Anime / Ronin Warriors
aka: Yoroiden Samurai Troopers
Why are they "ronin"? That's a good question.

Yoroiden Samurai Troopers, a 39-episode Shōnen anime produced by Sunrise in the late 1980s, centers its story around a group of young men who don transforming mystical armors. Sunrise designed the show to capitalize on the success of another hit show about young men who don mystical armors; Samurai Troopers was made with Sengoku flavor, though. The series found its way to the US in 1995 as Ronin Warriors, where it meshed well during the post-Power Rangers wave. The American dub remains one of the least Macekred Anime-to-American TV adaptations of its time in terms of cuts (excluding the name changes).

In the first episode, Master Talpa, the supreme lord of the Underworld—who spends most of the First Arc as a floating demonic mask—enters the mortal world and invades Tokyo with a horde of demonic henchmen. A handful of people escape the flood of Talpa's Dynasty henchmen; Yuli (a young boy whose parents end up captured during Talpa's invasion) and Mia Koji (a young student-teacher and researcher of ancient Japanese legends and antiquities) are amongst them.

Also witness to this event: five athletic young heroes in colorful armor, one of whom (Ryo) wandered into the city alongside an enormous white tiger minutes before Talpa's arrival. When Mia and Yuli find themselves threatened by Talpa's foot soldiers, Ryo and the other heroes step in to rescue them. Talpa senses a threat to his invasion and casts the young heroes to the four winds with his supernatural powers...which leaves Mia and Yuli left with the task of reuniting the Ronin Warriors so they can prevent The End of the World as We Know It. But the young warriors and their friends have more than just Talpa and his low-level goons to worry about: the evil mastermind has four powerful warlords in his employ, each of whom have armors that allow them to unleash unspeakable horrors upon the world. (The heroes have Yuli on their side, so things even out.)

Once the warriors reunite, they venture into Talpa's demonic stronghold and discover the full extent of their powers — as well as the origins of their armors: long before Talpa came to conquer Tokyo in modern times, a mystic known as The Ancient One defeated Talpa in battle. The mystic sent Talpa's soul to the Underworld, but the warlord's demonic armor remained in the mortal world. As a precaution against Talpa's possible return, The Ancient One melted down the armor, then remade it into nine separate armors. Five of these armors found their way to the Ronin Warriors; the other four, to Talpa's Warlords. The warriors press on into battle even after learning the truth, and Ryo eventually defeats Talpa after the power of all five Ronin Warriors combine to give Ryo a new suit of armor.

Several new foes show up after Talpa's defeat to challenge Ryo while he learns to control the the Inferno Armor's immeasurable power. But these villains are a distraction from the true threat: Talpa, who still lives on in the Underworld, and the corrupted Lady Kayura, the last member of the line of Ancients and a force more powerful than even the Inferno Armor. The Warriors decide to strike at Talpa in the Underworld instead of waiting for another invasion—and they intend to stop the warlord's schemes once and for all.

Sunrise continued the story after the series ended with follow-up OVAs "Gaiden", "Kikoutei Densetsu" ("The Legend of the Solar Armor"), and "Message", each of which feature their own distinct storyline and villains.

Thanks to its cheesy-yet-enjoyable dub, lack of content cuts, and wide exposure via syndication (and later Toonami), Ronin Warriors helped pave the way for the mid-to-late 1990s anime boom. Bandai gave in to fan demand in the early 2000s and released the entire show on special double-sided DVDs: one side contained episodes of Ronin Warriors, while the other contained subtitled (and uncut episodes) of Samurai Troopers. Bandai later released the OVAs (with their own dub to boot), then eventually released both the series and the OVAs together in a collector's set. The individual DVD releases had a special "flip" cover: one side was a Ronin Warriors version, the other side a Samurai Troopers version. Both sides shared similar layouts, but the back-cover text and logos stayed in line with each specific version of the show (right down to episode titles and character names). Discotek Media eventually rescued the Samurai Troopers license and released the series and OVAs on DVD (legal issues surrounding the Ronin Warriors dub has prevented the company from re-releasing that version).

