Season 3: Stronger weakness, weaker strength
I wrote two reviews for season 1: a mid-season, and a retrospective. They were a product of my disappointment: I was crestfallen to see a show I was so hyped up for turn out so bad. Bland characters, stale storytelling, and severely lacking in the one thing I came for: fights. Seriously, the ep. 8 fight is the only one worth mentioning. Now season 3 is in the books, and I didn't even write a review for season 2. There's one reason for this: I'm less inclined to write something for the purposes of gushing than criticizing. Season 2 stunned me. The step up in quality was so drastic, I don't understand how it happened: I know the budget got bigger, but good writing is the one thing you DON'T need a budget for. As far as I know the writing staff didn't change, so I can only speculate that S1 was the work of writers who were still learning their craft. The fights were also more frequent, bringing Monty's greatest strength back into the forefront. It was a huge improvement in all phases, a night-and-day difference from the previous season, and it made the loss of Monty Oum all the more tragic. And now we come to season 3, and since I'm writing a review of it, you can infer that I have something to gripe about. Or rather, in this case, something to mourn. The tragic irony of season 3 is that Oum's supporting cast took a huge step forward, and the writing improved by leaps and bounds, even above season 2's accomplishments, but they couldn't fill the gap that Monty left. It's a show that improved its weaknesses, but lost its greatest strength. Monty was a one-of-a-kind fight choreographer, and while Season 3 has some really good fights, there's nothing that approaches his caliber. His greatest talent was animating a deadly, supernatural sort of teamwork: the shield/sniper combination in Haloid, or the slingshot move in season 1 both come to mind. In season 2, RWBY even called out maneuvers that the team had practiced. That kind of teamwork is nowhere to be found in season 3, and team JNPR even seems to lampshade it in the first round of the tournament. Instead, we get good individual duels, but it never rises above shonen-faire (although it does rival some of the genre's best). The end result is a show that has outstanding writing and fights which are "merely" really good, and while there's nothing wrong with that, there are other shows that do it. RWBY was the only source for Monty's unique brand of violence, and if he were still alive, the combination of the writing and his brilliant fights could have achieved a show unlike any other. I will continue to watch, because now the writing is good enough to be the show's driving force (I'm genuinely curious where this is going, which I couldn't say after the previous seasons) and the fights are still good enough to liven things up, but I can't help but mourn the show that might have been.
Overdone and overhyped
I don't care what former credentials either Oum or RT have. This series so far is a mishmosh of improper specialization compounded by conflicting abilities. Oum is an animator and otaku who can't convey a proper story, and RT is a wholly North American group whose oniy real ability besides Workcom is overdramatization and retcon. The animation can't keep up with SFM animations made for Saxxy Awards, and background characters are literally SHADES in the first season. The plot is nonexistent and borders on cliche. The dialogue is clunky swiss cheese when it comes to serious situations, and even the apparant casual scenes wren't being done as well as one should expect from the guys who created the entire Machinima genre. Not to mention all the illusionary plot threads they throw at theory-crazy fans. The music, while good, fail to do little more than match the tone of scenes, if not overselling them, and are quite forgettable. And the characters all line up as a bunch of anime archetypes: Moe, Ojou, Kuudere, genderswapped GAR, Shinji-style protagonist, supergirl, Genki, stoic. All done better before in lord knows how many mecha series. And that's not getting into the occasional voice acting fails. And the hype. Dear lord, the hype. There is literally NO REASON why fan appeal should justify there being four pilots TF 2-style. Even less reason for the hype to accelerate because of something indecisive like "OMFG THE MOONS IN PIECES" or "OMFG THE FURRIES ARE OCCUPY", since in my (dickish) opinion, the creators are actively waiting for the fans to make their own explanations for these things, and then steal their ideas instead of thinking of their own. It's like when someone walks up a wall in one episode with a clipping error that gives them a double image, and then a fan believes it to be a hologram, so the creators just go with that in the next episode. I jumped the hype train during the announcements for SSB 4, and I'd like others to try. Overall: Great time-waster, but no substance whatsoever. You're better off reading NGE fanfiction. The kind with no self-awareness whatsoever. I'm working on a liveblog to go into extensive detail. I should hopefully be more comprehensible then.
Volumes 1-3: Keep moving forward
Man this series has gone a long way what started out as an ok experiment has evolved into a huge epic. Volume 1: Heavily flawed but still enjoyable and the effort shows. Acting is a bit rough at first but actors slide into their roles. Animation is somewhat rough but goes to 11 for the fight scenes.Most of the characters are likeable though some do not get any depth... yet. The soundtrack is pretty good though but not Jeff Williams best. Writing is cliche and corny at points but still watchable even at its worst. Heck even though the big plot twist is predictable it's still pulled off well. an overall 7/10 Volume 2: Much more improved. Character dynamics are fleshed out better and writing has stepped up. Animation has been improved and characters who were previously shafted get development (Except for Renora... soon). The actors now fill a lot more accustomed to their roles and fit in like a glove. Soundtrack has gone from pretty good... TO AMAZING(Just check out die). The only big complaints are Penny's reveal being too obvious, the finale leaves something to be desired, and Blake takes up too much plot. An overall 7.5 out of 10. Volume 3: This is the point when the series goes from good to great. Animation and fight choreography are AMAZING. The writing has improved even further and goes into dark places that make you feel what the characters are going through. Voicework is still solid and the music is still high quality (Divide is now the best thing Jeff Williams composed). The new additions to the cast are pretty good (Qrow is my new favorite character) with one exception (ADAM MUST BURN IN HELL!!!!!!!). My main complaints are the Cerberus syndrome while welcome happens too quickly. There is also a character death that felt a tad unnecessary but I liked how it was pulled off. There is also an event in the finale that wasn't quite executed right. There's also the fact that the villains are a bit too unbeatable... Not enough to be considered villain sues but that could be a problem eventually. Also Adam. F$&@ Adam. An overall 8/10 Overall: WATCH THE SERIES!!!
Volume 3 is the decider.
I love RWBY. The character designs have me hooked, there's an undeniable spirit and charm that permeates the series of amazingly-fucking-coolness straight from the series creator himself that had me hooked from the first trailer. The music is amazing and they've put together a world I've been compelled to play in for the better part of a year now. It's action is amazing and a far cry from your standard "panels of action" anime, featuring excellently choreographed sequences that can be described as nothing short of awesome. Cut, print, scene. Those were my truthful, but necessary words to start this on. A perfunctory hundred words to flesh out my perspective and why the following is what it is. Because I love RWBY, but it's kinda garbage. No, I'm not asking for mindbending complexity or the consistency of a studio backed with hundreds of thousands of dollars. It's a show about the four title girls defending humanity. ...assumedly. Because that's where shit gets weird. There are gangs, a civil rights conflict (which up until Volume 2 was surprisingly full of primarily caucasianish characters, huehue), a villainous conspiracy and a vast world we don't know much about and kept in a boring little town like Vale. Oh and there are monsters who wanna kill everyone, but really, everything is pretty chill so far. Volume 1 started off with a bang, giving us an interesting worldbuildy bit spoken by Cortana herself, followed up by a robbery and an awesome little asskicking sequence, courtesy of one Ruby Rose, our protagonist! Who's primary traits as far as we come to know by the end of the volume are that she likes cookies, wants to be considered normal and needs to do some major stepping up to become a leader. I could go through the other girls up to that point but it'd be moot. The non-action episodes could arguably be identified as character building during that Volume but really, the only one who gets any of it is Jaune Arc. (Writer's pet and blindly worshipped male lead extraordinare.) After the mess of time management, fight sequences that could be counted on one hand and jack shit revealed on protagonists, save for Blake, we get to Volume 2. Increase in overall quality, Jaune time, useless meandering around the plot and a disappointing as hell climax. Ugh. Be better, V3.
Season 3: The one with the plot!
