After the Evil God awakens, the world’s hopes rest on six warriors known as the Braves of the Six Flowers. These warriors have been chosen by the Goddess of Fate and granted special powers, and they will have to unite to face the Evil God. Adlet Meyer, who calls himself the world’s strongest man, is on his way to join the other Braves when he meets the mysterious Fremy. Fremy is a gifted gunslinger who is removing other Braves, even though she is determined to kill the Evil God. As if that’s not enough, the Braves suddenly find themselves trapped together, unable to fulfill their duty. Tensions run high as the Braves realize that they actually number seven and there is an impostor in their midst!

Rokka: Braves of the Six Flowers has an intriguing premise, but the story does not provide enough information to be clear or gripping. The plot moves from one dramatic or action-packed moment to the next, but there is not enough context or set-up for these scenes to pay off. Perhaps the biggest issue is the fact that the very reason the warriors are uniting is invisible throughout the story: the characters only briefly fight the Evil God’s servants, and all the information the reader gets about the Evil God is secondhand. The lack of information weakens the tension of the story because, from the reader’s perspective, there is little reason for the characters to resolve their problems. Neither does the reader understand the Braves’ origins, and at times, the information given seems to contradict what was previously stated. For example, many of the Braves are also identified as saints because of special abilities, but not all of them seem to hold special abilities. It is also unclear how being declared a saint works, how the powers work, and what (if any) bearing that has on becoming a Brave.

Unfortunately, the artwork regularly contributes to the confusion. Because the few backgrounds are minimalist, Kei Toru’s art does not establish a sense of place, and several scenes also make it difficult for the reader to follow the action. The panels are occasionally too small, and the artwork does not consistently create narrative continuity. One example takes place during the climax: Adlet decides to escape from a stand-off, only to be wounded. However, the panels do not effectively convey his injury, so his eventual collapse is a surprise to the reader.

Although Toru has given the characters distinct and quirky designs, the writing does not thoroughly develop their personalities. Over the course of the story, the reader learns some things about Fremy and Adler, but the other heroes are given minimal backstory and exaggerated, underdeveloped characterizations that seem to change to suit the story’s need. Although there is plenty of action, the lack of context prevents these intense scenes from having any sort of impact. As a result, their interactions are stilted and add little flavor to an already flat and confusing story.

Another strike against Rokka is its fanservice. Both of the female characters, Fremy and Nashetania, have impractical costumes for warriors: Fremy simply has a strip of cloth over her chest, while Nashetania’s top reveals that she has no support underneath. Although fanservice is commonly viewed as part of manga and anime, the story’s other weak aspects make it harder to overlook.

Rokka could have been an engaging fantasy adventure, but sadly, the unclear writing and artwork make it a confusing and frustrating read. Unless the anime version of Rokka: Braves of the Six Flowers is popular among your library’s teens, Rokka is neither necessary nor a recommended purchase.

Rokka: Braves of the Six Flowers, vol. 1
by Ishio Yamagata
Art by Kei Toru
ISBN: 9780316501422
Yen Press, 2017
Publisher Age Rating: T (Teen)

  • Megan

    | She/Her

    Features Writer

    Megan earned her MLIS from Simmons College and is currently the evening librarian at Bay State College in Massachusetts. She satisfies her voracious appetite for graphic novels and manga through regular visits to her local public libraries and puts her love of graphic novels to good use by adding to Bay State’s collection whenever possible. Megan maintains a personal blog, Ferret with a Strobe Light, where she discusses awesome books she’s read lately. When not engaged in reading or library work, she likes running, drinking tea, and working on her own stories and art.

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