Rokka: Braves of the Six Flowers
by Gabriella Ekens,
How would you rate episode 11 of
Rokka: Braves of the Six Flowers ?
When we left off last week, Nachetanya was about to kill Adlet as a response to his alleged betrayal. The bunnygirl went berserk and shot psychic blades off at her former friend. It turns out that Nachetanya is pretty tough when she's not feeling intimidated by the prospect of battle, even bloodthirsty. She manages to fight him into a corner, nearly dealing a killing bow, before Adlet can turn the tables. However, when Goldov arrives and starts beating on Adlet, it looks like things are pretty much over for our hero.
It all works out, however. Adlet lures them to the clearing where Nachetanya, Goldov, and Flamie fought off some fiends way back in the fourth episode. Before Goldov can finish Adlet off, a conspicuously not-injured Hans arrives to disprove Maura's accusation. Goldov holds off, and Adlet is finally able to explain himself to everyone at the same time. Maura admits to having lied, and they all listen to Adlet's theory. Remember the Sun Saint? No? That's understandable, since she was mentioned exactly once around the fifth episode. Way back when, Maura said that she'd been missing for about a month. What's the deal with that? Flamie couldn't have been behind it – she stopped hunting Saints six months ago after failing to take out Chamot. So what happened to the Sun Saint?
Well, Adlet proposes, the fiends kidnapped her as part of a sinister plot. Previously on Rokka, Adlet wracked his brains trying to figure out how the Seventh could've conjured a bunch of fog. (To recap, the Seventh made it look like the fog barrier had been activated before they entered the temple. Once inside, they activated it for real via the secret method.) While there isn't a Saint whose direct power is instantaneously summoning fog, there is one who could do so indirectly: the Sun Saint. You see, Adlet knows science. He realizes that a sudden drop in temperature causes water vapor in the air to condense, resulting in fog. The area around the temple was unusually hot and humid when they arrived. As soon as he broke open the door, the temperature dropped, and it's never been that hot again. Adlet theorizes that fiends kidnapped the Sun Saint, forced her to raise the area's temperature, and killed her the moment Adlet broke into the temple, all in an effort to frame him.
The others are skeptical, but Adlet still has an ace up his sleeve – her body must be somewhere in the area. He thinks it's probably in this field of fiend corpses, based on evidence that I don't find all that convincing. (Hide a body in a field of bodies? Why not burn it or something? Whatever. The show just needs to prove that Adlet is right.) Hans then slices open a fiend's belly to pull out a dead old lady! Bingo! Maura, at last convinced of Adlet's innocence, apologizes to him. But there's still the issue of pinning down the Seventh. Adlet claims to know, but he passes out before he can say who it is, and the screen cuts to black. Can't find out before the last episode!
In the end, it looks like Rokka created a successful mystery. While the whodunit is still technically up in the air, the howdunnit is over. While some people may not like the fact that the Sun Saint was barely mentioned in-show, I find that to be an excusable tradeoff to making the mystery even somewhat difficult. The show did what it needed to and resolved the locked-room mystery without resorting to deus ex machina. The clues were all in place beforehand, and Adlet wasn't working with much that the audience didn't also have access to. You'd think that this would be a basic rule of mystery writing, but it's a common disappointment for these things to cop out at the last minute. Rokka didn't, and I respect that.
Unfortunately, the production has blown up again. It's expected at this point. This is the penultimate episode, and presumably they're saving up resources for the climactic finale. For now, however, this may be Rokka's worst looking episode yet. Nachetanya's combat scenes seem to be animated entirely on tweens, while every shot that isn't an extreme close-up features something garishly off model. By now, there's not much I can say about this show's animation besides docking the grade a bit every time it goes to hell again. I'm eager to see how much they fix it up for the blu rays. Rokka's direction and art design continue to be great, and I'd love to see how this show looks when the characters don't look like Picasso paintings.
Overall, this episode mostly served to tie up loose ends before the finale. There wasn't much interesting character work, just Adlet finally getting a chance to explain himself to all of the Braves. It was sweet to see Flamie looking out for him. They're a cute couple, even if their romance is a little dubiously convenient. There is one small plot hole – I don't think we learned how Hans was able to convince Chamot to follow him to the clearing. The swamp-child seems pretty intractable, especially when subject to Maura's word. But in the grand scheme of how this show could've messed up, this is a minor issue. Rokka has nailed its mechanics as a mystery, and now it's time to see how it reveals its culprit. Will it be Maura, psycho-princess Nachetanya, or some dark horse?
Gabriella Ekens studies film and literature at a US university. Follow her on twitter.
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