RWBY Volume Three Review


I almost feel bad for saying so, but it seems that the death of RWBY‘s original creator, Monty Oum, had shifted the tone of RWBY in the same direction. I went into the third volume expecting a darker tone all throughout, but was surprised when I was greeted with a pretty goofy, albeit competitively serious, debut episode. The promise of gloomy days was still present in my mind, but with the way things started off, I wondered how exactly the transition would take place.

There is something inherently different this time around. The writing is still off-putting, humor-wise, but there seems to be bigger things in play here. Something about the tone, the atmosphere of how the volume begins gives off this feeling of trepidation. Perhaps it was aided by my knowledge of a certain big spoiler that happens at the end, but in actuality, it had little to do with it. Even with the goofy writing, the third volume starts out with a battle in a school-sanctioned tournament. To start off with a battle, even with the context of being for sport, does more than opening with, say, loads of exposition or a food fight. One can tell right away that the gloves are off and RWBY is ready to provide a narrative that compares to the scale of its own potential.

Before getting into that, let’s talk about the first couple episodes and how much they blow. The first five episodes of RWBY‘s third volume follow a trend that makes the series all but engrossing. Using the tournament as a convenient excuse, the first five episodes have at least one battle sequence to them, including battles against characters who have never appeared in the series before and likely never will again, assuming they don’t get a lot of lines. This makes the battles feel dull and flash for the sake of flash, without any reason to care. We know who wins, why not turn off the brain and look at the pretty lights being shown in front of you? When those aren’t shown, the viewer is subject to the show’s humor—particularly in the first two episodes or so—which has gone from bad to horrible. I never cared for the humor in the first two volumes, but it seems the team’s sense of humor hasn’t changed a bit since the series’s debut. There was one joke I found amusing. There were about thirty others that made me twitch. It’s safe to say the first five episodes of the series serve little to the overall enjoyment I had with the series, as they seemed to want to cling to the calm nature and vaguely ominous roots that were established in volumes prior. It wasn’t until episode six where things started to, for lack of a better phrase, get going.


Once the halfway point was met, the quality of each episode gradually improved as it went along. I was surprised with how enamored I became with the developing plot, the serious tone of the show. This was what I had wanted since the end of volume one, something to really grip with the size of scope the series wanted to paint with its mountain of exposition. It showed signs before, but never got to the point where anything bad was ever accomplished, ever really felt grim, out of control. Volume Three is the first time where the evil forces have taken a grasp upon the world and taken extreme measures to ensure their plan goes accordingly. It feels detailed, well thought out. The foreshadowing leading up to the large climax present is gradual, but effective, even if the execution can be a little corny. The storytelling is on par (and executed similarly) with Volume Two, but here the viewer is treated with some resolution to the events that occur, rather than sweep it under the rug for everyone to forget in time.

Also similar to Volume Two, Volume Three has a tendency to let plot override the importance of other aspects, such as character. I’ve already mentioned above how a number of characters that have never appeared before make their debut appearance, only to provide nothing in the sense of development. The already established characters tend to take a back seat to react to the plot that is being unveiled as the episodes pass. As much as I loathe the humor, it gives the characters personality and life that they lack in more serious situations. As the mood gets to be more dramatic, so do the characters, leaving them to bask in their righteous justice and nothing more. In terms of development, I’d be hard pressed to point out any individual character who receives a good amount of development in this volume. Crow, definitely, but he’s a new character and needs it regardless. Perhaps Ozpin gets a little in terms of revealing the level of power he commands, or maybe Pyrrha because of the stress she goes through. But is that really worthy of further development? Or simply more reacting to what the plot throws at them?


The typical teams consisting of Ruby, Yang, Blake, and Weiss, and Jaune, Pyrrha, Ren, and Nora are front and center for the most part. They’re the characters that get the most attention, but some receive a little more than others. Once again, to react to the things happening to them rather than give them any sense of purpose or goal. Do they showcase their trademark quirks? Yes and no. When the situation calls for it, Weiss acts noble and uppity. Ruby is awkward and cheery. Blake is, as one puts it, “emo.” Yang is… notably calm for the most part. The only character to maintain their quirks—and improve upon them—is Nora, who is still insane for the sake of being insane. By volume’s end, I never feel these characters are showcased “correctly,” in a way that gives their personalities the spotlight while also reflecting them with their actions, set by the standards of previous volumes. Props to the development of Crow, but the rest of the cast feel as though the development team thought they’d had enough time on the frontlines.