I wrote in an earlier review that RWBY was a show with a lot of potential but that it seemed to be wondering around aimlessly and badly needed some direction. I also didn't like how they spent so much time introducing and developing new characters that they seemed to do very little to advance the plot, test the characters or materially upset the status quo. In fact season 2's Reset Button really annoyed me. As of season 3, I take it all back. This show is finally starting to live up to its promise. Having likeable characters is all well and good, but the best stories take those characters and put them through the wringer. Oh boy, did they get put through the wringer this season. Some have been betrayed, some have been physically wounded, some have been emotionally traumatised and some have possibly even died. The first two seasons seemed intent on preserving status-quo at any cost, but season three takes the status-quo and flattens it with a tank. We're finally seeing what these guys are really made of and it's glorious. My other big complaint was that the plot seemed to be going nowhere. Not so with season 3. The story that moved at a glacial pace in the previous seasons is now moving like an avalanche. We've finally seen the villains make their move and the consequences of that move have been simply horrific. They're finally earning their status as truly great villains. There are still flaws. The animation is vastly improved but there are still issues, such as running animations for characters which is still quite stiff and jarring. The pacing is terrible, we've had two seasons of very little happening followed by one where everything happened in the last three or four episodes. This needs sorting out because it causes serious Mood Whiplash, because the HSQ is all concentrated into a few short moments in a long series, and because we've had such a long run of inactivity. Some of the stuff that's happened could have been spaced out through the series better. But it's finally really beginning to live up to its hype. As long as they continue to work out the issues above it will definitely be a worthwhile series. Its just sad that Monty isn't around to see his baby finally starting to stand on its own.
First of all, I started watching it towards the end of Volume 2, so pacing was not a MASSIVE problem. Let's get to the review. Volume 1 is already promising, but slow and not particularly focused on the main characters. The fight scenes are awesome, but quite rare. The short episodes focus mostly on basic clichéd character development, and Jaune and Blake get most of the season's time. The animation isn't great. Despite all these flaws, the premise is good and could be developed well. Volume 2 is pretty good. The plot finally gets interesting and complex, the Jaune-time isn't as bad, and the villains become actual villains, instead of generic vague threats and mooks. The climax is a bit disappointing. World of Remnant episodes provide nice worldbuilding. Volume 3 is amazing. The villains, both human and Grimm, are now the focus of this darker and edgier season. First character deaths. Good storyline and animation. Many new characters, both important and minor. The protagonists are now actual protagonists and not background characters. Much, much less cliché-ness. My only complaint is actually pretty significant: the Four Maidens story feels out of place and weird. It's "too magical" and fairytaley for RWBY. I hope the series keeps going greatly even without its creator.
A Constantly Improving Experience
If there is one thing that can be said about RWBY, it's that it's constantly improving. Volume 1, once you get past the hype of the work of Monty Oum (may he rest in peace), was obviously the weakest of the series. It was important to establish the characters, the setting, and the basic ideas, not to mention having beautiful fight scenes and many a funny moment, but it suffered from pacing problems, short episodes, voice-acting criticisms, and not living up to the hype expected of it after over a year of teasing and four trailers. Volume 2 was the improvement. Longer episodes, better pacing, more funny, Vocal Evolution, more development that built on what the previous season hinted at, more fight scenes with even greater scale, and shedding some light on the BigBad's goals (plus giving her some action of her own). Still, the show suffered from several problems, particularly near the climax of the final episodes and how the Grimm haven't exactly been living up to the hype the lore paints them with. From what we've seen so far, Volume 3 has continued to up the improvements. Smoother animation, even more fight scenes due to taking place during a Tournament Arc, and humor that works. Even more important characters are being introduced, such as Uncle Quow and Winter Schnee, that were only spoken of in the previous seasons and are implied to actually play important roles in upcoming events. Whether you like or hate RWBY, there's no denying it is constantly improving from what it used to be. Here's to the new season and the upcoming ones, and may they continue to amaze us with their improvements.
Good show, but you should watch it on Netflix if you can
Trust me, they really failed with the pacing of this show and I highly recommend watching it on Netflix because they had the right idea to combine all the episodes into one. Seriously there are 5 minute episodes that really should combine with other episodes. Unless you don't have Netflix, then you'll have to wait about 8 episodes to get to the first real fight. That may sound bad but, if you look at it in about 20 minute increments like in anime, it's about 3 episodes. If you don't mind the episode length, you'll have a good time with it. It does have many flaws besides pacing. Some of the animations can look ridiculous, I noticed a shadow walking in a really funny way, but it is not barf inducing and shouldn't turn you off from the entire series. In fact, the fight scenes, although they tend to be short, are really well made. And it would be REALLY bad if a show that has sniper-scythes and hammer-grenade launchers had really terrible fight scenes. The voice acting is, well, not amazing. The voices do capture each character's personality, but they can be a bit... bad. My main problems are Ruby and Pyrrha. Pyrrha kind of sounds like a robot and I hate high pitched voices like Ruby's. Oh yeah the character's personality. They nailed the personality and character development. Although Ruby, the main character, gets little character development, she's more of a character that promotes character development for other characters (just look at her talk with Jaune). In fact, it's kind of hard to remember that Ruby is the main character because there is a lot more focus on Blake, Weiss, Jaune, and Pyrrha. And the villains, or at least the whole one of them in season one. They nailed Roman's personality but they failed to show what goal he is trying to accomplish and only explained what he needed to accomplish it. Well, not even he knows what he's trying to accomplish, Miss Cinder seem to know everything about the plan but she's taking it in a VERY slow pace. I'm willing to bet not even the DEVELOPERS know what plan she's trying to do because they are being VERY slow with it. Conclusion: It has fast paced action in a very slow paced story. Looking at season three and I think they are focusing more on fighting scenes, and the story might go even SLOWER. It's good show if you want fast and flashy action, not for a developing story.
No Brakes - RWBY's Finest
This is a review of my personal favorite episode of the series, as well as one I think happens to be the best of RWBY. No Brakes is an anomaly in RWBY, more than anything, in the way it matches the tone of the content's premise. The premise being that these girls, our four main characters are not only fighting to defend humanity, but for their very lives. We start from a very interesting position, one that Mountain Glenn left us on, which proved highly interesting. After learning about 3/4's of the motivation of our heroes, Ruby is kidnapped after experiencing both a sinkhole and the shame of being completely useless without Crescent Rose at the ready. We get to see good ol' Roman Torchwick again, hard at work underground with his cronies, who manage the most competent move they have all series, and captured a little fifteen year old girl. Naturally Torchy isn't too pleased and we never really get to find out what he's got planned for her, or all that cargo being loaded into the train in their "underground crime network" (part of a definite quotable from Doctor Professor Oobleck) due to a timely arrival. Fashionably late, Team RWBY busts in to save their leader, and the nature of the mission changes when Roman and his terrible marksmen (who admittedly were just pulled off the street it looks like, judging by that meeting earlier in the volume) make their merry way on outta dodge. An action sequence follows - fairly impressive even if the animation is just a bit off and the dog getting in on the whole thing had me in stitches. But while Ruby and Oobleck are handling the armed forces atop the train, WBY is tasked with stopping the train to hopefully cease the spread of Grimm from the infested tunnel they're riding through. What follows are a series of battles showcasing some truly intense moments; Yang is handled with more ease than a basketball newbie getting his ankles broken by a street player, Weiss nearly gets bisected in one of the more terrifying shots to pan away from, and Blake, due to a rather fortuitous gesture on Weiss' part, manages to abolish the brooding she'd been in for most of the volume and kick Roman's ass. For the longtime viewer's investment, No Brakes strips a lot of plot armor, brings some real grit and danger to the table, and is a fantastic reward for the previous build up in spite of being build up itself.
Started as good, becoming PHENOMENAL
What began as a fairly cool episodic series has evolved into something truly spectacular. The first few episodes were ambitious, but still rough. Each episode since then, however, has seen noticeable improvements in every department from animations, to fight scenes, to even its execution of humor and dialogue. RWBY now stands as a truly remarkable series that can compete with the animation of today. RWBY's greatest draw has and always will be its gorgeous fights. Fast-paced and dynamic, with fluid, ingenious choreography. Even while the animations during dialogue were finding their groove, the fights were always eye candy. It also helps that the music is fantastic, and surprisingly expansive so tracks never become repetitive. While shaky at first, gestures and body language have seen steady improvements on an almost episodic basis. Characters have become more natural-looking, no longer drawing attention away from what is being said. Limited Animation is regularly used, but is reserved strictly for comical moments. Notably, RWBY takes a lot of inspiration from anime-style reactive comedy, which feels refreshing when used with the 3D style. Pacing was a bit clunky at times in Volume 1, but has found its rhythm in Volume 2. Much of Volume 1 was spent establishing character personalities and exposition, but having accomplished that, the series now moves more fluidly as the plot is given focus. The characters of RWBY are also worthy of praise, assembling a cast of charming and diverse personalities, not to mention cool designs. The core RWBY girls in particular have strong synergy and some really funny moments. One thing I like about RWBY is that every character is given equal respect and investment; giving them all their share of the spotlight, and making them all likable or at least fun in their own ways. The solid voice acting also helps. RWBY is really easy to get into and really hard to get out of because it's a constantly improving experience. From its very first episode, it has never taken steps back — it's always moving forward. Don't be surprised when RWBY one day finds its place among the internet's greatest animation sensations.
