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volume 3 issue 12

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13 home / december 2002 / reviews Turn Page BackwardBack to HomeTurn Page Forward

INFO FILE
Title:
Ronin Warriors Vol.6: Arise New Armor
Format:
Bilingual DVD
4 episodes
100 minutes
Production:
Bandai Entertainment
Comments:
This dramatic series becomes more endearing with each new episode, but the effect of its age detracts a bit from the show.
Overall Rating:
81%

Animefringe Reviews:
Ronin Warriors Vol.6: Arise New Armor
By Patrick King

This was a rather odd disc to review, through no fault of its own. You see, I wasn't able to watch the preceding volume in the Ronin Warriors saga before it was stolen from my house (along with quite a bit other great stuff...), so I had to go ahead and watch this without the benefit of viewing disc five. Eventually, when the magical insurance company sends some money my way, I'll be able to replace what was lost...but in the meantime, here's a review of the sixth disc in the series.

Up until this disc, I'd have summarized the plot like so: Arago, evil lord of the Underworld, has taken control of modern-day Tokyo and endangered the souls of each inhabitant of the sprawling metropolis. A thousand years prior to this attack, Lord Arago dominated the islands of Japan (preceding unification, of course) through the use of supernaturally powerful armor. Eventually he was defeated, but now he's returned, and he wants the Earth for himself. Depending on which cut of the show you prefer, only the five elementally-themed Ronin Warriors / Legendary Armor Samurai Troopers (English / Japanese) have the power to stop Arago.

By the time the fourth disc had ended, the Samurai Troopers (I guess I prefer the original version of the show) were assaulting Arago's castle in the sky, ready to make their final attack.

Apparently they were successful; Arago is no longer a threat in the first episode on the sixth disc. At least that's what they want us to think. Ryo has somehow found a way to summon a more powerful form of armor that draws upon the strength of the other Samurai Troopers. The new armor is white instead of his standard red Wildfire armor.

Now that we're all caught up, we can get to the actual review part of this...well...review. Characters have actually fleshed out a bit since the beginning of this older TV series. Now that Arago is gone, there are still problems to face, including newly arrived denizens of the Underworld seeking the legendary armor for their own diabolical purposes. There's also some nice character conflicts developing as Ryo worries about taking his comrades' stamina when he dons the white armor. Oddly enough, the most touching scene in the entire show (to this point, at least) takes place on this disc, as well. I don't want to spoil it, but it probably affects White Blaze fans more than animal-hating enemies of nature. But people who read Animefringe probably love fuzzy wild creatures, so I'm pretty sure if you're here, you'll find the episode rather emotional, as well.

Overall, I find the story and characters of this show far more engrossing now than they were when I first started watching these DVDs. Sure, it's a bit cliché at times, but it's good clean family fun. There's enough drama to keep me interested, at least.

Visually, everything is pretty good...for a TV show from the Eighties. There aren't too many things to complain about the DVD's presentation of the show, but the animation isn't running at super-high framerates, and the image can be grainy at times. For older shows, that's just the way things are, however. There is a good variety of background scenery, and the character designs are okay, if not earth shattering. They also tend to make people (like my girlfriend, for example) say, "Why do all of those girls have such deep voices?"

And she watches a lot of anime. The Samurai Troopers simply look rather girly at times, with long hair and smallish builds. But hey, it's how things were done back in the day. Check out Voltron again and tell me a few of the pilots don't seem a bit too feminine. Besides the princess, that is.

The music, much like the visuals, is good for a show of its time. I am not going to search out the soundtrack anytime soon, however. Also, it seems like not too many sound effects had been invented when this show was produced. For instance, there are only two tiger roar samples and other effects occur frequently in the show. At least there are sound effects, even if they are repetitive ones.

I enjoyed the Japanese language track for this series, even if it was a bit melodramatic. The plot calls for melodrama, after all. I know I usually complain about dubs, and this isn't the worst I've heard, but it's not great, either. The Ronin Warriors (as they're called in English) sound a bit too much like surfers or Ninja Turtles. Don't get me wrong, I love the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (and have nothing against surfers, really), but it doesn't seem appropriate for Japanese warriors to sound like Californians. It's just...goofy. There are some changes to the English version, as well, such as an alternative opening and ending theme, different eyecatches (the things that go between the show and commercial breaks), and even different names for some characters. I suppose I can forgive the localization team for renaming a female character named Nasté (pronounced "nasty").

Pioneer has done a commendable job in the presentation of this disc, which differs from most anime releases in a few ways. First of all, most likely due to the differences in the English and Japanese edits of the show, each volume comes on a two-sided DVD. One side presents the show as Ronin Warriors (in English only) and the other contains Legendary Armor Samurai Troopers (in Japanese, with subtitles). I'm not quite sure if this is a good thing or bad thing, however. I guess for reviewing purposes, it's somewhat annoying, since I like to watch a show in both English and Japanese and do on-the-fly comparisons. For this release, I have to flip the disc to hear the English versions of Japanese phrases. As a consumer, though, I'd probably just watch the Japanese language version and never give the other side a thought. Bonus features are practically nonexistent, unless you love trailers. The cover is reversible, which is a nice touch, but there's not much else in the frills department. Something that may confuse consumers is the run-time listed on the back of the box. For some reason, Pioneer decided to sum the total time of the Japanese and English version, doubling the actual run-time. Sure, these are two different versions of the show, but it's not really twice as much content. There are only four episodes here, and the extra long time displayed might make people think there's more than that.

This series does have the potential to appeal to more than people who grew up with it, but you have to give it some time for it to grow on you. Luckily, this series has been on a tight release schedule, with each disc coming only about a month apart from its predecessor. That's a good thing, since it's hard to get into a series and wait, say, three months before the next volume becomes available. Personally, I'm a fan of boxed sets, but I appreciate the need to buy things in small amounts. Essentially, this show is great for younger viewers and might even satisfy the cravings of older anime fans that might have missed it when it was on television. For people who watched it when it ran on domestic TV, it's a great buy for the nostalgia value, especially since you'll have a chance to see it in its original form as well as the version that you saw back in the day. Would it be too much to ask for Transformers to be done like this?

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