Animation has, fortunately, improved enough to make even the most trivial of actions look smooth, though not consistently. The action scenes (later on) are very well choreographed and visually dazzling, provoking the sense of epicness I’m sure they intended. There are times when characters move robotically for the sake of “humor,” but comes off as lazy when the actions are held too long. This doesn’t happen very often as the humor tends to wear thin physically in the first few episodes. It creeps up sometimes, with a strange twitch here and there, though the animation holds steady for the most part. A subjective complaint is the use of fight scenes in every episode without any real meaning. This makes the rather stylish fight scenes feel dull and spiritless. It doesn’t evoke any emotion, aside from those clamoring for the fight scenes only. It feels like a waste to continue to waste time on fights that don’t amount to anything and waste the time to make later fight scenes all the more creative. For example, did we really have to watch Neptune and Sun do a little jig with some mindless harpies for half an episode? Neptune and Sun contribute very little to the volume at all, so why bother? Does anyone even like these characters?


A little note about voice acting, as this is still considered an “amateur” project, but I thought the cast did a really nice job throughout. Ruby’s voice actor has really improved since she started, and everyone else among the cast accurately placed the emotional depth of every situation into their voices. I was a little taken aback by how fierce some of them sounded. The tracks to accompanying scenes were a little gratuitous, calling for a number of “epic-sounding” symphonies to heighten the mood. I felt it suited better with low, ominous beats that played when the antagonists were hinting at their schemes. Otherwise, I didn’t much notice it throughout.

It is, with everything considered, the best RWBY has ever been, but only marginally. The ending is explosively satisfying (if not a little cheesy), the events that transpire within the narrative have genuine meaning and the results are damning, and the tone is suited well for the circumstances. However, whatever charm the characters had in the first volume has gone missing since then, as the emphasis of character is no longer important. Combine that with a starting line polluted with messy humor, pointless character introductions/interactions, and a feeling of dragging one’s head against the floor, RWBY‘s third volume is an uneven, unpolished track that would hesitate anyone. Fret not; Volume Three is an example of finishing with a bang, and it’s a beautiful bang, despite all the shortcomings of setting up the spectacle.

Final Score: 6/10

RWBY Volume Two Review

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Yesterday was the premiere finale of Volume Three of RWBY. Lots of people on Twitter were eager to gobble up the supposed “darker storyline” that Volume Three had to offer, which made me curious enough to revisit the story of a group of colorful cuties from where I had left off at the end of Volume One. I can’t believe I just typed “colorful cuties.”

A lot of the issues I had with Volume One resulted from scattered character development, lack of any coherent story to follow, and the mindless dribble they called “dialogue.” With the foundation behind RWBY and its limited resources behind it, I was able to excuse it to some degree, but with more time and more hype behind Volume Two, I went into it expecting them to shore up something more grounded to keep the viewers engaged. I was not disappointed.

RWBY Volume Two opens with two new characters. Said characters go into a library and kill some werewolf guy because reasons. This transitions us back to our main group (or two) of heroes that we came to know from Volume One… leading into a food fight. The match ends after a lot of flare and we transition back to the two characters shown at the start talking sinister and saturday morning cartoon-like to a returning baddie and a new baddie, setting the stage for what Volume Two aims to build up to.

I was both relieved and hesitant. RWBY’s first volume was aimless and basically just a testament for things to come and to showcase flashy visuals. Right out of the gate, Volume Two shows that it wants to focus more on storytelling than anything else, whether it be towards the overall plot or through characters. But at the same time, the story being told is a tired and disappointingly benign one. Bad guys are bad and good guys are good. There is a threat that suddenly appears and two entities are fighting over how to combat it; whether it be through building an army or continue with the status quo. By the end of the series, nothing about the story is really settled, with the entirety of Volume Two, somewhat similarly to Volume One, being simply a build-up to something more.