Series 2 - Time To Check Back In
If you were originally interested in RWBY but the execution of season 1 drove you away, season 2 might be the time to renew your interest. The rise in quality is large enough to make the whole of season one look like an extended pilot. RWBY is comfortable with itself at last. The fifteen minute episodes are a lot more satisfying and manage to tell a complete story. This gives RWBY a feeling of direction and allows itself to comfortably be defined as a mix of school drama with some higher stakes instead of the tonal clash of the first season. They're also much better at managing their large cast of characters now, despite adding yet more of them! The voice actors are more comfortable in their roles and whilst the team are still strong archetypes they've had the space to feel like real characters too who have an easy chemistry with each other (the exception being Jaune's cringe worthy arc). Weiss is still stuck up, but now it's the kind of stuck-up where their friends all know and love to jab at her now and then, whilst Weiss trusts them enough to let it pass, albeit clumsily because she's still new to letting her friends in. There's been some kind of production miracle too. Compared to 2 fights in 16 7-minute episodes (once a week), RWBY season two has 3 spectacular fights in 5 15-minute episodes (once a week) so far. And they've achieved this whilst raising the quality of animation across the board. Non-fighting animation is still a little below par but it's improved to the point where it's very easy to ignore now. The fights are wonderful and manage to convey a huge amount of character and story-telling through just fighting. In particular episode 5 has a rundown between Pyrrha and a new bad guy that manages to show the characters of both people, be entertaining and convey the way the bad guy is deliberately sizing her up without showing what he's got. All without dialogue. RWBY still isn't perfect, the trailers overhyped everyone for the first season and I don't want to commit that mistake for the new people rejoining. And we still have more episodes to come in this season. At the moment it's top class fight scenes, a strong character design and fair art aesthetic with great music but a mediocre plot and passable dialogue/animation. But if it managed to improve this much already imagine what season 3 will be...
Season 2 and lots to do
After a nerdtastically polarizing first season, in which both a devoted fandom and a critical backlash quickly grew, Rooster Teeth and the creators of RWBY came back to show everyone that this series has potential. For the most part, I feel they succeeded. Let's start with what's good. Or rather, what's better.
- The animation itself just looks sleeker, cleaner, refurbished. They've made the world look far richer; no more black shapes as non-essential characters. The characters and their environments are almost seamless.
- This of course means that the excessive fight scenes are all the more dynamic. There are a lot of great fights, especially toward the end of this volume.
- The characters are also more vivid, but still need a ton of fleshing out. Meanwhile, I'm way more fascinated by some of the new characters sprouting up, namely Cinder Fall's lovable Those Two Bad Guys duo, Mercury and Emerald, and Roman Torchwick's new oddball henchwoman, Neopolitan. I also like the Tin-Man inspired James Ironwood who serves as a new player in the intriguing political/government side of the story.
- Speaking of the story, I can say is that it definitely seems to be going somewhere. Which is how I would describe the early seasons of Red vs. Blue, and we saw how that turned out.
- The intriguing plot advances at a snail's pace. Most episodes are composed of Wangst, quips and fight scenes, leaving little room for significant character development or world building.
- When I said the fights are "excessiveI" I meantthat the fights are near extraneous. I know this is an anime style action series, but I feel the world would have more room to breathe if we weren't seeing it whooshing by as the girls go to town on a bunch of cardboard monsters and robots. This is especially so when no character seems to be in any real danger, being able to take ridiculous amounts of damage without so much as a black eye or spot of blood.
- Also, so far all I really know about the villains is that some are really sneaky and really snarky, and the rest are big, loud and weak.
- Oh, and once again, the cute/funny factor is bordering on Tastes Like Diabetes so bad that the story's drama still comes off kind of weak.
Its potential makes it frustrating
There's tons of potential here. The characters are all endearing in their own ways, even the bad guys. The fight animation is always excellent. The other animation was really ropey earlier on but has improved over time. But RWBY doesn't feel like it's progressing. There's a distinct lack of character development so far. Juane has gotten the most and even his feels like he could be progressing better. Naturally nobody's expecting someone with virtually no combat experience to suddenly be kicking ass and taking names, but I'd dearly love to see him begin to at least hold his own in a few mook fights or something. He even wiped out in the food fight! We're told he's making progress and has untapped potential, but can we see some evidence of that please? Show, Don't Tell. Ruby herself has barely progressed at all, and that's really frustrating. As an untried leader there should be lots of potential for plot there, but even having a leader at all feels irrelevant. The story line with Weiss and Blake was the perfect opportunity to develop her. She could have tried to resolve the tension between the two with her naive optimism only for it to blow up in her face, teaching her some valuable lessons in the process, but alas no. We need to see her fail and learn to succeed so we can feel like she's earning her position. Weiss and Blake get some fairly sparse development, but at least they get some. The rest of the cast don't seem to have developed at all since their introduction. That's sad, because they do feel like real people and not just characters. I know there's time constraints with what they can put into an episode but character growth is kind of important. The world-building so far has also basically sucked. What's with the Dust, the Grimm, the other kingdoms? We know little about any of those that we didn't glean from the introductory narration. The story itself is also very thin. We know events are building up to something big, we know there's a gang of bad guys with some sinister plan that involves Dust, and we know they've allied with White Fang in spite of not having any respect for them, but we have no insight at all into any of these events. Like Juane, there's lots of potential here that's just being squandered. Don't get me wrong, it's not bad, but it could be so much better.
Hit and Miss
Volume Two was a HUGE improvement for RWBY. It built up the setting much more, had great interactions between the characters and even built up a plot for the rest of the series. The fight scenes were great (of course) and the comedy brought laughs (of course). The animation also received a significant bump up from the previous volume, and it's refreshing to see actual background characters instead of empty silhouettes. The second volume also brought great character development for the cast. Weiss, Blake and Yang revealed a lot of their issues and motivations, Penny explained more about herself and new character Ironwood shows to be an interesting Well-Intentioned Extremist. But where there's good, there's also bad. And when it's bad, it gets BAD. The antagonists need to stop being cryptic and intimidating and start actually DOING something. It's little wonder many fans see smooth criminal Roman as the true villain of the show when Cinder and her lackeys all just faff about and spout cryptic crap. Not only that, the Grimm, the main threat huntsmen train for, the creatures that took over THE ENTIRE WORLD, are about as threatening as wet tissue paper, being killed in seconds. But the finale showed everything wrong with the volume: It was anti-climactic, the buildup of the brilliant episode 11 falling flat when the Grimm that invade the city are killed off easily. New revelations about Adam and Raven Branwen didn't need to be answered yet. Team CFVY was forced in in a fashion that almost seemed like Pandering to the Base, at the cost of team RWBY and other characters yet again. Protagonists SOLVE PROBLEM, not just find them. Then there's Ruby. Our dear main protagonist, the TITLE CHARACTER, my favorite character. I loved her appearances, but we learned nothing new about her. While her team and even THE SIDE CHARACTERS were developed well, she got nothing. Her combat time on her own was lackluster, getting KNOCKED OUT BY MOOKS and basically doing nothing on her own. We didn't even learn anything new about her combat abilities either, while her entire team revealed new things about themselves. This is our protagonist. WHY DO YOU HATE HER? RT, Volume 3 comes out in a year. Stop throwing out questions and start answering them. You have the time and opportunity to fix your mistakes. DO IT.
