RWBY Revisited: Part II

I will never escape from this franchise, will I?

I’ve written, at this point, nine different pieces related in some major way to RWBY. That’s insane, but what’s even crazier is that this is going to be the tenth. This is also considering the few post ideas that I’ve dropped, like “The Top Ten Best Things About RWBY,” a post I was planning to make in order to sate some angry fans, but lost interest in back when I still hated the series. Now that I’m a legitimate fan, as well as a proud owner of two RWBY action figures, my posts have generally gotten more positive, unless they were referring to the criminally unfunny Chibis series. And now I’m getting pulled back in again.

Keep in mind, this isn’t something I was planning to do. Not long after I wrote the Inconvenient Questions post for volume 2, I found I had a commenter on my volume 3 review chiding me for my opinions back when I reviewed the first two volumes. I agreed with him, and promised to CONSIDER writing this very post, with the provision that I’d have to get a certain set of other posts wrapped up first.  Well, they’re wrapped, which brings me back to this post.  Now, there’s a reason I’m going ahead with this idea; Because I rarely ever get requests, and I like to honor them when I do. Having said that, I was still a little hesitant with this one, but for the record, this post was requested by Serocco, and it’s going to focus on how my opinion has changed on the first two volumes of RWBY since the third one converted me into a fanboy… And how some of my opinions have stayed the same.

But first, there’s something I’ve never told you guys, and I feel as though it would be the perfect jumping off point for this topic. The first time I saw RWBY, way back when it was still new and all I knew about it was the hype, the creators and what the name stood for, I didn’t make it past the first episode. This is not an exaggeration. The writing was so bad that before the timer even ran out on episode 1, I was already turning it off and shuffling it over to some pile of shows I’d never feel enticed to touch again. Granted I DID come back after it exploded in popularity, but I’d like to share with you for a moment what made me drop it in the first place.

I don’t recall having a problem with the opening narration… Honestly, the first time around, I strangely can’t even remember there being narration… But I found myself having two major problems with the episode right off the bat. First of all, Ruby was listening to a CD near a music shelf, using a pair of sample headphones. What kind of store was this to even have those? Only music and entertainment stores have those, and not all of them, so I found it a little hard to believe a pair would exist inside of a tiny little dust shop.

As for my second problem? Well, let’s break this down. Torchwik said, as clearly as daylight, that they were there for dust, and not for money. All they were going to do was empty the dust dispensers, and their job would be done. However, one of his henchmen abandoned his job and tried to rob Ruby… For what? Did he really think she’d have enough dust on her to justify him leaving his station? He approached her, and she did the cliche of a deceptively powerful character smirking over the fact that they’re abut to be challenged by a lesser being… See Mindy’s final scene from Kick-Ass as a quick example… and she started kicking ass.

Here’s the problem… He had no reason to bother her, and yet by doing so, he alerted her to a crime she likely wouldn’t have known about otherwise. If he hadn’t done that, she wouldn’t have fought Roman, she wouldn’t have met Glinda, and she wouldn’t have skipped grades to attend Vale, meaning the school would have been doomed and Salem’s plans would have run a lot more smoothly. See, the true hero of Vale isn’t Ruby, it’s some random henchman who had ONE FUCKING JOB. Granted, back then, I didn’t know most of that, I just hated the fact that the henchman approaching Ruby made no freaking sense. Then I saw her in the interview, talking like she’d been written by a grown man(which is true, but there should be more of an illusion), and eating cookies that disappeared the second they hit her mouth, and I was done. That’s where I cut off. The animation did nothing for me, and the writing was maddeningly bad.

My first time, I dropped the series before Ruby could even finish her cookies.

In any case, my opinion on the writing hasn’t changed. The dialogue in RWBY volume 1 is still terrible. It’s full of unfunny jokes(“I drink milk”), phrasings that sound like an adult male with no idea how girls actually talk came up with them(“My dearest sister Yang…”), awkward phrases that no human being would naturally use(“You’re discriminatory”), and ad-libs that the director really shouldn’t have allowed past the recording(“She does love Tuna a lot”). It can honestly get cringeworthy at times. Even after being converted into a fan, the only laughs that volume 1 can get out of me are from some of Ruby and Weiss’s interactions, like the ‘girl who exploded’ running gag, Ruby questioning Weiss’s abilities right before getting launched into the Nevermore, and of course, “It’s a combat skirt.”

But one thing my opinion HAS changed on is the characters. I still hold to the idea that Yang was defined primarily as “Ruby’s big sister” during this volume, but there was more depth given to Weiss and Blake… Well, kind of. Weiss was given two arcs, one with Ruby and one with Blake, while Blake had her own at the end of the series, and you do learn a lot about the two of them through the two arcs… Unfortunately, these arcs, along with Jaune’s, that tried to deal with issues like ego, teamwork, bullying, racism and even race relations, were handled with all the depth and nuance of an Arthur episode, and they all ended fairly easily… One of them through an immediate talking-to with teachers, and the other two after fight scenes. Considering the issues being raised, I can’t help asking… Is that it? Ruby and Weiss are going to patch things up this quickly? Carden’s just going to forget the info he has on Jaune? What changed Weiss’s mind about Blake since the last time we saw her?

And yeah, I hate to say it, but compared to the first half, the second half of the volume is kind of boring.

But the characters ARE better developed and presented than I remember, which is the entire point. I appreciate how, in the fight scene against the Nevermore and Death Stalker, the teams formed naturally around their eventual leaders, a detail I missed the first time around. I also take back everything I said about the character templates being randomly and haphazardly chosen. I get the themes, now. Team RWBY are based on fairy tale characters, Team JNPR are based on genderbent tragic heroes, and everyone important to Oz’s inner circle is based on a Wizard of Oz character. It makes more sense than I gave it credit for, and it actually works a lot better, too.