Ronin Warriors/Yoroiden Samurai Troopers contains examples of the following tropes:

  • The Abridged Series:
    • First part of the first and only episode is right here.
    • Also, Sage's Mental Notes can be found on Youtube. Not quite an Abridged Series, but very funny.
    • There's also dutchmcgee101's Alternate Ronin Warriors, also on Youtube. Also not quite an abridged series in the strictest sense, but it's worth a look.
  • Accent Adaptation:
    • Rowen, who is from Osaka, is given a New York dialect in the TV series; by the time the first OVA comes out, he has a new voice actor who drops the dialect all together. (Several years passed between the original dubbing of Ronin Warriors and Bandai's dubbing of the OVAs, though.)
    • Cye has a British-English accent to emphasize his polite nature.
    • Talpa has a Welsh accent because why the hell not.
  • Alien Sky: Talpa/Arago's castle looms in the sky over Tokyo, surrounded by greenish Ominous Clouds. Those clouds seem to follow the antagonists wherever they go.
  • All There in the Manual: In-depth background information on the characters and the armors can be found in Japanese publications and official novels written by script writers for the TV series. While general information about the characters can be found on the Internet, good luck finding translations of the novels that feature actual stories about the warriors' home lives.
  • All Your Powers Combined: The heroic Ronins form the Inferno Armor by lending Ryo the energy of their elemental armors. This usually causes them to transform back to the less powerful "underarmor" forms. Less powerful because each of the warriors has shown some kind of superhuman ability while in that state.
  • Ambiguously Gay: Shades of this the Warlord Sekhmet/Naaza, though the show never draws attention to it. Not only is Sekhmet the name of a goddess, but his "snake-like" physical traits include large eyes with pink-shadowed lids. A lot of his taunts towards the heroes tend to be a bit suggestive.
    Sekhmet: Feel my venom, biting into your flesh!
    • The English dub may have noticed this and given his character a deep, manly voice to counteract it.
  • Anime Accent Absence:
    • The few foreign characters who appear don't seem to have any trouble understanding or communicating with the Ronin Warriors.
    • Mia (or Nasuti in this case), who was born and raised in France, also speaks without any noticeable accent.
  • As Long as It Sounds Foreign: The transformation sequences use a stock phrase, "Armor of X! TAO Y!!" where X is the name of the character's armor and Y is their virtue. That "Tao Y" part was invented for the dub, and it's odd in a few ways:
    • The "Tao" part is actually Chinese. The Japanese equivalent of Tao, pronounced Do, is seen in the word Kendo. This could be plain ol' carelessness, but considering that the staff went to the effort to give Tao the revised "dao" pronunciation, it seems unlikely.
    • The "Y" part uses the character's original Japanese virtues even though the dub switches their English equivalents around.
    • There are two exceptions to this. Rowen says "Tao Inochi" and Sage "Tao Chi" — "Lifeforce" and "Wisdom" respectively.
  • Back from the Dead:
    • White Blaze twice: once in the TV series and a second time in the second OVA.
    • Nadia in the second OVA.
  • Baseball Episode: Occurs in one of the two closing credits of the TV series, and the same scenes are recycled in the end of episode 39.
  • Battle Aura: The nine armors tend to give their wearers this in tense situations.
  • Bottomless Magazines: Rowan never runs out of arrows and this is justified since his armor magically generates an infinite supply of arrows. In one comic, the group decides to see how many arrows the quiver can produce. They decide to give up on it after Rowan draws enough of them to build a woodstack.
  • Brainwashed and Crazy:
    • Lady Kayura. After the necklace that caused the brainwashing was damaged by Ryo, Talpa resorted to other means.
    • Mukala qualifies for this since he was manipulated and eventually possessed by the Black Armor of Inferno.
  • By the Power of Grayskull!: The series makes extensive use of Stock Footage for transformations and signature attacks.
  • Canon Foreigner: There's a character named Hariel who was made exclusively for the dub. He was made because those meddling executives felt that they needed a new character for the Inferno Armor toy because, in their eyes, the target audience would be confused if there were two Ryo toys.
  • The Chosen Many: In the dub of episode 31, Badamon informs the three Dark Warlords about the Legend of the White Inferno Armor and how Hariel, the first Ronin Warrior, was able to summon its powers. In the original Japanese version, there were no other warriors to have worn the armors.
  • Code Name:
    • The four Warlords have these. You didn't think those were their real names, did you?
    • The Ronins could also be considered to have these as sometimes they are simply referred to as their armor name.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: The five Ronin armors are all bright, primary colors. The Warlord's armors tend towards darker colors.
