The story is about a girl named Ronja who is the daughter of a chief of a tribe of bandits and lives in a huge castle in the forest with the bandits. The story follows Ronja as she encounters mystical creatures, makes friends with another young child like herself, and experiences life in the forest.
Ronja the Robber’s Daughter is a show that I will be the first to admit that I’m severely biased against. The main reason is that as a swede I grew up watching the live-action version of this story, based from the children’s book by Astrid Lindgren. So rather than fight the inevitable, I wish to dedicate this review to comparing the two adaptions.
The animation is what one notices first as it is far from the usual. With a 3D-style that looks like it came straight out of a video-game, Ronja the Robber’s Daughter has a very different look, which may or may not scare some
people off, though I would say that one gets used to the 3D rather quick.
Nature plays a large role in the series, to the point that one could almost call it its own character. Thanks to its amazing backgrounds you can’t help but admire the atmosphere. If you ever need to convince someone to go out camping, show them an episode or two of this. The one aspect that it lacks though is variety, while the live-action version portrays nature both as something beautiful and something that could easily kill you with its overwhelming power, the anime has a tendency to go for nothing but cuteness.
The story is intact and when it arrives at the more memorable scenes it manages to portray them well. The main problem comes from how stretched out it is. This series told a story in 26 episodes that could have been told in 12. Many episodes can literally be skipped as they involve nothing but pointless filler. While it is a Ghibli-production and one should go in expecting a lot of slice-of-life elements, I can’t help but feel that it worked against it more than in its favor this time.
When comparing the characters in each adaption I found the live-action version to be better. The dialogue in the anime tends to come off robotic and unnatural, which is a consequence of translating the story a bit too literally. The way that Ronja smiles and giggles constantly at the slightest thing nearly drove me nuts at times, and her father Mattis was portrayed as far less of an unstable and dangerous man, and more like a screaming drama-queen. Where I will say it caught me off guard was toward the end, where the characters start to reflect on what has been done and what their future holds. The father-daughter relationship comes to a good climax, and Ronja’s make-believe brother Birk in particular was developed in a way that gave me chills.
Overall, Ronja the Robber’s Daughter is a dragged out and cutesified version of the original story. Fans of Ronja are better off rewatching the live-action version or reading the book. It does however offer great art, a decent ending, and a few great scenes in between. If you are a big fan of slice-of-life or Ghibli this will be an okay watch.
Well, this was good! I was initially worried about the CGI-animation of the characters, but got used to it pretty quickly. It is very nicely done and gets you thinking about Zelda: The Wind Waker's art. Even if I still would have prefered a traditionally animated interpretation of the story, I don't think this is something that should stop people from giving this series a fair chance. And the background paintings is extremely good looking, it truly is a feast for the eyes to see swedish nature depicted in this way!
With as much as 26 episodes the series gets a long time to adapt the
book in a fair way, which it does from beginning to end, with some extra fluff that doesn't take away anything from the experience. If you would compare it to the old swedish movie from the 80's, this is definitely the more true to the book. This is because all the relations, events and characters gets the time they deserve to be built up properly. In the movie they basically just piled up all the key scenes as tightly packed as possible, without giving any emotional connection to anything. This is where Sanzoku no Musume Ronja succeeds splendidly.
However, something they did not succeed in was that special feeling of norse fairy tale creatures. The interpretation of the rumphobs (rumpnissar) is pretty awful, both personality-wise and appaerance-wise. The wild harpies (vildvittror) maybe would have worked in a more detailed 2D-animated style, but now they look too flat and cheap. A good equivalent to their classic catchphrase, "Nu ska blodet rinna!" (literally: "now the blood shall flow") is also missing. The gray dwarves (grådvärgar) and the unearthly ones (de underjoriska) were okay though.
Something that the series managed, that neither the old movie nor the book did, was to give all the robbers in Matt's Fort their own distinct personalites. I greatly appreciated this. And also, the interpretation of Skalle-Per was terrific.
Besides some dumb mistakes, like the fact that they pick blueberries and raspberries in spring (they don't become ripe until late summer), the swedish nature is depicted well. Sometimes the tempo maybe was too slow, but this helped more than becoming a hindrance. The thing I missed most from the movie was all the beautiful accapella harmony songs.
This is most definitely the best work of Goro Miyazaki so far. But then he also got really good source material from the great Astrid Lindgren! A fantastic story that always is relevant to people in all ages. Strongly recommended to everyone, give it a fair chance!
For starters, I believe that if you can get through the first few episodes, the series is one of the best that you can watch. It's similar to a novel, where the change is slow, but compelling. Once through the little parts, it becomes fantastic.
So as I go into the full review, be aware that I'm writing this a few months after finishing it.
Story (9) - The problem with the story is that it's slow. That is the main problem, it's slow to start and tend to drag along. I believe it would have been best as
a shorter series, compacting the first five episodes into two or three. Similarly to Kemono no Souja Erin, for those who've seen it, it's a slow start but a great experience when you're into it. So my words of advice, push through the first few episodes and you'll have a good time.
Art (6) - My problem here, and which is why I deducted some points, is that I'm not a fan of CGI. I feel like the series would have been much better if it were done with 2d animation, or at least a mix of the two. CGI is something that is a niche within anime, as I'm sure you know, and for people who watched this just for ghibli, won't like it much. The CGI does get better later on, but all-in-all it's one of the things you have to put up with to start, and know it gets better further in.
Sound (10) - The soundtrack is something I really love within Goro's works, he's able to convey a large part of the story through music, which is something hard to master. The soundtrack is beautiful, and as is the same with the voice actors, at least in the Japanese version. The music is one of the best parts of the series, so that is a definite plus.
Character (10) - The characters are definitely what put this series so high up. Even the people that you're supposed to hate are endearing and you can't help but care for them. Even the minor characters have great stories to them. And if the minor characters are like this, try to imagine the main characters. Ronja is one of the most endearing characters that I've seen in a long time. The thing that is able to differentiate her from other Ghibli heroines is how much of a complex character she is. She's not some girl who has special powers, she is just a girl that loves and fights for what she believes in.
Enjoyment (8) - I think this would have been higher if the first few episodes were easier to get through. The rest of the series is fine, just the first five episodes drag on. For a lot of people, they will have dropped the anime before they're able to get to the meat of the story because of those first few episodes. Overall, it's a pretty enjoyable anime, though. It's very relaxing but compelling at the same time as well. One can't help but think about it even after the anime has ended.
Overall (9) - Like all longer anime, it has it's high and low points. I think this is one of Goro's best works from Ghibli, so if you have the time and willpower, I definitely recommend this anime. You won't be let down.
Extra - If you enjoyed this anime, I would really recommend Kemono no Souja Erin, likewise as well.
Astrid Lindgrens story really comes to life in this anime, which is a great adaptation and manages to make fans of the book feel right at home while still managing to excite them.
If you enjoyed the book you owe it to yourself to watch this anime, it does the source material justice, and it will make you feel like a little kid again. There is so much ejoyment to be had in this anime wether you've read the book or not.
The characters are great, there are moments of joy, moments of sadness, and everything in between.
If you want to watch a good and heartwarming anime
Sanzoku no Musume Ronja is a great option. You won't regret it.