RWBY, Vol. 5 [Anime Review]: Nitty, Gritty, Social, Political.
I was not familiar — like, at all — with RWBY, a series by the production company Rooster Teeth (the same people behind Red Vs. Blue…of which I am familiar). Having not been familiar with the series, I was surprised at how easy it was to ease right in and get acquainted with the fantasy world of Remnant, and the nitty gritty political and social maneuverings involving matriarch Sienna Khan, and some rather thrilling action packed set-pieces involving wasp-like Lancers. It wasn’t hard at all to get into the intricacies of the different Grimms, the relationships they have with each other, and just how little they trust…or even seem to like…human beings.
Having watched most of the first season of Red Vs. Blue, I was familiar with the animation style employed for the latest volume of RWBY, and could anticipate what to expect. However, stretched out to 22-minute episodes, cel-shading lacked the depth and nuance that traditional anime animation enjoyed. There’s little variety in depth of field, in focus, and in drawing or directing the audience’s attention to certain details on the screen. Perhaps I’m a bit more accustomed to more “traditional” animation styles, but it took a few episodes for me to grow comfortable enough with the animation style to not expect a video game to pop back in from whatever cutscene it seemed I was watching.
That being said, the blu-ray package comes filled with quite a lot of goodies. 5 Years of RWBY is behind-the-scenes look at the production of the web series over the course of its five years, and is filled with interviews from creators and talent reflecting on their humble beginnings, and musing over how the series has grown more popular over the years. This, along with CRBWY: Behind the Episode, is great for people like me who are constantly fascinated by the creative process, to say nothing of the collaborative process; seeing an episode come together from beginning to end, and how each department interacts to produce a single episode, is one of those processes I never tire of observing.
Rounding out the special features are three individual characters-based shorts for the characters of Weiss, Yang, and Blake. Each short gives a brief backstory to each of the characters; the Yang short is my favorite, as she’s one of the more interesting characters in the series. To see her be less of a constant badass and get some good character-based writing (in a segment detailing her relationship with her sister) was an interesting watch. If this series can keep someone unfamiliar with the series interested and invested, I know it’ll be a great buy for fans of the ongoing series, at least until volume 6 comes out later in the fall.
RWBY Vol. 5 is out today, June 5, 2018. It’ll be available online via Steam, iTunes, and XBOX, as well as a special edition blu-ray set that includes a great 32-page manga as well (this is the version I reviewed…and it’s a great catch).