Anime, Shows

Team RWBY is Scattered

Spoiler-Free Anime Review:

RWBY Volume 4

Rating: 9.5 out of 10 stars

Intro

This volume is a bundle of emotions and difficult choices for the characters. I’ve watched it twice, and both times it was frustrating and enjoyable. The first time I watched it with my siblings and the second time with my roommate. To be honest, the volume’s main purpose seems to be working on all the character’s development, and it does well at that job.

WARNING: This review does not contain any significant spoilers for Volume 4, but it does contain major spoilers for earlier volumes.

Background

RWBY is an American anime. Some people say anime has to come from Japan to be legit–I disagree. I share the opinion of many others that say anime is a style and not limited to the products of any one country.

Volume 4 was released in 2016 and is currently free to watch with ads on Youtube.

Summary

Team RWBY is separated in the wake of the Fall of Beacon. Ruby, Jaune, Ren, and Nora venture toward Mistral. Yang deals with the trauma of losing her arm and her memories of being defeated by Adam Taurus. Weiss must face her father and brother in Atlas. Blake heads to Menagerie.

Pros

  • Fun new characters
  • Ren and Nora’s backstory
  • Much better animation
  • Balance of humor and tragedy
  • Handled the depiction of grief and trauma well
  • New Grimm
  • Phenomenal music as always
  • Beautiful intro

Cons

  • No serious cons, but I feel that this volume is not as distinctive and impactful as some of the other volumes.

Review

Characters & Weapons

Qrow Branwen is the uncle of Ruby Rose and Yang Xiao Long. He is frequently drunk, but is reliable when he is needed the most. According to Fandom, his character both alludes to the Scarecrow from The Wizard of Oz and Muninn from Norse mythology. Similar to the Scarecrow searching for a brain, Qrow searches for intelligence for Ozpin. His frequent drunkenness may also be connected to the Scarecrow’s supposed brainlessness, because of alcohol’s reputation for affecting judgment. Muninn likewise is a bird that searches for information for Odin, which alludes to Qrow’s name (pronounced “Crow”).

His name fits the color naming rule Monty set because “Qrow” suggests the color black like the bird and “Branwen” means “white crow/raven.”

Qrow’s weapon is called Harbringer and can change from a sword into a scythe. He based his weapon off of the trademark scythe of the Grimm Reaper, a famous huntress from legend.

Ilia Amitola is a member of the White Fang, a Faunus with chameleon characteristics. When feeling different emotions, the color of her skin and the patches on her skin change. She can also do this on purpose regardless of her emotions. She is confirmed to be a lesbian.

According to Fandom, her name also follows the color naming rule. The name “Ilia” comes from a purple butterfly, and her last name “Amitola” is the Sioux word for “rainbow.”

Her weapon is called Lightning Lash and works like a whip. She is highly skilled with it, which leads to some engaging battles.

Oscar Pine is a young farm boy from Mistral who gets caught up in the struggle of good vs. evil that has enveloped the world. He has no combat skills nor a weapon to call his own when we meet him.

According to Fandom, Oscar alludes to Tip from The Marvelous Land of Oz. I know very little about this character from the second Wizard of Oz book. What I am aware of is that they were both farm boys.

His name may refer to a specific shade of gold called Oscar Gold, and Pine obviously brings to mind the color green. So it can be said to be loosely following the color naming rule.

Backstories

The backstory of Ren and Nora is perhaps the best part of Volume 4. I love these characters, so any new information about their pasts is welcome.

Animation

The 3D animation of RWBY is made using Poser, and thus differs greatly from most other anime. The animators have improved at using shadow and light, and the overall quality of the animation of this volume is an improvement over previous volumes.

Balance

There is an effective balance between the tragedies of the past juxtaposed against the successes and failures of the present. Humor is maintained at proper moments, shown especially in Sun’s interactions with other characters. I’m a little disappointed that Rooster Teeth introduced a bunch of characters at the school in Beacon and then abandoned their character development when the school fell. I really hope they come back later.