  • Combined Energy Attack: The heroes combine their powers to form the White Inferno armor.
  • Convection Schmonvection: When the heroes are split up, Ryo is found in an active volcano. His power is fire based, so the lava makes his mystic armor stronger, but it gives off heat. When Anubis throws two unarmored characters into the volcano, Ryo dives after them but realizes that his armor's heat will kill them if he grabs them, but if he doesn't then the volcano's heat will kill them. In the end, Ryo loses the armor in order to save them.
  • Conservation of Ninjutsu: In the first episode, the Warriors have trouble with a single Dynasty Mook. Later in the series, they're massacring armies of them. Revelations over the course of the series explain the disparity. The first episode mook was using Anubis's weapon. It was also explicitly stated that the more the Warriors fight, the stronger they become. That may very well have been their first battle (with the Dynasty, at least). In the original Japanese version, Ryo states that the fight was the first time using his Finishing Move. Teamwork also comes into play later on in the show; the Ronin spend the bulk of the first episode in a pissing contest with each other.
  • Costume Porn: This show loves showing off the completely kickass armors the heroes trot around in. Specifically, it shows photos of them posing. Cue the Fangirl Squees.
  • The Dark Side: The armors of both the Ronin Warriors and the Warlords can be used for either good or evil depending on the will of the user; if evil thoughts cloud one's mind, they can be turned to working for Talpa. (The dub script had several Shout-Out lines to Star Wars in recognition of this.) This is due to the armors' origins: they were all made from Talpa's armor after he was first defeated by The Ancient.
  • Dismantled MacGuffin: The nine armors, which were all made from Talpa's armor after The Ancient defeated him. Inverted, as they actually do something while dismantled.
  • Elemental Powers: The five Ronin armors are based directly on classical elements: Fire, Earth, Light/Lightning, Air/Void, and Water. The Warlord armors are based on the seasons as well as creatures: Spring/Ogre(Oni), Summer/Spider, Autumn/Serpent, Winter/Wolf.
  • Eleventh Hour Super Power: The Armor Of Inferno comes late in the game.
  • Elite Four: the Dark Warlords - Anubis, Sekhmet, Kale, and Dais - who serve as Talpa's generals. The Four is a contrast to the Five heroes.
  • The Empire: The Evil Dynasty invades with its emperor and warlords and samurai armor mooks.
  • The End of the World as We Know It: Tokyo becomes a ghost metropolis in the first episode; subsequent episodes show no one but the Warriors, their allies, and the Dynasty's forces in the city.
  • Epic Fail:
    • In Episode 6, Sage tries to break open the boulder Kento is trapped in with his sword, but bounces off.
    • In Episode 11, the heroes attempt to transform, but nothing happens because the area had a Power Nullifier.
    • In Episode 16, the warriors storm Talpa's palace, complete with Theme Music Power-Up. Ryo proceeds to execute his signature attack on the castle in an attempt to force Talpa out. The music stops and the attack bounces right back in their face.
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: This proves to be Talpa's final undoing. Specifically, it forces him to hold the Idiot Ball when it comes to the human characters Mia and Yuli. Talpa just can't see them as anything other than weak, inconsequential children even after they've saved the Ronin Warriors several times and acquired an artifact that can destroy his power. If he had just thrown the bulk of his forces at Mia and Yuli or brainwashed a human assassin to take them out on the sly if he didn't want to confront the heroes directly, he would have had no problem taking over the world.
  • Evil Is Dumb: Anubis becomes more powerful after his Heel–Face Turn, with only a possessed Kayura and Talpa himself being legitimate threats to him. It's justified, as he's the strongest of the four Warlords, and becomes even more powerful after he takes on the powers of The Ancient.
  • Evil Twin: Red Torrent and The Black Armor of Inferno.
  • Eye Catch: In the original Japanese version, different eyecatches were used for different story arcs.
  • Faceless Goons: Faceless because they're just disembodied spirits in armor, save for Talpa's Four Dark Warlords (who are human).
  • Full Potential Upgrade: Ryo eventually needed new swords to go along with the Inferno Armor because his current swords can't use the full power of his new armor.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: One of Kayura's transformation sequences leaves her temporarily (and noticeably) nude. The episode with this sequence aired in syndication and on Toonami — multiple times.
  • Gratuitous Japanese: Mostly averted as the Japanese comes in small, managable bites. The TV series dub pronunciation of Ryo (Rye-oh) plays it straight.
  • Grievous Harm with a Body: When your opponent is an evil spirit in a giant suit of armor, you gotta expect he'll grab one of your party and use him to club the rest of you...
