Ryoko Balta (リョーコ・バルタ Ryōko Baruta) is a very popular space pirate first introduced in the Tenchi Muyo! spinoff Tenchi Muyo! GXP. It is shown that her beauty would cause male Galaxy Police members not to capture her and to desert their posts in order to join her. Ryoko is revealed to be heir to the Balta Guild, making her a princess. Ryoko is named after infamous space pirate (and resident of Tenchi's house) Ryoko Hakubi, though she is not as ruthless and raunchy as her namesake.
Ryoko is a young woman with dark hair.
Ryoko is able to shapeshift into an alter-ego named Erma, a Wau and a Galaxy Police employee. She uses the disguise to infiltrate Galaxy Police Academy. She meets Seina when her ship captures the ship he was on while being transported to the Academy. She is interested in him and his ability to attract pirates and allows him to leave.
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 that she is profiled as. The most successful pirate in the Daluma Guild, Ryoko is also the most cultured. She well versed in many rituals, including the Japanese Tea Ceremony. She is also an excellent cook.
Ryoko is also very popular among the male members of the Galaxy Police…but not because she is a criminal. In fact, it is rumored that there are many "Ryoko Balta Fan Clubs" in Galaxy Police posts. Three of the most rabid of these fans are Alan, Barry, and Cohen, who meet her when the ship transporting Seina to the G.P. Academy was attacked by her. She was quite taken by the young boy and refused to have him included in the Guild's database of enemies.
Ryoko Balta also has other talents. She is a shapeshifter and has used this talent to infiltrate GP Academy chairwoman Airi's office as the Wau Erma, becoming her assistant. Airi, however, found out early that Erma was really Ryoko, but needed more evidence. As Erma, Ryoko moved in with Seina, along with Amane and Kiriko at Amane's home near the Academy. During that time, she found herself falling in love with Seina. But soon, things began to change.
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. Using her disguise of Erma, Ryoko 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. 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, but Amane and Kiriko, who were trailing Seina and Erma, barged in, stopping her. It was then that Airi had made the capture. The families of her crew, of course, were safe. What happened was one of the Guild, Kyo Komachi, a pirate who weeks before warned Seina of Shank, had formulated a plan in which the kidnapped Seriyo caused a distraction, which allowed the families to escape, along with a third-generation Jurai Royal Tree seed, what the Guild referred to as "the Original J." Ryoko then vowed to stay with and serve Seina for the rest of her days.
In the GXP novels, Airi manipulated things so that it appeared Ryoko was killed when being taken prisoner, allowing her to live her life as Erma, without fear of retaliation from the Daluma Guild.
Capture, however, 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. It turned out that 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 the Galactic Union 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, ruler of the Balta 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. Ryoko then accompanied Seina, Amane, Kiriko, and the Melmas high priestess Neju Na Melmas aboard the new Kamidake II battleship, designed by Washu, as a member of the Galaxy Police.
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.
- In the novels, it is revealed that Ryoko is a shapeshifter, although her transformation into Erma is not merely the appearance, but also a full genetic transformation. Effectively two bodies in one.
- It is also revealed this ability will pass to her children.
- She offers to get rid of the form Seina likes least (Erma or Ryoko) to live her life forever as the other form.