As this third episode of House of Five Leaves kicks off, things seem to be looking up for Masa, as he finds himself with a reputable job as a bodyguard for a rice wholesaler thanks to Yaichi.
While life seems to be pretty simple and enjoyable for Masa in his new role, even allowing him time to befriend a young boy named Yutaro, thanks to his continuing naivety little does he realise that he's been set up by Yaichi once again to do their bidding, as the wholesaler in question is the next target of the House of Five Leaves, as they hope that having Masa on-hand as their opponents bodyguard will make collecting any reward money a simple task.
As the episode progresses however the plan changes, as the true parentage of the aforementioned boy Yutaro is revealed, meaning that he becomes the Five Leaves' target instead of the master of the establishment. Ironically, Masa's incompetence means that he's unable to even contemplate protecting his friend when push comes to shove, and as the demands state that the bodyguard must deliver the ransom payment he once more finds himself effectively in the employ of Yaichi and company.
After enjoying the first two episodes of House of Five Leaves quite a lot, I have to admit that I'm not quite so sure what to make of this effort - While watching Masa and his clumsy naivety is still fascinating in a strange sort of way, the rest of the episode felt a little disjointed as it followed its particular path. Certainly, there are some interesting goings-on here (not least some more revelations about Yaichi's past that are undoubtedly significant), but the story of Yutaro's friendship with Masa and his own feelings at being used yet again are never really delved into in anything approaching what you could call depth - Perhaps the downside of featuring such a submissive protagonist, I suspect. Still, House of Five Leaves does continue to offer something a little different from the norm and for that I still welcome it, but I do worry that the lax pacing of the series is going to see it run out of steam far too early. Hopefully episode four will prove me well and truly wrong.