  • Heroic B.S.O.D.: Most of our heroes suffer from one at least once, but the most notable case occurs when Dais successfully tricks Kento into thinking his armor is slowly turning him evil (and this was before the Ronin Warriors learn of the armor's origins as part of Talpa's armor. Yuli snaps him out of it.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: The Ancient gives his life to create a path to Tulpa's base and later Anubis, who has become The Ancient does a similar act.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Anubis, Lady Kayura, and eventually - after Talpa betrays them - all of the Dark Warlords turn to the good side.
  • Interim Villain: Between when Tulpa was defeated and before he came back, the heroes fought someone else.
  • The Last Of Her Kind: Lady Kayura, the last of the Clan of the Ancients.
  • Little Miss Badass: Lady Kayura is physically twelve years old, but only a handful of the cast can fight her and not get stomped into the ground.
  • Limited Special Collector's Ultimate Edition: In 2003 when the DVDs were released in Japan, fans got their hands on posters and limited edition anniversary cards (the latter was only if fans sent in special request cards on time).
  • Limited Wardrobe:
    • When not in their armors, the Ronin are always seen wearing the same civilian clothes. Except for the ending, where the armors transform into monogrammed jackets.
    • Mia and Yuli also tend to always wear the same thing, even if they have access to other clothes.
  • Losing the Team Spirit: Cye, when he hesitates to help his friends summon the White Armor in Legend of the Inferno Armor. It all goes downhill from there.
  • Mad Scientist: Shikaisen's cohort in the first OVA is simply referred to as "The Mad Scientist."
  • Master of Illusion: Dais. He puts the nin in ninja.
  • Meaningful Name: Many of the character's names were changed while others were left intact.
    • Changed:
      • Anubis - Originally Shutendouji, an oni from Japanese folklore. Guess what armor he wears.
      • Cale - Originally Anubis. His association with darkness and wolves paralleled the Egyptian god's association with jackals and the black of decay.
      • Sekhmet - Originally Naaza. Naaza/naga is a Japanese word for serpent and his armor is snake-like.
      • Dais - Originally Rajura, being a Japanese word for a type of spider, and guess what? He wears spider-like armor.
    • Played straight with the last names of the protagonists, who share the last names and are all descended from famous Japanese warriors. Sage Date from Masamune Date, etc.
  • Merchandise-Driven: 2009 and 2011 have revealed brand new Ronin/Trooper action figures.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Rowan/Touma is said to have an IQ of 250 (and his virtue is originally Wisdom), and yet he tends to make dumb remarks and decisions(such as incriminating himself in the 1st OVA).
    Rowan: Lady Kayura... she's a girl!
    • This could be a result of Good Bad Translation: it's handled a little more gracefully in the original, where Touma expresses surprise that Shuten and Kayura are human as opposed to the dub's "You're a man!"/"She's a girl!".
  • Official Couple: Mukala and Nadia, though the majority of the North American fandom tend to forget the OVAs exist and focus on shipping the Ronin Warriors with Mia and Kayura, or with each other, or original female characters.
  • Oh, Crap!: The reaction of the three Warlords when the redeemed Anubis calls forth his armor again. Fully justified, as he begins to administer pain.
    Anubis: If this is your will, Ancient One, then I shall become the Ogre once again. To arms.
  • Older Than They Look: Depending on how you interpret their physical ages versus how long they've actually been alive, the Warlords and Kayura can both invert this and play it straight — Anubis is physically 17, but has been alive for centuries thanks to Talpa.
  • One-Man Army: Each of the Ronin is capable of laying waste to countless Dynasty soldiers.
  • On the Next: Left out of the English dub and DVDs for the TV series, yet left intact for the OVAs.
  • Painful Transformation: Watch anytime Ryo assumes either of his armors, seems pretty painful to him. The others as well to a lesser extent. He's definitely in pain when he's forced to don Inferno by Kayura and the Nether Spirits and it's corrupted in the process.
  • Parental Abandonment: Yuli, briefly, although he gets them back later on. Also, all of the Warriors. They're only 14, people.
  • Passing the Torch: In the spinoff manga, Shin Yoroiden-Samurai Troopers there are at least three new warriors with their own suits of armors, but the series was canceled before anything else could be developed.
  • Protagonist Power-Up Privileges: Ryo was the only one who got a powered up armor, doing so by taking the powers of four of the eight remaining armors, usually meaning his friends.
  • Psychosomatic Superpower Outage: Kento can't summon his Armor of Hardrock after Talpa tells him (falsely) that the armor is inherently evil.
  • Redemption Equals Death: Anubis dies while performing a Heroic Sacrifice to save Lady Kayura. He'd technically already redeemed himself by becoming the first of the Dark Warlords to rise up against Talpa, which led him to become the successor to The Ancient. Consider this a prolonged case since the previous Ancient One also did a heroic sacrifice.
