Last fall, I posted a review of the Rooster Teeth web series known as RWBY. I wasn’t very kind to it. Hell, I ripped it to shreds, calling it one of the worst things I’ve ever had to sit through, and then I spent two more posts asking every single nit-picky question that I could think of about it. So, after picking it apart so thoroughly, you’d probably be expecting me to say I’m finally done slogging my way through that crappy otaku fetish-fullfilment cartoon… But then I got the soundtrack, and felt it was necessary to review that last week.
This week, I’m here to talk about season 2, which I finally got around to watching a few weeks ago. I’d already recorded myself watching the first four episodes of season 2, and I’ll include the links to those videos at the end of this post, but for now, it’s time to review the continuation of this series. Unfortunately, I honestly don’t think this season warrants it’s own structured review. There’s just not enough there to talk about without becoming repetitive. So instead, I’m going to spend this week talking briefly about what I thought of this season.
First and foremost, your enjoyment of this season will depend entirely on your enjoyment of the first season. If you loved the first season, you’ll probably have the time of your life with this one, as it develops both the heroes and the villains and shows them in a bunch of new situations. If you didn’t, then you’ll be bored off your ass, not giving one solitary shit about anything you’re seeing, and wishing you could have your two hours back. Guess where I stand?
Well, let me start by saying that this season wasn’t as aggressively bad as the first one. A lot of the problems still exist… I’ll get to all of them individually, because that’s how we do things around here… But at the very least, it isn’t AS loaded with stupidity as before. Like, if I were to do an Inconvenient Questions post about it, I don’t think the question count would even reach 100. It didn’t bother with any poorly thought out world-building, except in a few half-episodes that weren’t included in the DVD (And which I don’t think anybody watched anyway) so I never actually saw them. Well, I did record myself watching episode 4.5, but I was distracted by one of my cats the whole time, so I didn’t take anything away from it.
That’s not to say there was NO stupidity present… This is RWBY, after all. It just wouldn’t be RWBY unless a solid stone floor caved in under the weight of one teenage girl after supporting a giant fight scene just a few minutes earlier. It wouldn’t be RWBY unless the bad guys decided to open up holes in the roof of a subway by systematically detaching bomb-filled train cars, when it would have been much more effective to just stick the damn bombs on the ceiling and blow them up there directly. It wouldn’t be RWBY if they actually remembered the lesson about relying on your friends from the first season finale, just to try to include their friends from a dangerous investigation. But like I said, it’s the amount of stupid moments that has decreased, not the actual stupidity of those featured moments. That’s about the same.
As far as the animation goes, it hasn’t improved very much at all… Peoples’ hands still disappear inside of anything they come in contact with, and from what I saw with Weiss’s hands disappearing inside of her skirt, this is something the creators have just given up trying to fix. And I know they have tried fixing things in the past, because there were problems on the first season DVD that don’t exist anymore in the online videos (see: Sun’s hand moving as if he’s beside Blake, despite him being in front of her). But at this point, the way this series has blown up despite how butt-ugly it looks, I think they’re secure in knowing that their fans don’t care whether the burger they’re eating came from a steakhouse or McDonalds.
And the jiggle physics… What the hell was up with those jiggle physics? I’ve seen breasts in Highschool of the Dead that moved more naturally than this. I don’t even know why they wanted the characters to have jiggly boobs in the first place… Not only is it completely wasted on a show that doesn’t even have any fanservice, but it’s jaw-droppingly unsexy. Seriously, what was the point of that? Why waste money on the one thing the first season was actually better for not having? I’m trying to think of a good analogy for what these jiggle physics look like, but I honestly don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like that before. It was horrifying.
On the grounds of logic and animation, the season hits it’s lowest point with a food fight that takes place in episode 1. This is one of those moments that fans will go crazy over, as it features constant action, admittedly impressive camera work, and a call-back to a pointless Nora line from season 1. For everyone else, you’ll just be sitting there dead-pan, wondering why there was a whole stiff-as-a-board swordfish on the table in the first place, why a ketchup container squirts like a dust storm, and how stale a bunch of baguettes must be if they’re able to strike each other like swords over and over again without breaking. It’s just… Bizarre in how ugly it is, and I can’t help but think about how funny it would have been if the food HAD moved realistically, and the girls had just kept fighting while working around that problem. And this is coming from a guy who actually did get chills during certain moments from the season 1 fight scenes… Bleh. If you didn’t like the first season, there’s nothing here that will change your mind.
The food fight actually brings up another problem I have with a lot of shows, and since I didn’t mention it in my Angel Beats review, I might as well squeeze it in here. I can’t stand when a story takes place in a school, but the main characters are the only ones who ever matter. For no reason. Community made relentless fun of this trope. There is no reason why nobody other than teams JNPR and RWBY stuck around for the food fight. None at all. Nothing about those two teams is special in comparison to the other teams at the school other than the fact that we know them. I get that our main characters would be the only ones focused on in the main plot, because that’s how stories work, but in much better shows… Harry Potter, for example… It’s because one or more of the students is actually special in a way that’s related to the story. Or better yet, in a slice of life show like Azumanga Daioh, the story never leaves our main clique because it’s focused on them specifically, and not on any sort of bigger picture. It’s not an uncommon problem, but I figured I’d use this post as an excuse to finally get it off of my chest.