Grief and Trauma

Yang dealing with the loss of the arm is done well. She doesn’t get over it right away. The trauma of losing that fight and losing a part of her is serious and affects her day-to-day life as she is recovering. The bold Yang we all know is somewhat changed by the experience.

Ren and Nora’s grief about the past is well-executed as well. It makes sense why it isn’t something they initially would have shared with everyone else.

The most poignant loss though is Pyrrha. How Team JNPR begins the process of grieving and being able to live with the loss of a friend is tragic.

Grimm

The Grimm in this volume are both harrowing and more creative. The ones that stood out to me were the Geist and the Nuckelavee. The Nuckelavee’s name came from Orcadian mythology and is a kind of demon. That one to me was one of the creepiest Grimm so far.

Music

Unlike with many anime, the music in RWBY was created exclusively for RWBY, with foreshadowing built into the songs and songs that seem linked to specific characters.

The music was composed by Jeff Williams, and his daughter Casey Lee Williams does a lot of the vocals. According to Fandom, Jeff Williams does not regard the songs as canon and asserts that they should not be taken literally.

To me, that just seems like he is covering for himself and Rooster Teeth in case the story ends up veering too far from the lyrics, but I know that so far the songs fit the theme and story very well.

In my opinion, the best songs from this volume are “Bad Luck Charm” and “This Life is Mine.

Intro

The intro is attractive and interesting. It makes me so sad that the shot shown above has a space where Pyrrha would have been. The intro depicts all the main villains of the season and some of the new characters, as well as featuring old ones such as Qrow.

Conclusion

Even though this volume seems kind of like a bridge to future volumes, laying down the groundwork, it is still a masterpiece in its own right. I would definitely recommend it.

Rating System

If you are interested in how I rate shows, check out my rating system.

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Board Games

Board Game Review: RWBY Combat Ready

Board Game Review:

RWBY Combat Ready

Rating: 8.8 stars

Intro

When I heard there was a board game based on one of my favorite shows, I just had to play it! I ended up getting it as a birthday present. By now I’ve played it several times and found it challenging and fun every time.

Objective

What I hope to accomplish with my board game reviews is to introduce you to a new game and help you determine whether the game is a good fit for you. I will consider and rank five criteria: gameplay, design, strategy, originality, and replayability.

Description

RWBY Combat Ready is cooperative board game for 2-5 players. It is based on the anime series RWBY, and its name comes from a quote by the character Penny – “I’m combat ready!” The game takes about an hour unless you are doing a campaign, which will take around 3 hours. It was made for ages 14 and up.

The publishers are Arcane Wonders and Rooster Teeth Games.

Gameplay (7 out of 10 stars)

In RWBY Combat Ready, players can each choose a character from the anime: Ruby, Weiss, Blake, Yang, or Penny. Each of these characters have unique fighting styles and decks.

In the base game, you can play against one of three villains: Roman, Cinder, or Adam. In addition, you will be fighting against groups such as Roman’s Henchman, the White Fang, or the Grimm.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Board-2-1024x768.jpeg

At the beginning of each duel with the villain, one player starts at the beginning of the Hero Fury Track. The villains starts at the beginning of the villain track. Supporting players can choose to assist or combo with the main player, using different abilities on their cards accordingly. Or they can take out one of the lesser villains such as a henchman or Grimm.

The Hero deck is made up of attack cards of various types. Some are ranged, making them effective against flying enemies. Some are melee. Others are dash attacks. Each have different advantages and disadvantages.

The attack speed on the card is probably the most vital part. If the attack speed of the hero is higher than the villain, the hero hits the villain. If the villain’s attack speed is higher, the villain hits the hero. If they match, nothing happens. Higher speed attacks tend to do less damage, but lower speed attacks may not hit.

