Ronin Warriors Vol. #01 (of 10) (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Saturday, March 09, 2002
Release Date: Tuesday, April 23, 2002



What They Say
Long ago, the evil Talpa and his Dynasty waged war upon the Earth from his supernatural realm. Defeated by a lone warrior, Talpa was banished, but never forgotten. Reigniting his thirst for power, Talpa along with his Warlords have once again invaded the mortal realm seeking to conquer the inhabitants of the Earth once and for all.

But the forces of darkness are not unopposed - Protected by a mystical elemental armor, five young men known as the Ronin Warriors are the last line of defense against Talpa and his supernatural army.

Features both the English "Ronin Warriors" series and the Japanese "Yoroiden Samurai Troopers" episodes uncut and presented in their original format.

The Review!
After bumping around on a couple of channels and getting several rounds of replay on Cartoon Network, Bandai snared Ronin Warriors and it's original language version Legendary Armor Samurai Troopers. Being that no uncut dub was made, we get both versions on one disc, but each version on its own side.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this disc in its original language of Japanese. Being a fairly old series, it's your basic mono mix that's sent to two channels giving it a bit of a fuller sounding soundtrack. Thankfully the track doesn't reach too high or get too scratchy sounding. While it's not the most dynamic piece in the world, it's a decent sounding audio track with no dropouts or distortions. We also listened to the English version while writing the review and noted no issues during playback of that either.

Video:
With this show originally airing back across 1988 and 1989, and apparently being somewhat stringent in their budget to get the full run of 39 episodes done, things are somewhat dark and murky here, which is partially by design with the greenish blue background skies. With some grain and some cross coloration added in to some oversaturated colors, particularly the red of the Wildfire armor, you've got a show that's showing its age a fair bit here. It's not horrible by any stretch and still looks a lot better than broadcast.

Packaging:
Bandai does both sides of this shows fans right by producing a reversible cover. The main cover is of course the Ronin Warriors one. The only real difference between the two sides is that one is slightly darker in the backgrounds and the names are different. The reverse side does the full out Legendary Armor Samurai Trooper logo. The back covers each give a run down of their respective shows and list the episode numbers and titles (which are amusingly different at times).

Menus:
For both sides of the disc, the menus are pretty simple. You get episode selection right from the main page and the only difference with the Japanese side is that it has a selection for subtitles and the credits are several pages longer as they include the credits from the show itself.

Extras:
None.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Legendary Armor Samurai Trooper, being the version I watched, kicks off pretty fast into the show. We're brought into "modern day" Tokyo where we see an immense shadow overlaying the landscape. We're introduced to the character of Naste, who along with her grandfather, are aware of the impending evil. We're then given a quick introduction to the young boy Jun whose buying a new skateboard with his parents. And then all hell breaks loose.

Arago, the Emperor of Doom, has made Earth his target after a millenium of sleep. Choosing Tokyo as his launch point, his classic looking castle, immersed in greenish bluish black clowds, settles just above the highest towers in the city and begins to obscure them. Quickly, a ten kilometer radius is considered under his control as power begins to go out and things begin to wither away under the simple oppressive feel of evil.

During all of this, we're also introduced to a young man named Ryo whose got a really big white tiger with him named White Blaze. The clouds descend lower, lightning strikes causing immense damage and people are rushing around in fear as everything stops working. Ryo realizes what's going on and calls upon the Soldiers of Doom to just show themselves as he's the one they're looking for. So it's little surprise when a robotic looking blackish gray Samurai arrives on the scene. The two engage in some fun little street combat after Ryo reveals one version of is combat armor. The fighting gets a bit hard and when Jun and Naste get involved, Ryo begins to struggle a bit.

So it's no surprise when Toma, Shu, Shin and Seiji arrive on the scene, also in their combat armor to help save the day. As expected, with some effort, the enemy is vanquished and we move on to more important things, such as learning more about Emperor Arago and finding that he has four powerful minions who have part of his powers and act on his part on Earth. So you can see the setup of things, where each ones is rivaled with the other and tries to do it all on their own instead of realizing that one quick cooperative effort can give them the entire world. It's at this point that the more sentai-ish elements start coming into play and you can get a good idea of where things are going to go. When one battle gets so pitched that all the Troopers are sent rocketing off to various locations around Japan, you know to expect the next several episodes to start featuring individual stories on each so we can get to know them better.

Samurai Troopers isn't a bad show by a long shot, but once you saw little Jun become involved in how the team operates, you know you're getting a show that's really aiemd towards kids the same age as Jun. So while the show is fairly dark, it's got some elements that are sort of childish and sort of in the teenage range. They mix fairly well, depending on how much you can get into the whole sentai feel of things.

Overall, the series is pretty well presented here with little surprises as to what you're going to get so far. The discs production comes out pretty nice, with the Japanese side being very much left in tact with original untranslated openings and endings. If there's one thing that's going to keep me attentive to the series, it's the fact that Ryosuke Takahashi of Gasaraki fame is the series supervisor. He's managed to immerse himself into a number of series I've enjoyed over the years, so I expect to find some of his trademarks here eventually.

Features
Side 1: Japanese Language,Side 1: English Subtitles,Side 2: English Language

Review Equipment
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Skyworth 1050P Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.



Mania Grade: C
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: C+
Packaging Rating: A-
Menus Rating: B
Extras Rating: N/A
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Bandai Entertainment
MSRP: 24.95
Running time: 100/100
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Ronin Warriors