Show Review: RWBY Volume 5

As a longtime Rooster Teeth fan, I was a bit skeptical of RWBY at first until I saw the first trailer. I was interested, and they proved themselves from the pilot episode. I was skeptical because I am not an anime fan. I had seen some when I was young but never watched much after elementary school. This lack of experience for anime will probably show, but I will do my best anime fans! Also, we are not getting into the conversation about this show being an anime since there is a whole conversation in that community about this show’s genre.

Before going in, I must say that this will have spoilers for previous seasons. Being this far into the show, it is impossible to not ruin something, but let me give you a rundown of the things I like and general information real quick if you have not seen it.

RWBY is a team of girls, Ruby Rose (Lindsay Jones), Yang Xiao Long (Barbara Dunkelman), Blake Belladonna (Arryn Zech), and Weiss Schnee (Kara Eberle), who all train at a school called Beacon. Their training helps them prepare to fight against crime and monsters called Grimm. Their adventures lead to many different characters, both friends, and foes. The world is full of life with rich lore that fleshes out the history of characters and the world around them. If you like fantasy, tones mixing humor and drama, and content that is for the most part reasonably kid-friendly, you should like it.

Now let’s discuss the story from Volume 4 and leading into 5. This is where the full review comes in. There are spoilers for previous volumes ahead.

The girls are still separate on their own adventures.  Qrow (Vic Mignogna) and Team RNJR – Ruby Rose, Nora Valkyrie (Samantha Ireland), Lie Ren (Neath Oum), and Jaune Arc (Miles Luna) – finally meet Professor Lionheart at Haven after their brutal journey and difficult fight with Tyrian (Josh Grelle). On this storyline, a lot of information gets explored about Qrow and what he knows about everything going on in the current conflict between our heroes and villains.

Blake’s journey with Sun Wukong (Michael Jones) to Menagerie, an island where most of the Faunus live in peace away from the humans. A lot of is explored about Blake’s past and character development overall. Out of team RWBY, she has always been my favorite so giving her the proper amount of screen time is used wonderfully here. Sun, who always felt an underused side character, provides a lot of support to Blake’s journey and provides great comedic relief. Their quest leads to the development of Blake’s family life and the threat of the White Fang, who Blake used to be a part of.

Yang is still at home with her father, Taiyang Xiao Long (Burnie Burns) who is helping Yang heal after losing her arm. Shortly after she goes off to reunite with her sister, Ruby. Not much will be said to avoid spoilers, but like the other characters, Yang develops a lot on her journey.

Weiss is at home and miserable. Right away she sets off to go reunite with her friends because she knows that there is work to be done and evil to defeat. As a character who I hated at first, Weiss’ growth pays off a lot from volume 4 and 5. Seeing more of how terrible her family is, makes her a lot more likable. Especially seeing the growth of her relationship with her team has helped the character grow on me. Out of side stories that happen early in the volume, I would say it is not one of the best, same with Yang’s side story.

Following our heroes is excellent, but learning about the lore and villains this volume takes the cake. The moments that look at Salem (Jen Taylor) to give this ultimate villain more depth has given answers and questions in a great balance. The mystery to her is important, but it is about time to learn about her. Plus getting more of Cinder (Jessica Nigri) is always a joy in her hateable, but yet loveable character continues to give hell to our heroes.

The meat of the story to this volume is the amount we learn about these characters, the world, and lore. There is plenty of action, but world building and character development are essential and excellently executed, especially in this latest volume. I felt that the last volume was great, but gave me more build up and less payoff. Volume 5 hits the balance of everything perfectly. The fighting and more intense scenes are better than ever. The animation team at Rooster Teeth continues to grow stronger with each season of any show they put out. As the show builds to the final few episodes, the action kicks in with a balance of dialog to move the story forward. When the tone shifts from action, to drama, or to comedy, it all generally flows really well. My main complaint stems from what I see a lot of anime and even some live action movies or shows do. Fighting happens then characters pause to talk or do something. Sometimes this flow feels off to me and puts a stop to dramatic moments. This might be nitpicking, but was my only major complaint.

Visually the show looks better than ever. Arriving at new areas filled with populations feel more alive than ever. The blend of colors and shades from nighttime or different regions creates for some pretty moments throughout the show. The style of combat scenes is always a joy. Character dynamics still are unique between characters while having the show’s style of action mixed in. Movement in the anime I have seen is always a big part, especially during action scenes. RWBY takes a lot of what I have seen in other shows, but have their own style that separates themselves from the rest. There is a lot more detail done that is impressive from the size of their team and budget. Utilizing resources and people to create the best project possible is always well done by Rooster Teeth, especially the animation department.

Much of the voice cast is a mix of people who have a lot of experience in voice acting or just acting in general such as Samantha Ireland from many RT shows and other short films, Jen Taylor from Halo, and Vic Mignogna from Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood. The other side of the cast who are strictly employees at Rooster Teeth like Barbara Dunkelman, Lindsay Jones, and Miles Luna all do such a great job from limited acting experience. What always helps is excellent directing from Kerry Shawcross, Miles Luna, and Gray Haddock. With great leaders running the show is how anything gets to the quality that it is.

Overall, this is one of the best volumes (I hope I am doing that right, the whole volume or season thing throws me off) I have seen from RWBY. The amount of payoff and information learned about the world makes for one of the most exciting shows Rooster Teeth has. On top of great characters and world-building, there is the excellent action that feels like it works within the rules of the world itself. Be prepared for a dramatic volume, I got emotional throughout my entire time watching. The tone of the drama, action, and comedy are perfectly executed to bring the right amount of everything to the show that distinguishes itself from any other Rooster Teeth production. Besides the one complaint about the flow of some scenes, this is one of, if not, the best volume of the series.

Score: 9/10

You can watch RWBY on Rooster Teeth’s website or on YouTube. The Rooster Teeth website has DVDs and merch for fans. RWBY will return this fall.

Image via Deviantart

 

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