"One of these Braves is not like the others. One of these Braves just doesn't belong."
What's “Cruising the Crunchy-Catalog”?
Picking a new anime to watch may not be as difficult as defeating a Demon God, but without a little guidance, it can still be a tricky proposition. In this noble quest, let “Cruising the Crunchy-Catalog” be your goddess of victory. Each week we provide additional information and cultural context to help fans determine whether or not they'd like to take an unknown series for a test drive.
What's Rokka -Braves of the Six Flowers-?
Rokka -Braves of the Six Flowers- is a 2015 fantasy TV anime with direction by Takeo Takahashi and animation by Passione. It is based on the series of light novels written by Ishio Yamagata and illustrated by Miyagi, which are published by Shueisha under their Super Dash Bunko imprint. Crunchyroll describes Rokka -Braves of the Six Flowers- as follows:
"Legend says, when the Evil God awakens from the deepest of darkness, the god of fate will summon Six Braves and grant them with the power to save the world. Adlet, who claims to be the strongest on the face of this earth, is chosen as one of the “Brave Six Flowers,” and sets out on a battle to prevent the resurrection of the Evil God. However, it turns out that there are Seven Braves who gathered at the promised land..."
This description gives a bit too much away, since viewers don't learn about the existence of the Seventh Brave until the end of Episode Four. At that point Rokka -Braves of the Six Flowers- smoothly transitions from a typical quest narrative to a “locked room” mystery with a "battle royal" twist.
Essentially, the story of Rokka -Braves of the Six Flowers- is one part Final Fantasy and one part Werewolf Game, as the group becomes trapped in a location with a murderous impostor hidden in their midst. Will the Braves be able to uncover the impostor in time, or will they tear themselves to pieces first, leaving the world with no heroes capable of defeating the Demon God?
Many fantasy anime take their visual inspirations from medieval Europe, ancient China, or feudal Japan, but Rokka -Braves of the Six Flowers- draws its aesthetic from a Mesoamerican source: the art, architecture, costumes, and weaponry of the common people have a distinctly Aztec flavor, while much of the geography resembles Central American rainforest.
A Portrait of Despair.
Another interesting element in Rokka -Braves of the Six Flowers- is how each character reacts when confronted with the possibility of murder and betrayal. One character stands head and shoulders above the others as a portrait of hopelessness and self-loathing: Flamie Speeddraw, the Saint of Gunpowder.
Although she and Adlet Myer, the protagonist and self-described “strongest man in the world”, share similarly tragic backgrounds, Flamie has internalized her despair and revulsion to such a degree that she finds it impossible to trust anyone even before it's revealed that there's a traitor hiding in the group. Breaking down this emotional barrier is a major plot point.
If a character study of such abject desperation doesn't appeal to you, there's plenty of other interesting motivations at play, from Goldov's sense of duty conflicting with his personal jealousies to Princess Nachetanya's crumbling naiveté to the cold-blooded nonchalance of Chamot, the Saint of Swamps.
Whoddunit? vs. Howdunnit?
Viewers who are well-versed in mystery fiction should have no problem spotting the fake Brave. The question of “whodunnit” is only part of the attraction of the series, though. Since Rokka -Braves of the Six Flowers- posits a world where both magic and science exist, how the impostor stages their evil scheme and how the heroes attempt to unravel it are equally intriguing propositions.
The Adventure Continues.
Crunchyroll currently streams Rokka -Braves of the Six Flowers- in 207 territories worldwide. The series is available in Japanese with subtitles in English, Spanish, Latin American Spanish, French, Portuguese, Arabic, Italian, and Germany. The series is also released in North America on three collector's edition Bluray / DVD combo packs from Pony Canyon.
The original Rokka -Braves of the Six Flowers- light novels are being adapted into the English language by Yen Press. Yen Press also publishes the Rokka -Braves of the Six Flowers- manga adaptation, which features artwork by Kei Toru. At the time of this writting, the first volume of each release is available, with additional manga and light novel volumes coming in May and August of 2017, respectively.
Since it's based on an ongoing light novel series, the Rokka -Braves of the Six Flowers- TV anime doesn't resolve every mystery presented in the story. Nevertheless, it is a briskly paced adventure that confidently hits all of its narrative beats. If you're in the mood for a blend of fantasy and mystery with compelling characters and an excellent sense of world-building, please consider giving Rokka -Braves of the Six Flowers- a try.
Is there a series in Crunchyroll's catalog that you think needs some more love and attention? Please send in your suggestions via e-mail to [email protected] or post a Tweet to @gooberzilla. Your pick could inspire the next installment of “Cruising the Crunchy-Catalog”!
Paul Chapman is the host of The Greatest Movie EVER! Podcast and GME! Anime Fun Time.