Rokka: Braves of the Six Flowers is another one of those names that I had on my list ever since they first aired but never got myself to watch them. So, was it worth it?
We are set in a fantasy world with demons, magic and all the other things. Basically: The “Demon God” revives once in a while and when he does, the six most dedicated and strongest warriors are chosen to fight him as only they can endure the atmosphere of the demon land thanks to the blessing they receive in the process. Our protagonist is Adlet, the self-proclaimed “Strongest Man in the World”, he interrupts a holy tournament to prove his worth towards the goddess in hopes to become one of the “Braves”. Naturally, he is sent to prison until he does become a Brave. The also-chosen Princess Nachetanya quickly breaks him out and sets out with Adlet to fulfill the prophecy once again. First step: Entrance to the demon world where the other Braves are likely to wait which does happen by the end of episode four.
This sounds like an action adventure, right? Oh boy, you couldn’t be more wrong when it comes to this series. Okay, it IS an action adventure for the first four episodes but then becomes an action mystery series instead. Is it good? Yes, it’s a very well written mystery that doesn’t rely on information that the series didn’t imply to have previously.
There are three major things to criticize with the story: The first episode has super fast pacing and up until the turning point, episode five, continues with a snail’s pace before finally settling for consistent progression. The second issue is that one later dialogue seems a bit “out-of-nowhere” and finally, the ending. Cliffhanger-bait ending while throwing a potential love triangle, another ridiculous looking female fan service character and instead of answering questions just throwing dozens more at you is NOT fine. Yes, the mystery is solved but it’s only replaced by even bigger mysteries only five minutes afterwards.
This being said, what this series excels at is world building, character progression, character writing, mystery writing and everything else regarding the story. The pacing problem isn’t really that prominent but the ending is what makes me mad as it feels like we’re just in the middle of a 24 episode run only to end prematurely without a climax at all. With this in mind, I still had tons of fun watching this because I like good writing and there is plenty of that in the series, it doesn’t even rely on cliché female characters! For this season anyway.
Visually, oh boy, way too much to talk about here. The first episode is absolutely stunning, easily one of the best looking episodes I’ve ever seen. The art design of this show is extremely well done and it is very impressive throughout the entire season. The art design, not everything else! Monsters and one particular ability are entirely made with CGI and it’s really, really awful CGI. The absolute low-point is episode four with serious animation issues, full of cancerous CGI and awful distant drawings. The art design, direction and scenery are usually stunningly good and the animation does pick up again with only slight issues, but the CGI is and remains terrible. The only other issue is that the lightning sometimes doesn’t match what shines on the characters and that the character models are sometimes not drawn very well.
I would end it here but let me talk about character design here. It’s my usual issue with anything Japanese-fantasy related: Fan service taking you out of the experience. We are in a serious setting with lots of logical combat like in Hunter x Hunter and the group sets out to fight demons. So what is the best armor to wear obviously? According to Japanese fan service, a glorified bunny suit is the right answer. The big, bulky guy just wears nothing to protect his upper body and looks older than almost everyone else despite being 16 years old. A female assassin? Make her wear almost nothing, always works. Stuff like this always ruins atmosphere for me because it’s just, excuse the language please, shit within the context of the setting.
The music is… familiar up until episode five. I’m talking about the kind of opening that you feel like you’ve heard a million times by now and no, this was not an exaggeration. The series even goes as far as to showcase a serious directional change in both plot and music with a new, really good opening that takes the first opening, shoves it in a bin and continues to kick its teeth in. The rest of the soundtrack is similar to that, it’s not bad but it sounds very generic. It gets better with episode five but then we still have to deal with what seems like missing sound effects at occasion. The sound itself isn’t bad though.
So, should you give this series a watch? If you like good writing and dialogue direction then yes, but be aware that you must watch this series to at least episode six. If you’re not a fan of mystery anime or if you insist on great technical execution outside of art design then avoid it. Would I watch a second season? Certainly, because the plot hooked me very quickly and my complaints about the story, except for the ending, were nitpicks at best.
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