In the first season, there were at least some funny jokes… Most of which, for me, revolved around the dynamic between Weiss and Ruby, who carried the classic “Straight man/goofball” technique to some interesting places. They were just as funny when they were bickering as they were when they were getting along, which was impressive. We don’t get very much of that in season 2, unfortunately… We’re reminded very briefly of their dynamic in an early scene where Ruby jokingly excludes her from her list of compatriots, and after that, the only other time it resurfaces is after a giant robot fight, where Weiss makes a terrible pun and Ruby is the only one laughing at it. I like little touches like that, so it sucks that there were so few of them this time around. Yang and Blake do finally get some sort of tangible interaction between each other, but it felt forced, and it kind of reeked of inauthentic girl-on-girl otaku teasing.
There was one joke I actually laughed at, and you can see which one in my react videos, but for the most part, the attempted jokes are either too weird or just too plain dull to get any sort of chuckle out of me. More often than not, my reactions to them ranged from ‘whatever’ to ‘what the eff?’ There was a reference to Red Vs. Blue right in the first episode, and it honestly made me cringe at how badly delivered it was. If you don’t believe me, there’s video proof of it, and I spent the first few minutes of the next video explaining WHY it wasn’t funny. Because that’s how little value I place on my time. But it got worse. If there’s one thing that convinced me above all else to not watch season 3, it was the introduction of Ruby’s pet dog. That dog is probably the only character I’ve ever seen that had me squarely on the fence, trying to decide if I WANTED it to die in a fire, or just flat out didn’t care about whether it died in a fire. Which apparently wouldn’t kill it, as it can survive literally being used as a projectile.
The only reason that dog was introduced to the show… The only reason, mind you, as he doesn’t have the slightest effect on the story or plot… Is to pander to anime fans, with what Monty apparently believes is a ‘clever’ homage to Cowboy Bebop. Oh, you didn’t pick up on that? Because Ein and Zwei are german for One and Two, and it’s the same damn breed of dog. Yeah, I know they like anime…I appreciate that, as anime is an awesome thing. But if they’re going to throw in references just for the hell of it, could they try to not be so damn lazy about it? The first thing you think of isn’t always the best. That’s why brainstorming exists. Though I guess seeing Blake freak out over him was kind of cool.
The voice acting actually did get a lot better, although I’d been expecting that to happen. A lot of shows, both animated and live action, have rough acting when they start out. Actors may not really connect with their characters at first, which is why in most cases you should reserve judgement until they’ve had time to settle in. The over-acting is all but gone, as is the weird high pitched metallic tone that I used to complain about. Blake and Pyra’s VAs finally learned how to act like they’re not acting, and hey, Yang doesn’t sound like the poor man’s Kristen Schaal anymore!
I liked the design of Neo, she looks pretty cool, but I guessed her name the moment I saw her, so which kind of makes the creative side of her character come off as a little lame. But if I can put another positive spin on this, there was one scene in this season that I really liked… I was watching with a friend of mine, whom you may remember as the guy who wrote that guest post Adventures in Perler Beads, and he warned me about this scene in advance. He said that even he, a devoted fan of the series, hated this one particular scene. I remember thinking something pretentious along the lines of “If somebody with your standards hates this, then I’m going to be punching a hole in your wall, aren’t I?”
So, it turns out the scene he was talking about was during the school dance… Because of course there has to be a school dance, doesn’t there? It was boring and painful, but at least there was some character development in it. Anyway, the scene he was referring to was when Jean walks out on the dancefloor in his eveningwear, and his team… along with the people around them… Break out into a hideous, cheesy, eighties movie dance number. And I loved it. It took me a while to figure out why a hater of the series would love something that a fan of it would rail against, but then I realized what that scene was parodying… It was parodying RWBY. Yes, I’m dead serious, the series decided to parody itself in one gloriously awkward moment.
Remember that Matrix parody from Scary Movie? No, not from the third one… That shit was unwatchable. I mean in the first Scary Movie, when Cindy was fighting Ghostface with gravity-defying Matrix moves, and then she got stuck in the air and just started river-dancing out of nowhere. It was awesome, and it’s exactly what RWBY was doing to itself. It’s like David Zucker took one look at the barely competent fight scenes and said ‘let’s make them dance like that!’ Hell, all things considered, when you think about how over the top and cheesy RWBY’s… Everything… Is, I’d have been disappointed if the school dance story arc didn’t have some dated eighties’ style dance number.
So yeah, there’s my review of the second season. It was bad, but not as bad as season 1. It’s boring, if anything, but it’s improved on enough fronts that I can’t in good conscience give it the same hateful, angry rating I gave the first season. I give it a 4/10, and unless I decide to do an Inconvenient Questions post about it at some point in the future in order to fill some space on my release schedule, I really don’t think I’ll ever have to return to this franchise. See you next week, when I return to anime!
(I apologize in advance for my voice. I hate it too.)
EDIT: On a sadder nope, Monty Oum has just passed away. Despite my negative feelings towards RWBY, this is still some pretty heartbreaking news, as he played a huge part in making Red vs. Blue as awesome as it was in it’s last few seasons, and I really did enjoy Dead Fantasy. I’d like to offer my deepest sympathies to his family, friends, coworkers and fans. Rest in Peace, Monty.