The villain’s deck is made up of Subtle, Aggressive, Balanced, and Event cards. Subtle cards are tricky – they could be high or low speed or damage. Aggressive cards will be very high speed or damage. Balanced cards will be in the middle. Event cards are bad and generally amp up the game by making everything harder. You can kind of predict the villain’s attack speed and power based on the card types, but it is hard to know just how fast you will have to be, so it’s a bit of a gamble. After the heroes choose their cards, the top card of the villain deck is flipped and the attack speed is compared, after which the conflict is resolved.

The hero and villain move up one step on the fury track per damage each dealt. When characters move up the fury track, they get bonuses. Once a hero reaches the end of the fury track, they can use their ultimate move. When a villain reaches the end of the track, they can bash a hero out of the duel.

At the end of each duel, whether a character uses their ultimate move or is bashed out of the duel, the next player starts a new duel and the villain is returned to the start of the Fury Track.

It is worthwhile to note that each hero has a different Semblance power they can use to help out once during each duel.

Between duels characters can use experience points received during battle to upgrade their cards.

For each game, you can either play against one villain or complete a campaign scenario. Campaigns are against three villains and are much harder.

Design (8 out of 10 stars)

Design includes two categories: art and components.

The miniatures in this game are great and detailed. They are colored to match the signature colors of each character. Still hoping to paint them someday when I get the time.

The boards are well-designed and the components are in general made expertly.

The cards are cool in some ways. The differing styles of design on cards reminded me of Pokémon cards, especially the old ones. However, some of the artwork was made with such artistic license that it no longer even looks like the character, like the one with the 7 speed shown above.

Strategy (10 out of 10 stars)

The strategy in this game is extremely high. Deciding what attack cards to use based on the style of villain card rewards careful decisionmaking. Choosing when to combo or assist is an equally hard decision. Also, you have to remember the lesser villains such as the White Fang or they’ll deal damage to the main player at the end of a duel. You also have to consider when to use semblances and ultimate moves, and when to fight vs. when to retreat. You can even customize your deck by leveling up!

Originality/Creativity (10 out of 10 stars)

The dueling in this game is unique and offers tension and a feeling similar to the anime. It is a well-balanced game that even experienced gamers will find complex enough to enjoy. The speed-focus I have only seen in this game and makes sense for RWBY. The way that players can either combo or assist is also creative. Leveling up at the end of each duel is also something I have only seen in this game.

Replayability (9 out of 10 stars)

The replayability of this game is high due to the complexity of the dueling system, the existence of campaign scenarios, and the challenge of winning this game. Even with four players at full effort my family barely won each time we played.

Conclusion

I would recommend this game for anyone who enjoys the RWBY anime series, but also for those just looking for a challenging, engaging game.

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Anime, Shows

Fun-Sized RWBY

Image result for rwby chibi

Spoiler-Free Anime Review:

RWBY Chibi Season 1

Rating: 6 out of 10 stars

Intro

After watching six volumes of RWBY, my sisters and I discovered the series RWBY Chibi. The comedic aspects of this show were refreshing after the darker scenes of the later volumes of RWBY, but Season 1 of RWBY Chibi, while humorous, was not altogether satisfying.

Background

RWBY Chibi Season 1 was released in 2016 and is a RWBY spin-off show. It contains serious spoilers for Volumes 1-3 of RWBY.

It can be watched in its entirety on Amazon Prime, or as individual episodes on Youtube or the Rooster Teeth Website.

Summary

RWBY Chibi consists of comedy segments featuring characters from RWBY. The show is not considered canon.

Pros

  • Clever use of character traits and personalities for humor
  • Poking fun at character relationships
  • The studio’s self-deprecating sense of humor
  • Clever breaking of the fourth wall
  • Junior Detectives segment
  • Frequent references to western culture make it a unique anime

Cons

  • Extremely limited audience that it is unlikely to satisfy
  • Segment of Faunus racial profiling played for laughs
  • Distractingly strong exaggeration of Pyrrha’s accent

Review

Humor

The show used traits of the characters in exaggerated ways to increase the humor. For instance, it cleverly utilized Neptune’s fear of water, Pyrrha’s polarity, and Blake’s semblance to create hilarious scenarios.

