House of Five Leaves (Hulu Link)
The BasicsHouse of Five Leaves is a story of the shy and passive masterless samurai Akitsu Masanosuke and his personal growth as a member of the Five Leaves, a five member gang that focuses on kidnapping and extortion of wealthy families during Japans's Edo-period.
Described in AnimeReluctant samurai Shinji Ikari is transported to the world of Shigurui, minus the constant gore and combat, and joins up with Robin Hood and his band of merry men.
Why I Like ItI fell in love with the story and all of the characters in the series, from the Shinji Ikari-like Akitsu to the Robin Hood-like Yaichi who takes him under his wing. The major characters have some genuinely interesting personalities that really shine all throughout the series. The interactions between them are always engaging to watch and numerous story lines put them into situations where their quirks and traits are on display, but never come off as forced.
I'm also impressed at how they're able to completely flesh out and develop a cast that includes about eight major players over the course of only 12 episodes; a lot of that has to do with the pacing and the way that the story is presented. The series often focuses on one character's role in the current storyline and doesn't
If you're looking for a short series that puts the emphasis on character development rather than action and a storyline that keeps you engaged from start to finish, House of Five Leaves is something you should definitely check out.
Book of Bantorra (Crunchyroll Link)
The BasicsBook of Bantorra follows the Armed Librarians, led by Hamyuts Meseta, as they battle against the in God’s Grace for control of books that are made from the souls of the dead and tell the story of their life.
Description in AnimeThe first FullMetal Alchemist series with Revy from Black Lagoon.
Why I Like ItFirst off, I love Hamyuts. She curses, she drinks, she smokes, she loves battle, she beats the crap out of people with a sling shot and she never thinks twice about any of it. In other words, she’s a complete bad ass and has a bigger pair than most guys in other anime. One scene stands out in particular:
She’s been drinking at a bar, gets into a fight with a future teammate and the battle ends with the guy falling on top of her in a sexual position. Normally, the guy’s face turns red and he runs off with a nosebleed or something but before that happens, Hamyuts looks at him and says, “Are you going to do me or what?” Always crass and always more dude than a dude. She's not the only stand out though. The other characters are interesting as well and at 27 episodes in length, each of them gets a few episodes that further explain who they are and where their motivations lie.
The story is pretty intriguing with several twists along the way, most of which I never saw coming and plentiful action that's always intense with appropriately bombastic music backing it up. Character death, betrayal and love lost are regular occurrences and they really made me connect with the cast and realize just how tough their lives are. I also enjoy the way in which stories are presented. There isn’t one massive overarching plot line but every story arc ties into the next and the events in past ones always have some sort of repercussions in the future, whether it’s immediate or a few arcs later. I wouldn’t describe it as slice-of-life, but the carryover between seemingly disconnected arcs really made me feel like these were the life and times of the Armed Librarians.
Whether you’re looking for baddassery and action or are interested in checking out a show with plenty of melodrama and heart-wrenching moments, Book of Bantorra delivers both elements in spades without one overshadowing the other.* sickVisionz is an Anime Vice community member and frequent contributor to the site.