Rokka no Yuusha – 03

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In the early stages of many an RPG when the party is still being assembled, one often comes across a character who doesn’t want to join, and will only reluctantly/provisionally join if convinced or coerced to do so, and even then, could turn on you or turn tail at any time.

That’s who we have in the stylishly-attired, world-weary lone she-wolf Fremy Speeddraw, and it’s what makes the kind and gregarious Adlet her perfect foil. First, Adlet shows her he’s someone to be reckoned with by chasing her down with a deftness that surprises her. The gets in close and steals her ammo, leaving her with one bullet.

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Then Adlet basically tells her to swallow her outrage and come along, turning his back on her and giving her the choice to shoot him and take back her ammo, or join him. It’s a key moment for Fremy after much argumentative banter between them, and she decides to lower her weapon, either because she doubts the dance will end when she fires her last shot, or, less likely, she just doesn’t feel like shooting a unarmed man in the back just for wanting her to tag along.

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An uneasy accord between those two thus reached, we cut to Nasheitania, who allows herself to get cornered by some tricky fiends, but fortunately has the fiercely loyal Goldof by her side. When they encounter Adlet’s horse and note, Goldof accuses Adlet of abandoning the princess, but Tania is far more understanding, and assures Goldof he’d get along famously with Adlet.

Goldof isn’t so sure about that, but he is extremely adept at combat and killing fiends. Tania and Goldof echo Adlet and Fremy in that each pair has an outgoing/happy-go-lucky and introverted/distrustful personality in it.

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No matter which pair it follows, the soaring sights and the stirring orchestral score maintains the grandeur and scale of the Braves’ journey established in the previous episodes. Though only drawn together by Adlet’s insistence, Fremy sticks by his side as they enter the fortress of a town close to their ultimate destination of the Demon God’s domain.

Though the fortress garrison has been decimated and a mere private commands, he dutifully and confidently informs the Braves of the intricate plan to cast a giant cloud of fog over the lands, blocking the fiends from taking further territory once the Braves press on. This too is a very RPG-like mission, with precise timing and contingency plans involved. Adlet, naturally, believes Plan A will go swimmingly.

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But once Adlet and Fremy strike out for the Braves’ rendezvous point, they are ambushed, not by fiends but by Tania and Goldof. The main reason Fremy gives for not wanting to join the others is her belief the other Braves will try to kill her if they see her (and the only reason Adlet didn’t is because he’s “weird”, i.e. a kind person). Fremy doesn’t believe in kindness, and doesn’t want it. She even tries to get him to agree to one day fight her, but go easy on her, while all he wants to do is fight by her side.

Now, exactly what she said would happen is happening, albeit due to Tania and Goldof’s belief Fremy is the Brave-killer. As blades and bullets fly, Adlet must play the peacemaker, and be the glue that holds the Braves together. And if he truly is the World’s Strongest Man, than surely he can get it done, right?

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Rokka no Yuusha – 02

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While their party is just two and the activities are limited to exploring and traversing the great expanse before them, Adlet and Nashetania’s journey is the perfect opportunity for both them and us to learn a little more about them. Take ‘Tania: she’s so excited and giddy at the prospect of this adventure, she challenges Adlet to a fight. In fact, she uses her powers for things like cutting vegetables. She’s restless, but Adlet and she both need to be focused with a Brave Killer at large.

At night Adlet warns Tania they’ll be sleeping on hard ground under the stars a lot, and we learn she’s no stranger to that. Despite having never seen so much, she has experienced more hardship than you’d think of a sheltered princess, mostly because of the tenuous hold her late father had on the kingdom, and the execution order put out for her before she became a saint. Adlet’s not the only one here who’s had to rough it.

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The bottom line is, outside of arena competition, Tania has zero experience fighting fiends, who Adlet knows they’ll encounter. The “game”, if you will, then shifts from “getting to know each other” to “battle 101.”  I like how Adlet gets a very nervous Tania to laugh, thus calming her. Then Adlet gets right in the (CGI) fiends’ faces and dodges and slashes, while keeping Tania back to support him with her blades.

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Their first battle goes well, and the villagers the fiends attacked are saved from obliteration, but there’s news that one village girl didn’t make it out. Adlet is ready to go after her, but Tania stops him, telling him their primary mission is to find the other Braves, and that no matter how strong they are, they can’t save everybody.

