take Ume’s words to heart. He just wants Akitsu to join them soon. When Akitsu changes his mind about the group, he knows where to find him.

Wait. Where is it that Yaichi lives?

Yaichi is forced to reveal that he takes up residence at Katsuya, the red light district, where he is the resident bodyguard and freeloader.

Now Akitsu is even more confused! So confused that he walks into a post.

After the confrontation with Ume, Akitsu dare not show his face at the inn for free food. He finally signs up for a day laborer job, but even then, he can’t do it right. Yaichi shows up at the work site and tells him that whenever Akitsu gets hungry, he can always find Ume. Not to worry about the old man. On cue, his stomach growls.

Unemployed cat - like her master Masanosuke

Unemployed cat - like her master Masanosuke

Akitsu finally swallows his pride and walks into Ume’s shop. Ume’s daughter, Okinu, welcomes him instantly. She tells him that random people don’t frequent the inn anymore because of Ume’s temper. The only ones remaining are the regulars, like Matsu, a shabby looking ornamental pipe maker and Otake, the woman who Akitsu first met with Yaichi. Ume tells him, there is no free food, but he can help him with the next day’s food shopping. Only too happy to oblige, he goes along the shopping trip.

Ume and Akitsu finally reach a hut deep in the woods owned by an old man. Ume opens the basket he has carried on his back the entire time. In it, is a tied up and muffled young man, who is the son of a shogunate vessel. It seems, Akitsu has once again abetted a kidnap without knowledge of it. The old man holds on to the hostage for a few days, until the group gets their ransom money.

As Ume takes a well-deserved rest, the old man speaks to Akitsu. He warns him that Yaichi is not as soft-hearted as he thinks he is. He is already getting Akitsu involved, slowly but surely. Ume awakes, and tells Akitsu that even though he doesn’t trust Yaichi, he is confident of Yaichi’s actions. Akitsu will indefinitely be absorbed into their little circle. Ume then packs up the wild vegetables into his basket and heads back into the city with Akitsu. The wandering samurai has now become kitchen help to Ume and his inn.

While helping, Ume tells Akitsu that the government does not know about the Five Leaves. If they did, the group would have left Edo a long time ago.

Even though Akitsu did nothing for this “job,” Yaichi still paid him, one ryo. Not enough to send home, but enough to spend on himself.

The next day, Otake brings Akitsu out on a little trip. She explains to him that everyone in their group has a role. Hers is to send the ransom letters together with a maple leaf, a symbol of the group. Just as the maple leaf has five branching stems, the Five Leaves will also be complete once Akitsu joins the group. Akitsu presumes the five she is pointing to is herself, Yaichi, Ume, the old man in the woods and him. What he doesn’t realize is there is another member to the team, one who is not the old man. It is true that they all have a role to play in the group. Ume is the transporter of the kidnap victims. Yaichi is the ransom taker and the brains behind the entire operation. Matsu, the pipe maker, does reconnaissance work. He surveys the household and after the ransom money is paid, he makes sure that the victim’s family doesn’t run to the authorities to stir up trouble.

Otake

Otake

He is left with the job of picking up the maple leaves while Otake buys a few sticks of dango from the bathhouse. A young man seems amused that a grown samurai is left picking up leaves and jokes that it must be for a woman.

April 29, 2010, Episode 3: Gradually Get Him involved

Akitsu finally gets a job as a bodyguard to the Oumiya family, a wholesale rice merchant, thanks to Yaichi’s network – but it is not a coincidence.

Matsukichi does preliminary survey on the next target, the Oumiya household, and the surrounding area. He goes into the residence with his cover as a pipe seller to the mistress of the house. He even stops to chat with Akitsu like old friends, even if they do not do that in Ume’s inn. Akitsu thinks nothing of it.

Akitsu heads to the back of the house and sees a young boy playing by himself by the river. Instead of chatting him up, Akitsu shies away when the boy looks at him. Finally, the boy picks up his nerves and approaches Akitsu. He introduces himself as Yutaro, and they begin to form a good relationship. Akitsu is told by other servants in the residence that the lad is the son of a female servant.

Yaichi sets the plan in motion. The victim will be the head of the Oumiya household, the man who hoards the rice while making it expensive for normal citizens to acquire the staple. Ume advises him that he has to tell Akitsu of his plans. He does, much to Akitsu’s disapproval.

