Ryoko Balta (リョーコ・バルタ Ryōko Baruta) is a space pirate, later revealed to be a princess, first introduced in the Tenchi Muyo! spinoff Tenchi Muyo! GXP.
She is a cool beauty who would cause male Galaxy Police members not to capture her and even to desert their posts in order to join her.Ryoko is named after infamous space pirate (and resident of Tenchi's house) Ryoko Hakubi. Although she takes her name from the legendary Ryoko Hakubi who had attacked planet Jurai seven hundred years prior, Ryoko Balta is hardly the bloodthirsty pirate as her namesake was known to be, nor the mischievous layabout she would later become. While she is of most successful pirates in the galaxy, Ryoko is also one of the most cultured. She is well versed in many rituals, including the Japanese Tea Ceremony. She is also an excellent cook.
She meets Seina after her ship was almost caught in the mass pirate capture that he instigated when he first entered space. She alone looked at the situation of being in a fleet of hundreds or thousands of ships chasing a single vessel and realized something was wrong. In the novels, it is revealed that, while she was monitoring the situation from afar, she was detected by Lady Seto's fleet and Seto even contacted her to dare her to meet Seina and see what was special about him. After the first hyperspace jump that Seina's ship takes on their continuing trek to the Galaxy Academy, her ship confronts them. She meets him and immediately asks him to join her crew, even saying that she would make him captain over her. He earnestly rejects her offer, saying that he promised to go to the academy and that he believes piracy is bad. She is charmed by him and allows him to leave. She decides to not inform the Daluma Guild of her encounter and how he can attract pirates, refusing to have him included in their database of enemies.
Among her many fans, three of the most rabid are Alan, Barry, and Cohen, who were on the ship with Seina on his first voyages and even restrained and captured their captain so he wouldn't attempt to escape from her. No Ryoko Balta Fan Club had ever succeeded in capturing high quality photographs of Ryoko before, so they asked her if they could take some. She agreed, taking one as a remembrance of her rendezvous with Seina. In the novels, the three idiots momentarily resign from the GP and use the pictures they took during her visit to create a new club. It was mainly a get-rich scheme, charging new members heavy prices to buy these pictures. It ends badly for them, control of the group is wrested from them and their poor spending choices caused them to go deeply into debt.
Ryoko Balta also has other talents. She is a shapeshifter and has used this talent to infiltrate GP Academy. She joined one of chairwoman Airi's engineering workshop as the Wau, Erma. Airi found out early on that Erma was really Ryoko, but did not see it as such a bad thing. Airi would use Erma to purposely feed selective information to the pirates to see how much she could be trusted. As Erma, she moved in with Seina, along with Amane and Kiriko at Amane's home near the Academy. In the novels, the group also included Hakuren, Gyokuren, Karen, and Suiren. Already fond of Seina as Ryoko, during that time, she found herself falling in love with Seina as Erma as well.
While still a cadet, Seina was given command of the Kamidake, a new Galaxy Police ship in their Decoy fleet. Because of Seina's uncanny ability to attract pirates (his bad luck), the Daluma Guild was finding its ships being captured by Seina. One of the guilds, Tarant Shank, still seething from being injured by Seina in an encounter before the young cadet gained command, kidnapped the families of Ryoko's crew, and threatened to kill them unless Ryoko killed Seina. As Erma, she followed Seina during a shopping trip at the Academy. When the time was right, she faced Seina and told him straight on she had to kill him, despite how she felt.
However, Seina gave her a gift that he shopped for that day: a simple star pendant that he noticed her admiring. Overcome with guilt, Ryoko dropped her disguise and told Seina the truth. She then turned the gun she planned to use on Seina on herself. Seina tackled her to stop her and Amane and Kiriko, who were trailing Seina and Erma, practically ran over them in a police car. It was then that Airi revealed her self and a squad of officers to take her in. In the GXP novels, Airi manipulated things so that it appeared Ryoko was killed while being taken prisoner, allowing her to live her life as Erma, without fear of retaliation from the Daluma Guild. Thanks to the actions of her fellow noble pirate, Kyo Komachi, the families of her crew were safe. Kyo formulated a plan in which the kidnapped Seriyo caused a distraction, which allowed the families to escape (in the novels, it also involved some unknown help from the A.I. Miki Steinbeck). Ryoko, feeling that Seina had truly saved her, then vowed to stay with and serve Seina for the rest of her days.
Capture turned out to have been a blessing for Ryoko. As per procedure, her genetic profile was taken as part of her booking. When it was analyzed, it was discovered, with a little help from Seto, that some of her information was hidden. Ryoko was, in fact, the last child of the Balta family, who had established a home on a planet that was one year away from joining Jurai and the Galactic Federation as a monarchy. This made Ryoko a princess and heir to the throne. When this information was given to GP head, Airi, she made the hasty decision to have Ryoko join the Galaxy Police. She agreed, as long as she would serve Seina. After the Kamidake was transported to Jurai, Ryoko was told of her heritage and united with her grandfather, the king of the new country and the former leader of the Balta Pirate Guild. He invited her to return to him, but she kindly refused, preferring to stay with Seina. Although Seto, who had arranged the meeting, was not pleased with her decision, she abided by it. Newly anointed GP officer Ryoko then accompanied Seina, Amane, Kiriko, and the Melmas high priestess Neju Na Melmas aboard the new Kamidake II battleship, along with its computer unit, the cabbit Fuku, both being gifts from Washu
At the end of the series, Ryoko is joyfully included with Amane, Kiriko, and Neju in a political marriage to Seina along with Gyokuren, Hakuren, Karen, and Suiren.
When Hakuren's group interrupted their wedding to take Seina to the Renza Federation to battle their own pirate problem, Ryoko and the others came along and became part of the anti-pirate forces there.
Erma and Shapeshifting Ability
Although the reason to transform into Erma was simply as a disguise to infiltrate Galaxy Police, it became much more. At one point in the GXP novels, she explains she has the ability for other transformations, but Erma is her most complete. To succeed in fooling detection, Erma had to be a complete genetic rewrite and it even transforms her personality to an extent. If it were a partial transformation, GP scans would have detected the subterfuge. Because of the level of transformation, she is as comfortable as Erma as she is as Ryoko and likes both halves of herself. Whenever she needs to perform more technological duties, she transforms into Erma, who is more suited to such tasks. If she were to conceive a child with Seina while in her Wau form, the child would be half Wau. She asks Seina if he prefers one persona over the other and offers to discard the other. Seina responds that she likes both Ryoko and Erma and there is no need to stop being one or the other.
- It is revealed that her shapeshifting ability will pass to her children.