Mikari
by on May 17, 2015
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Behold, the legend of the Ronin Warriors! Well, at least Ryo, though the adorable White Blaze might steal the show. Welcome to A Boy and his Cat: A Tale of Cute Felines, Adorable Eyes and Epic Shirtlessness, but the full title is kind of long, so feel free to call it A Boy and his Cat if you want something that's less of a mouthful, although throwing confetti whenever you say the title will still be required. This is a shrine to Ryo Sanada, better known as Ryo of the Wildfire.

Like in most magical girl boy series, it all begins with a protagonist and a cute animal. Ronin Warriors is no different, you get a protagonist, Ryo, and his cute tiger, White Blaze. However, we're dropping the high school cliché and instead of having the main boys be classmates, they just show up out of nowhere. They fight some bad guys, strike cool poses and go on *fistbump* worthy adventures FOR JUSTICE!

Summary

So what are the Ronin Warriors? An attempt to sell collectible figures in the late 80s? Maybe, but it's definitely way more awesome than that. Ronin Warriors, or Yoroiden Samurai Troopers, is an action packed series from start to finish in all its 39 episodes. There are also OVAs (original video anime), but I'll get into that later. The main series tells the story of a legendary armor that was long ago split into nine separate armors.

First, let me introduce the main characters, Ryo, the main subject of this site, who wears the red armor of Wildfire, Sage, who wears the green armor of Halo, Rowen, who wears the dark blue armor of Strata, Kento, who wears the orange armor of Hardrock, and Cye, who wears the light blue armor of Torrent. Ryo is accompanied by a white tiger called White Blaze. The supporting cast for the good guys consists of Mia, who is familiar with the Ronin Warriors' legend due to her grandfather's research, and Yuli, a random kid who was separated from his parents when the bad guys attacked.

Right on cue, just as legends told, the alternate dimension called the Netherworld attacked the earth, targeting Japan, because you know, Japan always gets caught up in these things. The evil Dynasty, led by Talpa, a perverse spirit, threatened to take over the world. From that moment, it was up to those chosen to become the Ronin Warriors to save the world. Fortunately, for one reason or another, let's say drawn by destiny, all five of the boys happened to be in the city the Dynasty attacked and were ready to fight. However, they were blown away by an energy tornado sent by Talpa and imprisoned in various locations. White Blaze of course wanted to reunite with Ryo and that meant that Mia and Yuli would tag along, since they'd be sitting ducks without the tiger.

After fishing Ryo out of a volcano, getting Sage from a cave, Kento from a rock, Cye from the sea, and Rowen from space, the warriors set off to continue their mission to defeat Talpa. They get right to it without pausing their mission to go to school or slowly grinding levels with the villain of the day, though they do have four armored Warlords to contend with: Anubis, Dais, Sekhmet and Kale.

As the battle with Talpa approaches, the Ronin Warriors learn about their armor from a mysterious monk known as the Ancient One, cause you know, mysterious monks are more mysterious when they're vintage. (Neo is right, he does look like Raiden from Mortal Kombat. Just look at his picture on the left.) Each of the nine armors were part of the same original, Talpa's armor. It was split into nine pieces, its evil sealed away by a virtue for each one. If its wearer lost that virtue, the armor would turn evil. It would take very strong wills to be able to use the armors for good. The virtues were righteousness for Ryo, wisdom for Rowen, grace for Sage, justice for Kento and trust for Cye.

So if there were nine armors, how come there are only five Ronin Warriors? You guessed it, the four Warlords have the other armors. Their virtues originally were piety for Sekhmet, loyalty for Anubis, obedience for Kale, and serenity for Dais, but they were corrupted and controlled by Talpa. Eventually, Anubis switched to the side of good, the Ancient One sacrificed himself and the Ronin Warriors united their armors to create the legendary white armor, worn by Ryo in the (not so) final battle against Talpa.

Peace was restored to the world... at least for a little while. A new enemy, Saber Stryke, showed up, along with a black tiger, Black Blaze. He was eventually defeated, but there was a big fight and White Blaze died in the saddest scene in the whole series. Fortunately, he was revived by fusing with Black Blaze, Ryo got some new swords and all was well in the end. Except it wasn't quite the end, because Talpa came back for round two, along with some new minions, Kayura and Badamon, who was, contrary to what his name suggests, not a Digimon. That's Talpa pictured on the right.