In the meantime, Akitsu is back at picking maple leaves and meets the same man who teased him from before. He finally introduces himself as Yagi, the third son of a shogun vessel. (Too much of a coincidence? The last kidnap victim was a son of a shogun vessel. Is the government looking into the activities of Five Leaves?)

Back in Oumiya residence, Matsu does a final check by speaking with the mistress of the house. She tells him everything, including her dislike of the young lad in the house. Yutaro is no servant’s child. He is the son of her husband’s mistress, making him her adopted but much despised son. Matsu returns to the Five Leaves with this new discovery.

Akitsu returns to the inn and sees Ume making mochi (sticky dessert). Ume offers him a couple to bring to the child in Oumiya household. The unsuspecting Akitsu, goes to his job at Oumiya residence. Upon seeing the child, he offers him the dessert, which the boy shares with him.

A little later, Matsu rows his boat to the back of the Oumiya household and finds not only a sleeping child, but Akitsu dosed too. What an idiot!  I guess it make things more believable.

When Akitsu rouses, he finally realizes that it is the child who is kidnapped and not the master of the house. The ransom is paid. The boy is to be returned unharmed.

Flashback a few years earlier, a young boy is bound and watched by three men. They let him know that someone in his household planted the farce to make it look like a kidnap, but after the ransom money is paid, they are supposed to kill the boy. However, the leader will not kill the boy, and instead he will be freed. He is warned to never return home but to leave Edo for good.

The young boy replies, “I will go home, even if I get killed. I have Yaichi.”

“It is he who wants you dead.”


May 6, 2010, Episode 4: Sure Does Get Carried Away

Matsu met Yaichi on one of his lams. Instead of handing him over to the authorities, Yaichi hid a bleeding Matsu, and even covered for him by injuring himself instead.

Inadvertently, the Oumiyas relieves Akitsu of his services as the bodyguard. His final wages are paid, and they let him know that Yutaro will be released after the ransom was paid. Depressed, Akitsu stumbles out of the residence, only to be met by Yaichi. He consoles Akitsu that this was a good family to draw ransom from, as the Oumiya is involved with driving the price of rice up by buying up the market share. Still unsettled, Akitsu heads to Ume’s inn and ask to follow him on the retrieval of the boy.

The kidnappings began as a retaliation against and a lesson for a scoundrel, which soon turn to monetary benefits. It has been 10 jobs so far, but Ume worries that Yaichi maybe loosing his edge by thinking too much into things. With the boy returned, Yaichi visit Akitsu with his share of the cut and tells him to send the money home, as there maybe no jobs for a while. Relieved and worried for his lack of income, Akitsu may have to start a paper lantern business. Yaichi comes to his rescue once again, and introduces him to the Mama-san of Katsuya as the new bodyguard. With his new residence at the brothel, Otake takes up residence in Akitsu’s old place. Not only does the new environment unnerve Akitsu, the unwelcomed flirtations of the ladies in the brothel is disconcerting.

Yaichi

Yaichi

That night, Matsu follows up with Yaichi once the Oumiya boy has been returned. He reports that the boy doesn’t understand the events that took place, but the mistress of the house still brings up the kidnapping. After Matsu leaves, Akitsu speaks to Yaichi. This seemingly dim-witted samurai suddenly realizes that these kidnappings are not all about the money for Yaichi. What is it then?

The next day, the ladies of the brothel teach him a valuable lesson. Everyone has their own circumstance. It is not one’s business to learn about another person’s past — unless the other person is willing to share. But he learns that Otake, Matsu and Ume have been in the care of Yaichi for a very long time. Akitsu finally speaks to Yaichi, and as their conversation draws out, Akitsu lets known that he want to know about Yaichi.

“About me?” he questions cautiously. “Are you interested in my background? Or my character.”

After pondering for a while, Akitsu chooses the second option.

“Then here’s to a long lasting relationship,” as Yaichi raises his cup of sake to Akitsu. As he stands to leave the room, his legs fall asleep. He may have the “Edo disease.” Hopefully Akitsu will hold on to this job longer than the rest, and learn from and about Yaichi.