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Now, don’t confuse the story itself with storytelling, which are two separate entities of criticism. The story itself is safe and awfully vague, but the storytelling has some props to it. Volume Two has a way of pulling you in and making you curious. The use of foreshadowing and build-up through character exposition or plot progression is something to be admired, rather the effort in using it anyway. There was never a time throughout watching Volume Two when I wasn’t interested in knowing what was going on. If the vagueness of the overall plot successfully does one thing, it’s to stabilize interest. This air of mystery is something Volume One had little of, relying only on underdeveloped characters and their humor. At least Volume Two has something to fall back on.

At this point I’m reiterating, but Volume Two returns with its action-packed style of almost absurd proportions of choreographed fight scenes and bedazzlement. The action is an absolute plus to watch and it certainly does get the feeling of “Hype” going through when necessary. However, I feel as though Volume Two relies a little too much on these scenes. There were times when it felt exciting to watch because there was a sort of substance and emotional empathy attached, while others were simply to “look cool.” As a viewer, it made me wonder if Volume Two wasn’t confident enough with itself to hold attention by character interaction and exposition alone, so it decided to jingle keys incessantly to keep those watching awake. It’s certainly nothing to hamper for choreography, but the reason behind the action scenes this time around made me wonder.

The overall design of the show hasn’t changed much from Volume One, though perhaps more polished here and there. The animation has gotten noticeably faster with trivial movements and pragmatic activities, which is nice because Volume One was super clunky in that regard. The overall quality of action scenes was roughly the same, with perhaps a few more “WTF” moments sprinkled here and there. It’s superior, but perhaps not to those trained to look for it.

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I’ve spent quite a bit of time being overall positive with this review, but now we get into the sweeter spot of the symbolic piece of pie. Where Volume Two exceeds in roping in the viewer with a base story, it lacks for overall character spotlight. This volume shows far less of the large cast of characters than the first volume, which is a bit of a shame. Ironically enough, characters with far more development in the first volume (Weiss, Jaune) get far less development in this volume. It’s almost to the point where they’re all but ignored (especially with Jaune) for the sake of other characters. A few that come to mind who get a lot of screentime here are Yang (who desperately needed it) and Blake (who already had quite a bit). But even so, the amount of time spent with these two almost entirely eclipse those otherwise. Ruby in particular (along with Nora and Ren, who weren’t really focused on in Volume One either) seems to get the short end of the stick in terms of development. She’s there to serve as the good guy… or gal. That’s pretty much it. If this was all we had in terms of content, I would not pick out Ruby as “the main character.”

There’s also the issue that seems to plague RWBY in its entirety: character number. Aside from the two new baddies mentioned before, there is another new baddie and two new goodies. RWBY keeps adding new characters in an attempt to flesh them out and it simply falls flat! Why do you keep adding new characters?! Mold the ones already there! What’s even worse is that these new character are all horribly personified. The bad guys are bad guys. Arrogant, whiny, sinister, uninteresting. And then there’s Neptune, some hipster, cool-dude, blue-haired fuck who comes out of nowhere and serves nothing to anything. His personality is dumb, his mindset is dumb, and he’s basically a walking plot device used for the middle of the story. He has no potential and he has no point. Wasted. Character space. Despite this, he’s used for quite a few jokes and even as a love interest of all things. And for what? Blue hair? C’mon, RWBY. You’re better than that.

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Something I never cared for comes back in full force for Volume Two: comedy. Let me be clear and stout: the comedy in RWBY is dumb. It is unfunny, juvenile, and almost never clever. It’s just jokes thrown in for the sake of jokes. Undertale enthusiasts would probably get a kick out of the corniness of it all, but I’m no Undertale enthusiast. But it’s not the jokes itself, but the timing of the jokes. RWBY has a knack for killing any mood with a corny joke thrown in. If the mood of a scene is stupid, fine. Throw in a joke. The food fight in episode one is entirely plausible for jokes. But when you’re fighting in a life or death scenario, why do it? It just feels like those movies that rely way too much on action and cheesy one-liners and—Oh. Huh. Nevertheless, it makes the entire thing feel like it doesn’t give a shit. I was curious to see how far they’d take this, but then someone used a normal dog as a flaming projectile and at that point I said to myself, “They don’t give one fuck.”

