- Genre : Fantasy, adventure, action, mystery, romance
- Episodes: 12
- Studio: Passione
Piena is a land of uncertainty and strife. Sure it’s enjoyed a few decades of peace, prosperity even, but in a land constantly threatened by the potential return of the demon king, a devastating monster that could wipe out humanity in its wake, no one can truly be at ease. The Goddess may have defeated him years ago but she’s long gone. Luckily her strength and legacy lives on in the braves. Every generation or so, six young men and women are chosen as heroes and saints, some granted extraordinary powers, to go forth and protect the world from fiends until the demon king is defeated once again. But as time passes and the braves become weaker, will this be the to e the braves finally fail. Even self proclaimed “strongest man in the world” Adlet made it, and he’s nothing special at all….
My synopsis is both entirely accurate and fairly misleading. I did that on purpose. It’s been a very long time since a series has surprised me as much as Rokka – Braves of the Six Flowers and I want to keep that going. I’m going to try really hard not to spoil anything but I am going to mention the generally unique elements of he series. So if you want to watch it without any expectations at all, I encourage you to do so. There’s a lot of fun to be had in the discovering. Maybe you can come back to this review after. Otherwise, let’s dig in.
I should say that I picked up Rokka Braves of the Six Flowers entirely due to the character designs. I had seen a few images floating around, most notably the cover art and I got fascinated by them. Specifically by Nachetanya (I helpfully added that screencap for you!). That’s all I knew of the series though. In fact, I may have been way too focused on the Bunny girl (Hans and I are alike in many ways…) as I had somehow convinced myself that Adlet was a girl and spent a good five minutes trying to reconcile myself with the fact that he is supposedly “The Strongest Man in the World” (get ready to hear that a lot).
I’m happy to report those wonderful designs are in fact present throughout the series as well as lush environments and beautiful backgrounds. I’m less happy to notice that the monstrous fiends were rather dull looking and the art style was visibly inconsistent at times, even with nothing much going on, which is a real shame.
Then again, the budget may have been poured into the actual animation which is both generous and impressively smooth. There is a lot of action going on in Rokka so making sure movement is enjoyable to watch is a good investment if you ask me. Sure the Saints’ CG powers don’t always blend in perfectly but who can say magic doesn’t always look a bit uncanny? Not me, and it didn’t bother me one bit.
I should also mention the score. Rokka Braves of the Six Flowers doesn’t have the type of soundtrack that you’re likely to listen to in the gym or something. It’s not full of great tunes. But once I noticed it, I realized that it actually has a pretty impressive classical cinematic type of score with grand orchestral arrangements to go along with the action. It really made everything just a bit more grand and epic!
In many ways, Rokka seemed to delight in not being what I expected it to be. For instance, right off the bat, the setting seems to resemble ancient south America both in Aztec inspired architecture and lush tropical jungles. This is really not what comes to mind when I think of high fantasy. In fact, I don’t think I can even recall another fantasy adventure in that particular setting. I loved this touch and I think they should have emphasized it way more in promotional material. Granted it’s almost entirely cosmetic as far as I can tell but it does create very unique visuals that go a long way to giving the series a distinct personality.
Second and to me more amazing is that the series pulls an entire genre bait and switch a few episodes in. It really starts out as a very traditional fantasy epic with a well-developed universe and context. Six heroes coming together to fight an immensely powerful for through with swords and magic! And then it takes a sharp left turn and becomes an Agatha Christie-style whodunit! 10 little Indians Agatha Christie, not Hercule Poirot! After getting trapped in a confined area out heroes realize that there are 7 and not 6 of them and it becomes a matter of figuring out who the imposter is before the all fall prey to foul play. I can’t express how excited I was by this. Not only is the genre subversion really well integrated into the story but the mystery and tension are so well sustained that I suspected absolutely everyone at some point. I was beginning to think that maybe I could be the 7th! For a lover of mysteries, this was nothing short of a delight!
Not saying the show was perfect. In fact it has one HUGE flaw in my opinion. The dialogue is really weak. This is a bizarre thing to reconcile for me. The writing as a whole wasn’t bad. The mystery plot was fantastic and although the fantasy plot was more cliche it remained engaging and we’ll established. I would have happily watched that story as well.
And the characters are actually quite good when you take a step back. All well developed, beach with unique personalities, histories, motivations and reactions. And each quite consistent with their character all of which is impressive. But because part of their characterization is made through exposition and therefore dialogue, they actually seem much more shallow than they are.
Because the dialogue is often blunt, clumsy or cheesy. I honestly found myself wondering if I wasn’t losing most of it in translation in fact and I have a feeling that this is what’s likely to discourage most viewers. That’s not to say the dialogue is insufferable but it’s not on the same level of everything else and I’m not sure I’ve ever encountered that before.
This said, the big reveal does, in fact, explain a lot and it makes certain situations and conversations seem a lot smarter in hindsight. In case it’s not clear I loved the reveal. There’s even a final twist that had my jaw drop while simultaneously making me grin like a moron. If some of the later episodes dag a bit, Rokka Braves of the Six Flowers really sticks the landing with one of the best finales I’ve seen. In fact, that conclusion was so perfect I don’t even want another season. But I would watch it if it comes out.
Despite its flaws, Rokka Braves of the Six Flowers managed to surprise and delight me at every turn and I can’t help but recommend it, for the novelty if nothing else.
Favourite character: though call Hans and Nachetanya (great name by the way)
What this anime taught me: You can’t trust anyone!
Life is not a fairy tale. If you lose your shoe at midnight, you’re not a princess, you’re drunk!
Suggested drink: a Mother Flower
- Every time Adlet blushes – take a sip
- Every time they settle on a vegetarian diner – get a snack
- Every time Adlet mentions his master – Raise your glass
- Every time anyone says “The Strongest Man in the World” – switch to water
- Every time anyone mentions the number “six” – take a deep breath
- Every time Goldov yearns – take a sip
- Every time anyone calls Adlet an idiot – quietly agree
- Every time the camera spins around the room – hold onto your drink
- Every time Nachetanya has an exaggerated reaction – take a sip
- Every time we see Hans’s eyes – take a sip and get ready
- Every time there’s a twist – GASP!
I’ve decided to only stick to Pinterest from now on. I hope you like these extra caps!