Welcome to the third part of our review of the web animated series RWBY, created by the late Monty Oum and produced by Rooster Teeth. And with the third season of the series having started on October 24th, I decided to get around to finishing this Rerun Review of the show’s first volume. Most episodes in the season are split into two parts, but I’ll review them as one for simplicity’s sake.
The show is set in a fantasy world called Remnant, where evil shadowy creatures called Grimm threaten humanity, and are opposed by the elite Hunters and Huntresses who fight using anime physics and cool transforming weapons. Our lead heroines are Team RWBY: Cute weapons enthusiast Ruby Rose, pompous heiress Weiss Schnee, quiet bookworm Blake Belladonna, and badass wildcard Yang Xiao Long.
Spoilers are bound to be below. Read at your own discretion.
Episode Six: The Badge and the Burden
When we last left off, Team RWBY had been formed and now have begun their studies at Beacon Academy to become Huntresses. But now they have to deal with a major hurdle in team dynamics – personality clashes. Weiss, who has spent a life getting what she wants, has to learn the hard way that the world does not revolve around her, and she will now share a bedroom with three other girls, most notably Ruby Rose who is her complete opposite. In class with the boastful Professor Port, Weiss is driven to breaking point by Ruby’s childish antics and then nearly get hurt when distracted by Ruby when fighting a Grimm. Both girls have to learn, with advice from their teachers, to improve their attitudes, embrace the roles they have been given, and to work together.
This episode could be disregarded as mere filler, but I think it is essential to the growing relationship between Ruby and Weiss. At the end of the first story arc, the two came to an agreement that they must work together despite arguing about everything up to that point. But when Ruby was announced as team leader, Weiss is visibly surprised, which carries on to this episode when she expresses her displeasure at not being given the role of leadership. This episode deals with Weiss’ more dislikeable aspects and she realises that her haughty attitude isn’t going to get her anywhere. Ruby also learns that she has a responsibility now for others and can’t just go off doing her own thing. Blake and Yang don’t get to do much in this episode, Professor Port has more depth to him then he appears, and I like the Sonic the Hedgehog reference in the Grimm’s attack style.
Episode Seven: Jaunedice
Out of all the characters in RWBY, I relate to Jaune Arc of Team JNPR the most. He is very hard on himself, has confident issues, etc. He learns to overcome his issues and become a stronger person. But in this episode and the next, poor Jaune goes through a rough time. Bullied by the resident jackass Cardin Winchester and failing in class, Jaune is having severe doubt in his abilities, leading to a surprising revelation to his teammate Pyrrha Nikos that he faked his way into Beacon, which Cardinal overhears and blackmails Jaune into being his minion or he will tell the truth to the teachers.
This episode is probably the weakest episode in the season. Cardin is a very generic bully guy and is quite similar to Biff from Back to the Future, and the rest of his team are flat characters. We also meet Dr. Oobleck, a fast-talking eccentric teacher who is addicted to caffeine. Jaune’s actions are understandable, though abandoning his friends to keep his own shame a secret seems a little bit extreme. Even if the truth was revealed, it is likely his teachers observed his prior battles and saw he made an excellent team leader and tactician. I don’t think they’d chuck him out over that. The episode also properly introduces the Faunus species, human-animal hybrids who are often persecuted. In this case, it is rabbit-eared Velvet Scarlatina who is bullied by Cardin. She was meant to only appear in one scene but her popularity led to her becoming a secondary character in the second season.
Episode Eight: Forever Fall
Jaune’s predicament continues as he isolates himself from his friends, angers Pyrrha, and continues to be Cardin’s butt monkey. While Ruby gives him a pep talk, Jaune immediately returns to square one when Cardin summons him. The next day, Team RWBY, Team JNPR, and Team CRDL go to a forest to collect jars of tree sap and teacher Glynda Goodwitch just leaves the twelve children alone to fend for themselves in a forest filled with killer Grimm. Sure they can fight like badasses but they are supposed to being trained as future protectors of the world. Anyway, Jaune finally says enough is enough when Cardin plots to harm and humiliate Pyrrha and finally stands up to Cardin. And when a Grimm arrives, Jaune must protect his own nemesis from harm.
An improvement over “Jaunedice”, this episode allows Jaune to show his true colours as a devoted friend, braver and stronger than he believes, and one of the finest characters in RWBY. While the story is very familiar and been seen many times in fiction (again something we’ve seen in Back to the Future), but it is wonderful seeing Jaune stand up for his friends and put Cardin in his place. The episode also shows just how terrifying a Grimm can actually since it is from Jaune’s P.O.V. and not from the more experienced Team RWBY. Though, Pyrrha plays a key role in Jaune’s victory, it is kept a secret, allowing Jaune’s character growth to not be undermined.