Okinu returns from her apprenticeship in tears after being fired. The second son of her master was trying to fool around with her, before his impending wedding into one of the Shogun’s retainer’s family. Ume will not let the scoundrel get away with bullying his precious daughter.

May 13, 2010, Episode 5: It’ll Be Fine

Yaichi suggest they kidnap the second son of the shogun’s vassal to teach the family a lesson. Former lone robber Matsu aids them by keeping an eye on the son and family. Ume reveals that he once belonged to a group of bandits too. Once the boy is returned to the family, the ransom money is used as hush money to pay people off. The remaining ransom is divvied up amongst themselves. Yaiichi decides to continue their illicit “activity,” this time for the money. Otake and Matsu are in. But Ume declines.

Thus, the Five Leaves was born because of Ume’s overprotectiveness of Okinu.

Akitsu is recuperating at the Elder’s from Edo disease, a disease said to be an affliction of those serving the Shogun. While spending time in the woods, the Elder asks Akitsu if he is an official member of the Five Leaves yet. Even so, if he needs to leave the group, leave without thinking twice.

The Elder

The Elder

That day, Ume visits him with a soft shell turtle to help speed up recovery. As Ume stays behind to mingle with the men, he tells Akitsu of his relationship with the Elder. The Elder used to lead a group of bandits together with another man, the Demon Spider. He (Ume) was affiliated with them. The Elder was an honest to goodness saint. People called him Saint Soji. After meeting a woman and falling in love with her, Ume left the group. She gave birth to Okinu, but passed away. Ume brought Okinu back to Edo to make an honest living by opening a tavern. Having eked out a living for himself, Ume visits the Elder to share what little he had earned to repay his debt. The Elder refuses the money and sends him away. Just as Ume leaves, Senkichi, a senior to Ume in the group of bandits, visits the Elder. Senkichi, like Ume, left the bandits, but ran away with the gang’s money. It seems he met a woman in a brothel and used the money to buy her freedom. He has returned once again to Edo, seeking the Elder’s help. He needs money as a former member of the bandits, Denshichi, has shown up asking for him to join his group of bandits. If he doesn’t want to, he can provide them with money. However, Senkichi doesn’t want to live a life of a lock-picker anymore. He has gone straight, has a beautiful wife and a daughter. He cannot get his hands dirty again.

The Elder refuses his request. He broke the rules himself. Giving him the money will not solve and end the problem with Denshichi.

Senkichi pleads with the Elder. Why is it that when it came to Ume asking to break free from the gang, he could help. But when he asked, it could not be so. Because, Ume was an ordinary bandit who was replaceable. He knew the skills of picking locks, which not many had.

Senkichi leaves, dejected. But Ume, having heard the entire conversation, goes after him. He gives him the money meant for the Elder. Ume returns to the Elder, and the Elder knows right away what he has done. He forewarns him, “This will not be the last time.” The man is not his concern. Will he get his hand dirty again just for the likes of him?

Ume finally joins the Five Leaves, to earn money for Senkichi.

May 20, 2010, Episode 6: Consider Yourself Fortunate

Back at the tavern, Ume asks Yaichi to visit Akitsu. The Elder also wants to meet him. He gives him a map to the Elder’s, but instructs him to burn it after memorizing the route.

At the novelty shop, Senkichi is knocked up for more money. He is warned that the “boss” is coming and will push him to join the Sengora of Yatsuya. Senkichi realizes his mistake. Giving him the money didn’t stop the harassment. He goes to Ume’s shop (who had warned him earlier to never visit him unless he’s there as a customer), but is followed by Denshichi. Denshichi, seeing this, realizes that it is Ume who has been giving him the money. Senkichi immediately denies this. Instead, he insists he has been working as a lone robber.

The next day, Otake visits Masa-san (Akitsu) and the Elder in place of Yaichi. The Elder questions the kind of person the leader of the Five Leaves. Akitsu voluntarily replies, “He is scary, but like a fallen leaf on a river.”

Senkichi has done the unthinkable. He told Denshichi where St. Soji lives. Ume immediately rushes into the woods. But Yaichi refuses to budge from the inn.

