Rokka: Braves of the Six Flowers
Episode 8

by Gabriella Ekens,

How would you rate episode 8 of
Rokka: Braves of the Six Flowers ?

Last week may have ended with Adlet's face on a collision course with Hans's sword, but true to his “strongest man” boasts, our hero manages to turn the situation around. Despite being thoroughly outfought by the genius cat-assassin, Adlet convinces Hans of his innocence by luring him into a trick and then sparing his life. Hans then plays a counter-gambit, claiming to be the Seventh and lunging towards Adlet. It was just a ploy, though – he was angling for Adlet's reaction, and when Adlet isn't confused by his claim (as the real Seventh would be), Hans finally accepts that Adlet's behavior doesn't make sense for a traitor. With relations suddenly friendly, they share a handshake as comrades, and Hans even admits that he was bothered by the fact that Adlet defended Flamie. Thanks for bringing it up now, dude. (Although who could stay mad at that face?)

These past few episodes have made me waffle on Nachetanya's guilt. She was sketchy as all hell in the beginning, but it still seems strange that she didn't jump on the “kill Adlet” bandwagon. That would be too convenient for the traitor. If she were the traitor, the only reason I can see her defending Adlet is if she wants an ally down the road. She seems to have a habit of emotionally involving herself with men in order to control them, and she also seems to thinks that she's sown those seeds in Adlet. It might be more convenient for her to eliminate a more threatening Brave instead, like Hans. On the other hand, she might be playing up her attachment to Adlet in order to rile up Goldov. Nachetanya is the most duplicitous character, so it's hard to tell what she might be after at any given moment.

Maura, meanwhile, is getting up there in suspicious behavior. Alongside Hans, she was the one who planted the idea that the extra Brave must be a traitor and began the witch hunt. (Actually, she was with Hans before reaching the temple, so she could have already put him into the mindset of supporting her ideas. That might explain why he was so dead-set on rooting a person out.) She's quiet and reasonable-sounding, so she immediately seized control over the group. Nobody questions her. The main case for her being a real Brave is her occupation – she's basically in charge of the campaign against the Demon Lord. In that position, what could motivate her to turn traitor? (Although it's not like we lack precedent for this type of extreme turnaround. Flamie was raised as a Fiend assassin and is now one of the Braves.) We also don't know what her powers as the “Saint of Mountains” entail. They don't sound like they'd be good for infiltration – mountains aren't known for sneaking up on people – but they might have some creative uses. The Saint of Swamps weaponizes her own vomit, after all.

Speaking of that little psychopath, we finally got to see Chamot's powers. Yup, they're terrifying. It seems she got bored of waiting around outside and decided to just murder everyone who isn't Maura. That way, the traitor will be eliminated without having to do any more of that pesky sleuthing business. Everyone wins! Well, except for the four real Braves she'd be killing, but they're not needed. Chamot can take out the Demon God all by herself with her living barf. That's what she does: regurgitate infinitely-regenerating marsh creatures to fight for her. She has a swamp in her stomach where everything she's ever eaten grows into a horrible monster. (Unless she swallowed those things whole?) With powers like that, it's no wonder Chamot's insane. She still seems too simple and sincere to be any sort of schemer, but that doesn't mean she's not a massive liability. All the Seventh had to do was show up, and the Braves are already destroying each other, thanks in large part to Puke Lolita and Mr. Kitty. I'd say that the Demon God's plan is working spectacularly so far.

Next episode, it looks like we'll be interrogating the pedestal's mechanics. That's the device that was used to activate the barrier back in episode four – you stick in a blade, put your hand on it, and say some words. Chamot and Hans don't know how to activate it, which means that only Adlet, Nachetanya, Goldov, Flamie, and Maura should've been able to do it. At this point, there are so many unknowns, variables, and potential motives in play that this seems like the only path to a solution. On that front, the obvious suspects are Nachetanya (because she has blade powers) and Maura (because her powers are unknown). In general, Goldov continues to be the mystery candidate. He could be up to pretty much anything, and the narrative could substantiate it without messing with his previous characterization. Honestly, it'd feel kinda cheap if he turned out to be the Seventh. There's no case against him, but unlike the others, there isn't much of an argument in favor of his innocence either. Also, I'm the least attached to him. I want to be really broken up by the reveal. Please don't be Hans or Maura. (But also totally do be Hans or Maura.)

Rokka –Braves of the Six Flowers– is capable of sustaining a lengthy analysis week to week because it doesn't seem to have a perfectly logical mastermind. There isn't an obvious solution, which means that the traitor (whoever they are) isn't acting according to pure, emotionless calculation. Rokka is a puzzle about human behavior, not logic. For example, Hans is cunning, but commits to unique conclusions too quickly. He overlooks the obvious. Chamot is convinced that her power can solve anything and considers anything more complicated an unnecessary annoyance. She's not calculating, but she also doesn't value other people enough to keep them alive. Flamie is extremely hesitant to express attachment to other people. She won't vouch for Adlet, even when her actions support him. Gradually, Adlet – the ultimate adaptive warrior – is learning to play his comrades and clear his name.

Chamot's CG “pets” are underwhelming, but at least they don't take me out of the experience. It's not a repeat of last week's fedora-muppet debacle. I don't know how the books described them, but I was expecting actual hordes of swamp critters – frogs, snakes, and turtles – to swarm out of her mouth. Not jawbreakers with tentacle mouths. Ah well. It's not the worst-case scenario, and considering this show's aesthetic lows, I'll have to take it. Otherwise, the animation is back to normal. Prepare for another off-model-fest an episode or two from now.

Next week, I want some clarity. These extended discussions are fun and all, but it feels like all the competing theories are about to start spilling out of my brain. Rokka has drawn the premise's suspense out through the second act, now let's see if it can finish up in a satisfying way.

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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