Rokka -Braves of the Six Flowers-

Rokka -Braves of the Six Flowers-

imageThe legend says that when the Evil God awakens from the depths of darkness, the god of fate will summon six Braves and bestow on them the power to save the world. Adlet Myer, who announces himself to be ‘the strongest man in the world’, is chosen to be one of the god’s Braves of the Six Flowers and embarks on a quest to defeat the evil monster ‘fiends’ and prevent the resurrection of the Evil God. Upon meeting up with the rest of the Braves, however, they find themselves to be one man too many. With a fake Brave in their midst, the suspicion mounts as the group try to root out the enemy before their divine destiny.
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This story first began as a light novel by Ishio Yamagata, and is still going to all intents and purposes, Rokka -Braves of the Six Flowers- is slowly spanning more and more volumes. It is being brought to the anime genre this season by Spice and Wolf director Takeo Takahashi.

In the first episode, Adlet enters the city of Piena in order to take the warrior challenge, in which contestants need to beat all other opponents in order to be chosen as one of the Braves of the Six Flowers. He crashes an official match between two great warriors and goads them both into taking him on at the same time.

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Defeating them both in record time and re-declaring himself to be the strongest man in the world does not impress the king, however, and Adlet gets thrown into a dungeon for disturbing the important ceremonial tournament, where he remains until he finds himself suddenly blessed with the power of the god of fate. Granted an official pardon in order to fulfil his duty of saving the world, Adlet finds himself teaming up with the princess of Piena herself, Nashetania, the Brave of Blades to find the rest of their group.

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The visuals in Rokka are quite stunning. The buildings and backgrounds are heavily-influenced by Aztec and Mayan architecture, but things don’t stop there. The detail goes even further to include clothing, fashion and livestock – which I can really appreciate. I admit to having to re-play a few select scenes because I was too busy peering into the background. Added to this mix is the glorious soundtrack and some breathtaking fighting scenes. The animation for these scenes is swift and fluid and continues to deliver episode after episode. The overall production has been impressive, making it stand out to me as one of the most impressive animes this season.

As a main character, I really enjoy Adlet. We learn that he has trained from a very young age in order to beat the Evil God to get revenge for his family. He initially comes across as a typical shounen here, loud and proud and eager to fight, but his fighting style is unexpectedly different. He makes use of a range of innovative tricks and traps to distract and confuse his opponents. He enjoys his smoke bombs, makes use of poison darts as well as a device that enables him to shoot fire from his mouth. Rather than brute force, he uses grapples and throws to use his enemy’s force against them. It’s an unusual way of fighting that makes for some interesting choreography.

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This is a fantasy anime that always has a lot going on. If we’re not treated to a variety of fighting scenes we’re given some tension-loaded face-offs. These types of scenes are very different from one another and require different paces and approaches, but this doesn’t seem to trouble it at all. There’s also a few scenes with some complex explanation and reasoning. For example, when the Braves are trying to find out which one of their number is the imposter, they have to mentally re-trace their steps and cross-examine one another in order to try and make sense of the situation. Instead of justing keeping things as talking heads, some great camera angles are made use of, revolving around the faces of the Braves stood in a circle, all suspicious of the others. It keeps you engaged in what would otherwise be an explanation-heavy scene.

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We have just crossed over the halfway point with this one and we have been introduced to a colourful cast of characters. As you would expect, the Braves are a rather eccentric lot with very strong, very different powers. Adlet has been developing relationships with Nashetania, her knight Goldov and the mysterious Brave of Gunpowder, Flemie. Now that the whole group has met, we see that the seventh Brave suspicion has come to rest on Adlet himself – but is this really the case? This mystery element brings something new to the whole ‘fighters given divine powers for a holy crusade’ template. The fights and progress have suddenly ground to a halt as the Braves are faced with something they never anticipated. Now, I have my own theories on who the fake Brave is, but I’m going to have to wait until future episodes to confirm my suspicions and any shocking twists that I anticipate being thrown my way.

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Well-paced with some dynamite animation, Rokka -Braves of the Six Flowers- is looking to be a firm favourite. Though the plot is a fairly simple one, there’s a lot of detail paid to each individual elements that makes things unique. There’s something ominous about the descending evil that plans to threaten the world, the music is memorable, the battles are fresh and lively and the main characters distinctly unique. I hope this one continues to be the powerful package it has been so far.