Seven braves gather to defeat the Evil God -- wait again!?
Title: Rokka: Braves of the Six Flowers
Genre: Action, Mystery
Publisher: Shueisha (JP) Yen Press (US)
Creators: Ishio Yamagata (writer), Miyagi (illustrator)
Translator: Jennifer Ward
Original Release Date: August 22, 2017
A review copy was provided by Yen Press.
In the first volume of Rokka: Braves of the Six Flowers the Evil God had reawakened; if not put down all of humanity will be destroyed. This is not the first time this has happened; hundreds of years ago a powerful warrior, the Saint of the Single Flower, helped create a system of crests so that when the time comes the six most powerful braves — be they ordinary human or a superhumanly gifted Saint — will know that they have been chosen to fight the Evil God. At first it seems like this system is working as it previously has, until seven warriors arrive at the rendezvous point!
What follows is almost an entire volume’s worth of doubt and trickery where leading character Adlet Meyer eventually works out that his somewhat-crush and princess, Nashetania, is a real Saint (but somehow a fake brave) and has been planning to kill them all as part of her own larger plan to kill the Evil God. Once Nashetania is forced to retreat, Adlet and the rest of the braves stumble out of Nashetania’s trap to find soldiers ready to hold the southern-most point of the human world — and that they’ve accompanied another brave there!
It’s exasperating to have the second volume of the book essentially contain the same mystery: Who is the imposter and what do they stand to gain from going to an area filled with fiends and other dangers? While the first volume managed to feel quite clever in its eventual reveal (and much better-paced than its anime adaptation) this volume simply feels clumsy. The story begins with a flash-forward to the traitor, before the story even explains the ending of the first volume, and while writer Ishio Yamagata may have been hoping the suspense of knowing what would happen but not why would be enough to grip the readers it really isn’t. Detail alone isn’t enough to make the reader care about the traitor’s motivations and the eventual resolution felt more like a ridiculously convoluted cop-out more than anything else.
Quite honestly not much happens in this volume; if this volume was to be adapted into an anime it could easily be covered in just four episodes. Adlet and the other braves all agree that clearly one of them must be an imposter but they don’t have any more time to waste and go charging into the Hollowing Vilelands anyway. Essentially the entire volume is spent in conflict with one of the three most powerful fiends, Tgurneu, who previously masterminded Fremy’s creation and enslaved Adlet’s village, and it’s fight after fight of the braves thinking they have Tgurneu cornered only for him to reveal yet another trick up his sleeve. This is made doubly tiresome by the fact that fiend biology can vary wildly from one individual to another so even by having Fremy, a half fiend, in the group doesn’t give the braves much information to work with, and it’s up to Adlet to frankly just keep making guesses until one of them works.
While all the characters help out in battle (even the newest brave, Rolonia the Saint of Spilled Blood) the majority of the actual plot movement is done by Adlet which quickly becomes tedious. All of the other character do contribute to the story, notably Fremy and Mora given that they are the foremost experts in the group on fiends and Saints, but it would feel a lot more satisfying if the work was more of a collaborative effort or if Yamagata realized that the main character doesn’t have to be the center of everything. It’s a bit of a shame that this type of story oddly enough doesn’t let the Saints show off their powers as much. It’s a fascinating magical system and Mora’s reminiscences about the years before the reawakening of the Evil God and her time spent managing the Saints is the most interesting part of the book for that reason.
If the third book in this on-going series also heavily centers around a mystery I will be through with this series. I don’t think Yamagata can think of another good mystery to capture my attention and an all-prose format for this story isn’t enough to retain it. In my mind there are many details about this world that haven’t been fully explored yet, especially concerning the fiends, and it could truly be an interesting story. At the moment however, it’s merely okay and thinks itself cleverer than it is.