Mar 28, 2022
"There are just some things little boys never grow out of." - Wakka, Final Fantasy X.
Two questions that get asked upon looking at the show:
-What does NG Knight mean? Next-Generation Knight - Essentially, a knight from the future.
-And what's the 40 mean? The 40 Warriors of Light. I am assuming.
To start with, I'll admit to my biases here. 7/10 is just borne from my personal enjoyment of the ending, cute elf girls, and the overall journey. More objectively, it is very likely nothing that you haven't already seen in more competent shows. Which isn't to say it is bad, however, it is ultimately a kids
show/Shonen aimed at the younger boy. Not that some can't be a good bit of fun, and there's a good chance some oldtaku out there has fond memories of the show as a kid. It's just it's very likely they can't remember much of the plot. Mostly because it is non-existent.
Whole show can be summarized with: Monster of the week affair, where the protagonist has to search out and collect the magical McGuffins in order to stop basically Saruman reviving Sauron (I shit you not), but the hero's rival tries to stop him every step of the way. Hardly original. Add onto it being set in a fantasy video game that the protagonist gets isekai-ed into because he happened to finish it in one night, the entire premise is hardly new, even in the '90s. That said, the world does feel like an actual JRPG in some sense: Go to town, get quest, fight boss, get piece of McGuffin, party interaction.
Much of the fun does come from a fair bit of charm put into the characters and a reasonable amount of redblooded mech action. Even if it is a little wonky at times. Additionally, the show has some very basic comedy that mostly still holds to this day, given it's largely of the slapstick variety. And bad puns, which I attest is the lowest form of wit. Although it does occasionally throw in a little bit of cheeky adult humor just in case there are any dads are watching with their kids.
If I had to give an age it's aimed towards, it's probably about ten, given that's the seeming age of the protagonist, Ramune. He's nothing too special, and is a sort of generic '90s heroic kid with attitude and an eye for cute girls. Standard fare, and fills his role well enough and he becomes semi-badass by the end. His rival, Da Cider, is a little more interesting, he mostly comes across as an edgy teenager but ends up playing the comic relief for the most part.
Say what you will though, he gets the best girl. Actually, she's a snake, but let's just ignore that for now.
Eventually Da Cider actually becomes a threat once he gets his own mech to fight in. Like most shonen-esque shows though, he eventually comes to join the hero in a sort of reluctant alliance by the end. Although a certain rivalry always remains and Da Cider continues to be a bit of a dick, but is generally fun to watch.
Mechs are varied to a degree. Ramunes' and Da Cider's mechs both transform from humanoid to animal, and naturally have a combination attack that can defeat everything. The rest look a little chonky, but have their own rather basic personalities. Action is largely pretty generic, although it did vary things up a bit here and there and an effort was made to make each fight relatively unique. Even if the finishing move mostly was the same each time. I personally found certain designs interesting, as they mimicked some of the studio's earlier work in Dancouga, and Da Cider's mech looks eerily similar to one used in the later Macross 7. Both shows I greatly appreciate.
Ultimately what pulled me into the show however was a search for the specific tags: Red_Hair and Pointy_Ears.
Milk, being the main love interest, has the red hair and the pointy ears. She is a complete brat, gluttonous and has a hair trigger temper. But, she does have her odd moments of being a courageous little munchkin and her eventual feelings for Ramunes coming through was kind of sweet.
Opposite of sweet is Da Cider's love interest, Leska, who is essentially a femme fatale who flits between boredom, vain expressions of self interest and pure unadulterated rage. But occasionally will act nice, that is if she wants something from her victim. Great character, constantly gets assaulted, and her dynamic with Da Cider is somewhat akin to Jessie and James from Pokémon.
That leaves the last girl, Cocoa, unclaimed for the rest of us. She's a bit of a dork and an airhead, but I won't complain. Every now and then she completely steals the scene and is the actual cute one.
Admittedly, the three girls don't add a lot to the fighting and are essentially cheerleaders, although their interactions with each other and the boys adds to the fun. They are somewhat important to the underlying story and come into their own by the end.
There's also Da Cider's sex doll. Let's not talk about her.
The overall pacing of the show is admittedly marred a little by it's length. So many jokes do get repeated ad nauseum. Although an argument can be made that the runtime makes the final fight against the big bad all the more cathartic. Each episode however does show a certain imagination (except the two recap eps.), and while simple, occasionally weird, are charming enough.
Music, as always, is subjective. But certain tracks are chosen well to fit the energy and tempo of the show, and the final fight is bolstered by a rather cheesy, but enjoyable track that crescendos in the main villain's death. This studio knows its stuff to be fair. OP and EDs are catchy and fun. And as for voice acting, the reason Cocoa can sometimes steal scenes is because her VA knows exactly what she's doing. Otherwise, it's fine.
There are two OVAs that follow on from the show, and are pretty average.
First has the cast follow Ramunes back into the real world, because Saruman has somehow revived (again) and is going to cause mischief there. Didn't think the final fight was as good there, but it had more of the three sisters being cute, and Da Cider really hams it up. Gives a slightly more "happy" ending to the series as well.
Second is more a parody. Clearly of Sailor Moon. But it also revisits certain episodes from the series, which is a bit weird. Essentially Ramunes and Da Cider head out to get their rocks off, and the girls don't take kindly to that. Bit of silly fun, but generally both OVAs can be missed.
Overall, the show is a little hard to recommend, but it does have enough charm to offset it's juvenile feel. As mentioned, same studio as Dancouga and Macross 7, so if you enjoy those shows, there's something here. That's a pretty niche market, so I'll suggest that if you enjoy the sort of mech shows that the 80's and 90's produced, Ramunes certainly has the bare bones of such shows and does it relatively competently.
And hey, it's something that has gone completely under the radar of most people, so one can feel somewhat contrarian by watching it. It's not a hidden gem, rather, a hidden marble. Not really worth anything, but hey, you probably would have had fun with it as a kid.
What did you think of this review?