Rokka: Braves of the Six Flowers
by Gabriella Ekens,
How would you rate episode 10 of
Rokka: Braves of the Six Flowers ?
So I made a few mistakes last week. First, I said that the Rokka: Braves of the Six Flowers light novels would conclude after seven planned volumes. That's incorrect. Six volumes are out now, and if they've announced an endpoint, that information isn't available in English. Sorry. Furthermore, I took Nachetanya at her word about Hans calling her Princess way back when he first appeared. If you go back and watch the fourth and fifth episodes, this does not happen. Nachetanya is lying, and I fell for it. Now the question is "why?"
Whose strange behavior is more suspicious? Is it Nachetanya's lie or Maura's insistence on Adlet's guilt? While I see how Maura's actions may benefit the group in her own mind, Nachetanya's lie would just confuse them further. That's the opposite of what a Brave should want. In hindsight, everything she's said in Goldov's company has been just ambiguous enough to make sense if she both is and isn't the Seventh. While Nachetanya's freakout in this episode could be read as a response to Adlet's “betrayal,” it also works as a fallback for her original plan to kill him. In this light, her actions over the past two episodes seem like her wavering on whether or not to use him as a scapegoat. Maybe she's developed some affection for Adlet or thinks that he could be a useful pawn – who knows? She just wants to take Hans out now, and she needs to get Goldov to support her on that. However, when Maura makes her false announcement, Nachetanya thinks that Adlet has blown her chance to save him. So she gets mad and runs off to kill him. It doesn't help that she's more than a little unhinged at this point.
I'm now 100% convinced that Nachetanya is guilty. I was always hoping that she'd be the one. Sure, I've engaged with other potential suspects, but clues and probability aside, this is the best narrative direction that Rokka could take. Otherwise the second episode, which is largely dedicated to characterizing her, would have been narrative dead weight. Goldov's character is also building up to some sort of moral choice over her fate. Hans and Maura fulfilled roles as convincing red herrings, but my suspicions toward Nachetanya have largely been based on her increasingly evil-looking facial expressions, rather than much in-mystery evidence. These metatextual hints do keep the reveal from feeling like a gotcha. The most dispiriting thing for me as a reviewer is when a show betrays my faith. I may have developed some trust issues in the past (et tu Plastic Memories), but like Flamie, I've finally come around to Rokka.
Speaking of Flamie, Adlet finally coaxed her over to his side for real. Of all things, it just took an honest confession of love. Adlet realizes that he's loved Flamie from the moment he saw her, and that's been motivating him to protect her. Okay, I can't contradict this exactly, but I'm not sure how I feel about it. “Love at first sight” seems like a convenient motivation for this show, which has previously avoided the convenient solution whenever possible, but we'll see where this goes. It's not that they don't have chemistry – I want Adlet and Flamie together and expected it to happen eventually. This is just too sudden. Otherwise, Flamie's reaction is emotionally realistic. First, she redoubles her efforts to kill Adlet, reflecting the depth of her trauma. She's convinced that he's trying to hurt her, and she refuses to let herself care about another person, to the point of denying her blossoming feelings towards him. As Adlet keeps making sacrifices on her behalf, however, she eventually gives in, running away from Maura with Adlet.
We also finally get to see Maura's powers as the Saint of Mountains. It's no “regurgitate Eldritchian gobstoppers to overwhelm your prey,” but she does has an impressively versatile skillset. For one thing, she can communicate across great distances by harnessing the power of mountainous echoes. (It's one-way though, kind of like a magical PA system.) Secondly, she has enough super-strength to knock down trees with ease. Unlike the rest of the Brave Saints, Maura's abilities are short-range, so Adlet isn't in too much trouble until she gets right up in his face – which she does. Fortunately, Flamie is on his side by that point, and she manages to draw Maura away from him.
This means that Rokka's going for some parallel construction with the two couples. Nachetanya/Goldov is a coercive pairing, where Nachetanya manipulates Goldov's affections to get him to act in a certain way. Goldov is a puppet, and his feelings are the strings. Adlet/Flamie, by contrast, is a pairing based on truth, trust, and selfless concern for the other's safety. They're the “good” pair to Nachetanya/Goldov's “bad” one. I do wonder what role Goldov will eventually play. He's by far the least developed of the Braves, and while he serves an important purpose as Nachetanya's cover, he's the most superfluous element in an otherwise tightly-plotted story. You've surprised me before, Rokka. Let's see you make this work.
Rokka: Braves of the Six Flowers is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
Gabriella Ekens studies film and literature at a US university. Follow her on twitter.
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