  • Rewarding Vandalism: In the second episode, Mia and the Ronin Warriors are seen stealing food from subway vending machines.
  • Ronin: Averted given the name difference. We have both Watson and Doylist explains for how it is averted.
    • Despite the group's name, there is no indication they are former vassals of a feudal lord. While the term does typically refer to a samurai who had a master and then lost him/her, the meaning has become somewhat garbled, in that it could also refer to a samurai who never had a master in the first place. Ronin are also frequently portrayed as being either bodyguards or mercenaries. You could even go so far as to say that the Ancient One is their master, and that our heroes didn't become true Ronin until the Ancient One sacrificed himself to provide passage to Talpa's castle. To justify why they were always called Ronin, the Ancient One had a tendency to do all his work behind-the-scenes, giving them the appearance of being master-less. It's also noted that the heroes do not have someone to act as The Leader, making decisions as a group. They are samurai who act as one with no master to guide them, hence they are "Ronin."
    • The original show was called "Yoroiden Samurai Troopers" and had nothing to do with Ronin. More than likely was thought up as a catchy, short title that got the point of the series across than any deeper meaning.
  • Required Secondary Powers: As powerful as the White Armor is, Ryo's Wildfire swords aren't able to handle that power, requiring Ryo to get the more potent Soul Swords Of Fervor to fight on.
  • Satanic Archetype: The show presented a ha'sa'tan/Satan equivalent in the form of Arago (Talpa in the American dub), absolute Emperor of the demonic nether-realms, and, in general, literal Adversary of all mortals.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: Talpa and the Evil Dynasty were sealed by the Ancient over 1000 years ago.
  • Sealed Evil in a Six Pack: When the Big Bad was defeated in ancient times, his armor, the seat of most of his power, was converted into a set of 10 armors, so that if the Big Bad returned, he'd have a hard time getting them back together. Unfortunately, even without the armors, he was still absurdly powerful.
  • Sentai: Of both the good guys and the bad guys.
  • Shirtless Scene:
    • Ryo after his nightmares. Also happens to the other four during the final battle.
    • There's also Lady Kayura during one of her transformation sequences.
  • Shouldn't We Be in School Right Now?: Averted because the series begins before the Japanese school year officially starts. The OVAs conveniently take place during school vacations.
  • Simple Staff: The Ancient One carries a khakkhara (monk staff), complete with its characteristic rings. However, it wasn't always a staff; back when Talpa first tried to conquer the Earth, it took the form of a sword with the rings around the hilt.
  • Sparkling Stream of Tears: Episode 39 of the TV series and episode 2 of Gaiden are quite sparkly.
  • Spin to Deflect Stuff: Kento/Shu does this with his Blade on a Stick. Also happens with the Ancient's staff.
  • Stock Footage: The transformation sequences are all recycled and reused throughout the series.
  • Super Mode: The Inferno Armor is a super armor so Ryo can challenge greater threats.
  • Super Strength: All of the fighters have great levels of superhuman strength, though it's stated in official canon sources that Kento is physically the strongest.Then there's Mukala who breaks Ryo's Wildfire arrmor chest plate with his Talk to the Fist tactic.
  • 10-Minute Retirement: After the second OVA, the boys thought they no longer had to be Ronin Warriors because the armors had been destroyed.
  • Transformation Sequence: The warriors putting on their full armor has a sequence of By The Power Of Grey Skull, cherry blossoms and pictures of posing before the battle continues.
  • Transformation Is a Free Action
    • The enemies are willing to wait and fight a fully armored Ronin to get a better challenge out of the battle, or possibly the actual armoring up sequences only take mere seconds in the real world.
    • The third episode subverts this: Ryo tries to take the stance so he can get his full armor back on. Anubis is having none of that.
  • True Companions: The Ronins form this as almost all of them come from various broken homes. By the time the invasion is over, they're practically brothers.
  • 24-Hour Armor: Downplayed; while the Ronin and Warlords wear their full armor during battles, they wear smaller, form-fitting "underarmor" the majority of the time.
  • Weapon of Choice: All of the main cast has unique weaponry; katana, yari (spear), kusarigana (sickle-chain), nodachi (two-handed sword), yami (longbow), and many more. It's justified in two cases: Shin's family traditionally trained in the yari and bo, and Seiji's family trains owns a kendo dojo. Their associated weapons (trident and greatsword) don't quite fit, but the training is there.
  • Your Mom: In the heat of battle against Cale, Ryo slings the insult "your mom wears army boots" at Cale.
  • Zettai Ryouiki: Mia used the belted dress-shorts and boots version.