Overrated? Underrated? At any rate misrated (Volume 2)
Last review I went over volume 1 and concluded it was short to a fault. You had to go into the second volume. I stand by that. While I can't pinpoint inconsistencies in RWBY's animation to save my life, I know one thing that has most definitely improved. In volume 1, background characters were literally shadows. This is no longer the case and they got some degree of attention. I also feel there's various graphical improvements across the board, but again, can't tell where exactly. The same applies to the voice acting to some extent, though Ruby's VA still isn't entirely consistent. A bigger improvement than both of those combined, however, is the length of the episodes. While there are only 12 now, they also are about 12 minutes each. With that comes more opportunity for development, hilarious situations and epic fights. And indeed volume 2 delivers, even if volume 1 was admittedly very short to reasonably expect the former. For example, we saw Oobleck as downright bizarre in the first volume, but well into volume 2 I was suddenly treated to one of the most interesting motivations I've yet seen, especially given that RWBY is webanimation. Volume 2 picks up the pace when it comes to things like that. Most notably, it manages to subvert Mary Sue, a phenomenon that is generally dangerous to apply, unintentional or not. For those who don't know who I'm talking about, and I can imagine why, it's Pyrrha. Very competent and helpful, but helpful to a fault since volume 1 and so competent people don't approach her normally. That has to suck for anyone. Again, I've seen a lot of fiction, but never thought of this. Characters that were mostly left out for development before, such as Yang, also get attention now. Volume 2 comes packed with World of Remnant fragments, which are supposed to inform you. Unfortunately, some of these fragments yield questions as well. This slowly transitions into my main concern: When you add the first two volumes together, you get the equivalent of roughly 13 normal episodes. At the very least, authors should have their series kicking at that point. Is volume 2 good? That depends on your general definition. Is it an improvement? Yes, unless your senses are numb. In my opinion at least volume 2 is very good, but it'd better build up to more answered questions in volume 3 or I'm going to be sceptical.
Little time to judge (Volume 1)
If you've seen this review page and the YMMV page, you know that the opinion on RWBY somehow manages to be very divided. Part of this is due to personal disappointment or clichés being equal to "bad". RWBY tries really hard to be like anime. But let's not forget that it's still classified as webanimation, which is closer to people with ordinary skills than it is to studio's where the quality standard is very high. This is highly important because like anything else, RWBY can be bad if you approach it with unreasonable expectations. I have seen works where people mostly agree it's bad (most of what AVGN reviews), I've seen okay works, and I've seen very impressive works (such as TOME). With that in mind, how does RWBY compare so far? First of all you should be warned that RWBY throws around a lot of anime clichés. The YMMV page agrees and it's listed there for a reason. If you don't like clichés, you have already found an arguable fault in this series. However, there are a few details that I haven't seen elsewhere yet, and most of these clichés get subverted or otherwise played with later. Unfortunately, it's not in this volume. That brings me to the biggest and most objective fault of the first volume: The episodes are really short. The material can be 10 minutes but it's often shorter, sometimes as short as 5 minutes. And one often notices that the things that transpire in these episodes weren't meant for such short lengths. As a result, it's very easy to say that there's 10 episodes of no development. Please do not make more of this than it is: The 16 episodes of volume 1 have a combined length comparable to about two episodes of most series. Let's be fair, you don't expect even a part of a story to be told in two episodes. Another thing to address again depends on one's standards. People have found fault with the animation and the voice acting. I more or less agree with the latter. While Ruby's portrayal is consistent, her VA doesn't always get the voice down. The animation also isn't perfect, but good enough that I can't pinpoint errors directly. And honestly, if you didn't grow up with this RWBY looks graphically amazing. The exceptions aren't worth 10 words. Verdict so far? This is shorter than an OVA, not even close to a season. With that little time, don't expect much yet. Stick around for volume 2 though.
The Worms of RWBY
The Worms: There are no political and culture foundation of RWBY. Other than having angry furries protesting for a vague idea, it's as if the setting is make to only characterized the individuals (that we know of) and not vice versa (and there are cases where RWBY makes a character to fit in the story). How they try to solve that? By having the World of Remnants, RWBY creates a developed setting to ensure the balance between characters and world. But by doing that, it takes the viewer's focus on one environment (story, characters, conflicts, theme) to another (geopolitics, culture, genesis); it's a bad idea to create two segments for one story because, in my theory, the writers are lazy to weave the story with its setting. If you're making a story with a fantasy theme, you got to weave story and setting together unless your ego is as big as Star Wars. The animation is not my concern, but it's the choreography and combat which I abhor. Emotionally, it's awesome; logically, it's terrible. In one scene, the guards that tried to defeat Cinder, an antagonist with pop culture's influence (what sane mind have blade bigger than the grip - two of them!), don't bother to use guns as if it takes 30 seconds to reload one shot (would it also make sense to have machines protecting the database since RWBY's technological knowledge is advanced?). And in another, it takes trial and error to defeat a mech because the RWBY gang never bother to organize their tactics on defeating a huge creature EVEN THOUGHT they are train to kill monsters as fast as possible (else they might run away or something). And last but not least: individualism. My personal/gestalt philosophy doesn't emphasize individuals because I also focus on community. It's very distracting when the RWBY gang is not wearing student uniform in class. It doesn't show rebellion, it shows laziness when considering the interaction between community and individuals. Weiss is interesting with her inner conflicts on helping her people's ambiguous protests (The furries don't tell us what they want. They don't want to be second-class citizens? What factors are making them so?), but she can't be the only character that is being shaped by community. Ruby being a hunter? More like a person that is going to be in a political environment. That's my review of RWBY so far.
A shocking improvement
I wrote a very disappointed review of volume one's clunkiness and general mediocrity down below. Volume 2 is such a huge improvement I can't even think of a witty analogy to describe the difference. The characters are more likable, the writing has improved, and they don't waste nearly as much of the limited time on filler this round. It's got good pacing, I actually enjoyed some of the character arcs I thought were too long last season (looking at you, Jaune), and it's just overall better in so many ways. The animation is finally about as strong as I wished it could be. The jerky, ugly motions that made me cringe are nearly absent this time around (except the JNPR dance, THAT scene, and some of the finale) and the fighting is as cool as ever. Hell, even the comedy is better. Sun and Neptune just up and ditching a fight to get dinner? Fantastic. Very few of the jokes fall flat in this volume. Even some of the fights are funny. Speaking of the fights: gorgeous. Giant robots, huge monsters, chainsaw-wielding thugs, a young woman with a parasol, it's got something for everyone. They're just as gloriously over the top as we wanted, and the person-on-person fighting looks beautiful (oh, Neo. I'd watch a show that was just Neo winning fights against anyone and everyone). Of course, there are complaints, as there must be. Raven's first appearance, for one. Mysterious masked character with weapons and abilities far above the main cast who arrives and leaves only to protect a main character as a deus ex machina? Good to see that the sixth power ranger has arrived. The cast is enormous. We've got three hours or so in a volume, so it's irritating to have to see it distributed among a dozen or so people. The finale. There are a lot of problems with the finale be it animation or the blue-balling of Velvet's weapon, the worst part is the loss of tension. RT spent 3 episodes and a World of Remnant hyping up the danger that the Grimm posed to a human settlement when they could get in, and the finale tells us the threat is literally solved by waving a magic wand. Cinder's nebulous "plan." I get keeping it ambiguous for the viewer, I get it. But give us something more than changing the desktop background at an internet cafe. Edit: I had a conclusion here, but the word limit made me delete it to say: Jeff Williams is still utterly fucking fantastic.
Series in a Bottle
Let me start by saying that RWBY is probably the best experience I have ever had with wholly internet created media outside of Dr. Horrible which I think we can agree cheated a bit by being written by Joss "I've Had Three TV Shows" Whedon. In terms of media born, breed, and baked all on the world wide web, RWBY is head and shoulders above what I have experienced as far as quality of work and result. And that is why I feel mildly unsatisfied with it. RWBY is, all told, a series in a bottle. Now, that's a trope that anyone who has hung out here for a while will invariably have run into so I don't really feel a need to explain beyond saying that the show is built in obvious and crippling constraints. This can be a good (in some cases, even great) factor in the development of a story, but only if it doesn't brush the edge of the bottle. When I watch RWBY, I can't help but see the places where they not only brushed that edge, but apparently ran right into it with my reaction ranging from distraction to outright fury. Even in season two where the bottle has seemingly more than doubled in size we still hit those points where the series has to make a turn just too sharp to ignore to avoid barreling through a wall. This is the single clearest source of fault to be had in an otherwise fantastic show. I have long been an advocate of purposeful constraint as an artistic choice, or to heighten awareness of the remarkable aspects of a work, but RWBY simply does not utilize those qualities of constraint. It longs to be as bold and extravagant as it's notably flamboyant creator can make it. If it had the ability to reach that mark, I have little doubt that it would be one of the greatest productions in modern media. (Or it could pull a Star Wars and crap itself inside out. That does undercut things a hair.)