Adlet agrees with her until she lets go of his horse, and then charges off anyway, which is Classic Adlet: after all, how can he call himself the Strongest Man if he can’t defeat the Demon God and save the people? He wants to do it all, and in this case, Tania indulges him.

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And this time, it may just get him in serious trouble, as the “girl” in the smoldering ruins of the village seems to be doing just fine taking out all of the fiends. When she notices Adlet, she introduces herself as Fremy Speeddraw, so named because of her rifle and the ability to summon bullets at will. She doesn’t like other humans, suspects Adlet is there to kill him, and refuses to lower her rifle to his non-provocational stance.

Meanwhile, more fiends arrive at Tania’s location, and while she’s able to deal with them herself, she loses her horse in the process. Then the person she’s been searching for, Goldof, who once let her win in the arena, presents himself before her, a newly-made Brave, like her. Tania says this now makes them equals, but Goldof still insists on bowing before her and pledging his life to her protection.

Then Goldof tells her the name of the Brave Killer is Fremy. This should be interesting!

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Rokka no Yuusha – 01 (First Impressions)

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What is it: A sweeping fantasy epic about the rise and gathering of of the “Braves of the Six Flowers”, six warriors chosen by the Goddess of Fate to save the world from the reawakened Demon God and its fiends. The first we meet is self-(and oft)-proclaimed “strongest man in the world” Adlet Mayer, who crashes a sacred ceremony between two lesser warriors and embarrasses them and the entire institution.

For this, he is imprisoned, but he makes a friend of a pretty maid who visits him in his cell, and they chat about the Braves. Adlet spends many weeks in a cage, but when the signs of the Demon God awakening filling the sky, the mark of the Braves appears on his hand.

He is then sprung by jail by the maid, who is really the Nashetania, the princess of Piena, who has also been chosen as one of the Braves. She and Adlet mount horses at strike out into the world to rendezvous with the the other four.

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Why should you watch? If, like me, you’re a big fan of the whole concept of RPGs like FF, which follows a relatively set but time-tested formula from game to game, evoloving with technology of the time (I’ve played FF for NES all the way up to PS3, and looking forward to FFXV for PS4) and switching up its character types, settings, and battle systems. Up until recently there were no direct sequels, as if each FF was really the “final” of its kind.

But the first FF wasn’t the final one as it was believed to be by its creators, nor will FF ever really disappear, despite all the missteps the studio may have taken throughout the years, because fantasy is elemental and eternal. Going back to the carved stones of the Epic of Gilgamesh, they have always been both a tale of how we came to be and an escape from where and who we are.

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Rokka no Yuusha understands this simple fact intrinsically, and attaches new trappings to well-traveled roads in its execution, in the best tradition of FF. The Meso-American fusion motif, with the Tenochtitlan-style capital, makes an immediate escapist impact, and as we move on to our cocky but capable protagonist Adlet carve his way through two of the best warriors in the land, his constant protestations of being the “strongest in the world” sound less and less like idle boasting.

That’s particularly true when we see what becomes of Adlet for stepping out of line and shitting all over the city’s traditions: he’s thrown into a big pit to rot. But far from despairing, Adlet simply uses the time to train and allow his wounds to heal, knowing he could escape at any time. And as I immediately knew the “maid” was actually Princess Nashetania (great name, BTW) I’m not entirely certain a part of Adlet didn’t know it too, judging by how he tells the maid to relay the message, and his lack of surprise when she shows up to free him.

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Why should you watch? Perhaps for the same reason I will be watching: If you’re annoyed, rather than comforted and excited, about the umpteenth execution of the epic fantasy formula. Also, while the show got off to a quick start with Adlet’s battle, things bog down quite a bit in the cell scene. The dialogue is natural at first, and I liked Nashetania’s fidgeting as Adlet talked about himself, but then things descended into pretty transparent infodump territory, though that’s just another familiar mark of this genre.

The Verdict: This second effort by studio Passione (the first being Rail Wars!, which Hannah quite liked) that we’ve seen is a strong entry in the epic fantasy genre, and gets off to a convincing start, immersing us in its lush setting, familiar yet intriguing mythology, and the sense of a grand adventurous journey commencing.

Its attention to detail in matters of combat, production, and costumes impressed mightily. And while Adlet’s a cocky bastard, he has an honorable goal, and Nashetania should be good for him (and vice versa). We’ve yet to meet most of Braves of the Six Flowers to meet, but I’m already sold.

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