Saraiya Goyou – House of Five Leaves 7: the SAD samurai

May 30, 2010

Otake doesn't get much screen time this episode.

Episode 7 of Saraya Goyou (House of Five Leaves) is subtly revealing. As expected from the close of last week’s episode, we do learn more about Yaichi, but what we do learn, only adds more mystery. Instead we get unexpected insight into Masanosuke and Yagi, the older samurai Masa has met a few times. Of course, this being the middle of the series, even these revelations mostly add fuel to the fire, complicating, in particular, the central question of whether Masa can make it in old Edo.

Winter has come.

I was starting to think Masanosuke’s problem is that he suffers from Asperger’s Syndrome. He certainly has poor social skills, something that has been shown over and over throughout the series, and especially in the last episode, for example when the Elder says, “You just say whatever comes to mind, don’t you?” In this episode, Yaichi’s question to Masa is “Did you not get that I changed the subject?” A common symptom of Asperger’s syndrome is an inability to pick up on the subtler aspects of communication.

Stupid reason for a fight anyways.

This episode reveals another problem. Masanosuke suffers from severe panic attacks, most likely Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD). Asperger’s can coincide with SAD, or it is possible that Masa’s SAD prevented him from learning proper social skills. At any rate, we finally know why Masa refused to go back to his hometown. His panic attacks were considered shameful, including by members of his own family. Now a similar panic attack has the owner of the Katsura-ya wondering if he is worth keeping around. By the end of the episode Masa is doubting his own abilities (although this is a common SAD symptom).

Don't let the darkness overtake you, Masa.

On the other hand we have Yaichi. Masa admires Yaichi’s composure, but it seems to have come at a great price. The Elder did know Yaichi, but he flatly refuses to discuss the matter in detail with Masanosuke. He does warn Masa to keep an eye on him, however. Yaichi, himself confesses to Masa that he was part of the gang run by Kuhei of Bakuro. Since Yaichi was the only member of that gang to not go to prison, or be executed, there is some concern that Yaichi might betray the members of the Five Leaves. Yaichi is difficult to understand. He seems to genuinely care for people, including Masa, but he also comes off as absolutely cold. He easily adopts a fierce fighting spirit whether confronting stranger or friend. There’s no question why Masa would envy some things about him, but what is Yaichi looking for in Masa? Does he admire his openness?


If looks could kill...

By the way, with the exception of the ED, I think the music in this show is quite excellent. The background music adds to the tension where it needs to, and then conveys a sense of relaxed sophistication at other times that seems perfectly suited to this depiction of life in Edo. Some people have complained about the sound of an accordion being jarring, but I find that theme quite enjoyable, and complainers rarely seem to acknowledge that that song and others feature shamisen. But it’s the OP to this show, Sign of Love, by immi, that really grows on me more each week.

Unexpectedly, we get some interesting information from Yagi, the older samurai that Masa has met several times. Masa is very open with him, and Yagi encourages this, extending an invitation to train together. Of course this is the way Masa behaves in general, whether it stems from Asperger’s Syndrome, or just an unfamiliarity with the way people behave around each other. Yagi, so far, hasn’t offered up very much information about himself, but Masa talks openly about his shame regarding his own behavior, and his admiration for Yaichi. As Yagi puts it, Masanosuke is “the kind of guy who is just as he appears.” But what about Yagi? Is it safe for Masa to have frank discussions with him? Especially when Masa is involved with an illegal enterprise, and he doesn’t know much about Yagi? Yagi takes Masa to the grave of a friend of his, named Yaichi. Coincidence?

2 Responses to “Saraiya Goyou – House of Five Leaves 7: the SAD samurai”

  1. ojisan Says:

    Sounds like you’re enjoying this show as much as I am. It’s fun to see how Masa’s ineptness and bluntness make him a loose cannon in a society where everyone, even the young daughter, knows the value of discretion as exactly as the price of rice by weight. For a while I got impatient to see his blundering excellence with the sword come to the front again – now I’ve practically forgotten that swordfighting is on the menu.

    • Joojoobees Says:

      Wow, that’s a really good way of putting it. Masa really is a bull in the china-shop of society.

      There were a couple of times when Okinu demonstrated the tact you mention just in the last episode (that is, ep. 6): first she sees her father troubled when his old gang-member shows up, but she doesn’t ask about it, and secondly, when she tries hinting to Yaichi that her father might need help, and accepts his apparently uncooperative response without (verbal) comment.

      I’m sure Masa would have openly commented if he were in these situations. It is an unusual source of tension, especially in a samurai setting.

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