Sure, sometimes the animation isn't always perfect. Sure, the dialogue can be annoying at times. Sure, the writing may be boring. This season/volume was the first time most of the team did something like this. I admit, Rooster Teeth is better at stuff like their flagship show Red vs Blue. The first season was them getting their feet wet. I'm sure the next one will be better, but that's just based on the opening title sequence they've released for next season.
Improving with time
I went into season 1 not having watched a lot of Anime, so the clichés didn't bug me as much. Never the less that whole "Jaune gets bullied arc" was kind of pointless. All and all I would say it's a good show and has a lot of potential. Season 2 appears to be going very well, the food fight left me bawling on the floor with laughter. The twist with Penny explained so much (spoilers) She's a robot
Not Worth the Time
RWBY is bad. It's redeeming qualities exist in Jeff William's sometimes good soundtrack and Monty Oum's long-brewing concept which delivers a world that initially seems interesting on paper, but fails to be explored by the show nearly enough as it deserves. As I said, the soundtrack is for the most part good, but when music isn't playing there's really no reason to have the sound turned on at all. A common misconception is that voice acting requires no training, and if someone thinks so, point them to this series, with the exception of Oum and Pelto (due to their characters' voices not being demanding at all) no one's skills stand out in a positive way and get only marginally better from the previews. Additionally, the dialogue is amateurish, written by two who fail to deliver character consistency in dialogue, and spend their time writing short speeches that are supposed to teach other characters lessons and instead serve as a disappointing climax to most of the episodes. Unless there's a battle happening, the animation is boring and clumsy, some scenes are just painful to watch, any point in which there's a visual gag, the animation takes a nosedive even further below the line of acceptable. It's clear from Volume 1 that the animators weren't skilled with 3D animation and they only used the medium so Oum's signature 3D fight scenes would look as nerdgasm-y as possible. Character designs are fine across the board, though I found the colors to be plain. Weapons and environments look pretty and very interesting. The designs for all the villains are dumb with the exception of the three at the very end of volume one, the White Fang cronies are made to look like mooks and aren't threatening, the bullies' clothing is boring and the creatures of Grim are all just normal animals in black fur with weird white marks on them, initially the most promising part of the show for me, the enemies turned out even more boring than the protagonists' personalities. The plot of the show is painfully overdone and not inventive in the slightest, the word count is too constricting to go into detail of many elements. Faunis-Shaming is an insultingly simple way of showing which characters are good and bad off people's opinions. Oum himself said RWBY is a "flat but very colorful show" and I feel this speaks to all elements of the show as of its first volume.
Could've been worth the hype, but no
I first came across mention of RWBY in late 2013 but dismissed it having never been a fan of web animation. Early in 2014 a number of friends from a site I administrate spread the hype to me, and I was drawn in by the trailers - which lied. I already knew that the series probably wouldn't be non-stop action but I was still expecting something at least a little edgy. Finally a web animation that would suit my tastes. The first episode promised a lot, but I could pick out every minor moment of amateurish animation from the start. The series may be colourful on the surface but that surface is flat and there's precious little else. The plot is also quite dry; what could have been excellent was discarded in favour of lightheartedness and an attempt at kid-friendliness. If Monty wants a kid-friendly show he should get a TV deal, half the point of the internet is that it's a way around censorship. Given the political subtext (which I noticed even before reading the YMMV page) and the aforementioned waste of any potental for original plot ideas in favour of trite lightheratedness, I have come to like this show less and less every episode I watch. I'm holding out for Volume 2 in hope of a genre shift to something darker, but it's far from likely that such will happen. All the references to darker material such as A Clockwork Orange and Phillip Pullman's His Dark Materials further enhance this issue; it feels like the show is mocking me. And the one thing that bugs me most? Not one character or group which has turned its back on Dust in favour of rationality and science. I don't care of Word of God says Dust isn't magic, it's close enough to qualify. A positive portrayal of the use of magic or psuedo-magic, of any kind, switched me off from the start. Overall, I'd say wait for a shift to darker material or avoid. At the moment RWBY is a dull, unrealistically positive cliché-fest. I find it hard to belive that a series with so much hype could be subject to my first use of the word "cliché" on this site but... well, you see my problem now. See everyone else's reviews for problems or praise you can be bothered with, but this is my opinion and I stand by it no matter how many fans disagree with me.
I Wish It Was Good
I really, really do. I like it, but that doesn't keep me from seeing how objectively bad it is. An entire series, animated and written from scratch? That's a BIG project. That's not a project you have <10 people working on, some of them not even animators. There are a few big flaws, and I'll list them in order of importance: The animation. For a director/animator who has done such consistently good work in the past, I'm disappointed. There are several reasons why the animation is so weird and subpar. First, it was made using Poser 10. I don't have the space to discuss why Poser was such a bad choice, but you can Google it, you're smart people. Second, they did Mocap for a most of the non-combat scenes, and it really shows. They only mocapped one running animation, as you can see in episode 9 (I think). Either they didn't have time to change it up or they were purely lazy. A lot of the animations are kind of slidey, because they've got an animation but not a surface to map it to. The Story. It's a good story. Miles Luna isn't a very good writer. He wants to make the Monty Oum cinematic setpieces mesh with the sort of quiet character focus he's better at, and it just doesn't work. The parts about the Faunus seemed shoehorned and to be approached from the perspective of someone who never experienced discrimination. Like I said, it's a good story, I just wish someone else had told it. The Dialogue. Miles isn't much of a writer. He tries to make good comedy and drama, but it just doesn't work. The Dialogue feels stilted and unnatural. The voice acting isn't much to write home about either. Don't get me wrong, I think the RT girls are great, but they're not voice actors. Overall, it feels like the blame can fall on Miles and Kerry. They're trying to push a project WAY too big for their level of skill without enough people, enough experience, or enough talent. Their insistence on keeping it "in the family," so to speak, is a clear mistake. The music is really good. I think it's telling, though, that the best quality of the show is the one that they literally outsourced to a contractor with no formal ties to the company. I really want it to be good, and I think we should all admit that it's just...not. EDIT: Season 2 looks better from the production diaries, though.
Doesn't matter what we think.
Is RWBY good? Maybe. Is it cliche? Could be. Is it played out? It might just be. But should that really matter? No. Why? Because what we're seeing is what a talented, brilliant, and self-sacrificing man has dreamed of making for the longest time. Monty Oum has poured himself out for this. This isn't a fanimation, it isn't something for Roosterteeth, it might not even be something for the fans when you get down to it. But what it is, is what Monty Oum has always wanted to do. Something all his own that he now has the resources and help he has always needed to make something like this happen. I personally love the series and enjoy the characters and clever jokes, as well as the beautiful action scenes. But that doesn't mean I don't understand that people don't like the short episodes; or that they wish there wasn't so much 'cliche talking'. It's a taste that some people don't have the patience for. But you would get the same sort of reaction if you diced up any anime into five minute bunches. When it's done and can be seen in the full of it all, it'll be stunning and beautiful if you ask me. But if that sort of timing doesn't suit you, no one is making you wait or watch at all. In the end, does it really matter what we think? What we're seeing here is a talented man getting to do something he's always wanted to do. He's doing something he loves with the help he could have only dreamed of having years ago. If you don't like it, that's honestly your problem. When it's done, just like Red Vs Blue or any show really, it will all roll up into a well developed product that will effect everyone who enjoyed it. But above all, we'll get to see the vision of a man who has given a lot for our entertainment. You don't need to enjoy RWBY, you don't even need to watch it; but at the very least, you could admire the craft of hard work and dedication of dozens of people.