Denshichi appears, deranged, at the Elder’s place. He pulls out a dagger and tries to kill the Elder, but Akitsu defends him with his bare hands (and chopsticks). Otake immediately retrieves his katana and passes it to Akitsu. The moment Akitsu gets his sword, he disarms an unsuspecting Denshichi. Senkichi ambushes him, and stabs him with a cleaver thereby killing him.

He apologizes to the Elder for having troubled him. But, he promises that he will leave Edo for good with his wife and daughter. With his admittance of wrong-doing, the Elder knows that he has become a changed man. Senkichi is no longer a criminal at heart, much like Ume and Akitsu. He pulls out what little savings he has left and gives it to him. “It’s not much, but take it.”

After all is said and done, Ume bows in respect to Akitsu, thanking him for saving the Elder’s life. They wondered then if Denshichi told his gang about the Elder’s hideout and Ume’s tavern. Otake finally speaks, “That is why Yaiichi never left the inn. He was staying behind to protect Okinu while Matsu went on his intel mission.”

The next day, Yaichi finally visits the Elder while Akitsu readies to leave the woods. Upon seeing him, Soji realizes why Yaichi has never shown up before.

“It was you.”

May 27, 2010, Episode 7: Thoughtless of Me

Ume had told Yaichi that Akitsu was losing weight and wanting to return home, to get him to visit the Elder. Upon seeing him, the Elder realizes that he knows who Yaichi is. He immediately warns him that Kuhei of Bakuro will be released from their sentence soon. The Bakuro was a band of thieves that were caught but Yaichi managed to escape. They will come for him soon.

As Akitsu walks home to Edo with Yaichi, they speak of his past, which Yaichi promptly changes the subject to, telling him that he doesn’t care for his past.

Akitsu too wishes he can forget about his past and return home, as he strolls to a Shrine one day. There, he meets a group of samurais who he first bumped into while “interviewing” with Yaichi. They call for a face-off with wooden swords, as he trembles and remembers his past where his younger brother was ashamed of his cowardice at court. He runs away instead of meeting them head on.

“Not to worry about what is done,” Yagi surprises Akitsu. “You’re just as you appear, a leaf picker.” As they chat, Yagi wonders why Akitsu doesn’t just train in dojos. It seems Akitsu doesn’t like the crowd. Fine then. Train at his dojo and spar just with him alone. Akitsu wants Yaichi’s composure and confidence, but not necessarily his previous life.

The next day, Akitsu visits the Elder baring gifts. The Elder immediately knows he is seeking information on Yaichi, but he will not break a man’s vow of secrecy, especially when Yaichi knowingly came to visit him. He does however warn Akitsu to be careful of Yaichi, even if he has left his past behind him.

Back at the Katsuraya, the lady of the house challenges Akitsu with a duel with Yaichi, after learning that he ran away from a challenge earlier. Even though Yaichi carries only a dagger, Akitsu is oddly tense around him. Maybe he is really loosing his touch and needs to be retrained.

Akitsu visits Yagi the next day to take him up on his offer, but Yagi is on his way to the graves. He visits random people, a son of a neighbor who died of an epidemic, and a friend who accidentally fell into a well, named Yaiichi.

Back in Edo, Matsukichi visits an old man and gives him money. He tells him that there are only two people he will forever be indebted to for the rest of his life. The old man is one of them.


June 3, 2010, Episode 8: Deeply Indebted to 2 People

After another spat with Ume, Matsu promises not to return to the inn again. Okinu prepares a fresh batch of pickles for him, as Ume tells Akitsu to run after him with it, as this will be his last time near the inn. Akitsu runs after him, only to get lost on the way, but finally reaches Matsu at his place of work, the craftsman’s shop. He drops off the pickles from Okinu and begins to chat, but Matsu is on his way out – with some money.

Matsu meets with the old man, who he gives the money to. The man seemed troubled. A few days ago, a rival candle-maker, Otsuya, visited his place. After they left, he noticed that his wooden plaques are missing. Even as the old man warns Matsu not to concern himself with his problems, Matsu heads out that night. After the rival owner retires for the night, he enters the room to search for the plaques. Unfortunately for him, they were expecting someone from Kikuya. They throw him into the storage room, to figure out how to use him to blackmail the Kikuya owner later.

Back at the Katsuraya, Yaichi asks if Akitsu has been to the dojo for training since the last time. No, but he begins to tell him about Yagi, the dojo owner. He doesn’t know if he’s a good swordsman, but he’s definitely got sharp eyes. Yaichi voices his concern about the man.

