Do any of you ever just watch a show because it reminds you of another one? I ask this because that’s why I jumped into Ronin Warriors at first. At the height of my Saint Seiya watches during the Asgard arc, I decided that Ronin Warriors would be the show that I would watch immediately afterwards. I knew that hunger of seeing 1980’s metal band boys in armor fighting against the same in armor would need to be satisfied once again. Yeah, I was wrong to do that. Despite visual appearances and very basic plot points, the two are nothing alike. When I started Ronin Warriors, I didn’t like it because of it. A couple more episodes in, I just started to enjoy it a bit and that level of enjoyment grew as time went on.
Oh. I watched the dub of this, which was good, because that was the only portion available in a free capability for me. I honestly have no complaints from this though. It’s very Toonami era, which is good and nostalgic in some ways. I wish I watched it before.
Ronin Warriors is a 39-episode series that is split into two parts. Two parts that are very similar to each other in goals, but nowhere near in scope and depth. The five infamous Ronin Warriors, Ryo of Wildfire in red with his tiger White Blaze, Kento of Hardrock in orange, Rowen of the Strata in blue, Cye of the Torrent in Light Blue, and Sage of the Halo in Green, fight against the evil Talpa to stop him from taking over the Earth. They are helped by Mia Koji who knows Ronin Warriors lore and the kid Ully, whose the heart and soul. First, the Ronin Warriors must fight against Talpa and his evil Dynasty. That means fighting against Talpa’s warlords Anubis, Cale, Dais, and Sekhmet first. It’s very classic shonen battle stuff and it doesn’t fail to provide hype. The thing about formulas is that they work to make some engaging material when done right. In this case, it is here.
The difference between the two halves are the locations and the depth of knowledge. From that fact, I feel like the first half Ronin Warriors isn’t where the show is at its best. At least for me. Mainly because there isn’t as much build up in knowing the characters before the conflict happened. Instead, Ronin Warriors goes by the shoot first and ask questions later policy. After a short introduction, we are instantly thrown into the Dynasty’s attack in the middle of Tokyo. It’s a very effective way for the show to throw the audience into the conflict. It’s also, as a person who is bad with names, not great enough to introduce to the cast very well. Yeah, I constantly got only two of their names right and barely get a sense of their personalities. It took until the more character focused episodes a little later before I did.
That also gets into a lot of the writing issues and problems I have with Ronin Warriors too. When thinking about this first half, the good guys and bad guys are well defined, the goal for why defeating Dynasty is necessary for mankind otherwise Talpa is everything, and the fights are very flashy and exciting. So, it is most of the way there for being pretty great. It’s just the problem of only knows some good guys names and personalities while fighting against some bad guys who are pretty cardboard except one person, Anubis. Talpa just wants control and the rest of them follow his control and fight with their special abilities to take on the Ronin Warriors in combat. The special suit of armor that Ryo uses to defeat Talpa is very focused only on Ryo and requires the abilities from the other suits of armor to do so. The writing focuses on individuals instead of groups.
When thinking about it, I know most of this was on purpose. The lore of that magical armor needs to make an appearance first before we learn more about it. With it establishes, the character writing that improves a great bit in the second half. The Great Sage who watches over the Ronin Warriors did a pretty bad job of explaining anything to the Ronin Warriors, so he might as well not have been there at all. Still, the appearance of the Great Sage here pays off heavily in the second portion and that plays into what I am saying here. The first half is a good prologue to a great second half. It’s a little bit pain of longer shonen series sometimes, but if it’s like this, then it’s not too bad.
Now, I am going to be much briefer in how I handle the second portion. Mainly because I don’t want to give everything away. Some things have to become mysterious. Just know that it does so many more cool things. It provides some character drama centered on Ryo and his newer White armor, the lore around the Ronin Warrior’s armor is very interesting and makes an appearance, we get to know a little more about the other Ronin Warriors besides Kento, Sage, and Ryo, best boy Anubis becomes the Sage and has so many great moments, and the appearance of Lady Kayura shakes things up in so many ways. Yeah, she’s so cool. It’s just a much better written portion and I was getting more and more excited as the show was reaching its climax. Such great cliff hangers
The only thing I will add to last paragraph are the settings and some minor character things. In terms of settings, the second half mainly takes place in the lands of the Dynasty itself. The vast reaches of the Dynasty that our characters have to fight in, along with the amount of people controlled under Dynasty makes them feel like a much larger threat than before. Imagine if this amount of people appeared over Tokyo. The world would be doomed. There are also some cool fights with Lady Kayura in a 1980’s pop setting and it satisfies the 1980’s feel that is needed. Some minor character things, Yuly and Mia’s role grew in this second portion too, because the Ronin Warriors needed their pureness of heart. They stand out from the very solid, but traditional, shonen character arcs of the Ronin Warriors by finding their will and endless amount of courage to win. I’m glad I watched this show all the way through.
In terms of the settings and general visuals, Ronin Warriors is very late 1980’s in terms of art and animation. The character designs are great and diverse by more than their colors, but their distinctive character designs and hair colors. Ronin Warriors also takes place in a lot of locations around the world and in Dynasty and each one of them have their own special feel to them, but greatly feel like they belong. Talpa also takes some really cool forms and his generals have such creative armor designs. Really dig them and their cool special abilities. There is also a lot of stock footage in the show in terms of transformation and attacks per episode, but those moments are the hypest moments possible and I always look forward to what context they are added and what the results of each actions of each attack will be like. I mean, attacks sometimes don’t work. It’s a fact of battle shonen writing.
After all of this, I feel like I am going to give Ronin Warriors a Good. It is a very fun and very solid classic shonen series for a lot of reasons. Small things like some bits of the first half’s execution and the show’s writing on a smaller amount of individuals instead of all of them at once diminishes a lot of things in the show for me. But, it is a lot of fun and any fan of shonen battle series should check this Ronin Warriors out. It was my first time watching it and I want to check this show out again when I give it more time distance. I realize that this show aired on Toonami back in the day, but I never caught it when it was on for some reason or another. Hmmmm.