Volume 1 review
I watched RWBY on the first weekend of January 2014, (which, thanks to a series of events, was a boring one), in bursts of 2-3 episodes spread over Saturday and Sunday. I'd heard of it, but hadn't been to Roosterteeth.com since the 5th season of RvB. Having subsequently read the trope page, I suspect that watching the series as it was released over the last few months was a very different experience to the one I had watching it back-to-back on youtube, so I thought it was worth adding yet another review to the pile; Good Points First things first; I was looking for a few hours of entertainment (with animation by "The guy who did Haloid" - which I have to confess is the only thing I know he did), and I got it. I consider watching it time well spent. The selling points (i.e. the weapons and fightscenes involving them) deliver. The animation in the non-action parts seemed a little stiff in places, but nothing really bothered me. I also like the soundtrack (if the whole series was secretly an advert for it; mission accomplished!). Neutral The plot and script are a mixed bag. It's impossible to call it anything but a Cliché Storm (especially the "Jeane arc"—If that's not a Fan Nickname, it should be— near the end) but...in a good way. I'd call the experience similar to watching Sherlock, or another adaptation of a well known story, in that I knew what was coming, but I wondered how it was going to be done (I'll also admit the lore has me curious). As for the execution; I don't really have any problem with the dialogue; indeed most of the gags were good and only ruined by... Bad Points ...yup, the voice acting. I have a pretty high tolerance for it, but there were some lines which were just plain bad in their delivery (In particular, most of Yang's dialogue in episode 8 felt that it could have been hilarious if the timing/delivery was better). Obviously it's to be expected for a web series, most of the problems were with isolated lines and it got better (in fact, I thought the aforementioned Jeane arc had some great exchanges between him and Pyrrha), but here's hoping it'll continue to improve in that regard. Conclusion: Has its flaws, but it's ultimately entertaining. Will watch the second volume when it materialises and rewatch the first volume.
Cliched Awesome can still be a breath of fresh air
First and foremost, I have to say that I came by the series rather late in it's inception so I did not have much anticipation or expectations. In fact, my introduction to the series was through a funny tumblr gif set of Weiss. Second, I am totally unfamiliar with Rv B. Yes, this is not an entirely original premise. There is lack of length and pacing of each episode is slow, but this cannot be mistaken for shallowness, but simply laying out the ground work. Naruto did not become this deeply invested character within the first episode(quite the opposite actually) and the tone for series takes multiple full length episodes to flesh out. At the time of the writing, this season is 15 episodes in and now plot is starting to appear and characters are starting to develop. This is not a detraction of the series because due to the varying lengths of episodes, 15 episodes in this series is really like 4-5 in standard 30 minute shows. The characters are phenomenal in what the set out to do in which we have four women of different temperaments being undeniably badass in their own ways, and it is shown in their movement. The fighting animation(the real draw of the series) for each character reflects their personalities perfectly. Not just that, but the characters, themselves do not have this anti-girly attitude, and in fact uses certain stereotypes of femininity to only present them in a positive light. No, they do not talk about boys and go shopping, but Yang will hang a poster of a boy band in her room and Blake does read romantic novels. In spite of character quirks, they are presented as badasses along with being teenaged girls and it is awesome. It even turns the traditional hero's story on it's head with Jaune. The action sequences aren't extremely prevalent as some would like them to be, but as a reader of Bendis comics, what makes action sequences great is not just the scenes themselves, but the exigency of why there is fighting. The overall production is schizophrenic. While there are animation bugs here and there, they aren't really noticeable until the third or fourth watch. The voice acting is solid and won't distract you. If you are expecting a commentary of some existential crisis, then you are looking at the wrong show. This is Sailor Moon mixed with Soul Eater and high adrenaline action scenes. And that is awesome.
RWBY is an interesting concept, one that initially piqued my interest. As I watch the show however I've come to realize that the show is one big bundle of wasted potential. The animation is an awkward balance of "fast" (ie fight) and "slow" (ie everything that isn't fighting...). In short, the slow animation sucks. It's stilted, awkward, and feels very artificial. Nothing really seems to move like it should. The biggest complaint however is the story. Rather the lack of one. The team behind the show apparently have decided to go for a slice of life "anime" about a demon hunting school instead of a Shonen series. There is no overarching plot to move things along and bind and hold everything together. Everything moves along (at best) in two episode spurts which ultimately amount to jack-squat; nothing achieved or lost. The on screen characterization is minimal (Weiss completely skipping over the Defrosting Ice Queen just so she can be, at least more of, a goofball). The villains, who are the ONLY source of anything vaguely story/plot esque, have these completely nebulous motivations and no backstory or characterization whatsoever. In general, the characters have little to no development at all and are pretty much 1-dimensional cardboard cutouts of already existing cliches (I don't mind cliches so long as something is done in terms of character development) The fights and Music are about the only selling points to the entire series. While pretty and nice, their initial charm will start dulling very quickly, especially since they're the substitute for plot. The series has potential and a relatively interesting premise (not one that's terribly original though). In short; a good time waster.
This series has some BIG flaws, but I like it regardless.
I will start by saying that, before watching RWBY, I had absolutely no idea of who Monty Oum was, and I didn't watch any of the stuff he worked into, like Red VS Blue. He was literally an unknown entity for me, and this was the first thing from him that I watched. That said, let's jump to the review proper. Let's not beat around the bush here, this series has some pretty evident flaws. For starters, the whole first season seems to be... Lacking in a truly driving plot, just varied scenes that build the characterization of some of the main characters. The one and only hint of a deeper and more overarching plot is shown right when the season is over. This let me bashing my head aginast a wall, shouting, demanding for more! You can't leave the threads hanging right after starting to weave them! That's a stupid writing decision right there! Not to mention the overall length of the episodes often left me unsatisfied, feeling that more could have been done. And there are lots of clichés we have seen in anime and western animation series with a basis on the power of friendship. That said, what characterization the series has is solid, barring a few inconsistencies here and there that were ironed as time passed, the fight scenes were top notch, and it leaves enough hints of an interesting plot being visible in the near future to actually make me remain hooked. And I have to admit, I don't mind a few clichés here and there. The voice acting is amateur-ish, it can't be denied. But I feel that this may have been an intentional decision, Stylistic Suck so to speak, and it is not as jarring as some voice actings I have heard, so, while unproffessional and unrefined, it is by no means /terrible/, and it has both So Bad, It's Good moments and genuinely good moments in which I like it and enjoy it. I'll admit it, I don't have high standards when it comes to animation, but I can recognize horrible animation when I see it. There are bugs and off-model moments, but I had to watch the series multiple times before I could notice any but the most obvious ones, and overall the rest is not bad. I can't say anything about the music, other than "It's FUCKING AWESOME". Overall, it's an unpolished product, full of stains and flaws. But despite those flaws, it makes a genuine effort to be a good series. It's pretty good, with potential for greatness.
Giving it a chance, seeing what happens
There are a lot of pros and a lot of cons to RWBY: It is legitimately funny, but there is so much goofiness that whenever drama flairs up it comes off flat. There are a lot of Adorkable quirky characters (Ruby, Penny, Nora, the teachers), but the problems and arcs designated to every one of them are painfully familiar, to the point that I was very rarely surprised by how things continued turning out. The animation and character designs are all striking and inventive, but are undercut by the 'okay' environments and black shapes representing non-essential characters. This series is also terminally ill with tropes, meaning that it has an epic quality and potential for greatness as well as an overload of cliches. The writers and animators have successfully crafted what is a classy and otherwise legit CG anime with a solid sci-fi/fantasy vibe. The challenge here is whether or not they can make it stand alone without it looking like a rehash of other Shōnen stories. The key here is unpredictability, that's what Red vs. Blue had going for it. I think it is pointless judging the series entirely as there have only been about sixteen episodes, all of which have been more about establishing characters and setting more than putting any all-encompassing arc in motion. Perhaps the rest of this series will continue to have the problems I've noticed, but I'll stick with it just to be sure. If I had given up on Red vs. Blue after the first volume, I would have made a great mistake. Maybe Rooster Teeth will get the drop on me again? We'll see.
I don't get it's popularity.
I mean, I can understand the series itself. It's basically your standard Magical Girl show with 3D animation. The characters seem interesting, and there's plenty of potential set up. The problem it, you can't just post 4 trailers and 2 hours of episodes and get a decent story. And in terms of its fanbase, that's what confuses me the most. Yeah, it's co-produced by the guys who created Machinima, but I don't understand how a Nomura lookalike could garner such a huge following based solely on his animation skills. All in all, a good series, but needs to develop faster. In the meantime, could someone explain its fanbase's size?
