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 released in August, and the third will come out in December. At the moment there are six volumes for this series in Japan (plus a bonus “Archives” volume).
It’s about time I caught up on some light novel reviews… I’ll start with the first volume of Rokka, a novel that turned out much better than I expected.
Rokka takes the basic premise of a group of heroes in a fantasy world going out to defeat an all-powerful evil enemy, and adds a very interesting twist: someone in their group is a traitor. The prophecy the world relies on proclaims that six powerful warriors will find themselves marked with a magical crest–they are the chosen ones deemed worthy and capable of saving the world. But when seven such individuals gather together, it can only be assumed one of them is working for the enemy.
The story is thus a clever mix of fantasy adventure and mystery. Everyone has not only the legions of monsters to contend with, but also each other. Since every teammate is a suspect, it’s difficult for the heroes to truly work together or feel united in their already-perilous quest. It is this aspect of the story I found particularly engaging, as there were times for each of the seven characters to feel like a prime suspect. I had to keep changing who I guessed was the imposter, and in the end I still ended up surprised by the climactic reveal.
There’s a good cast of characters here. The lead protagonist in particular stands out in this volume, as the author plays with reader expectations of the typical shounen fighter hero. Adlet is loud, brash, determined, arrogant–annoyingly so, in all honesty–but the author actually gives good reason for all this via his back-story, and for me he ultimately became a surprisingly nuanced and likable character. It’s largely up to him to solve the big mystery, and the lengths he goes to in order to do so in turn took me by surprise.
There’s a nice variety to the rest of the characters, and their interactions were entertaining to read thanks to their clashing personalities. Some lean toward quiet, serious, calculating, or detached–others lean toward wild, sketchy, harsh, or impassioned. It was enough to make me wonder why some of them were ever considered for the task of saving the world, which I found to be another interesting topic to speculate on while reading.
I would recommend this to anyone who liked either fantasy or mystery. It’s a well-crafted read with a great translation and some nice and unique artwork.
Cho’s Rating: Strongly Recommended