It’s nice to see RWBY taking strides with more experience under their belt, but I also feel they’re trying too hard to appeal to everyone. Dark and foreshadowed plots don’t exactly mix well with goofy humor and exaggerated character banter. It’s almost to the point of parody the way this show comes across, especially with its action scenes. Everyone is overpowered as fuck and each character is motivated by a shounen cliché or other fantasy-themed plots. I think Volume Two is a step up from Volume One, but not by much. It’s a dazzling watch and holds its own against its competition, but it’s hard to see it as anything more than that: a dazzling, hollow performance trying too hard to be everything for everyone.

Oh, and Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!

Final Score: 5.5/10

RWBY Volume One Review

This is an interesting thing to review, as I have little to no experience with Monty Oum or Rooster Teeth in general. I’m not a fan of Red vs. Blue, and have otherwise tuned out Machinima altogether from my Youtube viewing experiences (with the exception of Sanity Not Included). I can’t compare a series like RWBY to anything else because I simply don’t have that affiliation with its creators’ roots or anything of the sort. I can only look at RWBY for how it is on its own. That being said, my background experience with Machinima ends here.

I was drawn to RWBY for the same reason I’m drawn to many anime-styled series: it looks weebish. I’m a weeb and I like weeb-looking things. It’s in my nature. To a degree, this is both a curse and a guilty pleasure. A curse knowing that I can be drawn to any shitty production as long as it “looks nice” (No Game No Life) and a guilty pleasure because it can make a show more tolerable (Senran Kagura). RWBY is no exception. Despite the fact that the animators for this series are working on a lower-than-average budget and are, frankly, amateurs at their craft, its trailers and overall style make it an intriguing view for the weeb-friendly eye.


The series begins like many others: with a shit-ton of exposition. The type of exposition you would see in the beginning of a grand epic or a tale of adventure and myth. It tells of some energy thing that people want or something called “dust,” and it balances out the power of natural elements or whatever. It’s not entirely explained. And then, wouldn’t you know, bad guys show up and rob a Dust Bank, when one of the henchmen come across Ruby Rose, the first of many major characters that make up the show, who kicks some bad guy butt without much effort because they wanted to go the Dragon Ball route and make the hero overpowered without much effort. Yay. The bad guys get away and then Ruby gets sent to an academy for training people to be superheroes or whatever. Y’know, high school, but with survival skills and magic powers. She’s joined by her sister, Yang, among others as she tries to survive the trials with which this academy puts her through, testing her will as both a hunter and a leader of her own team; team RWBY.

Within the first few minutes of RWBY (that’s not exposition), one thing is immediately clear: the production team went all out with the action scenes. There is far more effort put into fighting maneuvers than there is with trivial dialogue and actions between characters. Sure, Ruby can pull off god-like feats of acrobatic maneuverability, complete with fast-paced swings from her blood red megascythe of destruction, but Yang can’t give her a hug without looking as stiff as my dick whenever Weiss Blake is shown on-screen. That being said, the actions scenes were some of the more enjoyable bits of eye candy for this show (as the design isn’t entirely polished enough for sexual fan service), and it only adds to the anime style that RWBY is known for. The design itself is also a plus, as each character looks distinguishable (if not hyper-exaggerated based on their archetypes) enough that I could point out each character without resorting to hair color.


RWBY is also similar to anime in the sense that its storytelling resorts to being overly vague about everything and “setting up the stage” for a big, dramatic conclusion in who knows when? The giant chunk of exposition at the very beginning is really all that the viewer is treated to in terms of story, otherwise, it’s fairly character-driven. In fact, if not for the “evil to be evil” villains in RWBY showing up randomly to fuck shit up, this entire show would just be character development through conflict (more on that later). The only “story” aspect being shown in RWBY consistently throughout is through aspects that make up each character’s life or situation. That’s it. It’s basically a sort of slice of life situation ever since the first episode, with bits of action and pseudo-adventure layered on as it progresses.

