Review: Rokka: Braves of the Six Flowers (Vol.1)

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Art by Miyagi

For general information on the series: Rokka: Braves of the Six Flowers entry

This review is for the first volume of Rokka: Braves of the Six Flowers by Ishio Yamagata (with artwork by Miyagi). The English edition was released by Yen Press in April 2017. The second volume will be released in the following months (August 22, 2017). The series ended in Japan, after six volumes.

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Rokka: Braves of the Six Flowers – Volume 1

Mysteries can be set in any locale, but rarely do they put a setting’s full potential to use to create such an engaging story. Fortunately, Rokka: Braves of the Six Flowers delivers an ingenious fiction filled with both suspense and fantasy.

The novel unfolds as a group of heroes assembles to fend off the evil that will be resurrected on short notice. But while the legend states that six valorous fighters will do the job, a seventh enters the fray and instils doubt within the group. This leads to a story of psychological detective work to find out who’s the intruder.

And this mystery is truly intriguing. There’s a wealth of elements contributing to the premise, some of them drawing heavily from classic fantasy–for example, the use of magic and concoctions to subtly replace forensics. Repurposing those elements is refreshing for both genres, though things do feel a little too convenient at times.

Ishio Yamagata also isn’t shy of subverting fantasy tropes (the whole “seven instead of six heroes” is just the tip of the iceberg), breaking apart the usual clichéd characters. No one is almighty and perfect, and everybody can be considered a threat, especially under the conditions of this volume. And thanks to the constant profiling, readers can delve into the backstory and motives of every “hero,” grounding some basic behavioural patterns into our minds to start searching for the possible culprit.

The story thus manages to place a usual premise (find the traitor inside a group) in an unusual setting. By pulling this off, it also sets the tone for future volumes where a feeling of mistrust will linger on the group. All of this happens while actual relationships flourish in the background, serving as the hope for the heroes’ victory.

My only minor complaint, other than some of the overly-practical fantasy objects, would be the unpredictable nature of everyone’s abilities. While it helps mystifying the story and keeps the reader’s interest, I feel it amplifies the possibility of plot contrivances in later volumes.

Nonetheless, Rokka: Braves of the Six Flowers is a pleasant and subtle story, and an essential read for both fantasy and detective novel fans. Hopefully, later volumes will keep readers on the edge of their seats just like this impressive opener.

Melody’s Rating: Strongly Recommended

7 responses to “Review: Rokka: Braves of the Six Flowers (Vol.1)

  1. I smashed my copy yesterday, read it one day! Absolutely agree with your review, but if might add, there’s another really great point about the book: all the clues are available to the reader! I had about 50% of the mystery nailed down and actually got my suspect right (although I don’t think the book tries too hard to hide the identity of the 7th). Really great book! Not surprised they did a whole anime season out of this 1 book! And the epilogue :D pure gold… after such a great book, you’re kind of expecting the epilogues to calmly drop a snippet on what’s to come, but Rokka just slaps you with another WTF moment :D

    • Yeah, it’s one of the really interesting parts of the book, to be able to play detective at the same time the heroes do. Truly engaging to say the least.
      Also, considering the end-of-the-book twist, the volume’s seventh is more of a diversion, and becomes evident right away. (I mean, most of their actions reveal a lot about their role in the group (trying not to spoil, hehe))
      I’m glad you liked the book and I can say that next volumes are even more intense, so I hope you’ll enjoy them as much as I did!

  2. I like the story of rokka,the twist is exciting.Oh i have to refraine the word “i like it” i actually “love it”.

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