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Anime You Should Be Watching

Anime Vice community member sickVisionz is back with another list of anime you should be watching.

This week I've decided to focus on one fairly recent series, and another one from a year ago.  In some ways the two are ironic opposites: a samurai anime with almost no action or swordplay and a series about librarians that's overflowing with violence and death.  Without further ado... 

House of Five Leaves (Hulu Link)

The Basics 

House 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 Anime

Reluctant 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.
 
 Akitsu
 Akitsu

Why I Like It

I 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  
The dialog between characters is a highlight of the series
The dialog between characters is a highlight of the series
feel the need to completely fill in every single detail of what the other characters are doing. 
 
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 Basics 

The Book of Bantorra 
The Book of Bantorra 
Book 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 Anime

The first FullMetal Alchemist series with Revy from Black Lagoon.   

Why I Like It 

First 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:   
 Always a lady of the utmost distinction    
 Always a lady of the utmost distinction   

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.  

 Intense action, at no expense to the story
 Intense action, at no expense to the story

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.
Catolfon July 8, 2010 at 7:17 p.m.
defiantly have to check these out!
sotyfan16on July 8, 2010 at 9:38 p.m.

Haven;t got around to The Book of Bantorra yet but I watched the first episode of Five Leaves when it came out. Seemed like an interesting series but I've been sticking to FUNi's other acquisition: Rainbow.

FoxxFireArt moderator on July 9, 2010 at 12:09 a.m.
House of Five Leaves Looks like a very lovely show. It's not something that I think I want to watch just yet. I may watch it eventually to give it a shot.
 
Book of Bontorra looks kind of cool. I may look into it more.
Gaseroon July 9, 2010 at 8:16 p.m.
I watched the first episodes of both. Neither resonating with my tastes so I'll pass. Maybe later I'll check out Bantora again if it turns out the series eventually gets good.
sickVisionz moderator on July 10, 2010 at 8:35 p.m.
@Gasero: I was browsing around for feedback on the shows and it seems like Bantorra is very much a love it or hate it series.  Check out another episode or two though.  I was pretty iffy on the series after the first episode but everything starts coming together around the end of the first arc (like episode 3 or 4).
zaldaron July 13, 2010 at 1:36 a.m.
I reviewed house of five leaves over on the banzai beat.  It is a really good show that you should all give another chance.  Definintly not samari shamploo but much better drawn characters and a wonderfuly done ending.  I will say I didn't like the art style all that much but it was definitely distinctive. 

Dig Deeper into House of Five Leaves

An out of work samurai in a depressed economy ends up working as a yojimbo/bodyguard for a gang of criminals and rogues called the Five Leaves gang.

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