With little to no story to fall back on, let me introduce the most important aspect of RWBY: its characters. The main cast is enormous, with six characters making up what I consider “the main group” of heroes in the series. This being said, there are a number of other characters that make up the minor character list as well, with the total amount spanning double-digits in all. That’s a lot of characters to develop and make likable for a show with limited screentime.

Team RWBY: Ruby, Yang, Weiss, and Blake (in that order).

The characters that make up RWBY’s main cast are Ruby, her older sister, Yang; Weiss, Blake, Jaune, and Pyrrha. Ruby as a character is optimistic and, frankly, generic. Her upbeat attitude is enough to get by, but she falls under the stereotype of “justice for all” that many main characters have now a days. Jaune, the sole male character in the main cast and, ironically, the weakest (or weakest in composure) of the bunch, is exactly as described: weak, with a dream of not being weak in the future. It’s only fair (and cliché) that there’s implied romantic tension between him and Pyrrha, who is known for being among the strongest hunters at the academy (her personality is much like Ruby’s, if not more mature). Weiss has a cold and elitist attitude, one who was born into privilege and riches unlike many others. The rich and perfect brat, if you will. Yang is carefree and a wild-spirit, much like how one would compare a wild animal to be, and entirely affectionate towards her sister. Finally, Blake is a quiet soul. If you couldn’t get that from her appearance, you might not be very perceptive.

Each character gets their own amount of screentime, ranging from “favored” to “forgotten.” Weiss seems to be in the middle of most of the conflict (perhaps due to her obvious personality flaws), while Yang gets no attention at all towards development. However, one of my biggest issues with RWBY is the style with which they develop their characters. It follows a similar formula all throughout, with little to no variety. One character has an opinion. Another character disagrees with that opinion. They scuffle. Some random character talks sense into them. They resolve the conflict. Whether this be through Weiss believing Ruby shouldn’t be the leader of the group, Weiss and Blake at odds over a certain “terrorist” group, or Jaune questioning his self-worth, they all seem to follow the same guideline. This makes the writing feel repetitive and forced, and makes the show wholly predictable on top of it. Not to mention, a lot of these conflicts come out of nowhere with no foreshadowing whatsoever. The first example is excusable, but Blake suddenly having an opinion after being treated like a cast-off up to that point makes her character, and all others, feel as though they’re driven by the plot, as opposed to them driving the plot.

To make matters worse, let me speak of the worst factor that RWBY has to offer: dialogue. The dialogue is atrocious. Many times characters come across as odd or clumsy, even if their character types don’t exude that. Not to mention, their entire dialogue only serves to establish either their one character trait or the plot. At the beginning of the series, I understand. Ruby is in a new environment and she isn’t sure how to act or behave. Same goes for Jaune. Otherwise, most uttered is either “I’m the good guy,” “I’m the bad guy,” “I’m the voice of reason,” or “I’m comic relief.” The dialogue isn’t alluring or constructive. Try as they may to make it humorous (and it really, really isn’t), that’s all they seem to want to fall back on. This does little to affect the monotonous mood of the show outside of the action scenes, and it doesn’t do much for the charm of the characters themselves.

el oh el (Pyrrha)

A few other negatives include the use of bringing in new characters while already established characters haven’t been developed yet and the logic of some of the characters (Pyrrha finds Jaune reliable because…?), but those are minor quirks. One last thing I wish to highlight is the voice acting. It’s not award-worthy, but it’s worth noting. As flat as the characters are, the voice actors do as much as they can with what they’re given. It’s appreciated, from a viewer standpoint, when a voice actor makes dialogue seem profound through emotional inflection. And as much as I don’t care for the character, Jaune’s actor probably did the best job among the cast. He never stops talking, so it’s warranted.

I can only hope that RWBY can improve upon its flaws in Volume Two, as there is certainly potential in this project. Shore up the dialogue (please stop the amateurish empathy and humor) and give adequate screentime to the wide array of characters and RWBY could make for not just an entertaining watch, but an impactful one. Still, they have a long way to go if they want to make that happen. They need to actually focus on a storyline, for example.

Final Score: 5/10