Ronin Warriors OVA Vol. #1 - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: B-

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: B
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: N/A
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Bandai Entertainment
  • MSRP: 29.98
  • Running time: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Ronin Warriors

Ronin Warriors OVA Vol. #1

By Chris Beveridge     May 04, 2003
Release Date: April 01, 2003


Ronin Warriors OVA Vol. #1
© Bandai Entertainment


What They Say
Things have calmed down considerably since the defeat of Talpa. Sage has gone off to America to study; Ryo is celebrating his birthday; Kento’s won the lottery! However, the joyous mood disappears when the local news breaks a story about a strange killer in New York wearing mysterious armor. When the four warriors arrive to investigate, they are met by a new sinister force. The ancient sorcerer Shikaisen has discovered the power of the armors and is now intent on making them his own.

The Review!
With the TV series concluded, there’s still more Samurai Trooper fun to be had in a series of OVA’s that were released soon afterwards.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this disc in its original language of Japanese. Much like the TV series releases, the sound feels a bit low for this mix, but this is something we’ve noted on older shows in the past. There’s little in the way of directionality but everything across the forward soundstage sounds decent if a bit lower than I’d expect. Dialogue is nice and clear and we didn’t notice any distortions.

Video:
The transfer here looks better than the TV series in general due to better quality animation and probably some masters there were in better shape. Colors are nice and solid, cross coloration is non-existent and there’s little in the way of serious aliasing. The main problem of all the grain in the TV series also is pretty much absent from this release.

Packaging:
Providing another reversible cover that gives the buyer the choice between logos, Bandai keeps both sets of fans happy. The cover has a nice image of the heroes ringed around the dark sun and the main villain from the second OVA series. The only real difference is on the front cover though. The back cover provides a summary of what to expect and some animation for each of the two series here. The insert provides the cover artwork on one side while the other has a nice pretty-boy shot of the cast and a quick contents listing.

Menu:
The menu layout is fairly similar to the TV series with the exception of having actual audio selections since it’s all on the same piece this time. One really nice addition is once languages are set, you can select the episode you want to play from that menu without having to go back. Access times are nice and fast and the loads between menus is short.

Extras:
None.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
After we had finished the TV series, we were pretty happy that it had all come to a conclusion and was done with a fair amount of finality. But like any series, there’s always room to do more. What it comes down to is, is it worthwhile to do more or does it just turn into an opportunity to squeeze a few more bucks?

TV series fans, particularly those who had seen Ronin Warriors on TV years ago, will be really happy to have some kind of new material to check out. What we do get is six episodes, which is split across two series. The first side of the disc contains the first two twenty-five minute episodes while the second side has the four episodes to the second series. Why it was split like this may make some kind of sense in the encoding, but I almost would have figured it would make a better dual layered disc than a double sided single layer disc.

The two episode run, entitled Gaiden, is something that feels like it could have been a side story inserted into the main series. While most everyone is relaxing and enjoying a life after all that had happened, a new evil in the form of an ancient sorcerer named Shikaisen comes to cause trouble. On the interesting side, it all starts with Seiji’s armor being the cause of a series of murders in New York City. Since nobody can reach him, they all head out to New York City to find him and the real cause of what’s going on. It ends up playing out much like the TV series but in condensed form, since we’re dealing with a similar kind of villain.

The second OVA series is entitled Inferno and this one plays just a slight bit different. Things start off with everyone on different vacations in their getting away from it all mode. For Ryo, that doesn’t mean much since he’s always attracting attention, so it’s no surprise when he’s strolling down the street in Shinjuku that some kind of mystical power would appear. Strangely, the entire area begins to get overrun by a variety of African animals, such as giraffes and elephants as well as the flora and fauna of the region. Things get so bad that the streets are broken up and buildings lose their windows.

What proves even more interesting is when the mysterious villain appears, a young African man with green diamonds painted on his chest and face. Silent throughout his introduction, he takes on Ryo and eventually most of the other warriors and comes out on top each time. What really shocks everyone is that he calls down his own armor at one point during the battle and is then wearing the “black” version of Ryo’s Inferno armor. And his armor causes Ryo’s to be drawn to it, and they’re sucked off to Africa. This then sets things up for Ryo to discover what’s going on while the others try to decide how best to help out and find out where they are.

The four parter provides some interest in a human villain and someone who doesn’t blab constantly, but tends to suffer a bit from the same thing as the TV series in its extended length feel for the story. Both things balance each other out, so the episodes play out nice. The animation for both OVA series is also nice, a few steps above the TV series itself. The designs remain the same, but with the lack of grain and a better budget, it looks like a much cleaner and smoother version of the series with actual backgrounds.

Ronin Warrior/Samurai Trooper fans will likely be ecstatic to have this new material, plus another volume on the way. Those who struggled through the series may not find much new here though, though it is a bit bloodier and Naste actually wears different outfits and the African feel of the Inferno series provides a nice twist.

Features
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles

Review Equipment
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Panasonic RP-82 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.

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