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RWBY: Volume 7×03 – “Ace Operatives”

If there is anyone who still says that RWBY is not an anime, then this episode will change there minds. And I’m not just talking about Ruby’s new hairstyle! This action-packed episode introduces Team RWBY’s new costumes and upgraded weapons, as well as a proper intro for the Ace Ops. The episode’s set up is fairly straightforward: Team RWBY, Team JNPR, Qrow, and the Ace Ops will clear out an old dust mine of Grimm in preparation for the launch of Amity Colosseum.

We have a preparation montage for the intended extermination mission. Clover Ebi explains the group will split into teams to corner the most dangerous Grimm, an age old Geist, which can adapt into its surroundings. However, due to the mine having dust in it, the mission is delicate one. Damaging the dust would set off a catastrophic chain reaction which could level the mountain and set back General Ironwood’s plans. Penny’s father Pietro provides the gang with their new upgraded weapons, mentioning he added some of his own after studying their fights in the Vytal Festival. The only one not going is Oscar, who we see approaching Ruby to discuss her lies to Ironwood about Ozpin’s disappearance.

Cut to a plane soaring across the sky, the door sliding open to reveal our brand new Team RWBY. Ruby went full anime, now sporting spiky hair, and acclimatised her outfit, now sporting iron-capped boots. Weiss sports a stunning blue combat skirt, and put her hair in one hell of a braid, reminding me of Saber from Fate/stay night. Blake cut her hair(!) and now sports a catsuit under a white zipper jacket. Yang now sports a trendy parka jacket, got some upgrades to her arm, and some nice shades. The team all have aplenty of zippers and random belts between them. I’d say they’ve been hanging out with Square Enix character designers, but such clothes are actually suitable for chilly environments.

The four all throw themselves out the plane and make their lands in rather creative ways, mirroring how they had to do the same back in Volume One. They are partnered with the speedy Harriet and wolf Faunus Marrow. Team JNPR fly by, also sporting new outfits. Jaune cut his hair into a quiff of sorts, Ren braided his hair and carries his father’s knife, and Nora has an outfit similar to her original one. Jaune’s shield can now generate extendable energy “wings” that led him float to earth like he’s on a hang glider. Team JNPR are partnered with Elm and Vine. So, Atlesian soldiers are equipped with parachutes, but Huntsmen like to make impractical but awesome landings on their own. Qrow has got himself a new outfit himself, and is partnered with Clover.

Blake catches Yang gawping at her new hair, cueing cute compliments and blushes. The Bumblebee strong this volume. Another point of interest is that Gambol Shroud been repaired, now sporting a little yellow streak through where it was originally broken.

As Team RWBY head into the mines, they pause to discuss their decision to hide the truth from Ozpin. While the four rationalise that Ironwood’s heart is in the right place, they are unsure about his mental state. We see in a flashback that Ruby entrusted the Relic of Knowledge to Oscar. He remains not particularly thrilled with the deception, asking how hiding things from Ironwood is any different from what Ozpin did with them. We do not see Ruby’s answer, but giving Oscar the Relic is a good sign she still trusts him.

Qrow and Clover have good chemistry between their cynicism and optimism. Nora tries to flirt with Ren, but rather bluntly benches her to focus on the mission. If there is any forced tension between the show’s one canon couple, it will be unforgivable.

Team RWBY find their route into the mines has been blocked off by a cave-in. Blake recognises the mine as the sight of a devastating explosion – implied to be the place where Illa Amitola’s parents died. This pushes Weiss to openly apologise to Blake for her complacent she was towards her family’s abuse of Faunus. Marrow comes over, briefly discussing how Atlas’ society was designed for Faunus to be at the bottom. He notes that Harriet found a gap in the rocks and a stealthy person is required to sneak through. He volunteers Blake, who is a little preoccupied observing a Schnee Dust Company crate, which Yang notes as well. Interesting…

Blake sneaks through and is immediately jump scared by the Geist. Harriet dons a pair of mechanical gauntlet arms and blasts her way through the rocks. The Geist flees, leaving an army of centipede-like Grimm to fight Team RWBY. Yang now is equipped with remote detonating ammo, while Crimson Rose can now be rotated both ways rather than Ruby having to spin the whole blade. Marrow sports a weapon which doubles as a gun and a giant boomerang, his Semblance appearing to some form of physical/mental control – he tells two Grimm to “stay”, and they freeze in midair, allowing Harriet to kill them.

Team JNPR engage more of the centipedes. Elm and Vine display similar Semblances, capable of extending parts of their bodies – Elm can create “roots” of sort which stabilise her, while Vine can stretch his arms like Mr. Fantastic. Ren can now launch cables out of his own guns to drag enemies closer to him. Back with Team RWBY, Harriet shows off her Semblance to run super fast like the Flash, which Ruby fangirls over. Harriet is quite sure of her skills, though not in an arrogant way.

Qrow and Clover find the Geist, who morphs with some large frozen rocks and other things. Qrow saves Clover from falling debry, though he blames himself due to his bad luck Semblance. Clover reveals that his own brings good luck. Qrow is particularly taken back by this. For all of his life, he has brought unintended misfortune to everyone around him, since has no control over his bad luck. But, now that he has met someone who is presumably immune to his Semblance and cancels it out, maybe Qrow has finally found a friend.

Everyone meets in a large cavern, where the Geist has decided to add dust to its body. Any attempt to defeat it could lead to disaster. Luckily, the Ace Ops are on hand to show just how awesome they are! Vine and Elm find it while Marrow chops off pieces to separate the Geist from its armour. Harriet is on standby to retrieve any pieces of flying dust. Clover is able to catch one piece in his bare hand like a pro. The Ace Ops work together to take the Geist apart, Clover using his trusty fishing rod to yank the Geist right out of the rocks. Harriet then delivers the killing blow in a nod to Street Fighter. The dust goes flying, everyone catching a piece, with Ruby successfully securing the final pieces before it hits the ground. Harriet comments that Ruby’s Semblance may not be super speed, but something else entirely.

In the closing scene, Forrest, the guy who was jailed with Team RWBY, is dropped off in Mantle by the cops. He makes the unwise decision to go into a dark alley and runs into Tyrian, who comments he is around to “shake things up” – and introduces Forrest to his new stinger. Looks like poor Forrest is about to be made a martyr for whatever schemes Tyrian and Dr. Watts are cooking.

This is a fun episode, introducing us to Team RWBY’s new get-up and upgrades. But, the true stars are the Ace Ops. Each manages to get decent screentime to flex their muscles and personalities. The five are based on Aesop’s Fables, though it is mere speculation on who is who. Some are obvious, specifically Clover representing “A Fisherman’s Good Luck”, and Harriet represents “The Tortoise and the Hair”. Marrow could either be based on “The Boy Who Cried Wolf” or “The Dog and It’s Reflection”. Elm and Vine take their names and abilities from “The Elm and the Vine”.

Do you like or hate Team RWBY’s new costumes and upgrades? Are the Ace Ops cool or mere canon fodder? Leave a comment below, or on our Twitter and/or Facebook feeds.

 

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Mark Russell

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