Bandai // 1989 // 160 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Appellate Judge Mike Pinsky (Retired) // May 21st, 2003
"I suggest you just lose consciousness. It'll all be over soon." -- Evil Scientist
We all know the rules of the average sentai show: five good-looking Japanese youths with bad haircuts have the power to turn (in lengthy transformation scenes) into different colored warriors, each with a characteristic weapon. They also have the power to fuse into one super warrior, but only at the climax of the story. Each teen has a stock personality: the leader, the fat guy, the brooder. Throw in a sidekick or two, and a supervillain with a penchant for world domination, and you have yourself a show. You have seen it a thousand times, in a thousand variations, from live action (Power Rangers), to women warriors (Sailor Moon), to the homoerotic (Saint Seiya). A few rise above the others, but most of them are virtually interchangeable.
Case in point: Yoroiden Samurai Troopers. Produced in the late 1980s, its art style was already out of date when Sunrise put it on the air. With a low frame-rate, soft colors, and redundant storylines, it was never much more than filler for its 39-episode run. Nevertheless, it built up a small but loyal fan base. Imported to America as Ronin Warriors, it turned out to have all the nutritional value of a box of Pocky Sticks, with only a fraction of the flavor.
Nevertheless, Bandai has chosen to package the first two of three OAV (original animation video) stories on a double-sided disc, for those half dozen people who still care. Side 1 features the two-parter "Gaiden," in which our boys visit New York and Los Angeles in order to fight an evil sorcerer in league with a mad scientist. The whole business is not much different than the television show, and newcomers will be pretty lost.
Side 2 features a four-part story, "Legend of the Inferno Armor." This one is a bit better, as the length gives a bit more room to expand on the characters. This time, our heroes battle an African warrior with his own magical samurai armor, the "black" version of their own Inferno Armor (the fused form). We learn a bit about the "virtues" that power the characters, adding to the background of the overall series. But again, you really have to be a fan of this show to care much about what is going on. The characters all seem pretty familiar, no different from a hundred other sentai shows. And the animation is woefully out of date. Skip the flat, unfaithful English dub. Better yet, skip the whole thing, unless you are a rabid Ronin Warriors fan.
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Scales of Justice
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (Japanese)
Running Time: 160 Minutes
Release Year: 1989
MPAA Rating: Not Rated