The comedy also poked fun at Jaune’s obsession with Weiss, Weiss’s attempts to team up with Pyrrha, Pyrrha’s efforts to spend time with Jaune, and Nora and Ren’s awkward relationship.

My favorite part was when the studio created humor at their own expense by making fun of the poor animation of Volume 1 of RWBY, in particular the dark silhouettes that took the place of actual background characters.

Breaking the fourth wall was another tactic used, but not overused like it often is in other shows and movies. Nora used it to great effect to emphasize the fact that RWBY Chibi was a comedy and would not permit themes like death.

The Junior Detectives segment was amusing, and followed the antics of Sun and Neptune. I definitely got the feeling that Neptune was much more of a star in RWBY Chibi than he was in RWBY.

References

Frequent references to Western culture made this a unique anime. For example, there were references to Little Red Riding Hood and Jaune be nimble (instead of Jack be nimble).

Audience

This show would make no sense and would not be amusing to anyone who hasn’t watched RWBY.

Even if you watched RWBY, the show is clever but not as funny as one might hope.

Racial Profiling

Blake is part cat. We get it. But making racial profiling part of a joke, especially when the situation of the Faunus was so terrible in RWBY, is not funny.

Over-exaggeration

Over-exaggeration was only really a problem when it came to Pyrrha’s accent. It was exaggerated so that it didn’t really sound like her.

Conclusion

If you watched RWBY, this may be worth your time, but otherwise, don’t bother. It’s good for a few laughs, but don’t expect anything phenomenal.

The content is appropriate for audiences of all ages.

Rating System

If you are interested in how I rate shows, check out my rating system.

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Anime, Shows

RWBY Volume 1: A Shaky Start to a Great Anime

Spoiler-Free Anime Review:

RWBY Volume 1

Rating: 6.8 out of 10 stars

Intro

Let me start by saying that RWBY is one of my favorite anime. However, even I have to admit that the quality of the first volume is lower than the quality of later volumes.

Basically,

Low Budget + Slow Start = Lackluster Beginning

Yep, it’s the same issue as with the original trailers. For my review of the trailers, click here.

RWBY Volume 1 is available on Crunchyroll and Amazon Prime.

Background

RWBY is an American anime. Some people say anime has to come from Japan to be legit–I disagree. I share the opinion of many others that say anime is a style and not limited to the products of any one country.

The creator is Monty Oum, who developed the plot for the company Rooster Teeth. Originally the anime was an indie miniseries with a low budget, but it has become largely successful.

Volume 1 was released in 2013, preceded by four color-themed trailers that established some character development and worldbuilding.

Summary

A young hero, an exalted heiress, a troubled rogue, and a party girl–These are the four members of RWBY, a team brought together and trained for the sole purpose of combating the rampant evils that plague the fantastic world of Remnant. If these four girls want to graduate Beacon Academy they’ll have to learn to work together both on the battlefield and in the classroom.” (1)

Rooster Teeth

Basically, RWBY is about four young women who seek to become huntresses and defend the world of Remnant from shadowy creatures called Grimm.

Pros

  • Fantastic worldbuilding with mythological inspiration
    • A world with its own mythology
  • Memorable characters
    • Character names and design that allude to fairy tales
  • Unique weapons
  • Elaborate fight scenes
  • Original music
  • Humorous dialogue
  • Creative design for the monsters called Grimm
  • Groundbreaking American Anime
    • Helping to define a new category of anime

Cons

  • Poor animation
    • Merely shadowy silhouettes of non-essential characters
    • Very little detail, especially in backgrounds
    • Occasionally very awkward movement
  • Ridiculously short episodes
  • Cliché aspects of the plot

Review

Worldbuilding

Map of Remnant (2)

The map of Remnant was developed by squirting ketchup on a napkin at an IHOP restaurant (3). As such, the landmasses are complicated shapes that make up a creative, unique world.

