Spoiler-Free Anime Review:
RWBY Volume 4
Rating: 9.5 out of 10 stars
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.
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.
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.
- 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
- No serious cons, but I feel that this volume is not as distinctive and impactful as some of the other volumes.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
If you are interested in how I rate shows, check out my rating system.