Reviewby Chris Shepard,
DVD 1: The Call
The forces of darkness threaten to overrun the world. But five courageous young men, aided by their magical armor, will fight the forces of evil. They don't know each other, and in fact, they may not all like each other. But they have been bound together by fate and destiny. They are the chosen ones. They are the legendary Ronin Warriors.
Bandai pulled off quite a shocker with this release. Ronin Warriors, or Legendary Armor Samurai Troopers as it's known in Japan, was originally shown on American television during the late 80's and then occasionally re-shown on various stations including the Sci-Fi Channel and Cartoon Network. It never became much of a hit but it did have somewhat of a following. While old U.S. anime televsion shows are being re-released to DVD all the time, what makes this release so surprising is that it actually contains a subtitled version as well.
This DVD-only release is structured quite oddly. It's a double-sided disc, which is rarely seen these days, and contains the dubbed version on one side with the Japanese version with subtitles on the other. A separate video track was necessary for both versions since the dub contains edits and sped up footage as opposed to the original Japanese version. This disc also contains no extras for either version.
Despite being old and on TV, Ronin Warrior's dub actually isn't too bad. It has the added cheesiness in the dialog you'd expect for something produced in the late 80's and the language isn't as harsh, but it should still suffice for those who insist on watching their anime dubbed. As Ronin Warriors is a pretty tame show, there's almost nothing edited out in the way of violence. Voices and acting could be a bit better but they don't drag the show down too much. But still, the Japanese version is the way to go for the best in execution.
Ronin Warriors is a very simple show and is definitely aimed towards kids. The plot is about as basic as it gets. Generic evil demons from another dimension have traveled into the real world and are bent on making humans hurt. It's up to five warriors, probably chosen by fate, to fend off these ruffians before the entire world gets killed.
And that's all there really is to it. The series kicks it off the moment the anime starts, providing almost no back-story, with the five warriors fighting some evil demon that appeared in the middle of a populated Japanese city. Towards the end of the disc, the series begins to focus more on Ryo, as he takes the main lead as the rest of the troopers lay dormant elsewhere. Even though Ryo hangs out with two other regular human characters as he travels across the lands searching for whatever he's looking for, there's virtually no character development taking place at all. There's very little personal interaction between any of them. I didn't find any of them very interesting, either. While there's definitely room for this series to improve, as this is only the beginning of the series, it looks as if it's going to get very boring very fast.
Ronin Warriors seems to be relying on one thing: pretty boys doing some badass fighting. And despite being a late 80's series with a limited budget, it accomplishes this pretty well. Character designs generally look well and the generic demons look as nasty as ever. The series is given a very dark atmosphere with many camera pans over black-clouded and burnt down cities. On the audio side of things, you also get the mandatory 80's guitar solo wailing throughout the background music though it usually fares pretty well here and adds to the atmosphere. There are some people who really enjoy this style of music and so they should be happy. Ronin Warriors nicely accomplishes its feel and is sure to lure some fans in with it.
Ronin Warriors suffers the sad fate of being an older fighting anime. And since anime that relies heavily on fighting also relies heavily on animation, this title just won't look as good compared to everything else that's available today. How much viewers will enjoy Ronin Warriors depends a great deal on how spoiled they are on the rich animation of today. It isn't completely bad, and the fighting still remains fast paced and occasionally exciting, but there aren't very many animation spectacles. This is some of the better older fighting anime I've seen though, as it relies completely on hand to hand combat with virtually no power blasts to be found here. I have always found this adds much more to the realism of the fighting and makes each hit much more dramatic. Different people are bound to have different reactions to the quality of the action.
Ronin Warrior's is a children's series at heart. Older fans may be able to appreciate its dark atmosphere and everybody loves a little fighting now and then, but you can't avoid the fact that the show is trying its hardest to impress 12-year-olds. If you're a 12-year-old at heart, go and check Ronin Warriors out. But unless you love fighting anime, approach with caution.
+ Good atmosphere, entertaining fighting.
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