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RERUN REVIEW: RWBY Volume 1, Episodes 4-8

Written by Mark Russell

On February 1st, Monty Oum, creator of RWBY and Red vs. Blue, passed away after suffering a severe allergic reaction in late January. His death came as a shock to his fans who gave an emotional, artistic outpouring of grief and love to him. Monty Oum was a talented, creative man and one of the most beloved of the internet’s artistic community.

The effort, the heart, and soul he put into his animation, characters, and stories. He was director of animation for the website Rooster Teeth where he gained popularity for his unique talent. Monty came to attention when he released the animated videos “Haloid” and “Dead Fantasy”, mixing characters from different video games in duelling crossovers with brilliant, fast-paced animation. Monty was described as a man who loved to create and followed the motivation of “Keep moving forward”.

Monty Oum

This article and all future Rerun Reviews focused on RWBY will be dedicated to his memory, talent, and legacy. Rest in peace.

Welcome to the second chapter of the Rerun Reviews of RWBY, an animated web series produced by Rooster Teeth and created by Monty Oum as mentioned above. This series blew me away the first time I watched it, and I’ve grown to become very fond of it. RWBY’s first volume has a number of episodes that are split into shorter parts, usually just under ten minutes long. Following this last time made the reviewing process a little tricky, so I decided to review each episode in its entirety, with all parts included in one section. It makes things easier and more to focus on.

Episode Four and Five: The First Step

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In the past three episodes, 15-year old Ruby Rose (Lindsay Jones) and her older sister Yang Xiao Long (Barbara Dunkelman) enrol at the prestigious Beacon Academy to become professional Huntresses to slay the evil beasts known as Grimm. There Ruby meets bossy overachiever Weiss Schnee (Kara Eberle), the quiet Blake Belladonna (Arryn Zech), and the hapless Jaune Arc (Miles Luna). After an eventful first day, Ruby faces a new day but has to face possibly her worst fear – forming a team of four with people she doesn’t know, since she is not much of a people person.

The first half of the episode introduces to the rest of the main cast that Ruby might end up partnered with. There is the hyperactive, energetic Nora Valkyrie (Samantha Ireland) and her lifelong friend, the more quiet and mature of the duo Lie Ren (Monty Oum). I enjoy the relationship and comedy between them, Nora is hilarious to watch, though I do wish Ren got a bit more screentime and development during the series. While Ruby wishes to avoid socialising all together, Jaune seeks just about anyone to form a team with, using an exaggerated macho man demeanour and he quickly develops a crush on the icy Weiss. Weiss herself is hoping to form a team based on status, attempting to recruit Pyrrha Nikos (Jen Brown), a famous athlete who is very modest about the popularity others praise her for. Pyrrha quickly finds a connection to Jaune when he blankly asks who she is despite Weiss blabbing about Pyrrha’s achievements.

The first years gather at the edge of a forest with Beacon teachers Professor Ozpin (Shannon McCormick) and Glynda Goodwitch (Kathleen Zuelch). Ozpin explains the students will form partnerships with the first person they encounter in the woods. Then they must navigate their way to an old temple and retrieve relics, which will decide the formed teams. Ruby and Jaune, who are the underdogs of the series, are uncomfortable or confused by the whole thing, definitely making them the most likeable and realistic characters in the early episodes of RWBY. While these episodes serve as introductory episodes for the rest of the cast, it has plenty of snappy humour to it, usually through character dialogue, including one heck of a zinger from Ruby when she boldly states she doesn’t need friends to grow up, as “[she] drinks milk!”. Other laughs come from Nora’s wacky behaviour, Jaune’s hopelessness in life, and Weiss’ eyes bugging out at one point (though that may be an animation error).

The second part also follows Ruby and Jaune as they enter the forest (through the most hilarious way possible). Ruby ends up running into Weiss, and they form a reluctant partnership. I do enjoy it when characters who are the opposites of each other are forced into a team together, and Ruby and Weiss’ conflicting personalities and clashes are just great fun. Poor Jaune has a rough time in the forest but finds partnership is Pyrrha. The two come to form one of my favourite character relationships within the series. If I had to find some negatives, some character movements are a bit robotic at times, and there is the occasional animation error here and there.

Episodes Six and Seven: The Emerald Forest

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The next two-parter opens with Goldilocks wandering through the woods until she is attacked by some bears. Guess they didn’t want her nicking their porridge. Nah, I’m kidding.

We actually find Yang being attacked by two bear-like Grimm as she searches for Ruby in the woods, and they learn the hard way why you don’t mess with a girl’s hair. These episodes show us each character’s weaponry and fighting style – Yang uses a pair of shotgun-gauntlets that can produce powerful energy busts, Weiss utilises magic and swordplay, and Blake fights with a Japanese weapon called a shinobigatana and a sheath/pistol. Ruby’s own “attack first” battle style clashes with Weiss’ planned and careful techniques, causing the two to butt heads even more.

The episode also introduces us to the concept of Aura, the manifestation of the soul which provides extrasensory and defensive powers for those who practice it. Pyrrha explains this to the clueless Jaune, and it is physically demonstrated by Ren when he kicks ass fighting two giant snakes. We also see the final partnerships formed, with Ren meeting up with Nora, and Yang partners with Blake after she helps her fight the Grimm. The ending moments of the second half is one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen. Jaune and Pyrrha walk into a cave thinking it leads to the temple only to encounter the stinger of a very angry giant scorpion. Poor Jaune is flung up into the air, leaving Pyrrha to leg it from the scorpion, and just as Yang and Blake hear Jaune’s screaming, Ruby randomly comes soaring out of the sky. It’s crazy fun and it is only about to get better.

Episode Eight: Players and Pieces

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The first couple of minutes are just pure slapstick with the eight main characters all coming together in the most craziest ways possible – Ruby and Jaune both fly out of the sky and land in the same tree, Nora and Ren come in riding a bear like they are in a rodeo, Pyrrha flees from the killer scorpion, and Weiss dangles from a giant bird Grimm. After some shenanigans, the group decide they have to beat the Grimm and take the battle to them to pass their test. Ruby and Weiss finally get over their dislike for each other, or at least on a level for reason, and it is good to see them work as a team rather than being both equally stubborn. We won’t get to see much chemistry between Blake and Yang in the episode, but that comes later on.

The highlight of the episode has to be the kickass battle sequence that made Monty Oum famous to begin with. Watching it from start to finish is a blast and a real visual treat seeing all the characters work together to kick some Grimm backside. The moments mostly come from Nora, who is just a hoot to watch, particularly how she uses her hammer/grenade launcher weapon in battle while maintaining a smile on her face. We also see that while Jaune is not much of a fighter, he makes an effective team leader. The fight includes plenty of awesome moments, some great teamwork, and a little bit of creativity on behalf of the talented animators. Ruby’s finishing move on the bird Grimm has to be one of the best moments in the whole of RWBY. The episode concludes with our heroes being formed into teams by Professor Ozpin – Team RWBY (Ruby, Weiss, Blake, Yang) and Team JNPR (Jaune, Nora, Pyrrha, Ren), led by Ruby and Jaune. The first arc of the show is over, but the fun has only just begun.

Again, this article and all future articles will be devoted and dedicated to Monty Oum, creator of RWBY and a talented artist. How do you feel about his work and remember most about him? Post a comment below or on our Twitter feed.

About the author

Mark Russell