From anarchic online upstarts Rooster Teeth comes what their CEO describes as America’s first anime. Avatar: The Last Airbender notwithstanding, the 2012 series of shorts is more of a hybrid between eastern and western animation that doesn’t belong in either camp. A fact that has no doubt led to its impressive popularity.
Watching RWBY gives credence to the adage that the animation is wrong, but everything is so right. And the gaudy computer generated animation is clunky, awkward and possessing more than one fundamental problem, but not without style. The backdrops in particularly are beautifully rendered. It’s tremendously directed by Monty Oum, the late creator of the series, bolstering colour with music and slick design for one hip dose of animation.
The first volume is divvied up into ten episodes, each averaging a 12-minute running time, so it’s an easily digestible series for the hustle bustle of modern day life. Although a digital stream on the go is probably the preferred viewing option, the DVD and Blu-ray release does come with the choice to watch the episodes strung together as one feature-length piece. Because of the episodic nature the spliced up version is jumpy, with episode ends and beginnings stuck head and tail together.
RWBY is a whimsical and engaging story drawn straight from fairytale and myth where the world of Remnant is populated by shadowy beasties called Grimm. Having battled the Grimm, humanity discovered the use of dust, which allowed them to power weapons and abilities to fight back. Cut to the modern day, special schools train the magically inclined into hunters and huntresses.
Ruby Rose is little red riding hood reimagined as a mischievous and goofy teen with her trick scythe, crescent rose. After demonstrating her fighting skill, she’s bumped ahead two years and sent to hunter/huntress school Beacon with her sister. There she ends up heading the team RWYB, an acronym made up of its members: Ruby, Weiss, Yang and Blake.
Oum, something of a dandy himself, brings his effortless cool to the character design, with enviable outfits and weapons that say all you need to know about their owners. The dialogue is snappy and funny, but the accompanying voice acting is a mixed bunch, with a lot of grating performances. Ruby, in particular, voiced by Lindsay Jones, has great delivery and timing.
Putting two thirds of the series on one volume and expecting fans to fork over for the remaining six episodes is pretty cheeky, but if you can look past the double price tag and the trying animation it’s a very rewarding series that boasts specular action sequences, a terrific soundtrack and genuinely engaging characters.
Special Features: Audio commentary / Behind the scenes / Storyboards / Fan art / Cosplay / Trailers
INFO: RWBY: VOLUME 1 / CERT: 15 / DIRECTOR: MONTY OUM, KERRY SHAWCROSS / STARRING: LINDSAY JONES, KARA EBERLE, ARRYN ZECH, BARBARA DUNKELMAN, MILES LUNA / RELEASE DATE: JUNE 29TH