Rokka: Braves of the Six Flowers
by Gabriella Ekens,
How would you rate episode 9 of
Rokka: Braves of the Six Flowers ?
This week, Adlet's cause sees a major loss and a major gain. He finally gets Flamie to believe in him, while Maura convinces Hans to suspect him again. In a moment of stunningly competent animation, Adlet and Hans manage to subdue Chamot's rampage and determine that she doesn't know how to enable the barrier. With his curiosity satisfied, Adlet runs off to question Flamie. Maura returns to the temple and chastises Hans for letting Adlet run off, intimidating him back to her side. Meanwhile, Adlet has a conversation with Flamie wherein he outlines his theory about the Seventh's plan. When it doesn't convince her, she goes for the killing blow, but at the last second, Adlet convinces her to believe in him.
Here's Adlet's theory: Private Lauren, the guard he met at the fortress back in episode three, is the Eighth. He worked with the Seventh by supplying false information about how to activate the barrier. That way, by luring Adlet to the temple ahead of the rest, they could frame him as the clear candidate for the extraneous member. A false barrier is timed to his entrance to make it look like he activated it. Then, when they're all inside, the Seventh activates the real barrier via the actual means to do so. At some point after entering the temple, every Brave interacted with the pedestal, so it could be any of them.
However, I think this train of thought makes Maura the most obvious suspect. When Adlet and Flamie arrived at the fortress, Private Lauren supplied the information that Maura had already passed through. This could have been an intentional namedrop to deflect suspicion, while Maura was actually gathering information on the Braves nearby. At some point later, she met up with Hans and made her way to the fortress. While travelling with Hans, she might have shared information about the other Braves – most importantly, that Princess Nachetanya was one of them. This would lead to Hans' slip at the temple, where he refers to Nachetanya as “princess” even though he shouldn't have known that.
But why does this make Maura suspicious, and not Hans? Well, I still have some faith in the cat-assassin due to his showdown with Adlet. He seems genuinely open-minded and doubtful to an extent that would be difficult to fake. Maura, by contrast, is beginning to act like a trapped animal. When other Braves express doubt about Adlet's guilt (it's been two or three by now – a significant share of their six-man group), she doesn't listen. Instead, she doubles down on insisting that they pursue him. She's getting worse at it too – while her appeal to Flamie was wrapped in some maternal concern, she's pretty much just screaming at Hans. It isn't a good argument either. “The Seventh Brave is trying to work their way into our hearts” could be true of multiple people, herself included. I'm honestly surprised that this convinces Hans, but I'm starting to think that he might not be the brightest kit in the litter.
As for Flamie's rebuttal, there are ways around that too. Adlet's “the Seventh is a Saint with barrier powers” theory isn't related to the “Private Lauren was in on it” theory. Flamie indicates that the Saint of Fog's barrier was the only one used, and that it was activated after Adlet entered the temple. However, they could have just made it look like the barrier had been activated. Everyone was in the temple's immediate vicinity, so the fake would have only needed to enshroud the area around it. There are ways to do that, Saint powers or no. As for whose powers could've done it, Nachetanya is unlikely. I can't think of any way that “blades” can be made to resemble “fog.” Chamot is likely, but her demeanor is also the least suspicious (albeit the most dangerous). Maura is still a mystery. The opening shows her cracking open the ground. Maybe she released some underground steam? Or maybe the central pedestal itself was a decoy, and the barrier is actually activated outside.
With all this laid out, here are where my suspicions lie:
Most suspicious: Maura, Nachetanya Some suspicion: Hans, Chamot Not suspicious: Flamie, Adlet Wildcard: Goldov
Rokka's narrative is clamping down around an obvious suspect, but I'm wondering if it has any more tricks in store. If Maura is the Seventh, then what was the point of all that setup regarding Nachetanya's relationship with Adlet? Will the Adlet/Nachetanya/Goldov story ultimately be irrelevant to the traitor's identity? That'd be an awful amount of setup for a red herring. Now that I think about it, I don't have anyone's word besides Private Lauren's that Nachetanya and Goldov went to the temple, and Goldov's word doesn't make for a strong alibi when he'll do anything for Bunny-hime. (She's also messing with his emotions. Last week, she coldly rebuffed his affections, and now she's commanding him to stare down her cleavage. I feel like she's provoking Goldov's jealousy in order to confuse him.) Also, how would Maura have known enough to target Adlet specifically? Nachetanya is the one who told him to run to the temple alone – the plan would've been ruined if any Braves arrived together. Maura had no way to ensure that. Nachetanya is also the best actress out of the group, and vouching for the prime suspect – seemingly contrary to the Seventh's best interests – might seem like a good cover. No matter how solved the mystery may seem, Rokka has three more episodes to fill and a number of unexplored story rivulets. The best whodunnits don't have any spare parts, and I'll be disappointed if Rokka leaves narrative possibilities unexplored.
This is one of Rokka's more solid episodes, lacking the slow bits or production problems that weighed down previous entries. Rokka is a niche show – a locked room mystery dressed up as high fantasy – but if you're into it, it's enthralling. It probably could've been condensed – I'm getting impatient for the conclusion – but no episode so far has been a dud. It's always a fun show to write up, and I'll miss it when it's gone. I do wonder what would happen in a continuation. Would they set up another mystery, or would Rokka transition to a more traditional fantasy-adventure narrative? After all, this anime only covers the first novel out of a planned seven. (Presumably one of these novels will be an impostor and must be destroyed.)
Gabriella Ekens studies film and literature at a US university. Follow her on twitter.
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