The Ronin Warriors faced the mysterious Kayura, who had immense power. There was also the fact that although the white armor was very powerful, it drained the energy of Rowen, Kento, Sage and Cye when they gave him their power to form it, so Ryo didn't like using it, though he was often left without a choice. Anubis made a comeback, having adopted the ways of the Ancient One. With some research from Mia, she and Anubis found the legendary Jewel of Life, which could help combat the Dynasty. Oh yeah, and Yuli tagged along for no reason. I don't hate the kid, really, he's so prone to interrupting with random, often obvious, questions that he's past being annoying and well into hilarious territory.

It was revealed that Kayura was the last survivor of the Ancient One's clan, and was being controlled by Talpa. Anubis sacrificed himself, Kayura was freed and join the side of good. There were more battles, some running around the Netherworld and eventually all the bad guys were defeated, with a giant version of Talpa being the last. Of course it took the white armor and a lot of effort from all the Ronin Warriors to get to that, with several of them getting captured at various points during this season. Anyway, that's it, a super quick summary, so you get the basic idea what the series is about. It has silly quotes, late 80s fashion and some obvious remarks, but that's part of what makes it so amusing.

OVAs

The first Ronin Warriors OVA is Gaiden. The guys, along with Mia and Yuli, celebrate Ryo's birthday and are shown relaxing and hanging out. On the antagonist side, we have a wizard and mad scientist who captured Sage and is using him to control his armor, making the armor move on its own and attack people. This happens in the United States, where everyone travels in search of Sage after seeing his armor on TV.

The general feel of Gaiden is very similar to the main series and even more well balanced in terms of hero time and chilling time. I enjoyed the mix of magic and technology, since I am a fan of sci-fi. In terms of the plot, Rowen gets falsely accused of murder while the guys are looking for clues about Sage, though his name is later cleared and the guys make friends with Runa, the sister of the young man who was killed by the Halo armor controlled by Shikasen.

Mia and Yuli get captured, there's a battle, Sage is saved, more battles, Runa is killed by the bad guys, more battles, and the Ronin Warriors are once again victorious. There's nothing overly complicated going on, but there's also more mystery than with the usual challenges the Ronin face with the search for Sage and the murder case.

My favorite scenes from Gaiden are: seeing Ryo in a tuxedo during his birthday party and White Blaze wearing a bowtie. He's seen on the picture to the right next to Yuli. I also really liked the scene of the guys talking on the airplane from Japan to the United States. They were concerned about Sage, but their optimism, hope and friendship was still clearly there.

The second OVA is Legend of the Inferno Armor. Apparently there's a black armor that's as powerful as the white armor. It is used by Mukala, a warrior from Africa. Once again the Ronin Warriors get to travel. I like that their adventures extend outside of Japan and there was some pretty good action in this OVA.

Basically the armors are getting out of control because they are drawn to constantly fight. The white and black armors were never supposed to meet, but Mukala, controlled by the black armor, challenged the Ronin Warriors to face the white armor. That's Mukala wearing the black inferno armor on the picture to the left. Mukala's fiance, Nadia, is nearly killed when she tries to stop the battle and that snaps him back to reality. She is saved in the end and the armors are destroyed.

The plot isn't too complicated, but it does bring up the issue of the armors being originally evil, kept under control because of the strong virtues of their wearers. Nonetheless, it's becoming more difficult to control them, which caused the Ronin Warriors to conclude they must be destroyed. After the armors disappear, White/Black Blaze (they fused during the main series) walks off into a white nothingness that looks like Aerith's hangout from Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children. Since the armors are apparently gone, it seems that his mission is complete.

I generally don't like this type of ending where the source of magic is destroyed, thus ending the believable possibility of a future adventure. Even if such an adventure doesn't happen because the series ends, and either way, fanfiction writers are free to bring the magic back somehow, or introduce a different form of it, I like the idea of the action hero always being the action hero. A badass should forever remain a badass in my mind, if they grow out of it, end the story before that happens. Even so, in this case I can see why destroying the armor fits, and it doesn't affect my love for the Ronin, magical armor or not, they're still definitely badass. Although I would still miss White Blaze if this was truly the end.

