Anime Review: Braves of the Six Flowers

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I am very pleased to announce that MICHI— the music artist behind some of the theme songs of this series –will be performing at Anime Expo this year! And so in that spirit, I will be talking about the anime that helped put her on the map, so to speak!

I may be a little biased. This is a beautifully drawn series animation wise. The vibrant colors, unique character designs, the well-rendered battle scenes, and a lot of influences from Meso-American culture, it’s sometimes hard to believe that it came from a Japanese light novel series. So in light of some of the best visual displays of TV anime these days, let’s dive into this wonderfully made…

Seven

Damn it! We have to talk about THAT too!

Rokka: Braves of the Six Flowers (Rokka no Yūsha) sets us in a fantasy world deep in the tropics where civilization thrives. But the humans who dwell in this part of the world aren’t in some nice utopia. There, civilization is always oppressed by the lords of the demon realm, known as the Fiends. However, a prophecy has spoken of six braves who have been called by the gods to fight back the Fiends and save humanity. And when those six braves come together, the Fiend Lord’s rule will come to an end, and humanity will be free.

That’s great for an adventure story about brave heroes who come together to fight evil forces and all, except that there’s one problem: there are seven of them. That means that one of them is posing as a brave, and will betray them. So despite all the cool things I said about this anime being visual eye candy, we can’t help but realize that it’s still a mystery series.

Battle

A mystery series with amazing battle scenes!

Now I won’t try to spoil you with the show’s question by answering “Who is the seventh brave?” But I will discuss the process in how the characters in Rokka discover who that is. The animation covers roughly the length of the first volume of the original light novel, so a lot of those details are drawn out anyway. But I suppose if you follow the visual queues and dialogues in the animation (not necessarily from my screenshots), you will find that the animators have left plenty of clues to figure it out long before the big reveal.

But that’s for the folks who pay super close attention to animation; not me. Since this is a mystery series, I will be discussing a different process in how to figure out who is the seventh brave: by deductive reasoning!

And to that effect, I will be focusing on the process as told by the protagonist Adlet Maya. To the rest of the braves, he seems to be the least qualified, and he’s relatively unknown, considering everyone else seems to know each other. And since he often gets himself into trouble, it’s no wonder that he is also the first suspect!

Hans

OBJECTION!

Adlet spends most of the series trying to find a way to prove his innocence, frankly because no one on this show can be trusted. The braves’ society at large is basically a theocracy, so the power of authority takes precedence over reasoning.

While watching this mystery series, you almost have to convince yourself that everyone is crazy. I mean, they’d have to be if they think the gods gave them authority to be whatever!

Chamot

No, Chamot! Don’t kill people just because you don’t like them!

Part of the struggle in solving this mystery is to separate the facts of their reality from the beliefs they have about each other. Frankly, that’s a lesson that folks I know in real life should learn one of these days, too. The fact that three of the seven are well-known saints in Maura’s mind-database is no reason to trust any of them. In fact, I found that Maura, the Saint of Mountains, was the least trustworthy because she throws her authority around the most!

Maura

Okay, I take it back! Geez!

Also, Chamot is the Saint of Swamps, and it’s clear to me that she can’t be trusted. Of course, it is also not sufficient to believe that she is the seventh simply because she wants to kill everyone. Someone with the intention of betraying the six braves, thereby letting the prophecy fail (again, by the way), isn’t necessarily the craziest of the bunch.

Naschetanya, the Saint of Swords, isn’t given a pass either. She may be the most cunning and possibly the most intelligent, but simply being knowledgeable or adept doesn’t make her immediately trustworthy.

Naschetanya

But I wouldn’t get anywhere near her blades either!

The fact that Goldov is a noble warrior doesn’t give him a pass either! Being a prodigy among warriors may give him a pass as a role model for their society, but it’s not sufficient enough for us to believe that he is good enough to be a brave. I will ignore the argument that the gods’ logic is incomprehensible to human logic, but it is quite common for people to be deceived by “outstanding” individuals simply because they uphold certain social values.

Goldov

Goldov may be my favorite simply because he wields chained weapons, but he still might be the Seventh!

Adversely, it is also not the case that characters can’t be trusted because of their more mysterious backgrounds. Hans may be a contracted assassin, but that’s not sufficient to conclude that he’s been contracted to kill all the braves.

And just because Flamie is half-fiend and a recently ordained Saint of Gunpowder, it is not necessarily true that she is mysterious enough to be an insider for the fiends. In fact, as we find out in this series, Flamie hates fiends more than anything!

Flamie

Yeah, don’t believe anything I say either. Wait, what?

If there is anything from the surface of this conversation that tells you who the Seventh is, it’s that the Seventh is looking for a way to divide the six braves. So long as the braves remain divided (or as I like to say fragmented), it’ll be easier for them to be manipulated. If there is any hope for the braves to figure out who’s the seventh among them, they can’t let their differences and assumptions divide them further.

To the avid mystery reader/watcher, solving the mystery of who is the seventh brave is fairly easy. But for me, I want to focus on the other truth that is revealed: that Adlet is among the six.

A lot of folks might argue that this is very obvious, since the story is told through Adlet’s perspective. However, it’s possible that Adlet is simply lying to the group, and we are simply following his lie. But even so, I still don’t believe that Adlet is lying only because the show compels me to be skeptical. I can trust that Adlet has been telling the truth because Rokka would be a very disturbing series if I didn’t.

Adlet

Gunpowder. It’s an acquired taste.

Unlike the rest of the braves, Adlet doesn’t have magical powers or gifted abilities. But even so, Adlet prides himself on being the “strongest man in the world,” and everything he does strictly comes from being human. Adlet ultimately solves the mystery of the seventh brave and proved his own innocence by applying his knowledge of science. But even that alone isn’t a reason for me to favor him over anyone else!

Maybe Adlet is not the strongest man in the world, but he might have the best reason for wanting to fight the fiends. Adlet had grown up in a poor village, when the fiends had deceived them and killed everyone that Adlet once knew. He then went on to learn from a veteran warrior the principles of combat and science.

You might say that Adlet became the strongest man in the world because he sought vengeance for his family. But in his inner monologue, I don’t think that’s the reason. Adlet fights not to avenge anyone, but so that no one will ever have to grow up with the pain that he went through. And if he’s lying to himself about something like that, I don’t think knowing that he was one of the six braves would have had as much of an impact on the series. Adlet can be trusted because he can be true to himself, even when it is tempting for him to deceive or take cover behind something else. The burden to remain true even when no one else believes you must be very heavy.

Perhaps he is the strongest man in the world after all, to shoulder that kind of burden on his own.

rokka-11

But the animation ends where the series just gets started… or so we think. And just when the braves discover who is the seventh and eliminate ’em, a new seventh brave appears!

Who is this new brave? Who is the new traitor? Well, Adlet and the others don’t have time to worry about that just yet, and I won’t spoil the details with a screenshot. The Braves of the Six Flowers got bigger problems on their hands: the Fiend army is on the move!

Fiend

Dun dun DUUUUUN!!!

So if you’re looking for a classic style mystery with the beauty of a fantasy world inspired by Meso-American culture, watch Braves of the Six Flowers. And if you’re the one who’s been spoiling the series for everyone else, you’re an asshole! But I am okay with it.

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