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Sanzoku no Musume Ronja – Springtime of Youth


Together, through winter and spring.

Ronja’s Journey:

It may seem obvious to point this out, but I’m going to say it anyway: Ronja is the star of the show here. In general I think there is a severe lack in how authentic children are represented in anime, which comes down to the intentions of the creators and the older target demographics. Here, we have a character who acts her age, as you’d expect her to, thanks to both the source material (Ronja Rövardotter, as it’s named in Sweden, written by Astrid Lindgren) as well as it getting an adaptation that does it justice, made by people who care and understand the story. Miyazaki Gorou’s own words are proof of that:

“Ronja the Robber’s Daughter is a story not just about a girl who grows into adulthood, but it is also a story about the love and growth between a parent and a child, and a story about the bonds between friends. My goal is to create a work that everyone, from children to adults, will be able to enjoy.”

For me, Ronja’s journeys are what makes this so special. Every episode she continues to learn, adapt, and grow as a result of the situations she finds herself in, and the people she surrounds herself with. She acts spoilt now and then, will run to her father’s arms in her time of need, and doesn’t always make the smartest choices – but she’s a child, and expecting anything else is silly. Her character perfectly captures the carefree spirit that Sanzoku no Musume Ronja achieved.

Friends & Family:

Birk is the other key success to the story. At first I wasn’t too sure on him, when all he did was taunt Ronja and cause conflict with the robbers. But as time went on, their relationship is what carried the story for most of its second half. They called themselves brother and sister, though there are hints of further affections between them. It’s sweet, because they don’t know what else to call each other but brother and sister. If I were to make a prediction for their unwritten future, it would be that they would unite the two robber clans by marriage. But maybe I’m just projecting what I’d like to see.

Ronja’s father, Mattis, was easily the most childish character of them all. For the leader of the robbers, he was quick to temper, tears, and tantrums. His violence against Birk made me furious, and even by the end I didn’t forgive him (for a while I just refused to think of him as anything other than scum). Lovis, on the other hand, was the voice of reason from start to finish, providing moments of wit and understanding when Ronja needed it most. She was a caring mother, I just wish I could say the same about Mattis and his selfish actions.

I felt a real sense of camaraderie with the robbers, like a big goofy family, even if their antics weren’t always the most interesting to watch. For me, Ronja and Birk’s springtime in the wild was the main highlight. The times they spent together on screen were always enjoyable, whether it was moments of sweetness or drama. I am glad it all worked out after that, uniting the robbers together, resulting in a happy end for everyone involved. And Ronja and Birk’s anti-robbing declaration, although childish, was pure hearted and a very fitting stance for the two to end on. Good for them!

Distinctively Ghibli:

When it was announced that Studio Ghibli was doing this TV adaptation, many were excited. And then it was revealed that it was going to be in CG. I know that turned a lot of people off, and initially I had second thoughts about watching the first episode, but when I got round to it, I was pleasantly surprised. I’m not a massive for a CG anime, but this is the first one where it hasn’t bothered me in in the slightest, which I think comes down to the tone, atmosphere, and characters designs. Sanzoku no Musume Ronja is Ghibli through-and-through. It may be animated differently, but the shots, the pacing, the characters, and the fantasy elements of the story all align perfectly with what you’d expect from Studio Ghibli. I just hope this isn’t the last we’ve seen of them, but if it is, I think it was a charming goodbye. Miyazaki Gorou is often criticised, but he and everyone else who worked on this little gem have proven themselves.

March 30, 2015 at 12:36 pm
10 comments »
  • March 30, 2015 at 12:47 pmbrajt

    Samu, kudos for this post. I’m happy that you found the time to blog about this surprisingly good adaptation of one of my most important books from the youth times.

    • March 30, 2015 at 1:16 pmSamu

      You’re welcome. I thought it deserved a final impressions post, even if it is under appreciated by most anime fans.

      • March 30, 2015 at 1:45 pmWarriorsHeart

        On a side note, have you seen Omoide no Marnie? I highly recommend that show if you liked Ronja.

  • March 30, 2015 at 1:38 pmWarriorsHeart

    This was definitely a well written show. It was consistent with good directions. I thought the CG was great for an anime, other studios couldn’t do a job as great as this. I actually wasn’t into the story much until Birk showed up and he certainly added a lot of spice to the story. Ronja was disagreeable at times, but she certainly acted her age and it was hard not be infected by her excitement and anguish at times. The anime definitely did well in portraying the children as children should be. Mattis’s violence towards Birk, violence against a child, was really disgusting. Gosh, he didn’t even apologise when they encountered each other face-to-face, but as Samu has said, Mattis is easily the most childish of all the characters. Thanks for posting to discuss.

  • March 31, 2015 at 12:45 amTassadar

    While under the radar of lots of people when it aired (including me), Ronja managed to be one of my favorite shows of the past two seasons. I never had the most incredible anticipation to watch every new episode, but when I did sit down to watch, each episode managed to be one of the most relaxed and enjoyable to watch every week! I will have fond memories of Sunday or Monday nights, being the last episode I would watch in my bed, before switching off the lights to sleep; Ronja’s episodes were always the perfect ones to end the day for me.

    On the 3D aspect, I consider it among the best 3D I’ve seen in anime. Ghibli prove once again that they are masters in whatever they are doing. I hope this is not the last we see of them (I don’t think it will actually). I am grateful for this simple, heartwarming story they made and I greatly enjoyed it.

    • March 31, 2015 at 12:45 amTassadar

      Sorry, I meant “CGI aspect”, not 3D :P

    • March 31, 2015 at 11:34 amWorldwideDepp

      I think i read somewhere, that the 3D Part was from the Same studio of “Knight of Sidonia”

  • March 31, 2015 at 6:31 amSolaris

    They called themselves brother and sister, though there are hints of further affections between them
    I’d like to quote their parents for this: Sister yeah, we all know how it will be going in a couple of years
    I loled hard at that.
    If anything a child depicted as an actual child and not as a sexualized loli for a change. That was refreshing indeed. Thank you Ghibli for that.

    I still prefer ol’style Gibli’s all hand made anime of old and I’m not a fan of this kind of 3D shows, but I must admit this was very well made, with all of Ghibli’s care and attention in making Anime. Thank you Ghibli for that too. I hope to see more of this in the future.

  • March 31, 2015 at 11:33 amWorldwideDepp

    This Show was nicely done. Behind a Strong men, is even a Stronger Woman :)

  • April 1, 2015 at 6:25 pmMormegil

    I definitely had some issues with Mattis, as well. It was horrible how he treated Birk, and then how he treated Ronja. No wonder she ran off. By the end, though, I warmed up to Mattis a little again. And yeah, Lovis was great.

    Anyway, a wonderful and charming show. Like a previous comment mentioned, it was a very relaxing and enjoyable anime. Perfect before bed.

    Thanks to you and Guardian Enzo(on his blog) for bringing attention to Ronja. The 3D CGI definitely turned people off, which sucks. I got used to it in Knights of Sidonia, and then I got used to it here. Not to mention, the backgrounds were beautiful.

    Also thanks to the fansub group. Without them, this little show never would have gotten any attention.