Rokka: Braves of the Six Flowers
Episodes 1-3

by Gabriella Ekens,

How would you rate episode 1 of
Rokka: Braves of the Six Flowers ?

How would you rate episode 2 of
Rokka: Braves of the Six Flowers ?

How would you rate episode 3 of
Rokka: Braves of the Six Flowers ?

A long time ago, the evil Demon God appeared to wreak havoc on humanity. People suffered and died until the Saint of the Single Flower appeared. Using her immense power, she drove the Demon God to the continent's westernmost point and sealed it away. She then distributed her power, contained in the flower's six pedals, to six heroes. Christened the Braves of the Six Flowers, they'd rise up whenever the Demon God reawakened to slay him again. It's happened twice since then – once 700 years ago and again 300 years ago. With fiends reappearing throughout the continent, the world is now due for the Demon God's third resurgence. Our hero, the self-proclaimed "Strongest Man on Earth" Adlet Mayer, is chosen as one of the Goddess' heroes. Alongside another Brave, Princess Nashetanya of Piena, Adlet sets out to meet his fellows on the western peninsula, where the Demon God awaits them. But will complications arise during his journey?

The most striking thing about Rokka: Braves of the Six Flowers is its art design. It's a fantasy show that takes inspiration from indigenous South American civilizations rather than European or Asian ones. This means mountainous jungles, Incan terrace farms, and pyramids. Studio Passione does a great job with the environments. They're all varied, interesting, and incorporated into the cast's fighting styles. Nashetanya, for example, uses her blade powers to navigate a rocky incline, while Flamie sets up false movement in the brush to distract pursuers. There's also some really nice cinematic direction on display. Many moments are most similar to Studio MAPPA's visually stunning Rage of Bahamut. For example, the first episode's rotating camera around Adlet's helicopter kick, as well as the following imprisonment montage. I'm also a big fan of the character designs. They're cool, distinct, look good in action, and I'm a sucker for anything color coded. Plus, I appreciate the inclusion of both male and female characters wearing nipple bands. Equal opportunity impracticality.

Since this is an ensemble piece, I'll go through our heroes one by one as they're introduced.

Adlet Mayer, the self-proclaimed Strongest Man on Earth and Brave Red. Although physically weaker than many other fighters, his bag of tricks lets him get ahead in most situations. He tries to reach out and help people. He's the biggest advocate for cooperation between the Braves, and he keeps muttering something about his mentor.

Nashetanya Loei Piena Augustra, the princess of Piena and Brave Yellow. She's the Saint of Blades and fights by launching conjured swords at people, Unlimited Blade Works style. “Saints” are women who've been granted elemental power by God. “Element” is defined loosely. There are Saints in charge of most things, from salt to mountains to the sun. Nashetanya runs away with Adlet instead of attending her nation's formal send-off. At one point, she was sentenced to death during Piena's civil war, but it was called off when she was revealed as the Saint of Blades. She's a powerful but inexperienced fighter who's prone to making tactical mistakes. She may also be emotionally manipulative. Definitely seems to be a bunny girl.

Flamie Speeddraw, a wandering sniper, the Saint of Gunpowder, and Brave Blue. She insists on staying alone when Adlet encounters her, insisting that Braves are destined to kill each other. She refuses to disclose the reason for this belief, saying that Adlet would try to kill her on the spot. Unlike most gunslingers, her shots are powerful enough to take down the Demon God's powerful fiends. Flamie's formidable from afar, but weak in direct combat. Adlet gets her to stick around by stealing her bullets. She also matches Goldov's description of the Brave Killer.

Goldov Auora, Nashetanya's loyal subordinate and Brave Dark Green. Gloomy dude. Probably has a thing for her. He's a strong physical fighter who just returned from a mission to retrieve information on the “Brave Killer,” a person who's been assassinating potential Braves.

The opening reveals some more likely candidates, but I'll deal with them when they show up. For the first three episodes, our main characters are Adlet and Nashetanya, with a side of Flamie. We learn about the world through their conversations. They're good ones too – Rokka also has a knack for weaving character information into exposition. In different hands, the first two episodes (which mostly consist of extended conversations between Adlet and Nashetanya) could've been unbearably clunky. Instead, they're engaging, illustrating character through action rather than statements, and they paint a clear picture of the world our heroes inhabit. This might have something to do with Rokka's director, Takeo Takahashi. He also directed Spice and Wolf, another series that's mostly people with great chemistry talking on horseback through lush landscapes.

I don't trust Nashetanya. The first we see of her is when she scopes out Adlet after his surprise win in the tournament, and that rendezvous ends with her calling him stupid. The next we see of her, she's cozying up to him romantically and disclosing intimate details about her life. That's a bit fast – we don't even know Adlet's deal yet. At another point, Nashetanya playfully unleashes a flurry of blades for Adlet to dodge. They barely miss, and when he gets angry at her, she puts on a pitiful face and starts telling a sob story. When Adlet softens, she immediately brightens and claims her remorse was an act. I don't know what to think about her. She's certainly manipulative, but I can't tell whether her vulnerable or hardened side is an act. Flamie's hostile up front, but at least she's honest. Either way, the Braves are shaping up to have some fascinating team dynamics, and I can't wait until the whole band gets together.

I hope that Rokka performs well. I'm digging it a lot, but I doubt it'll wrap itself up in one cour. Passione doesn't have many of productions under its belt yet (their last show was Rail Wars!) and they seem to be putting a lot into this show. It's based on a fairly popular light novel series, so at least there's a built-in audience.

But wait! Doesn't the opening show seven people, all with marks? What's going on here? Either the author forgot how to count, or there's more to this premise than meets the eye.

Grade: A

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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