Ronja The Robber’s Daughter is set for release on Amazon Prime tomorrow in its entirety. We previously reported on their most recent trailer, which you can check out here, and for those who are finding it hard to wait for Amazon to hit the release button and grant access to the series, we have reviewed the first episode for you. The episode is titled The Child Born on A Stormy Night and sets the stage for the series’ 26 episode run. Some minor spoilers follow…
Animation – The animation style used in Ronja, the Robber’s Daughter is not like any other used before for a Studio Ghibli project. While most of their films incorporate some computer generated imagery throughout a mix of traditional cell animation, Ronja settles entirely on the former and presents an entirely CGI world with the look of traditional animation. The characters are presented in a rich, colorful, and detailed manner capable of showing a wide range of emotion. At first glance, the characters do not appear to be CGI, but this soon becomes evident as their movements give away the technique used to animate them. The world is presented in bright colors with many beautiful animals living in what looks to be a rather enchanting forest.
Sound – The pilot episode treats the audience to two original pieces of music. The first is the opening song, which is a lovely piece. The song beautifully accompanies the background animations of the title character, Ronja, running through a beautiful, lush forest. The second original song occurs about mid-way through the episode and is sung by Ronja’s mother. The dialogue is a little bit off from the animation, but that’s to be expected in a series originally animated in Japanese.
Story – The first episode treats the viewer to the birth of Ronja. Ronja is born to Mattis, the leader of a band of robbers who live and operate out of a grand fort in the forest. It’s a wonder why any of them actually need to rob from anyone given the land they occupy, but they don’t really get into their motives during the episode. Mattis has a rival living and operating somewhere nearby and the two end up blocking one another from a robbery that opens the episode.
Mattis leaves his wife’s birthing room to try and shoo off some rather disturbing harpies that are flying about the castle’s highest tower shrieking at the tops of their lungs. We meet some of the robbers who share the fort and who eagerly await the birth of their leader’s child. The men take bets on whether or not the child will be a boy or girl and they discuss the situation while the nastier bits of childbirth are left off-screen. By the end of the episode, we meet the child and learn of the damage caused by a lightning strike during the evening caused to the fort. Is this foreshadowing something to come or just a way to make a joke about not being able to make it to the bathroom… perhaps time will tell.
Conclusion – The Child Born on A Stormy Night works well as an establishing episode for the series. Without knowing exactly what to expect from the characters moving forward, we do learn of their nature as non-violent robbers who care for the child and each other like any good family. The animation is beautifully-rendered and unique to Studio Ghibli’s previous work. For fans of the studio’s films and animation in general, this is definitely a MUST SEE! If you don’t already have a subscription to Amazon Prime, you can sign up for a free trial to check out the service as well as Ronja, The Robber’s Daughter for yourself.