The last Ronin Warriors OVA is Message, it's notorious among fans for being confusing, so I will try my best to explain it. The armors disappeared at the end of OVA 2, but Ryo explains that they need armor to beat armor so they weren't really destroyed entirely. This can be linked to the fact that the Ronin still keep some of their power even without wearing their armor.

One peculiar detail is that Suzunagi (pictured on the right) helps Ryo put on his new armor, in other words, it's not like the magical armor that simply materialized itself on him. It's not just ordinary armor either. My conclusion is that this new armor becomes magical armor with the power of the Ronin after they have put it on for the first time.

The original armor was evil, it was made good by virtue, those virtues are a part of the Ronin and a part of their old armor, though the armor was trying to break free from the virtues in OVA 2. The Ronin cannot simply stop having power, because power comes from their virtue, which is a big part of who they are. Their power must be channeled somehow, so the only way to truly break their link to the old armor, is to channel their power into new armor.

The new armor doesn't carry any "baggage" it is what the Ronin will make of it and will likely become magical armor that materializes when called after synching with their power. That's one of the good things about OVA 3, we get to see that the guys still have their power, but not simply because of the armor, it truly come from them, the power of their virtues is what they've earned. The armor doesn't give them power, it projects their inner power. The best part is that White Blaze returns!

I think that OVA 2 might have been an attempt to give the Ronin Warriors a definitive ending. The mission's over, the armors are destroyed, they're just normal guys now. Then OVA 3 feels like an attempt to reboot the franchise. I like the concept for the new armors and how the OVA ended, the problem was that it was confusing and that might have discouraged fans and ended the series. If they had cut out the clip show summary and most of all, Suzunagi's rambles, they could have done this in two episodes and gotten all the important stuff in.

It wouldn't hurt to thrown in an actual villain, perhaps in the form of Suzunagi's grudge, where they actually had to fight her before her spirit became free. I get it that the goodness of the Ronin affected her and overpowered her grudge, but this has been an action show all the way, so battles are expected. That aside, I can still appreciate the fact that the Ronin are still the protectors of the world, now more than ever by their own choice, and their new armor does look cool.

Manga & Artbooks

Try as I may to find it, I have not come across the Ronin Warriors manga, though I have seen covers for at least two volumes and there might be some artbooks in existence somewhere, judging by some old scans I've seen online.

Before deciding to make this site, when I was still yet to finish watching the series, I took a look around the Internet and saw several sites with profiles for the Ronin listing the same information. As I watched the series, I waited from all of that to come up. I was expecting origin stories during the down time between seasons, but there was no such time. After Talpa's defeat, Saber Stryke came, then Talpa again.

I thought that maybe that information was from the OVAs and I kept expecting a flashback of Ryo's past, a mention about his ninja ancestry, something. Yet it soon came to my attention that there are things that only appear in the manga/artbooks, for that is the only place left to look for such details. It's too bad we didn't get an episode dedicated to presenting the Ronin's past and the first time they got their armor, as they already have it in episode one, but at least their backstory does exist and it's pretty interesting.

Here's what I've learned about Ryo online from places such as the Samurai Heart wikia and Wikipedia . I have also seen this same information on several older fansites in hosts such as Angelfire (ah, my first host when I was but a child making her first fansite to Dragon Ball Z before I followed the crowds and moved to Geocities). I'm sure that if Yahoo Geocities still existed, there would be plenty of older fansites from the rise of Cartoon Network's Toonami there too. But this isn't an Internet history lesson, so as the Ronin Warriors would say, let's jam.

Ryo is 14 years old in the TV series, 16 in Gaiden and 17 in the last two OVAs, which means he's 17 in the last episode that aired. His birthday is listed as August 15, 1973, which would make him turn 14 in 1987, though both the manga and anime came out in 1988. However, the anime first came out in April, so he would still be 14 at the time.

