Rokka: Braves of the Six Flowers
Episode 4

by Gabriella Ekens,

How would you rate episode 4 of
Rokka: Braves of the Six Flowers ?

It's time for Rokka: Braves of the Six Flowers to reveal its real premise. When the time comes for the ultimate showdown of ultimate destiny, seven braves arrive instead of six. It can't just be a change-up - their logo has six petals on it. The group immediately concludes that there's a traitor in their midst. There's no way of telling who, though. Everyone has the mark. So they continue on their journey as comrades, with the knowledge that any member can and will eventually betray them. Yikes.

That's why I was treating the characters like suspects in previous write-ups. Because they are, which makes Rokka: Braves of the Six Flowers is a hybrid fantasy adventure/mystery. The situation is like a game of Mafia – an undetectable enemy has infiltrated the group. While everyone knows that there's an enemy present, nobody knows who it is. With one infiltrator, everyone becomes a potential enemy, and thus untrustworthy. The group's dynamics are shot. This is such an intriguing, simple setup that I'm surprised it hasn't been combined with genre fiction more often. It's guaranteed to strike up a conversation and provoke engagement.

It's a cruel irony that the episode begins with an act of trust. Following last episode's confrontation, Adlet convinces Nashetanya to spare Flamie's life after she's identified as the Brave Killer. Flamie – silent about her motivations – invites confrontation, and it seems like they might kill each other then and there. Adlet, however, has faith in both the Goddess and Flamie. He argues that the Goddess wouldn't have selected a Brave who wouldn't be needed for taking down the Demon God. He stakes his life on this, positioning himself between Flamie's gunfire and Nashetanya's blades. Trusting Adlet, Nashetanya backs down, and Flamie is accepted as a member of the group, for now. Although Nasthetanya remains suspicious of Flamie, the princess ends up convincing Chamo, another Brave, to spare Flamie's life. This act is immediately followed up by the revelation that there are seven Braves. This episode is punctuated by incidents of misplaced faith. Adlet enters the temple because he's compelled to by a fiend disguised as an injured woman. It's a trap that he could have avoided with a little more discretion and a little less faith. Will Flamie turn out the same way?

Goldov's feelings for Nashetanya are getting more obvious. After Adlet convinces her to spare Flamie, Goldov confronts him about their relationship. It's hasn't taken very long for Adlet and Nashetanya to become close, and Goldov might be a touch jealous, even if he doesn't want to show it. Adlet sees through this and reassures Goldov, but the warrior still remains possessive of Nashetanya and standoffish towards Adlet. I'm sure these complex character dynamics will play into the mystery.

Our new Braves are Chamo Rosso, Maura Chester, and Hans Humpty. Chamo is a little girl and, apparently, the most powerful saint since the Single Flower herself. Maura Chester is a mature woman, the Mountain Saint, and some sort of authority in Rokka's world. Hans Humpty is...uh...strange. He's the most intriguing of the three new Braves, being a sort of ragged, animalistic purple dude. He's also the one to suggest that the extra Brave must be a traitor. He jumped to a conclusion that will doubtlessly sow chaos among the ranks awfully quick. Suspicious. I'm excited for all of them, though. The new additions seem like they'll balance out our cast, which otherwise consists of teens. I'll profile them in greater detail next week, once we've gotten to know them a bit better.

While Rokka's design continues to shine, the production has begun to struggle. Characters go off model in most long shots. There were also compositing issues throughout. During Adlet and Goldov's conversation, the lighting on characters doesn't match the background. This will all probably be cleaned up for Blu-ray.

This was more setup for what looks like it'll be a fascinating conflict of personalities and motivations. The production hiccups are unfortunate, but in terms of potential narrative sophistication, Rokka feels like the most promising show this season. Can't wait for more.

Grade: B+

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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