Oum and Rooster Teeth ensure a fan base, despite this being a really bad show
You can usually break animation down into two different categories, production and writing. Both are lacking in this show. The writing isn't the selling point, so I won't talk about it much. The whole show is full of anime cliches and stock characters. The dialog is poorly written and humor doesn't hit either. Being overdosed with tropes isn't necessarily a sign of bad fiction, but only if other aspects of the product redeem it. The show ultimately panders to the lowest common denominator. The writing sort of treats itself as a novelty. Now to the production of the show. The art design is interesting, but has ultimately been done better. The closest thing I can compare it to off the top of my head is the Spider-Man animated series that aired on MTV about a decade ago. This show doesn't look nearly as good, and seems like it would be more in place in a Playstation 2 era video game (the whole series has an old video game aesthetic). The character designs are a little generic, but ultimately I think they're good. However, the actual animation is poor. You'll see a lot of clipping, visual effects to hide models not looking like they are interacting with each other, and generally cheap looking uniform animations for every character. The voice acting is generally bad (the vocal direction probably deserves a lot of blame) and audio is poorly mixed. The music is not amazing, but competent. The visual direction is solid outside of a few awkward shots that pop up once or twice an episode. It's hard to criticize an essentially independent project for looking cheap, but usually low budget projects focus on their writing and/or originality so their production values aren't under as much scrutiny. Since this show and Monty Oum's career in general are being sold on their production values (and don't have good writing to back up its flaws), I think this is an instance where calling out visual elements of the show for being subpar is fair despite its budget. I respect Monty Oum so much for having the ambition and drive to simply create. He has a sort of punk rock mentality to his work that is almost inspirational. If this show was visually impressive, well written, or original I would call it a success. However in my eyes, RWBY is just a bad show that fails to be competent in nearly every regard despite a creator I admire.
The Emporer has no clothes
Listen guys, I wanted to like this show. We all did. We all got hyped when we saw the trailers. "Monty Oum with his own series, backed by Roosterteeth? Shut up and take my money!" Then, when it started airing, I got a little uncomfortable. Started trying to reassure myself that it would get better, that it just hadn't found its voice yet. "As soon as the fights start, it'll be alright..." But it was a TWO-MONTH WAIT for the first one, and I'd argue that we haven't yet seen another. Others might call that tussle in ep. 16 a "fight", but that's neither here nor there. I already made most of my complaints known in my mid-season review, so I won't go into everything that I find wrong with the show. I'll just say that I spent a long time waiting for this show to get better, and I know that I am not alone. We desperately looked for improvements with a fine-toothed comb, latching on to anything that might, potentially, improve the show in some marginal degree. But I think, after four months, it's time to admit that the Emperor has no clothes. If we didn't know who was behind this show, we wouldn't watch it. There are tons of good shows that don't get half the opportunities that RWBY has had, and after a full season of riding off of Oum's hype, it's time to admit that it's not any good. Some people on here have said that it improved just barely enough to justify making more. This is something that I want to say, but I know, in my heart, that it would only be based off of Oum's reputation, and the belief (or hope) that he is capable of more. Looking at the work itself, independent of any outside influences, there's just not enough there. Those of you who think the show has improved: has it improved enough to make you buy the DVD? For the same price as a season of Red vs. Blue?
Still in the balance (Season 1)
The first episodes of RWBY were pretty rough but contained just enough good for it to be worth watching in the hope that the series would improve. Did it? By the end of the first season I can say the series has improved just enough for it to be worth watching the second in the hope that the series will improve. The biggest problem is that they never found a core hook or driving plot to sustain interest and give the big action moments (of which there were two) worth while. The action is excellent and the idea of a story that keeps on building up in suspense and drama until it explodes into an action-filled resolution is workable. But instead there's been almost no linking narrative at all. The characters are at school, they have basically disconnected issues and the hints of deeper things to come given in the first episode and which should have kept us in our seats until the season finale are only mentioned again in the season finale. The fighting is good enough by itself, we don't need to weigh down those few episodes with other stuff, the plot should have been the filler to get to there instead of all this, well, filler they used instead. So why didn't RWBY burn out in a wreck that everyone should immediately forget about and never watch again? Because the writing got better, and most importantly the characters got better. Ruby's personality is coalescing and feels less schizophrenic, her relationship with Weiss is already surprisingly deep and it can be relied on to produce funny and touching moments in the way Firefly did it. (Combat dresses!). One-note characters like Jean gained some really interesting insights. Moreover the situations in the episodes aren't nearly as black and white as expected. Instead of being a racist and the White Fang obviously good guys, Weiss has got some very legitimate grievances and the White Fang have clearly overstepped the bounds of right. But it's understandable why they did it and Weiss isn't right herself. But the pacing and timing is off for everything (and in particular two-parters clearly should have been released as one larger episode, with the first half being all set-up and no conflict or resolution) and there still isn't enough consistency to sustain the good moments. They keep introducing characters instead of exploring the ones they have, as with the plots
Cool ideas, but feels incomplete (season 1)
Given who's behind it, RWBY has a lot of hype to live up to. Does it? Not quite in this season, but it shows enough potential to keep up with. The good:
- The fight scenes are amazing; the choreography is great and the animation is gorgeous. The character designs and general feel of the world are all intriguing and unique.
- The concepts underlying the setting are all interesting and add a lot of depth to the conflicts that drive the story.
- The main characters (once they finally get established, see below) are very well-rounded and interesting, and they have some great interactions in the later episodes.
- The music is pretty much awesome the whole way through.
- Outside of fight scenes, the animation feels a bit... unpolished. It might just be a quirk of Monty's style, but as a whole it feels very video-game-cutscene like. The character models sometimes look a bit stiff, and outside of fights/weapons, the characters' interactions with props and such is minimal. Like there was one scene where Weiss holds up a book, and rather than holding it, she puts her hand out and the book sticks to it, Magnet Hands style. Then you have stuff like this◊, which is so blatant that I'm not sure whether it's intentional or not. The characters are so much more detailed than everything else that it feels a bit incongruous.
- The voice acting is iffy early on. It gets better in later episodes, but the first half is rough.
- The pacing is rough. The short episodes should have been combined; they don't have enough content to stand on their own. And as a whole, the season takes forever to get going. The characters feel like anime archetypes (Genki Girl, Cool Big Sis, Tall, Dark and Bishoujo, etc.) and don't feel memorable until over halfway through. It spends too much time on school shenanigans, and not enough time on establishing characters. Characters get a focus arc, then suddenly stop being important (e.g. Jaune). It isn't until the last six episodes that the characters get real development and the Myth Arc starts to materialize, and then the season ends.
Poor man's anime
The animation during the high action scenes cannot be considered bad by any means, and the character skills and personalities lend themselves greatly to a number of amazing shots. It makes it somewhat unfortunate that the first episode was able to appear flawed in animation during the downtime, which can be expected in balance to the high action that had just happened. However, it has to be remembered that the majority of a show, even one appealing to action fans, will be downtime and the animation in these scenes still feels clunky and lifeless. The dialogue is clichéd and fairly unentertaining, with most characters modelled on a handful of tropes with little interesting usage. While justification for tropes and character development occurs, it tends to happen fairly late into the series long after a number of viewers would get bored and leave. In the cases of some characters, they are only introduced as the series is ending, such as Penny or Sun Wukong, although created to be somewhat recurring characters. Given the episode lengths and the fact that two are often paired together, it can be assumed that the show was designed to be a 22 episode anime where only the first 8 were created for the first series. The application of anime episodes to typical webvideo length does not seem to work, as it leaves us with every other episode having a satisfying conclusion and a longer wait until character revelations. To some, it is amazing, and several scenes can certainly justify this viewpoint, but to me, said scenes are far and few between. The work comes off as unoriginal, poorly focused and just a fair bit dull.
Not Quite a Classic, But It's Getting There.
- The episodes are designed around particular subjects. That helps the writing. If it was a normal anime episode in smaller bits, it would be less contained and more confusing.