If Ryo had continued to age, he would be turning 41 at the year of this writing, 2014. I have also seen some sources claiming that he's 17 in the series, to 20 in the last OVA, but that wouldn't fit his date of birth with the release of the manga, and anime is generally known for having a lot of 14 year olds in it.

He measured 5'4" and weighs 125 pounds in the TV series, this changes to 5'9" and 136.7... let's say 137 pounds in the last OVA. At least he's one inch taller than me. Since the anime is mentioned, this information most likely came from an artbook rather than the manga.

Ryo was born in Yamanashi, Japan. Yamanashi has areas that are less crowded in comparison to other cities in Japan, such as Tokyo. It is known as a destination for nature related tourism. There are several parks there and it is likely that Ryo grew up in one of those, such as the Chichibu-Tama-Kai National Park. One of the backstories I saw online claims he was defending a reserve from hunter when he first used his based armor and discovered that fire empowered him.

Ryo's father was a ninja, who left his clan because of their strict ways, thus Ryo has never met them. His mother died when he was very young and his father frequently went away on long trips, due to his job as a wildlife photographer. Ryo lived in a log cabin away from the city during his childhood and had to walk nine miles to school. He met White Blaze at ages four, seven and finally ten, then the tiger led the Ancient One to Ryo. So does this mean that Ryo got his armor from the Ancient One? But he doesn't seem to be too familiar with the Ancient One in the anime. Maybe the Ancient One just watched from the shadows and White Blaze gave Ryo the armor? It's not too clear, but one thing's for sure, little Ryo is adorable.

Remake

If they ever make a Ronin Warriors remake, of course I would look forward to the updated animation, more detail and more movement. I would miss the peculiar quirks of the classic, especially the occasional odd face and fashion of the late 80s. It would be nice to see the warriors animated without the many shortcuts that older shows had to take to make it within a limited budget, reused frames, still images with only a little mouth movement and voice overs with no animation.

In terms of the script, I would like for it the stay the same with all the silly quotes included. The Ronin Warriors wouldn't be the Ronin Warriors without phrases like "hey buckethead!" "What a hotdog!" "Let's jam!" and others such phrases, it's part of the humor. I would like for the main theme to still be action, but I would appreciate some humor fillers between adventures with the guys hanging out and being silly. Most heroes get to chill out between seasons, so the Ronin should too. No romance subplots please, I love that this is all action, fun and humor all the time, no drama unless it makes fun of itself.

The only romance subplot I'd be willing to accept would be along the lines of some light Mia x Anubis. Speaking of Anubis, I'd prefer it if he lived. As for Mia, allow her to narrate the tie-ins at the start of each episode and next episode previews at the end. With all the questions she has to answer and all the legends she explains, she's the narrator anyway, so it'll be a fun way for the series to poke fun at itself.

On the subject of the supporting cast, Yuli can tag along and ask obvious questions in season 1, but after Talpa round 1 is done and before Sabre shows up, the kid will only get cameos, with more obvious questions, so the running gag keeps going. Keep him as an oblivious chatterbox, he's hilarious, I can't dislike him even if many would describe him as annoying, just give people the chance to miss the kid, then they'll realize a lot sooner how much they appreciate the way he constantly interrupts with obvious questions.

Iron out the small apparent contradictions in the OVAs in a way that people don't need to over think it to explain them away. Integrate the OVAs into the series and add some more continuity. I wrote my thoughts about the third OVA, Message, in the OVA page, basically, make it faster paced, add some more action and summarize it by cutting out Suzunagi's pointless monologue. Keep the scene where everyone pours their heart out on Ryo's answering machine, that was interesting. As much as I like looking at Ryo, add in some movement and some shots of the other guys instead of having the whole scene play out to a backdrop of Ryo sitting still as a statue.

Beyond the OVA, develop the subplot of Mia working with the United Nations security. Give the Ronin more opportunities to travel, though they should still go home for a few humor chilling out episodes in Japan. They can take on a variety of legends and mythology, slowly transition in more supernatural and scifi themes as they started to do in the first OVA with the mad scientist, there's supernatural stuff in the main series, keep it up and keep developing it. The new armor designs are fine, just give them magical transformation sequences and they're good to go.

