Saturday, May 21, 2016

Rokka: Braves of the Six Flowers

Rokka: Braves of the Six Flowers is a light anime series about six heroes chosen to defeat an evil Demon God. Unfortunately, it's not a particularly good example of the genre.
The setting for Rokka is a sword-and-sorcery fantasy world, where the human civilization is under threat from evil fiends. The male characters are warriors of various kinds, and the females are "saints" who have magical abilities over a specific domain. There are saints of mountains, blades, the sun, fog, etc. Six of the strongest fighters of both genders are chosen to be Braves by a goddess who marks them with a special flower tattoo. The Braves are destined to work together to defeat the leader of the fiends, the Demon God.

The series starts off with Adlet, the main protagonist, being arrested after interrupting a tournament. He claims to be the "strongest man in the world" and defeats the tournament contestants, but then is thrown into prison by the tournament organizers. After a lengthy prison stay, he is marked as one of the six Braves, as is the princess of those who hold him captive. Together they escape and start the journey to find the other Braves and enter the land of the fiends.

A few episodes in, the series changes direction pretty dramatically when the other Braves enter the story. Instead of an epic adventure battling fiends on the way to a showdown with the Demon God, the heroes are trapped in the area around a temple. There are seven with the mark of the Braves, though, not just six. The remainder of the series is devoted to discovering who is the impostor. That does eventually happen in the last episode, but then another marked person shows up. In the end, the whole group is finally moving toward the land of the fiends, but again with an extra (presumably traitorous) Brave.

I was not particularly impressed with Rokka. It doesn't seem to know what kind of story it wants to tell. First it's a unknown-warrior-makes-his-name type of grand adventure, then shifts to a kind of discover-the-traitor mystery, and in the end is set up to continue as a mix of both. There are bits of romance, flashy battles, humor, and intrigue mixed in - but none are explored in any depth.

The mystery aspect is unpredictable, but heavy-handed. Several characters seem like obvious impostor candidates at various points in the story, before some new bit of evidence shows up to change things around. A good mystery uses misdirection, but this one seems to just be throwing new information around whenever it needs to change the suspect.

The characters are mostly weak and uninteresting. Each is certainly unique, but only one really changes at all as the story moves on. That one is Flamie, who has some serious self-loathing issues and a death wish. That changes over time due to the efforts of Adlet and the power of love. It's a pretty weak execution of character development, and that's especially noticeable since none of the other characters have much depth at all.

It's pretty clear in the end that this was intended only as the first half of a longer series. Can't say I'm unhappy that the second half hasn't been made.

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