- The voices of the actors fit the character. Jaune is Jaune. I personally can't imagine anyone else playing him. Characters like Nora and Ren are perfectly in tune to their voices (Go Monty!) and are smooth in their byplay and move the episode forward.
- The fight scenes are epic. Each one pays close attention to how it's structured, with everyone in their place, which is really good compared to some other fight scenes where someone is missing somehow.
- Spotlights. Every character is getting their own screentime. Some have less because they need to develop their character less (like Ren, Nora, Yang, and Blake) and others need a little more time to understand their motivations (Ruby, Jaune, Pyrrha, and Weiss)
- There are minor antagonists and major antagonists. Life would get very boring if it was only monsters they had to fight.
- Music. Self-explanatory.
- The writing. Some of the episodes are stellar as they are (Episodes 1, 4, 8, and 10). Others aren't so great (12? I'm looking at you.)
- Lack of consistency in characterization. Jaune is the biggest offender in this. Sometimes he comes off as capable, sometimes he doesn't. While I understand that he's trying to find even ground, that's no excuse. And if Jaune doesn't tell the rest of his team, he's doing them a serious disservice. If he trusted Pyrrha, he should trust the rest of his team as well.
- Not enough time on minor things. You don't see characters freaking out over their love life or their family, though Hunters might have the money and stuff to not worry about family. The team arguments should have focused on the team moving forward and fighting their differences together.
- Lack of background characters. Black figures are cheap and take less time I get that, but even a little colorful decoration (earrings on one, bracelets on another) would go a long way.
A flawed gem, but a gem nontheless
Pros: The characters all have very interesting designs and personalities, albeit some of them could afford to have more screen time. The fight scenes. Nuff said The music. Also nuff said. The world created has some very interesting ideas behind it, such as the four Kingdoms being the only safe havens against rampant monsters A few twists that made perfect sense but I still didn't see coming. A good sense of humor. Cons: The short episode length can be very frustrating. The pacing is a little slow, tied directly into the above length problem. The show is on a budget and at times it shows in the animation. At times I really wish that Monty had more money and people behind this project so he could go all out. The voice acting can slip at times Some characters feel out of focus at times, although this is most likely a problem that will be fixed with future episodes. Still it is worth mentioning until then. This show has a lot of good and bad, but in my humble opinion the good outweighs the bad. The show admittedly did stumble a bit at first but I feel like it's found its place and is taking its story in a very interesting direction. Part of the charm this story has is the massive amount of references and inspiration from fairy tales...just about everywhere, in addition to the interesting naming process. Cardin's character makes a lot more sense when you know where he got his name Sadly though, other reviews have clearly proved that for some the cons outweigh the pros. While I disagree with that, I respect the opinions of others, and you may find that you have more of a problem with the cons that I did, or may even not like the pros. At the very least you should give it a try (Stick to episode 8, that's where it really kicks off). In my opinion though, this show is a gem, despite all of its flaws. I really did wish it could be better at times, but I'm happy with what we've got.
Honest and Good Effort From a Small Production Crew
I'll be the first to admit I hated to short length of the videos. But then I came to understand that this was made by a small company who is already making other shows and videos. I like the original idea because it being an American made anime like web series which is rare. I like the concept and the stories and come to appreciate it. Now I wish it could be longer but that's because frankly I like it. To be honest I'm quite jealous but of course who wouldn't want to make their own Anime. The comedy is funny, moments are heartwarming, characters are likeable and of course the action is awesome. For those complaining about lack of action. It's a story people it has a plot and the action when it does arrive I sick ass. Look towards episode 8 for a reference. I applaud rooster teeth and Monty oum for their show and wish I could do something like this.
Waste of talent, waste of time
Since I started coming to TV Tropes, I've avoided using the word "cliche". But what else can you call a show like RWBY? It's story is formulaic and derivative: anime high school with a dash of Harry Potter. The characters are broad, boring archetypes: the naive and clumsy wunderkind, the spoiled one, the aloof goth girl, and the spunky big sister. Jean probably takes the dry, flavorless cake, though, as the even more ditzy, clumsy guy with no real skills but lots of potential. The setting is boring, even when we venture outside of Hogwarts. The art style leaves more to be desired, with them attempting to use anime facial and body language without the flexibility of actual illustration. Even the animation, Monty's forte, is stilted and awkward outside of the fights. And you know what? Normally I'd be okay with that. Given the talent behind the series, this is a show that screams "Excuse Plot". Monty Oum makes the best fight scenes around, and whatever plot there is to the story only exists to get us from one fight to another. Except it took us EIGHT MOTHER FUCKING EPISODES to get to the first real fight. That's two months, guys. As it stands now, this show has nothing to offer that is worth two months of anyone's time. As mad as it makes me, it speaks to the talent behind the show that I continue to watch it, for hope of improvement. Besides Monty's fights, there's fantastic music, good artwork, and terrific character designs (as the amount of cosplayers have proven). This is a show that either needs to do more or less with its writing. Either work on fleshing out the characters and give us a compelling hook NOW, or crank up the Oumamater and give us more of his brand of violence. Sadly, I have seen no evidence of either happening any time soon.
Make sure you watch episode 8
The first 7 episodes of RWBY were fairly meh. The visual style was excellent, the soundtrack fantastic and the characterisation and voice acting inconsistent. Ruby for example would go through several personalities every conversation from shy to hyper-active and whilst the fights were pretty good they were also pretty sparse. But they felt like problems that would improve with time as the writers settled down and became more familiar with the characters. Episode 8 is what the series can be. It has the energy and pacing that the theme song always hinted at and it gets better as the episode get on. The fighting is large and spectacular, but also fluid and creative. Together the teamwork begins to mesh and the relationships begin to fit together. Most of all, as soon as the fighting starts each character is absolutely solid. All inconsistency is strong and each person expresses themselves in their actions and movements more strongly than the writing has yet managed. Ruby fighting is someone you can understand. There are still rough spots and the editing could still be tweaked to make the jokes punchier but there are also some stronger moments and ideas begin to seep through. They focused on it too long, but Ruby's sister looking at her as she begins to take the lead was pretty cute and the bit with Weiss and the scorpion was good. They're simple emotions, but in these moments they're told strongly and it's that strength and tempo that this series needs. Red, white, black and yellow aren't complicated colours but they can have power. There's still a lot of ways it can go from here, and how the episodes will be structured is going to be key. (I would prefer something other than school drama or Monster Of The Week) But if you felt the first episodes were a little soft and were going to drop off, at least stick with it till episode 8, it's not even an hour of your time and this is the one to judge the series by so far.
Interesting backstory undermined by a lack of consistency and characterization
The first episode of RWBY left me feeling a little bit iffy, but at the same time it wasn't terrible. The backstory seemed interesting and was well presented, and the feel of things in the city gave me Giant Robo or Demonbane vibes. Gangsters and wizards and people with unusual weaponry and all of that. I wasn't entirely sold on the series, but I wanted to at least see where it would be going. Unfortunately, the subsequent episodes -and the series as a whole- has become a disappointment. With episodes that are only a few minutes long and with the plot proceeding at a snail's pace, characterization and interactions become the cornerstone of the narrative and that's RWBY's greatest weakness. Characters simply feel inconsistent. Ruby had no problem just being herself in front of Ozpin and Glynda in the first episode, but when interacting with Weiss, Jaune, and Blake she just stumbles over everything she says. Yang goes from being so happy about going to school with her sister to not being able to get away from her fast enough, to hanging all over her once more and pushing her into talking with other people. Jaune himself has had his own share of awkward dialogue mixed with a joke of a lady's man who's painful to watch. Weiss is simply a bitch who is the only reason Ruby "exploded" in the first place, and the interactions with her don't feel any better. Blake still seems pretty likeable though, on account of being consistent and responding to annoying people properly, but she's also had minimal screentime. The other minor classmates don't really feel very notable either. You've got Shy Girl, Energetic Girl, Weary Guy Who Must Put Up With Energetic Girl, ad Ozpin and Glynda don't feel any better. They were pretty decent in the first episode, but nope, episode 4 had them join the retard train with all of this team bullshit combined with what reckless endangerment of students. Another thing: what the fuck is with stories with a school setting and forcing people to form teams with no rhyme or reason. At best, the team will synergize, at worst, one or more people will be a ball and chain who undermine the futures of everyone else. Honestly, give it a pass unless/until it improves.