Rokka, Episodes 1-4 – Review

I finally got my hands on one of those wacky Ponycan releases! Their packaging is indeed very strange, and it looks like I’m going to have to store it sideways above my shelf or something, but unfortunately the show itself wasn’t quite as interesting. Rokka has a great first episode, but man does it ever tumble after that. I wouldn’t even be against it shifting from action-adventure to slow-burning getting-to-know-you episodes in the abstract – that annoyed me the first time I watched it, but this time I knew what to expect. The real problem is that the actual dialogue is just so very, very bad. If you’re gonna make a character-focused fantasy piece, you really gotta sell those characters!

Anyway. You can check out my full review over at ANN, or my episode notes below!


Episode 1

Nice painted mural backgrounds for the worldbuilding scenes

Pretty exciting OP

“The Strongest Man in the World”

Lovely backgrounds for the city

And of course the aesthetic is very strong – a vaguely Aztec/generally South American aesthetic

And the first episode opens really fast out the gate, presenting a fight immediately

“The victor will battle Princess Nachetanya”

And Adlet Myer stomps into the middle of the fight and pronounces himself the strongest man in the world

Solid battle animation and active direction

Impressive spinning shots in the fight

Adlet fights with a wide variety of engaging tricks

Good sound effects, too

And then he gets promptly arrested

And Adlet meets Nachetanya

The active direction makes this ostensibly static scene very active and interesting

Atro Spiker is Adlet’s master. He trained with him for eight years

“I think I’ve heard the phrase ‘the strongest man in the world’ enough to last a lifetime.” Me too

Nachetanya is very expressive

Good visual humor here

“I have to defeat the Evil God”

The Saint of the Single Flower fended off the Evil God, and prophesied six heroes would appear to fight the Evil God when it reawakened

More nice visual articulations of the fantasies. Ugh, except the CG monsters

The Braves have already appeared before, twice in fact

They’re kind of stretching this empty exposition. I don’t need to know all these sage names

“A crack has appeared in the Prophecy Jewel” jeez, they’re pretty on-the-nose with their fantasy variables in this world

The monsters are Fiends

Someone’s killing potential Braves

“You’re pretty dumb, aren’t you?”

And Adlet gets stuck in a hole

Nice framing of the hole

And nice montage of time passing in the hole. This show has some compelling compositional ideas

Solid orchestral music, too

A red light appears in the sky

Nachetanya is the “Saint of Sword”

She conducts swords with a baton. A nice trick

And the two are off

More great orchestral music – rousing strings and horns

Yeah, just a really strong first episode

Episode 2

More nice backgrounds. Lovely forestscapes and fields and valleys

Uh oh. The character art’s already getting wonky. Backgrounds still very nice, though

Nachetanya’s sword powers are crazy

Ugly CG for a bunch of them, though

Adlet once knew a Saint that wasn’t happy to become one

Only women are Saints

“Is a girl like me just a bother, no matter where she goes?” weird dialogue

And it’s then framed as her joking, but it’s just a weird exchange in general

“I got too excited.” This is all very stilted

“This is my first time. Being with someone like you, Adlet.” Like, what are we supposed to make of their relationship this early on? It’s nonsense

Jeez, I forgot how quickly and immediately this show falls apart

And now we’re supposed to feel sad for Nachetanya for political stuff

“Someone I can honestly tell what I’m thinking and feeling… you’re the first one, Adlet”

What the hell?

“Back then, all I dreamed of was a night where I could sleep without a fear of death.” This dialogue is excruciating

Kind of mediocre sunrise, honestly

“Goldov left on a journey to find the Brave-Killer”

The camera sure likes Nachetanya’s boobs. But I guess with that outfit, there’s not much helping it

Adlet makes silly faces. Another awkward scene designed to endear us to this pair

ono, lousy CG monsters!

Nachetanya gets over her battle-fright

“There are only two of us. We can’t save everyone. I’m sorry, but let’s go on ahead”

And Adlet goes anyway. “I’m the strongest man in the world!”

Time to meet Fremy and her absurd outfit

Saving dogs, of course

“I like dogs. I don’t like humans, though”

Flamie Speeddraw, goddamnit

“Have you come to kill me?”

Goldov appears

and we learn Flamie’s the Brave-Killer

Episode 3

“Using every method at my disposal to win isn’t cowardly”

She’s the Saint of Explosives

Adlet hunting Flamie through the forest

God damn her outfit is silly

Flamie’s convinced the others will try to kill her

“The weakness of a gun is that you can’t fight without bullets” that sure is a line

Adlet bluffs her down by turning his back, but using a hand mirror to make sure she doesn’t kill him. A very nice little trick

ono more CG monsters

Goldov uses a giant chain-sword

He gets a ridiculous over the top spin attack moment to demonstrate he’s a badass

The costumes of the main characters actually kind of suck. They’re so silly

“I’m very serious about protecting you.”

Flamie snarking at Adlet is pretty good

More interesting songs – unique, complex percussion

“Eventually, you and I will try to kill one another. When we do, go easy on in me. You can cut into me, but don’t finish me off.” This is one of the most awkwardly written shows I’ve seen in a while

Adlet and Fremie arrive at a burning fortress

At the fortress, they learn the general developed a barrier to create a wall behind the Braves

“You are a kind person, aren’t you? Don’t point your kindness at me. It makes me want to kill you” blurghl

ooh, good animation of Flamie in this final battle

Episode 4

More dynamic fight direction. Great cutting between Nachetanya and Goldov scrambling and close-up shots of Flamie reloading

Flamie admits she killed the potential warriors

Flamie was trying to revive the Evil God so she could fight it

“If you insist on continuing this, I’ll side with Flamie.” dang, Adlet

“Be careful. You’re a man who’s easy to fool”

“I haven’t decided to trust you. I trust Adlet”

“Men like girls like her. They make you want to protect them.” Nachetanya’s got the fandom’s number

Nice shot of the whole team running through the forest

Really nice seeing the whole team fight together. And it’s also nice that Adlet is clearly the weakest of the group

More nicely framed shots

Adlet gets lured into some kind of trap

Someone activated the barrier and disappeared, so now they’ve been sealed in

“I will be the mistress of the barrier!” Nachetanya loses it for a bit

Saint of Pond, Chamot Rosso

Chamot is supposed to be extremely strong

“Let’s start by killing Flamie!” So the psycho kid type

Maura Chester, the Saint of Mountain

Hans Humpty, the last of the… SEVEN!?!?!?!?

This spinning shot is impressive and terrible

“One of us is an enemy!”

2 thoughts on “Rokka, Episodes 1-4 – Review

  1. It gets (very surprisingly) better!

    Never as good as the original episode suggested it could be, but it definitely gets better. And mystery-centric in a fashion that surprisingly works, given most mysteries feel in media generally have a tendency to a variety of emotionally deflating cliches (e.g. “The main character has conjectured a solution! And so it is suddenly, obviously correct! (despite innumerable equally plausible, empirically and logically consistent alternatives”).

    But yeah! Once Rokka hits its central S1 mystery (I’ve never read the manga, no idea if it does more of this), it grows into itself. The transition episodes between episode 1 and the mystery were sadly obvious in being largely transitional.

  2. Minimal Spoilers about show direction:

    I don’t know for the love of god why they did those first episodes the way they did them. It’s setting it up as a shonen action show, and then it gets turned into a .. mystery?

    Also the ending is shit. I gave it a 7/10 because I was enjoying my weekly mystery but that’s about it.

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