The next day, Yaichi and Akitsu realize that the habitual and consistent Matsu is missing from his everyday routine. They happen upon Yagi at a restaurant, and the moment Yagi sees Yaichi, he calls him a gangster. Yagi comments to Akitsu that Yaichi looks surprisingly like his dead friend.

Another day passes, and Matsu still hasn’t shown up. Ume goes with Akitsu to check on him. At Matsu’s abode, they see a boy peeking into his room. They questions him only to realize that the boy’s master is looking for him. Ume and Akitsu meet the master of Kikuya candle store and are debriefed. Could Matsu be caught? Without Matsu around, they really have no one to do the recon missions. They will have to wait and see.

A long time ago, Matsu’s child was very sick and needed money for medicines. The owner of Kikuya loaned him the money and Matsu has since been slowly repaying the loan.

Akitsu meets Yagi again and after Yagi suggests another bodyguard job, Akitsu seizes the opportunity. Akitsu goes in, as planned, as the new hire of Otsuya place and finds a badly beaten Matsu (for trying to escape). When no one is looking, Akitsu will spring him from his confinements.

Looks like Matsu will be indebted to three people from now on.

June 10, 2010, Episode 9: Come to Rescue You

The captured Matsu will be used as a pawn against the Kikuya owner, when he visit the Otsuya owner that night. However, Matsu tries to escape again but is met with another bodyguard who promptly gives him a sound beating. Akitsu steps in to save him. As he is forced to bind Matsu again, he promises that even he is usually untrustworthy, he will definitely save Matsu that night (seizing the opportunity that the master is not around). That night, after knocking the guard out, Akitsu rescues Matsu and carries the weakened Matsu to Ume’s inn.

“How shameful it is to be always saved by others,” Matsu says dejectedly.

Akitsu corrects him, that he is not shameful (unlike him), but more reckless. Then again, Akitsu is being mighty reckless on this night, but the members of the Five Leaves have become precious friends to him. After leaving Matsu in Ume and Okinu’s care, Akitsu runs back to the Otsuya abode before the master returns. As Ume tends to Matsu’s needs, they talk about his child.

Akitsu, who just left, has returned, with the Kitsuya owner who was very worried about Matsu. Akitsu couldn’t returned to the Otsuya place because there was police in the area, based on a report of a break in. Now the Kitsuya owner really frets about his misplaced/stolen wooden tags as people will know that he is irresponsible. But Yagi, acting with the police, has got the tags instead (he probably was the one who reported the break-in at Otsuya). Akitsu is soon fired, once again, as a bodyguard as he let a thief escape, but Yagi returns the wooden tags of Kitsuya to him.

The next time Matsu sees Akitsu, he gives him a hair adornment, which he made for someone but he missed his chance of giving it. Akitsu can give it to his younger sister. Matsu then meets with  Yaichi, and tells him about Yagi, the Chief Commander of the Police force. The Five Leaves would have to be extra cautious from now on.

Meanwhile, Akitsu’s younger sister, Sachi, runs away from home after a marriage arrangement was made on her behalf. She tracks Akitsu to his old place of residence, but is told that another woman now resides there, Otake. Sachi then finds Otake at Ume’s inn, who then tells her that Akitsu now works at a brothel house as a bodyguard. Sachi then takes up residence with Otake (assuming at first that she was Akitsu’s girlfriend). Akitsu finds her and finally gives her the hair ornament made by Matsu.

As Matsu investigates a possible target, Akitsu is called in to meet with Yaichi. Akitsu is forbidden from mixing with Yagi for the time being, until the job is complete, since he is unable to lie with a straight face.

Elsewhere, someone is meeting with Tokojirou-san, asking about St. Soji. The man wants to know the whereabouts of the guy who sold out the Bakuro gang.

June 17, 2010, Episode 10: A Dirty Stray Cat

The owner of Katsuraya is growing concern over Yaichi stranger and more elusive behavior.

Akitsu begins to learn about Yagi’s past with more visits to the graveside.