I would also like to occasionally see some flashbacks, preferably mixed in with the chill out and make us laugh episodes between seasons. Those flashbacks will show us the life of the guys when they received the armors and even before then. Little Ryo meeting White Blaze is just too precious not to be shown. They should also continue to develop White and Black Blaze, giving them some character centric episodes too.

As my final wish, I want ninja. Let Ryo meet his father's clan, learn about his ninja roots and be forced to join forces with the clan for the survival of them and the Ronin against a greater threatening force. Let the overly strict ninja learn of what they're missing out in by being so set in their ways and let Ryo learn some classic ninja tricks, while still being his ronin samurai self. If we could have all of this, or even just some of it, it would be an epic remake.

Theories

One peculiar thing about Anubis and Kayura is that they are identified as being a man and a girl respectively. This obvious sounding fact is actually supposed to denote their human appearance, though the other Warlords also look human-like.

It is possible that Anubis was indeed once a mortal, though he has lived for so many centuries and is still young. It is likely that the explanation behind this is that his armor kept him young.

With this theory in mind, another question emerges: does the Ronin's aging slow down when they wear their armor, even their basic armor? I think this is very likely true, however, they don't wear it all the time as the Warlords did, since Talpa was using it to control them. Hence they do have plenty of time to age normally.

Kayura and the Ancient One have special powers without armor and they also have lived for centuries. Their slow (not stopped) aging comes from their own power.

Since Anubis had adopted the ways of the Ancient One, this could mean that a human with at least some link to magic could become as a member of the Ancient One's clan, though the extent of this is unknown, meaning there's no way to know if Anubis' lifespan would have been longer without the armor, since unfortunately he died.

Judging by White Blaze's lifespan and the fact that he is clearly no ordinary tiger, it is possible he might have come from the netherworld too. Though there are many evil beings in that dimension, not everyone is evil, though Talpa did have a lot of followers. Talpa is said to have been a human who used black magic after death, so human spirits becoming part of the netherworld are not unheard of.

Secret Identity

The Ronin Warriors don't really make an effort to keep their identities a secret. When Talpa first attacked and held the city hostage, he fed off the people's fear, which means that they had to be aware at least to an extent. Plus they did, at the very least, witness the start of the invasion. However, after Talpa's first defeat, the citizens were freed but held no memories of their time in captivity. The only humans without magic from the city that knew what happened were Mia and Yuli, who had escaped being caught by Talpa.

The rest of the world, as revealed in OVA 3, had a vague idea that something supernatural had happened in Japan, but they didn't know exactly what, though the theory of another dimension was mentioned. This likely changed when Mia spoke at the United Nations defense meeting. It is not revealed if they believed her, but since the other members seemed to agree that there was something supernatural going on, her story wouldn't sound too crazy. It is also unknown how much Mia revealed, if she mentioned the guys' real names or not, but she's smart, so I would guess she'd have the sense to leave out certain details.

The Ronin don't actively seek fame or credit, but they don't go out of their way to hide. Once again, even if it seems a bit odd and even illogical that they don't make a bigger deal about their true identities, I think it's pretty awesome how the Ronin just do their own thing an focus on saving the world. However, if the series had continued with more supernatural occurrences and the authorities paid more attention to it, the whole issue about the Ronin's identity could become a big deal.

My interpretation is that Mia didn't reveal who they are, she would be smart and thoughtful enough not to set them up to be pestered by the government. Mia could thus serve as an intermediary in the future, perhaps mostly to ensure that no one got in the way of the Ronin saving the world. Since supernatural occurrences are not exclusive to Japan, even if it seems to happen most often there, Mia could also communicate with the Ronin when strange things happen in other countries and arrange for transportation. The Ronin have been to the United States and Africa before, so the possibility of adventures outside of Japan has happened. I would like to see them visit France and maybe have an adventure in the Caribbean. More supernatural stuff mixed in with sci-fi would be awesome, but I already got into the details of my wishful thinking in the remake page.

Ronin Samurai

The Japanese title of the series is Yoroiden Samurai Troopers or Legendary Armor Samurai Troopers and the English title is Ronin Warriors. Let's examine the key words of the titles, samurai and ronin.

