The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

Rokka no Yuusha

Title: Rokka no Yuusha aka Rokka -Braves of the Six Flowers-
Genre: Action/Drama
Company: Passione
Format: 12 Episodes
Dates: 4 Jul 2015 – 19 Sep 2015

Synopsis: After the rebirth of the Demon King, six Braves are chosen to vanquish him, each one branded with the mark of the Six Flowers. Answering the call is self-proclaimed strongest man in the world, Adlet Myer, accompanied by the princess Nachetanya in search of their chosen allies. Along their journey, hoards of fiends stand in their way, and yet there is no doubt that a more malevolent force is on their tail. As more Braves gather, it becomes clear that something is amiss and when disaster strikes they are left with little doubt that an agent of the Demon King is among them.

The Highlights
Animation: Breathtaking backgrounds and action, though soured slightly by lazy CG.
Cast dynamic: Intricately built upon underdeveloped characters.
Presentation: At times unbridled fantasy escapism. At others unpredictable paranoid thriller.
Plot realization: A puzzle built upon thoroughness and minutia.
Conclusion: A too hasty establishment of the inevitable season 2.

It speaks volumes about the value placed on trust when the deepest circle of hell in Dante’s The Inferno is reserved for treachery. When cooperation lies at the crux of human survival, it is imperative to be able to answer the simple question of who is trustworthy. Such struggles to earn trust are often found at the core of human drama, whether real or fictional. In a seemingly simple fantasy quest like Rokka no Yuusha, where one’s heroism is literally branded upon the heroes, ascertaining one’s integrity would seemingly be straightforward. With this in mind, the show opts to demonstrate how faith in others can break down, making it seemingly impossible to believe anyone.

At first glance, it would be easy to suspect that Rokka was in actuality a Playstation game. Both the front loaded exposition and archetypal (albeit colorful) characters suggest a stock video game setup more than an anime, suggesting that this series will be a 12 episode cutscene. A JRPG atmosphere is established early on with its nonchalant aesthetic choices, which involve crossing Mesoamerican environments with pan-geographic character designs and anachronistic fighting styles. The diversity of styles is a boon for the action of course. The frenetic acrobatics coupled with the exotic designs of the characters is almost Cirque du Soleil in presentation. The only downside here would have to be excess of dime store CG, which does call attention to itself, though it hardly detracts from the excitement. Of course the strengths of this series extend beyond the visuals and into the script.

When it comes to details, Rokka is far from lazy. As the narrative moves forward, characters are persistent in referencing back to previous points. This may suggest that Rokka is burdened by extraneous and lengthy recaps, but this is hardly the case. The flashbacks precisely filter the minutia for the viewer’s benefit, though the myriad of small yet vital details throughout the series ought to encourage some viewers to take notes. Any dialog, any action may be a piece of the puzzle in an ever greater game than the battle against the Demon King: a game of trust. Where there is little complexity to the cast as individuals, the web of loyalty, suspicion, faith, and hostility proves to be the most dynamic element of the story. Many cold killers and psychopaths fill the character roster as heroic types, and tensions only jump off from there. As easy as it is for accusations of treachery to be placed on a less savory character, the smallest of revelations can both exonerate them and seed further doubt in others. Likewise, the most circumstantial of evidence can spark a witch trial among the Braves.

The melange of action, paranoid tension, and inductive logic gives Rokka no Yuusha its own unique flavor among fantasy anime. The mixture is not always in the proper proportions: the detail obsession turns the pacing to molasses at times, and the need to keep the intensity up demands that the audience is kept more in the dark than they ought to be. The momentum can likewise dissipate, as with the coda of the series, which come all too suddenly from the climax and lacks the proper gravitas to provide for a satisfying “too be continued.” Occasional imbalances, however, hardly diminish what this series manages accomplish when everything is synchronized. Ultimately Rokka earns a place in the ever appreciated category of anime which manage to both amaze and baffle while remembering to satiate the intellect.

The Rating: 7

 Reviewed by: Kavik Ryx

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