There is a lot of argument over whether RWBY (pronounced Ruby) is an actual anime or not. Many “Purists” believe that anime must be made from Japan and thus RWBY is not an anime. Others believe that Anime is a style of animation and is not based off of its origin, and in their eyes RWBY is an anime. I agree with the latter and consider RWBY an anime. I am glad that production of this style is growing outside Asia, and want to see more of it from people like Rooster Teeth. Though this being said, I will not be reviewing RWBY with the thought that it was made by a professional production studio. I am considering the facts that they would have a much smaller budget, and have less experience in the field of animation, than widely known productions studios like Shaft and Kyoto Animation.
With that being said though, I am not taking anything away from Rooster Teeth and the director Monty Oum, they gave a unique experience that though not perfect was highly enjoyable. If you have not even watched the trailers yet, I recommend watching them before proceeding to decide whether or not to watch RWBY.
The story takes place in a world where humans were once weak and rose up against the Grim using Dust to create civilization. Grim are monsters without souls, and come in various forms similar to animals. Dust is a supplement to Human’s powers, and is apparently a large part of the economy of Remnant (the world’s name is Remnant). This Dust is used in various weapons and magical abilities. The series focused on four different girls Ruby Rose, Weiss Schnee, Blake Belladonna, and Yang Xiao Long, who form a team at Beacon Academy. Beacon Academy trains Huntress and Huntsman who fight against the Grim and protect civilized society, and is the main setting for most of the show.
The plot is pretty stereotypical so far. No twists and turns that were unexpected and definitely does not have the depth that it could have. Some social issues were brought up, and made me think a little bit, but did not cause me to ask myself a new question or find something new about myself. A trait I believe should be within every show. Though lacking in those areas it was not exactly unbearable either. The only part where I was truly cringing was the Bully arc. Though bully arcs contain generally contain strong character development, it has been so many times before that I wish they had found a new way to get the same effect.
Not too much has been revealed about the characters yet. Each character alludes to a fairy tale, or mythical figures which is a nice touch that I enjoyed. The allusions gives insight to their characters yet to be revealed and that really excites me, but what has actually been shown before is not quite up to par. So far the characters are somewhat dynamic but the way they change feels so sudden. They change so quickly that I find it hard to believe. This may be caused by the how brief the episodes are going down to 5 minutes for some of the shorter ones, while the longer episodes only last for around 15 minutes. Though lacking depth for now I still liked most of the characters, and enjoyed watching them as they continued on their journey.
Now the character designs are interesting. Like I said previously this is the first experience for Rooster Teeth for making this type of animation and character design. In Red vs Blue (another web series Rooster Teeth made) they already had the Halo models to work with. Monty Oum decided to use the color coding as a hook into the series, a popular trend nowadays, an example being Kuroko no Basket. It did not detract from the show in any way and actually added the extra dimension of helping with the allusion to fairy tales. Overall I liked the designs, but were not blown away by it. Now their weapons on the other hand was another story. The design of the weapons were interesting for the main characters but other were dull.
The art style is a little tough to get used to as an avid anime fan. I am used to the more 2D approach of traditional anime, and the characters in CG threw me off. After taking time to get accustomed to the style, I actually enjoyed it and hope that more production studios try to experiment. For the animation, I am in a love hate relationship. Sometimes it gets so choppy that its hard to watch, but other times it looks really smooth. The fight scenes themselves are well directed and are bad ass. When I mean Bad ass I mean really astounding. My view of Rooster Teeth has skyrocketed after just seeing the action scenes in the trailers. The Western style of action is really rubbing off here, and it adds a delightful mix to the anime fights, that is lacking in a lot of action anime. It helps that each of the girls have fun weapons, with lots of guns. Monty Oum really loves his guns. Just stick a gun in anything and I am sure it will be on this show later on.
At long last the sound. What words could I possibly describe the sound that RWBY has. If I had to pick two it would be Phenomenal and aggravating. Phenomenal in the fact that composer Jeff Williams is a god among men, able to make songs with electric guitars, and violins like no other. Aggravating in the fact that they were unable to hire more professional voice actors to voice their characters. Though some of the voice actors were not that bad, some were just plain unbearable to listen to. I still applaud for trying to give new opportunities to aspiring voice actors though. I also would like to make a special mention of Jeff Williams daughter, who is the female vocal for the songs in RWBY. At the young age of 15 she already sounds marvelous, and can’t wait to hear what she produces in the future. One of my favorite singers of all time, with one of my new favorite composers. A father daughter combo that can’t be beaten.
In conclusion RWBY is an interesting anime, but it can not hold up to professional Japanese production in most facets of the art. Lacking in talented voice actors, and noticeable choppy animation are constant annoyances that though are understandable due to their small team, does not mean we should be okay with it. As an anime lover and critic I always demand more from production studios. The redeeming values in the music, and fight scenes definitely make it enjoyable enough to watch though. If you are looking for something different than the run of the mill anime style, but still want their flavor then look no farther than RWBY.
Props to Rooster Teeth for trying out new things, and being a cool company. Go support them @ www.RoosterTeeth.com