There are several things associated with samurai, they are sometimes referred to as nobles in the military or a military that closely works with nobility. It is said that to be a samurai is "to serve." They were also called bushi before and followed the rules of the bushido. I'm not going into too much detail about it on this page, the point is there was a lot of stuff about honor. Honor is everything, samurai had to do their duty, be strong, have self control and be loyal.

The stricter samurai code dictated that the samurai commit seppuku, a type of suicide ritual, on the master's death. Ronin were masterless samurai sometimes seen as dishonorable because of this, though this view came mostly from other samurai in a form 'I'm better than you' attitude and from the power hungry shogun. Nonetheless, a ronin's master isn't necessarily dead, they could be warriors for hire who didn't have a specific master. The ronin could do jobs that wouldn't have a negative impact on society, in fact they could be quite helpful. Yet their somewhat rebellious air of freedom was frowned upon, as not all ronin were well behaved in terms of the law and some could act like bandits at times.

Okay, I probably butchered a lot of stuff in this brief summary while trying to provide some basic understanding of samurai and ronin with the different connotations they may have. I don't even have some big interesting point to make, it's just a random fun little rambling. As for which do I prefer... Ronin, it sounds rebellious and cool! Which is ironic given the fact that each armor represents an aspect of bushido, but hey, you can be rebellious and honorable all at the same time. Besides, this fits given the fact that their enemies are called the Dynasty.

The shogunate wasn't very fond of ronin and restricted them in many ways. Some ronin were a bit unruly and didn't follow the code of honor, but not all can be judge in such a way. The shogunate wanted society to view the ronin with disfavor, since they wanted to be in power and there's only so much power that can be used against a warrior without a master, who didn't have all that much to lose anyway. Perhaps that reputation further contributed to some ronin deciding to go with the flow, since people would assume the worse anyway, but again, it's not a full generalization that should be made. The shogunate's treatment of the ronin eventually led to an uprising (who wouldn't see that coming?). This happened around 1651.

An extra touch of rebellion is never wasted on an action show with a primary audience that was expected to be teenage boys, that aside, I do find that the English title fits very well, maybe even better than the Japanese. The Ronin Warriors had no master, they fought against Talpa, who wanted to rule the world in oppressive ways, using the people's fear to feed his own power. There's also a message about balance there, being encouraged, rather than forced, to do the right thing, because only then it will be truly right. We see the guys come to terms with this, going from following "destiny" as the chosen Ronin Warriors, to developing their virtues, and finally truly choosing to be the Ronin Warriors upon accepting their new armor. You don't need society or an emperor telling you to be honorable, virtue comes from the heart, rather than a title or social standing.

Mix Up

Names and virtues were switched between characters in translation. Cherri has a table with the names in the English and Japanese versions.

I can understand turning rekka into wildfire, it's a translation and it makes sense, but why switch the names? I would understand if they were simply trying to make the names easier to grasp for an American audience, but they kept some of the names, they just switch them between characters, such as Cale/Kale originally being Anubis and the one I'm used to calling Anubis originally being Shuten Doji.

Some virtues got switched around too. Sage has knowledge, which was Rowen's virtue. I guess they thought Seiji sounded like Sage and Sage sounded knowledgeable. That makes sense, but in some of the other cases it seems more so an accidental confusion than a deliberate change.

Hey, it was the early 90s when Ronin Warriors was translated, confusion happened more often then. Plus I get the impression the budget wasn't particularly big because they didn't even bother making an English opening or closing theme, instead leaving the Japanese themes. Too bad, having an English version of the songs was one of the things I enjoyed most about 90s anime.

On the topic of virtues being mutated in translation, Ryo's virtue, righteousness, has also been said to be benevolence, or simply virtue. Anubis (Shuten) is said to have obedience, though he originally had loyalty, with obedience belonging to Cale. The fact that they switched both names and virtues makes me think there really was some confusion involved, as there would be no reason for it to be done on purpose.

The last random little detail is Ryo being called both riOH and REEoh. Regardless of which one is truly official, my preference goes to riOH. Of course none of these little details are deal breakers. The Ronin are lovable and the silliness of the late 80s (when it was made) and early 90s (when it was translated) just makes it all the more amusing. They have the best of both decades.
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