As I said before, the aim of these things is to be more than a first impressions but not quite a full on in-depth review. That was made a tad more difficult when reviewing RWBY for two reasons. Firstly RWBY was originally a web series with only a few minutes to an episode. I watched it on Netflix, which decided to amalgamate the episodes into two two-hour plus long episodes. Secondly, it’s really good, you guys. Like if there were still episodes to watch I’d be watching them instead of writing this.
It begins by introducing us to the world of Remnant, where civilization is threatened by giant size Hot Topic versions of animals called creatures of Grimm. Drawn to and powered by negative emotions, they had driven humanity to the brink of extinction. People learned to defend themselves using a magical substance called Dust. People who master the use of Dust to fight creatures of Grimm, usually through the use of ridiculous and ridiculously awesome weapons, are called huntsmen or huntresses. They are trained at special academies not unlike a more ass kicking version of Hogwarts. There they learn to control elemental powers called Instances using the power of their soul, called Aura. It’s a lot to take in at once but the show never throws more at you than you can handle. It’s also fairly obvious from minute one that no small amount of thought went into every little detail.
The main story begins with a robbery at a Dust store called “From Dust ‘til Dawn” perpetrated by recurring antagonist Roman Torchwick, a seemingly small time criminal mastermind with a penchant for smoking cigars and shooting fireworks out of his cane. (Many of the character names are fairly puntastic.) Here, the main heroine, Ruby Rose, is introduced. She foils the robbery in a sequence that let me know right away this was going to be something special. I won’t spoil it here but I will say it had me laughing so hard my chest hurt. That’s another thing, the humor in this show is on point.
After the tussle at the Dust store, Ruby is saved by a pair of faculty members from Beacon, one of the most prominent academies in the area. Her fighting skills and, for lack of a better word, enthusiasm get her enrolled after a brief interrogation. Ruby is joined at Beacon by her older sister Yang Xiao Long; spoiled rich girl with a heart of gold, Weiss Schnee; and quiet, mysterious, calm, and ninja-tastic bookworm, Blake Belladonna. During one of the first arcs all the students of Beacon are sent out into the wilderness to evaluate their skill level and assign them to teams accordingly. It’s during this arc that we meet the many other characters all of which have unique personalities and skills. We even meet a character voiced by recently deceased series creator, writer, lead animator and director Monty Oum.
I won’t go into the other arcs of the first episode because I want you guys to go out and see for yourselves. Needless to say, the show does not disappoint at all. It’s a fantastic ride from start to finish. The whole show is a finely crafted love letter to anime, but the fight scenes in particular are wonderful to behold. Fast paced, well thought out and spectacularly engaging. As good as they are, they’re only one small part of what makes this show a treasure to watch. It’s pretty obvious that the people who made this put a lot of love into the project. Every line, every joke, every fight sequence is carefully crafted. It’s a rich, vibrant world with a marvelously detailed history. Each character is just that — a character with personality traits, flaws, and values. Everything is dripping with style, panache, care, and love. Every character is confident in their nigh superhuman abilities. They take the epic circumstances they face in stride, which is a refreshing change of pace from the regular tropes of characters not knowing their potential, being too humble, or being overly cocky about it.
Even the music is fantastic: kick ass opening and ending themes, and some of the most headbangingly awesome fight music I’ve heard in a long time. About the only thing I have to complain about is the animation. The entire show was created using Smith Micro’s Poser software and has sort of a wonky CG look to it. It isn’t the worst CG animation I’ve ever seen, but it’s definitely not the best. That said, I quickly stopped noticing it. It’s a small flaw compared to the overall care and artistry of the show. RWBY exudes the love and passion of the people who made it. I have to say one of the best things about RWBY is how clearly it is a labor of love. It shines most brightly in the way that all those lovingly crafted details fuse together to make a powerfully fantastic experience.
I want to be honest, I didn’t know about RWBY until I heard about Monty’s passing. From the things people have said about him as well as the show he left behind, I can tell he was an amazing person and a phenomenally talented artist. I just want to take this opportunity to offer my deepest condolences to Monty’s friends and family. Hearing people talk about his work ethic and talent have inspired me to get a move on with my own projects. He will be missed.
In the end I can’t recommend RWBY highly enough. It’s a work of love, if I haven’t made that clear enough already. A love that shines through every aspect of the show. It’s wonderful and inspiring to watch. If you don’t have Netflix you can see the series on YouTube or through Rooster Teeth’s website.