|“Five fantastic battle-armored samurai…”
In 1989, an anime series titled Yoroiden Samurai Troopers became a major hit on Japanese television. It took six years, but the show finally reached U.S. syndication in 1995, running under the title Ronin Warriors.
Back in Japan’s feudal days, a demon named Talpa wreaked havoc on the people. Talpa was the ruler of the Dynasty, a coalition of dark minions from the Nether Realm. The humans stood no chance against Talpa’s super-powered body armor, but an armored samurai with a white tiger companion showed up to challenge Talpa’s rule. That soldier, the Ancient One, had magic of his own, and he managed to best Talpa with a single blow. The demon was banished to the Nether Realm, but his armor remained. To prevent Talpa from ever coming back, the Ancient One split the armor into nine separate suits, five for the elements (air, water, earth, fire, spirit) and four for the seasons (spring, summer, fall, winter).
Six hundred years later, Talpa managed to contact four humans in the Mortal World. Promising them power and immortality, Talpa convinced them to seek out and wear the armor of the seasons. The four fell under Talpa’s control, and through them, the evil demon re-opened the door between our world and the Nether Realm. Talpa and the Dynasty began to kidnap the mortals and carry them back to the Nether Realm, but five young warriors stepped in to intervene. The five had been entrusted with the remaining armor, and they used its powers to fight the forces of evil.
Ryo wore the fire armor, which held the power of virtue. The air armor, representing life, belonged to Rowen. Kento held the power of justice, borne by his earth armor. Cye, in the water armor, represented trust. And finally, Sage wore the armor of wisdom, the spirit armor. The five Ronin Warriors were accompanied by the Ancient One’s tiger, White Blaze, who also served as protector to a pair of young mortals, Mia Koji and Yuri.
Like many Japanese imports, the emphasis on Ronin Warriors was on elaborate stories and thrilling action scenes. Only 39 half-hours of the series were produced, much fewer than contemporaries like Sailor Moon and Dragonball Z, but the smaller supply of episodes didn’t put a damper on the enthusiasm of anime fans. After its successful syndicated run, the show aired as part of the Sci-Fi Channel’s Animation Station block, joining a host of other super-powered crimefighters.