Ronja, the Robber’s Daughter – Anime Review
Synopsis: Presented by Studio Ghibli. The daughter of a professional robber, Ronja realizes the complicated nature of her father’s profession when she befriends Birk, the child of a rival tribe. She struggles to balance this friendship with her family relationship but comes to understand, differences can be overcome with the help of love and understanding. (Official Amazon Video Synopsis)
Review (Warning: Minor Spoilers to Follow):
Tom: Ronja was Studio Ghibli’s first foray into TV anime. Playing it safe, rather than animating an original work, Ronja is an adaptation of a popular Swedish novel. But the format isn’t the only new venture for Ghibli. Known for their expertly crafted traditional 2D animation, Ronja was another departure from the norm for the legendary studio, instead using 3D cel-shaded animation to bring the story of Ronja to life. Ghibli caught a lot of hate for this departure from their usual output, but Ronja’s 3D work is surprisingly solid, retaining much of the warmth and charm found in the classic Ghibli art style. If there’s anything that can be said for Ronja, above all else, it retains that classic Ghibliesque feel.
Linny: Ronja does most definitely give off that classic Ghibli aesthetic with its character designs and colour palettes. There’s just no mistaking the style and feel that the studio has become famous for, which is impressive given the decision to go with 3D over the traditional 2D.
Tom: Ronja is largely a children’s show, featuring characters and story beats that’ll resonate stronger with young audiences than they would adults. Still, Ronja manages to produce a few good gags that’ll even have adults chuckling and a final episode that’s a tear jerker no matter what age you are.
Linny: Though the intended audience for the show is definitely younger children, there’s still enough greater appeal that parents watching along will be entertained as well. The characters in the story tend to act a little over the top and childish in the way those from children’s books tend to do, such as adult men throwing tantrums or sulking, but that also boosts the story’s child like charm. What should appeal to older viewers is how Ronja throws in enough family drama and belly full laughs thanks to its crazy cast of characters. There’s also a few dark vibes to the story, like the song Ronja’s mother sings at the night of her birth, featuring dark lyrics about a hungry animal on the prowl, which could escape younger kids but have a sombre effect on older audiences.
Tom: Ronja’s divisive CGI that sparked plenty of controversy (well, as controversial as a Ghibli work can get) obfuscated a few of the series more pressing issues. Despite the colorful characters, Ronja herself can at times be difficult to root for, coming off as arrogant, head strong, or even touched in the head. There’s one particularly dark moment late in the series that makes her father, Mattis, very hard to like and Ronja really wants you to love these characters and their quirky natures, but can sometimes take them just too far. The show’s final scenes are also less than ideal, ultimately sluggish, sending the story petering off without a solid wrap up to what is otherwise charming.
Linny: Ronja isn’t really an anime older viewers can watch with true sincerity, especially if you expect well fleshed out characters. As Tom mentioned, the characters, especially our leads, can be hard to root for as their behaviour veers into strange, selfish and even outright cruel territory at times. Ronja also doesn’t manage to adapt the entire tale, instead choosing to drag out what content it does feature, making for a pace that can feel entirely too sluggish at times. Ultimately, Ronja’s main appeal is going to lay with young children and their parents… and maybe an older viewer who has a soft spot for children’s tales and/or Ghibli’s works.
Tom: It’s true that Ronja, The Robber’s Daughter stands as one of Ghibli’s more children-centic works and while its flaws are nothing that ruins the series, it does put a damper on the wider appeal contained in the best of Ghibli’s offerings. I still recommend Ronja to Ghibli fans, kids, and anyone who isn’t adverse to the growing trend of CGI based anime productions. While not perfect, Ronja stands as a memorable, if flawed entry, in Ghibli’s pantheon of works and still holds the distinction as their only television series.
Ronja, The Robber’s Daughter is available for streaming via Amazon Video.