Having said that, a jump from a 2/10 to a 4/10 isn’t a big one, and I still consider volume 1 to be, well, bad. Maybe not AS bad as I first stated, but… Bad.

As for volume 2… Well, I wish I had as much to say about it as I did about volume 1, but I really don’t. A lot of the differences are the same, just at a better ratio. It still has lame jokes and bad dialogue, but not nearly as much. The story is a lot more streamlined and the tone is a lot more consistent, and there’s a bunch of character development that slipped under my radar. I think the biggest problem with my Vol. 2 review is that I only watched the volume once before reviewing it, despite having seen vol. 1 about three times. Also, I’m going to be chastised again for this, but I saw both without watching the trailers, thus I was going into all four characters without the proper introductions. This is primarily the reason that I saw the development between Yang and Blake as abrupt and cloying, when it was actually very well set up. I still hold to everything I said about that stupid dog, and while I appreciated him having a reduced role in volume 3, it took Chibis to make me actually like Zwei. Volume 2 is… Okay. It’s okay. I still don’t enjoy the foodfight on many, many levels, but after a rough first few episodes, it does come into it’s own really well.

Also, I kind of hesitate to say this, but as talented and amazing as they are now, Lindsey Jones and Barbara Dunkleman kind of sucked in volume 1. I’m not just talking about all of Lindsey’s unfortunate ad-libbing, but just as actors, they didn’t really seem to know what they were doing in this volume. But hey, like I said, they get a lot better in volumes 2 and 3. And I guess that’s it. I bit my tongue about Monty Oum, especially since I’ve said all I can say about him in part 1, and since I watched both of these volumes on Netflix(during a rare moment of good internet reception on my PS4), I don’t know anything that may have been said in the commentary tracks. So that’s really all there is to say about volumes 1 and 2, unless you have a specific question to ask me in the comments section.

But you know what? Fuck it. While I’m writing this thing anyway, let’s take a look at how RWBY Chibi’s coming along, 18 episodes in from when I reviewed it’s first two.

Well, in all fairness, this is supposed to be a comedy series, and humor is subjective. different people will find different things funny based on their own personal perspective, tastes, and standards. I can only really compare Rooster Teeth’s efforts to my own comedic sensibilities, which is unfortunate, because after 20 episodes, I’ve only laughed at about five percent of the clips I’ve seen. Am I a harsh critic? Am I hard to please? Maybe, but honestly, I just don’t think RWBY Chibi is very good.

I already reviewed the first two episodes, going as far as to go clip-by-clip with them, and a lot of what I said back then still stands… I don’t think Rooster Teeth has the comedic timing or style to pull off a proper Chibi show. While I’ll admit that the majority of the clips manage to fall somewhere on the middle of the spectrum between good and bad, with only a few very rare clips being pathetic or out of character enough to really be off-putting, most of the clips just feel like misfired ideas.

There are plenty of clips where you can figure out exactly what’s going to happen way too early on, making a long joke out of what could have been a short joke. There are plenty of jokes that don’t have satisfactory punchlines, others that drag on too long, and some that are just downright confusing. There are some more interesting failures, like in episode 5, when characters address the early flaws in the series, with Blake acknowledging the fact that she has four ears or Team RWBY noticing the stock shadow people walking around, that probably would have been funny if they’d been made a year or two ago.

There were a few funny clips sprinkled throughout, but even more impressive are the two episodes that I feel stand out from the others… Episode 6 was consistently funny, as it created a great conclusion to the “Blake being scared of Zwei” running gag, a clip about Ruby’s cape that probably would have been funnier if the three segments were rearranged for the sake of escalation(Ruby getting hanged should have come last), Blake and her books putting on a classic gag with a surprisingly deft use of timing, and finally, the triumphant return of Pyrrha, which would have been awesome enough if Nora hadn’t stolen the show and made something especially memorable out of it.

The other one, episode 12, starts out by introducing the Junior Detectives clips(which, as far as I’m concerned, have ALL turned out to be funny), and poor Jaune does his best butt-monkeying in this one. It concludes with what may be the most sophisticated clip in the entire series, Ruby’s take on Little Red Riding Hood, which features Ruby, Zwei, Blake and Yang firing on all cylinders for what I consider to be Chibi’s crowning achievement. I can watch it over and over and still laugh at Blake’s indignation at Ruby’s exploitation of her, and especially at Yang’s eagerness to steal the show any way she can. Professor Mustache’s cameo was also really unexpected.

Also, I have to give a shout-out to the painting vignette in episode 10. Unfortunately, it was paired with a love triangle-ish clip that was really only amusing the first time through.

So, over-all, RWBY Chibi isn’t the worst thing ever, but it’s hard for me to find value in a comedy series that’s about 95 percent ineffective to me. There’ve been a handful of great clips, and two great episodes, and the animation’s really spot-on… Even though I feel flash would have worked better… And it did get me to admit to the potential value of Zwei. So I can’t write it off entirely.

Well, now, is there anything left to say? Yeah, I guess there is, in regards to volume 4. I don’t want to watch ti episode by episode. I want to watch it all at once when it hits DVD. The problem with that is, I hang out in a lot of anime loving circles, and RWBY is of course insanely popular with the anime community, so watching along with the releases is probably the best way to avoid being spoiled. I don’t know, we’ll see what happens. I’ve made it this far without watching the new season of Red vs. blue, but not well enough to avoid hearing that Caboose and Grif’s sister are both (spoiler) Freelancers.

I don’t know, time will tell.

And speaking of time, guess what time it is? Starting next week, it’s going to be Otakutober, the month of anime horror! I’ve got some special material for you, including an awesome guest post, so get your hopes up good and high for my next five releases!


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