In the beginning, the people of Remnant were created from dust, and were forced to contend with the darkness, which took its own form in the creatures called Grimm. The power that allowed them to fight back was given the name Dust.

Dust is an energy source activated by Aura. It can be used to add elemental power to attacks, and it is extremely valuable to supplement weapons.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is dust-crystals.png
Dust Crystals

Every person who has a soul in Remnant has an Aura, though some are better using it than others. Aura is basically the energy inside a person that can be used to protect oneself or attack. A person’s aura shows a certain color–for instance, Ren’s Aura is pink and Jaune’s is white.

Ren using his Aura
Jaune using Aura for the first time

According to Pyrrha,

Aura is the manifestation of our souls.”

Aura is what lets the people of Remnant use their semblances, which are special powers. For instance, Ruby’s semblance Petal Burst allows her to turn into a fast-moving cloud of rose petals, and Pyrrha’s semblance is called Polarity, the ability to mess with magnetism.

Characters

Ruby Rose is a spunky, determined teenager who tends to be a bit silly and childish. At age 15, she is the youngest of Team RWBY, but she should not be underestimated.

She is truly what Monty Oum wanted her to be, “a badass Red Riding Hood” (4). She obliterates Grimm who stand in her way with the fighting skills she learned from her uncle Qrow.

The name Weiss Schnee comes from German and literally means “white snow.” Her name was chosen to allude to the character of Snow White.

Weiss is a bit of a spoiled rich kid. However, her childhood was darkened by the attitude of her father and the depression of her mother. She tends to think highly of herself and look down on others, but is willing to change her mind.

Blake Belladonna had a troubled past that she tries to put behind her when she enrolls at Beacon to become a Huntress.

She loves reading, which makes her awesome in my opinion. Her character alludes to both Beauty and the Beast, which is definitely more subtle than the previous two characters (5). Belladonna is a type of flower, a poisonous plant that’s part of the nightshade family.

Yang Xiao Long is a laidback party girl with an intense side. Her character alludes to the character of Goldilocks, another fairy tale allusion that is not as obvious as that of Weiss and Ruby (6).

She is the older half-sister of Ruby Rose. She is particular about her hair to the point where she will pretty much kill anyone who messes with it. When angry, her eyes turn from purple to red.

Weapons

In RWBY, weapons are truly extensions of the characters. They reveal and deepen the characters’ development and personality, and make all those freakin’ awesome fight scenes possible. Most of the weapons in RWBY can be used multiple ways and generalize in both long-range and short-range attacks.

Just weapons? They’re an extension of ourselves.”

Ruby Rose
Crescent Rose | Heroism Wiki | Fandom
Crescent Rose

Crescent Rose is Ruby’s weapon, and functions as both a scythe and a sniper rifle. What is even more amazing than seeing this weapon in action is the fact that Ruby built the thing.

Myrtenaster

Myrtenaster is Weiss’s weapon of choice – a Multi Action Dust Rapier (7). Weiss can use dust to add elemental power to her attacks. The reason it looks like a fencing sword and that Weiss fights like a fencer is apparently because of Monty Oum’s own background in fencing (8). A Myrtenaster is a flower found in Germany, and is likely the origin of the name (9).

Gambol Shroud | RWBY Wiki | Fandom
Gambol Shroud

Blake’s signature weapon is Gambol Shroud, which has two different sword forms and a gun form. Even the sheath is used as a weapon.

Ember Celica

Yang uses Ember Celica, her Dual Ranged Shot Gauntlets (10). When inactive, they appear to be bracelets, but when activate they cover her arms. The ammunition explodes on contact with the enemy. There apparently is a Celica flower that has a double bloom–possibly that’s where they got the name? Just a theory.

Fight Scenes

RWBY blasts its way to mainstream success with side-splitting comedy,  heart-rending drama, and adrenaline-pumping action – The Reflection

The fight scenes in the RWBY trailers are phenomenal. Even though movements seem awkward during other parts of the episodes, the fight scenes are graceful, true works of art.

