RWBY Volume 1 Review

rwby-dvd-caseRWBY is the original series from the internet famous Rooster Teeth team and is directed by one of our most favourite action sequence directors Monty Oum. The series is a CGI animated work with a visual style reminiscent of an Anime series and/or even some JRPGs. The title is based around a group of girls with first names derived from their colour scheme, which has in turn been derived into the title.

Initially, we weren’t too enthused about taking this series on. This is because we had watched the first episodes premier online on the Rooster Teeth website and it really didn’t feel right at the time. However, after we’ve since received the full series, we can see how much of a mistake it was to discount it so early on. This is because, much like most shows, it takes around three episodes to get you into it and we have to say that by the third episode, the world and the characters had already sucked us in.

To be completely honest, one of things that turn us completely off of any series is when an Anime-looking series is produced, but lacks the direction (as in, the way it is directed) that Anime generally is. RWBY is one of these series. It has all of the components of an action/comedy orientated Anime series, but the direction is entirely different. It took a few episodes to realise what was different about it, and the main difference is that it is directed much more closely in relation to a video game cinematic than an Anime episode.

When you go into the series with this in mind, it makes much more sense on a directorial level as all of the Rooster Teeth staff are gamers, and Monty Oum (the director) has previously directed using video game assets. In fact, RWBY carries a JRPG, or an action-JRPG, feel throughout because of this direction. The best example of a JRPG moment would be when they’re investigating a shipping port, as the entire premise and action sequences were very reminiscent of the gaming genre.

Our first impression of each of the characters was that this was a show about assholes and that everyone would be an asshole throughout the entire series. This turned out to be mostly correct, but the characters do grow on you over time. However, the most relatable character is Jaune. Even though he is more of a comedy relief character, his own character arc is much more personal than most of the other characters. He starts out as this goofy character with a number of defining flaws, however, after his confrontation with a certain bully character over the course of an episode, he comes out to shine as a notable character in his own right. As the series progresses, you do find that there is more to each of the characters, but they’re all already pretty badass, so relating to them seems a bit off when they’re still leagues ahead of you (and assholes).

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The world of RWBY is very similar to one that you would find in your typical JRPG setting. There are massive monsters that have a very vague reason for their existence, towns that have stores that specialise in selling dangerous goods to almost anybody for cheap prices (see Dust) and even allow your typical highschool girl to be walking around in the middle of the streets wielding gigantic and over the top weaponry and nobody even batting an eye-lid. Add on to that there are two predominant races, the cat-people and humans, as well as a school for turning out warriors, and you’ve already got quite the JRPG homage.

One cool thing to note about this series is that, despite the Anime look, it is quite stylish. The characters all have a unique look that is both stylish and pretty awesome at the same time. At no time does the aesthetics of the characters interfere with the feel of the world, instead, it actually seems to compliment it. Not only that, each character seems to fit some kind of theme in relation to the show. For example, each of the main girls have a name that corresponds with their own colour scheme, which then corresponds with their team name, RWBY, which then goes on to correspond with the name of the show.

One of the best things about RWBY has to be the (was going to use cutscenes here, it really feels like reviewing a game) battle scenes. Monty Oum has been known for directing and animating superb action sequences in the past (see Dead Fantasy) in his own works, as well as in Rooster Teeths flagship series, Red Vs. Blue. It’s no surprise that he’s taken his directional skills and put them to use in RWBY. The fight scenes in this show flow so amazingly well, they’re all large style encounters, and (in group fights) the choreography and synchronisation between characters is simply flawless. What’s even greater is that characters use their abilities to their extremes. It always annoys me in games and movies when a character is purposefully gimped in order to make a scene more dramatic. It’s great just watching a group of overpowered characters lay waste to some amazingly tough-looking monsters.

The one major thing we took away from the first season of RWBY was that a pretty interesting storyline is being setup for viewers to follow. There seems to be a pretty major backstory that continually gets hinted at abour a war between the cat-people and humans that happened in the past. When season 2 is released it’ll be great to follow up on! And, well, not only that, but the Academy for Hunters (and Huntresses) is a pretty cool place that we’d all love to be attending, nearly on the same level as Hogwarts from Harry Potter. Definitely recommend Blu-Ray version, as we’re Pro HD.

Rating: 8.0/10

RWBY comes from RoosterTeeth and is distributed by Hanabee here in Australia. It is found in both DVD and Blu-Ray formats. It can be found at any retailer distributing Hanabee’s releases, as well as at their online store for $30 on Blu-Ray disc and $25 on DvD.

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