A thousand years ago the evil Arago threatened to conquer all of humanity, but his plan fell short when a mystical holy warrior succeeded in sending him back to the Netherworld. In order to prevent the return of the evil lord the man separated Arago's indestructible armor and scattered the pieces. Now, centuries later, five young friends receive the magical samurai armor and become gifted with special weapons and abilities. The task of stopping Arago and his minions from once again unleashing chaos into the world rests in their hands. Will these young warriors be able to thwart his diabolical plan for revenge, or will they succumb to the evil desires brought out by the armor?
Welcome to one of the original modern day cult classics of anime. The licensors originally intended to keep its true title, Yoroiden Samurai Troopers, but because of Saban Entertainment’s two big name titles at the time: Super Human Samurai Cyber Squad and VR Troopers having the names in their titles, they feared a law suit. I know it’s stupid, but this is America we’re talking about. But I think Ronin Warriors is also an appropriate title for our cast of characters. Despite the title and name changes, as well as some other ones in context to the story, it maintains a substantial amount of faithfulness in presentation with character interaction, development, and themes such as friendship and unity. But for what it’s worth, the story is appropriately paced and stunningly engaging. I was really captivated by how much Ryo values his friendship with his teammates, and it was also an anime that had death scenes and showed a naked woman on early after noon television. So some of those qualities were just unique to me during that one summer vacation of 1995. But beyond that, I also loved its approach to the concept of what defines good and evil in a way that my 11-year-old mind at the time could handle. Of course some major flaws and issues people will have is that the team doesn’t have an official back-story. Such as how and why they got their armors. In the Japanese version, some of the characters are descended from samurai which does give some indication that they were bounded by blood or destiny to become so. But I heard there are some manga material and drama cds that do give some elaboration to this. Well, to some people the style may not really be unique, but to me when I was getting into anime, seeing the art alone was enough to tell me that I should watch this show. To me, the art was fresh, sharp, original, and distinctive. And for some reason, I still have some of those same impressions to this day though it’s not as strong as it was 13 years ago. Granted the multi-color scheme was very Power Rangers-ish for that time period, I just thought the designs of both the Ronin and Dynasty Warriors brought out a really retro and original approach to the style. I was truly frightened with what the bad guys’ armors looked like and the power it had. And even though the attacks relied on recycled footage, I just love how dramatic they were and how much detail they put into the movement and expressions. The fights at the time were very exciting and high octane for me because like I said, it was something new and it just pulled me in. But I did notice the use of hyper space backgrounds and ever since then as well as in other anime, they still bother me to this day. I want to say more but I’ll leave what I say in relation to this topic for my overall commentary.OK, the English opening theme was cheesy, but I just loved the guitars. Granted it didn’t have a Japanese feel to it, but I thought it was still hypnotic. But I do appreciate that the dub still kept the original background music soundtrack. I always loved the guitar edition of the first ending theme, Far Away, and I thought it was always appropriately used and it always stuck out to me, as well as other background mixes of the other songs such as Stardust Eyes and Samurai Heart. But when you hear the actual theme songs, they have this certain Japanese authenticity to the show. The dub may sound cheesy and lame to some people, but I personally still love it to this day. I think the dub is appropriately 90s and I think the accents for some of the characters truly reflected their personalities. I liked Cye’s or Shin’s or whoever you want to call him’s British accent. I think it perfectly brings out his gentle and happy nature. I also loved Jason Gray Stafford as Kento or Xiu. He brought out his party animal personality and I also enjoyed Matt Hill as Ryo or Raioh or whatever pronunciation you want to use. I recognized his voice as Captain N the first time I heard it and I just simply liked him for the role. And the dub voices of the Warlords were excellent and they just brought out the true evil in them. But I also think the Japanese version is also excellent in its own right. I truly enjoyed Kusao Takeshi’s Ryo as well and brought out his qualities in his own right as well as being passionate and commanding. And Wakamoto Norio, who voiced Cell in DBZ I thought was also great as Kaos or The Ancient One, and the English voice actor, Michael Dobson brought a great charisma to that role as well. I say watch both English and Japanese versions not to see which version is better, but to just overall enjoy it. Well, as you can tell by this review, every time I watch and talk about this anime, the inner child inside me who first watched comes out and talks about his impressions after watching it the first time. I was officially watching anime for barely six months at that point and I thought it was unique to see anime on TV at the time. Keep in mind that shortly after, DBZ and Sailor Moon would soon follow, but would have yet find any mainstream success. The reason why I feel I can’t be outraged over what was changed and edited is not really over the legal circumstances, but I felt that despite whatever changes were made, I personally felt that this anime still had all of its qualities that made it likeable as an anime. I mean, it’s not like any direct Japanese references were cut out. I was captured by how the story wasn’t traditionally episodic as I grew up with American cartoons. I loved the art, the action, the development, the characters.
Sum: If screaming loudly and spamming the same moves won't save the day, my undying spirit and friendship sure will! STORY I understand that this series was most definitely targeted towards an audience younger than myself, however the number of unexplained things in this story made the whole experience feel too baseless to be properly enjoyed. The plot is already following the good old cliche of a dark overlord vs. a band of virtuous teenagers in the special power suits. These said suits, the very focus of the show, is where my main issue arises - how the heck did these kids end up with them? ...We do get to learn the legend to the armors themselves later on, but still the main question of why do these certain five boys get this armor is never confronted... With a cast possessing just as much lack of detail, giving them this added backstory would have made the series much more worth the time investment. Otherwise, it is just a few dudes cutting and slashing till the very end with no reason for you to give two beans as to if they live or lose. ANIMATION Just be prepared, like many other power suit series, to watch the same transformation scenes over and over. Some of the attack sequences are also copied and pasted countless times, from episode 1 all the way till 39. Fight scenes do little to entrance your imagination either as they consist of wild backgrounds flashing behind freeze framed characters, usually screaming out overly descriptive attack names. But, this is the 1980s, and I wouldn't have expected anything less than those triple takes and retina burn color schemes. SOUND Like the animation, the same themes are used throughout the series. None are memorable which is sad to say. But, I did really get a kick out of how purely retro it was. You won't find any sane anime these days playing jazz metal whilst someone dies... CHARACTERS I can handle a cliché storyline, and old animation - even enjoy it - but one thing that really breaks a show for me is a cast that is only purpose deep. What I mean by that is, when you get down to it the only reason the other 4 amored friends exist is for them the get in trouble and have our mc Ryo save them. That, or to act as human battery supplies for his armor. If it were me and 4 others tasked with rescuing the world from imminent Netherworld domination, I would hope to at least know a bit more about my buddies than only surface details and their basic personality traits. Seriously, there is no background at all as to how these fellers met or found their all powerful armors to begin with... no childhood training sequences, family tragedies, generational duties, nothing. So, what are we left with? Just just five names, each fulfilling a different stereotype. Heck, even this side character Kaos who we see only a handful of times had more to him than Ryo himself! Not good, not good... OVERALL It's a real shocker to have even stuck through to the end on this one. I feel kinda bad for bashing it so hard, but the truth be like that sometimes. If you can handle the 80s animation, 80s sound effects, an overused, repetitive, and predictable plot, and characters shallower than puddles in the desert, this show is for you! *cricket chirps* ....There is really only one reason I did watch and finish this show, and that was the fact I simply love old styles like this one has. If that's also the case for you, allow me to suggest something similar: God Mars. Its vibes are the same as this show, but it has a more engaging storyline with characters that at least some substance. It's still not a 10/10 or even 7/10 show mind you, but at least it was memorable and the mc has a backstory lol
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