Rokka: Braves of the Six Flowers
by Gabriella Ekens,
How would you rate episode 5 of
Rokka: Braves of the Six Flowers ?
For an episode that consisted almost entirely of people standing around a room and talking, a whole bunch of interesting stuff went down. The Braves have finally gathered and realized that one of their number – seven rather than six – is likely a mole. They've also been trapped inside the temple grounds via a barrier, which could only have been activated by someone on the premises. Their reunion has gotten off to a bad start to say the least, with a mad scramble to find the traitor. Flamie's tied up, Nachetanya's having a breakdown, and two of the new Braves really like killing people. So much fun! (Also, Crunchyroll changed the spelling of Nachetanya's name again. Forgive me if I'm behind on the most current romanization.)
Some quick profiles of the new Braves:
Chamot Rosso, the Saint of Swamps and Brave Light Green. She's the youngest Brave and the most powerful Saint since the Single Flower herself. She survived an encounter with Flamie in the past, or to be more accurate, Flamie survived an encounter with her. She seems prone to violent solutions. Maura, as the leader of the Saints, can generally control her.
Maura Chester, the Saint of Mountains and Brave Indigo. She's the leader of the Saints, charged with making sure that they don't abuse their powers. Since she's a seasoned leader, she immediately takes charge of the group.
Hans Humpty, cat-man assassin and Brave Purple. Nobody's ever heard about him, and he likes it that way. He's an expert infiltrator, kills people for money, and learned his distinct fighting style from watching cats. He also wears a fake(?) tail and meows. He's the best character, and he's also such a transparently bad guy that it has to be a red herring. (Or does it…?)
We also get Flamie's backstory. She's a half-human and half-fiend being, created by fiends to aid in awakening the Demon God. She worked for her fiend mother as the Brave Killer, but something in the recent past made her turn traitor. As proof of this, she reveals her obscured right eye – which pulsates red in a fiendish fashion – and the scar where a horn was removed from her forehead. I trust Flamie. Her actions don't make it seem like she's trying to hurt the team's cause. She could've easily eliminated Adlet when they were alone, and she barely tries to defend herself in the face of accusations. This does, however, explain where the flying fiends got those bombs: she probably made them a huge supply.
This also suggests that fiends are intelligent. We saw them speak and execute a trap last episode, but Flamie's story suggests that they might have a society and culture. They aren't just monsters. So what are they? An alternate race? Why are they so opposed to humans? What IS the Demon God? Something tells me that this battle between good and evil isn't as cut-and-dry as it's been made out.
(Interestingly, Flamie is subtly implied to have been successful in trimming down the Brave pool, since three out of the seven here are men. Previous sets of Braves were all or mostly Saints, and Saints can only be women.)
The episode ends with Hans pinning Adlet as the one who activated the barrier, making him the false Brave. Now, the audience knows that this can't be true because we were around both when Adlet got his mark (in a thoroughly Chosen One-esque fashion) and entered the temple (to an already activated barrier.) So we know that Hans is wrong, but we don't know who the real culprit is or how they did it. This is where the mystery comes in. How will Adlet clear his name, and can we figure out the solution beforehand?
To help us decipher this, let's run down everything that happened between the group splitting up to all seven Braves gathering in the temple:
1. At Nachetanya's prompting, Adlet runs ahead, leaving Nachetanya, Goldov, and Flamie to take care of some fiends.
2. He reaches the temple, where an injured woman tells him to open the door. Adlet bombs it open.
3. Adlet takes down the mechanized guards. The woman transforms into a fiend, and Adlet realizes that he's been tricked. At this point, he also turns his back on the door.
4. Adlet enters the temple and realizes that the seal has been activated.
5. Flamie, Goldov, and Nachetanya enter the temple together.
6. Chamot enters the temple.
7. Maura enters the temple.
8. Hans enters the temple
Based on this information, I think it was Hans. Sure, he looked like the last to enter, but he's also a self-acknowledged master at sneaking in and out of places. It seems like he could've easily gotten in while Adlet's back was turned, activated the seal, and hid until he could make his reappearance at the doorway. He's also been leading the conversation, making the case against Adlet, and planting the idea that the seventh Brave has to be an enemy. However, I don't think this means that he's the false Brave. It's an unfounded assumption that the fake and the person who activated the seal are the same person, and Hans looks like too obvious a bad guy to pull off a long term dupe. So I think he's trying to gather information on his fellow Braves by luring them into a high-pressure situation where they'll be compelled to disclose information about themselves. Maybe he even got advance word of the extra Brave's existence and wants to get a drop on them. Maybe we should all thank Hans Humpty, the friendly cat-man assassin. Or I could be completely wrong.
Either way, this is Rokka's opportunity to test its chops as a mystery story. Will I be able to use previously established information to infer what went down? Or will the answer have been undiscoverable beforehand? It wouldn't be a failure if the show decided not to be a mystery – it already has a solid cast, worldbuilding, and stakes – but these two genres mix so rarely that I'm eager to see what comes out of it.
I'm glad that the animation improved this week. The last episode looked really bad, with characters off-model in every shot that wasn't a close up. This had a little bit of that problem, but it was overall much cleaner. It was also quite visually engaging for an episode that took place almost entirely in One Room. It's hard to make talking heads engaging, but Rokka manages it through creative cinematography and smart blocking. How the characters occupy space around the central pedestal is important, because it says things about their personality and relationship with the group that they may not be willing to express with words. For example, both Chamot and Hans play around in their space. This indicates that they feel in control and uninhibited – or it could mean that they're good at hiding their insecurities. Nachetanya, Goldov, and Flamie confine themselves to a corner. They're on the defensive, since their silence could damn them more than anything else. (Flamie was almost killed for not speaking up for herself.)
I also really like the idea of Saints. This episode introduces powers from the Saint of Salt and Saint of Glyphs. The Salt Saint appears to have made fiend-repellant pillars, while the Glyph Saint specialized in automatons and esoteric traps. It's a nice change of pace from the typical array of elemental powers, where one person gets fire, another water, another air, earth, ice, light, darkness, etc. etc. This is much more fun. Can't wait to see what Chamot's powers do.
The opening and ending are different now. This is unusual for the fifth episode. The song is now angrier and there's some new and darker-looking footage. The shots of all seven Braves clothed and baring their marks have been replaced with them doing the same, but nude. I presume this means we're going to get down to some real mystery solving, baring true intentions, unobscured by external appearances. The ending is now Nachetanya pinup drawings, but there are some hints at her past and the suggestion of a diametrically opposed relationship between Adlet and Goldov over her.
Wow. I didn't expect to write so much on this one episode, but the words kept spilling out. I hadn't realized how many plates this show was spinning until I had to sit down and chart them out. By episode five, Rokka –Braves of the Six Flowers- is already packing an astounding amount of significance into every action, and I'm deeply invested. I didn't realize how great this show was turning out until I had to think about this episode extensively. It's earned a high grade.
Gabriella Ekens studies film and literature at a US university. Follow her on twitter.
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