What’s Ronin Digital Express about?
Ronin Digital Express is a webcomic about a nameless ronin quietly facing an existential crisis, and searching for meaning in his life.
Ronin Digital Express takes place hundreds of years into our future, long after an unspecified cataclysm ended society as we know it.
The story occurs on the continent of Sheji (mainland China). All that remains of the Old World are its massive, brutalist city structures — shielded, walled off, and abandoned.
The people of Sheji are superstitious and fearful of the ruins of the Old World. They live in smaller, walled cities and towns that are largely independent and decentralized.
However, an ersatz, faraway empire supposedly overseeing Sheji does exist, and the rule of law is loosely enforced by a paramilitary group called SINC.
The story focuses on an existentially burdened ronin and his adventures as he searches for purpose in his life.
He is an archetypical Man With No Name; details about his past, life, and goals are slowly, often implicitly, revealed over time.
Ronin Digital Express is about one question: “Who is the Green-Eyed Ronin?”
By the end, you will have an answer.
Genre and influences
Ronin Digital Express is a western, heavily influenced by the films of Akira Kurosawa and Sergio Leone, as well as 90s comics and animes like Cowboy Bebop and Trigun.
Though the story takes place hundreds of years after a society-destabilizing event known as “The Cataclysm,” Ronin Digital Express is not post-apocalyptic; I prefer to think of the story as taking place mid-reconstruction.
There is a society with some limited, analog technology, a common law, and a semblance of a shared economy, but the world is still very much in recovery, and it will take some time to become stable again.
In this world, the ronin works a menial job as a “bitcourier.”
Bitcouriers undertake a task essential to rebuilding society and culture — delivering valuable old-world data in hard copies to digital archivists called “gaijins” across the continent of Sheji.
It’s dangerous work, and the life of a bitcourier is often short and violent.
Though life in Sheji is undeniably tough, the setting is not intended to be dystopian. The era in which Ronin Digital Express takes place is a dangerous, rugged, and violent one, but also brimming with possibility and adventure.
Combined, these elements give us our archetypical western setting, albeit in the far future.
Ronin Digital Express has a minimalist structure.
The ronin’s adventures are episodic. There’s an overall arc, but it’s subtle. Dialogue, sparse. There’s a dense world mythology, but it’s mostly implicit.
I set the story up to be easy to pick up and walk away from.
You can engage as much as you want, or not at all, and simply enjoy a cool, moody protagonist’s pulpy, serialized adventures.