June 24, 2010, Episode 11: Pardon Me

The members of the Five Leaves have really done it this time! They kidnapped the son of a retainer to the Shogun, the Kanou family. They, however, did not bring the victim to stash at the Elder’s. After this job, they will disband. They really have no need for the money, as they all have other means of attaining it through a much legal and safer way. The only person left is Yaichi, with his unknown reasons for continuing such an operation.

On the night of the drop off, the Kanou family’s representative bring only half the ransom money. The family has requested that the hostage not be returned, as he is not the true heir. The Five Leaves would have to get rid of him, and hide the shame of the family or the family will reveal who the Five Leaves is to the press. It seems that the mother had an affair with another man, and the result of that is this boy who has become the only victim to this. He is told that he is no longer wanted by his family.

While the rest feels sorry for him, Yaichi laughs at the irony of the situation. Akitsu follows Yaichi, and blurts out, “You were kidnapped when you were young.” Yaichi preaches to the others to live in the present and not the past, but he holds on to his past. Akitsu then tells him about a grave site he has visited recently. The grave of Yaichi.

Yaichi walks into the woods with Akitsu hot on his trail. He heads towards the Kanou residence. But, they are waylaid by Jin, who attacks them.

A few days back, Ume and Okinu visited the Elder. While there, they met a guest of the Elder, Jin of Senoshin Bakuro.

A long time ago, during a walk back to their residence, St. Soji and his bodyguard was attacked by a group of youngsters, not knowing who he was. When they realized their mistake, their head honcho speaks on their behalf asking for forgiveness. Being a kind man, St. Soji only requested that the punishment be the lost of Ryu’s baby finger. As Jin prepares his sworn brother for the punishment, a stoically young “Yaichi” deals out the judgment. However, instead of cutting off a pinky, Yaichi lops off the Ryu’s head, much to Jin’s surprise.


July 1, 2010, Episode 12: Already Wasted

Yaichi has been reminiscing lately. Maybe he’s getting soft. But then, he’s also very drunk. So drunk that when Yagi, the police chief, cajoles him for more drinks he follows suit.

Yaichi remembers his old servant telling him his burnt scar is as beautiful as a leaf. However, his world crumbles when his stepmother becomes pregnant with an heir to the family. Yagi tells Yaichi that he once had a neighbor, the Saegusa family, who had a male servant named Yaichi too. Because they were barren, they adopted a boy named Seinoshin. One day, the young boy dies, purportedly from an epidemic. Soon after that, Yaichi the servant fell into a well and drowned. Yagi was suspicious but when the heir to the Saegusa died too and the family left town, Yagi could not longer investigate the matter.

Yaichi stumbles into the forest, and remembers the night he was kidnapped. The kidnappers, of the Bakuro gang lead by Jin, tells Yaichi it was his stepmother who planned his abduction. Jin wanted Seinoshin to join them, but he insists on going back home to Yaichi. Jin had no choice but to tell him it was Yaichi who hired him.

Present day Yaichi stops at a bridge by the river and meets Jin. Jin tells Yachi that Monji is dead too (one of the members of the Bakuro gang). Perhaps Sei(noshin) killed him too. It wasn’t enough that Sei sold out the entire gang to the police, he had to kill them too. As a parting “gift,” Jin tells Yaichi that he never knew the name of the man who hired him to kidnap Seinoshin. Yaichi snaps into reality and blood is quickly spilled.

Jin’s last words to Yaichi was, “If I didn’t say that, you would have been killed.” With that, he keels over and falls into the river dead.

Meanwhile, the members of Five Leaves worry about Yaichi disappearance. He has yet to return to Katsuraya. Matsu and Akitsu heads out to look for Yaichi in the snow.

Yaichi wanders around and stumbles upon the grave site of the original Yaichi. He cleans it off the falling snow and suddenly remembers how kind his old servant was. When Akitsu finally finds Yaichi, he is weeping mournfully. After a while, Yaichi leaves.

Akitsu finally gets to Ume’s tavern hoping that Yaichi would be in there. Unfortunately, he is not. Finally Matsu arrives that tells them there will be another job after the New Year’s. Yaichi had oddly asked if they would help with it this time. Yagi finally enters Ume’s tavern as a customer and not one investigating the Five Leaves. Akitsu heads out to find Yaichi. He finds him at the shrine and offers him a dango, as when they first met.

Their roles are now reversed.

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