Music

Unlike with many anime, the music in RWBY was created exclusively for RWBY, with foreshadowing built into the songs and songs that seem linked to specific characters.

The music was composed by Jeff Williams, and his daughter Casey Lee Williams does a lot of the vocals. Jeff Williams does not regard the songs as canon and asserts that they should not be taken literally (11).

To me, that just seems like he is covering for himself and Rooster Teeth in case the story ends up veering too far from the lyrics, but I know that so far the songs fit the theme and story very well.

The best songs in Volume 1, in my opinion, are Red Like Roses Part II and This Will Be the Day (12, 13).

Dialogue

The humor of the dialogue in RWBY contributes to the lighter tone of Volume 1 compared to the other volumes.

Ruby’s dialogue reveals her childish nature. For example, when she says:

I don’t need people to help me grow up. I drink MILK!!!”

Jaune’s naïve tendencies are demonstrated by his words, such as this eyeroll-worthy statement:

My dad said all women look for is confidence.”

And how could I be a RWBY fan if I left out this quote by Nora:

We’ll break his legs!”

Monsters

The monster called Grimm come in a variety of forms and dissipate into darkness when defeated. Some are pretty puny in Volume 1 compared to the heroes…others are worthy foes.

Beowolf | RWBY Wiki | Fandom
Beowolf
Nevermore | RWBY Wiki | Fandom
Nevermore

Beowolves are pretty common in RWBY. Nevermores are not rare either, but they boast more unique characteristics, such as sharp, hard feathers that can pin prey to the ground.

Death Stalkers | Villains Wiki | Fandom
Death Stalker

Death Stalkers are ridiculously tough and take a lot of ingenuity to conquer.

Animation

Unimportant background character is a silhouette

The 3D animation of RWBY is made using Poser, and thus differs greatly from most other anime. The major consequence of a low budget combined with this 3D style was that it made the whole volume look underdeveloped.

Characters without importance were denoted using shadowy silhouettes without any details. This made it obvious from the beginning which characters would be recurring, making the series more predictable.

Backgrounds had very little detail as well, making the scenery less interesting.

The animated movement was occasionally very awkward.

Plot

The plot is similar to many magical school kind of shows. Some of its terribly predictable, such as the way the bullying episodes progressed and the way they ended. That’s not to say there’s nothing unique–it’s just that the first volume is more predictable than the rest.

Episode Length

Episode length varies from around 6 minutes to closer to 12. This is annoying, but avoidable if you watch the whole Volume as one. It is available in that format on Amazon Prime. If you try watching this on Crunchyroll without Premium, you’re in for a ridiculous amount of commercials.

Contribution to Anime

RWBY is unique because it is one of the few American anime. Additionally, its animation style, while underdeveloped, sets out on a separate path from typical anime.

Conclusion

If you decide to watch Volume 1 and it doesn’t peak your interest in RWBY, still give the next few volumes a chance. Most of the people I’ve talked to are more distracted by the animation than anything else. Once you get used to that, you can appreciate the rich storytelling and worldbuilding of RWBY.

Even as a RWBY fan, I rated Volume 1 relatively low because its poor animation quality and predictability. It took me awhile to get into it…but it gets better, trust me.

Rating System

If you are interested in how I rate shows, check out my rating system.

Links

  1. Rooster Teeth Quote – Source: Fandom
  2. Remnant Map – Source: Rooster Teeth
  3. Remnant Development – Source: Fandom
  4. Interview with Monty Oum
  5. Blake’s Development – Source: Fandom
  6. Yang’s Development – Source: Youtube
  7. Myrtenaster – Source: Twitter
  8. Weiss and Fencing – Source: Twitter
  9. Image of Myrtenaster Flower – Source: Wikimedia Commons
  10. Ember Celica Info – Source: Twitter
  11. RWBY Soundtrack Info – Source: Fandom
  12. Red Like Roses Part II – Source: Youtube
  13. This Will Be The Day – Source: Youtube

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