Thoughts on RWBY Volume 4

Ok, so I haven’t really had much opportunity to talk about RWBY, with the exception of my rumination on the fan wars. But Volume 4 just wrapped up last month, in the middle of me trying desperately to finish my specials, and I figured now was the time to throw in my two cents. RWBY is one of only 2 shows that I’m following week by week, the other being Season 2 of Konosuba. See, I’m not a big fan of watching currently airing shows, preferring to examine older stuff because I can go more in depth with it, I can look at the possible endings to the overall series (the ending being one of the most important aspects of anything for me), show how it’s held up over time and how it fares in the current climate, and generally just cherry pick the ones most worthy of note, as most things aren’t all that worthy of focus, especially not for a guy juggling school demands with trying to write no fewer than 5 projects at any given time. RWBY is that 1 in 2,578,917 exception that I follow so closely while it’s still airing and take such a heavy interest in before it ends. With that said, my thoughts on Volume 4.

After the narrative powerhouse that was Volume 3, Volume 4 had some pretty big shoes to fill. With Volume 3 ending on the worst thing ever happening, Volume 4 skips ahead several months and tells the separate stories of the 4 members of Team RWBY. Ruby is taking the remnants of JNPR to Mistral in order to investigate the next plan of the enemy, Weiss has been taken back to Atlas and has to deal with her family situation, Blake is returning to Menagerie to see her parents, and Yang is staying on Patch to deal with the fallout from losing her arm. While the screen time is heavily focused on Ruby and Blake, all 4 stories are still fleshed out pretty well. While many fans complain about it feeling like an in-between period that could’ve been skipped, I would strongly disagree. Stories like Weiss escaping her oppressive father and Yang learning to live her life with the hand she was dealt are pretty important to the show as a whole, and we get flashes of what Salem is planning in a few episodes. Jaune, Ren, and Nora are fleshed out a lot more this season as well, with the latter two in particular becoming far more compelling as characters and getting more about their backstories and dynamic explained. We also needed a cooldown period after the intensity of Volume 3, and Volume 4 does a good job at that. JNRR heading to Mistral gets by far the most screen time of the 4 stories, which I’ve once again seen fans complaining about. I would reply by saying that it’s the one where the most happens. Volume 4 is already heavy on dialogue, and devoting more time to the other stories would mean even more dialogue. Ruby and crew traversing the wilderness allows more room for major events, like when they’re hunted down by Tyrian and get their asses kicked by him until Qrow shows up and saves them. On that note, the fighting and animation. The animation studio got a new program to work with, and it really shows. Not only are the new models outright fantastic, but the animation itself is really smooth, the environments are incredibly detailed, the lighting is better, and the visual aesthetic in general works extremely well. The fight choreography is excellent, though the directing isn’t the best. Obviously, the standout fight is Qrow vs Tyrian halfway through the season. It’s an absolutely fantastic fight, and it’s easily the highlight of the season. So overall, RWBY is just as visually spectacular as always. In terms of sound, we’ve got several interesting changes this time around. New additions to the voice crew include the legendary Chris Sabat, the almost as notable Aaron Dismuke, and my secondary nemesis Josh Grelle. Surprisingly, Josh actually does a phenomenal job as Tyrian, and he sells it perfectly. This is starting to make me think that he’s always being cast wrong, and maybe he’s a better lunatic than edgy teen (aren’t we all). Chris only gets a few lines as Dr Watts, but there are hints that he’ll be important more in later seasons. Aaron has probably the most lines out of the three, playing the role of a farm boy who’s getting stalked by the ghost of Ozpin. While this is kind of hilarious, it isn’t developed especially well, and I’d like to see it expanded upon in future seasons. The soundtrack is on the same level as the others, Jeff Williams is great as always. Getting back to the four separate stories, it’s a pretty difficult comparison. Ruby has a really good one, the trek to Mistral is quite compelling. I find the exploration of Weiss and her home situation to be interesting, especially with the glimpse at the attitude of the obnoxious aristocracy in Atlas. Jacques was built up as being really terrible in previous seasons, but honestly I think that his reveal is disappointing. He’s nowhere near as controlling or abusive as we were lead to believe, and the big moment of shock that it builds up to seems like an anti-climax. Given the information we’ve received so far in the show, it doesn’t seem like it should matter nearly as much as it does. Blake has a rather interesting plot about reconciling with her parents, though I feel like Sun has regressed in quality of writing, so a few things he does get kind of annoying. His little bit in the last episode is kind of interesting, I guess. It’s a shame that he’s definitely going to be dead by the end of next season (seriously, he’s going to get destroyed when they go to take on Adam). Yang has by far the least screen time of the main four, in stark contrast to the amount of spotlight she had in Volume 3. Honestly, her plot has the least going on, as it’s about adjusting to life without her right arm. Short bits like the flashback or the nightmare sequence are rather interesting, and the discussion between her and Tai about what she’s supposed to do from here on is pretty good. By the end of the season, it seems like she’s back in business, and the ending theme is entirely revolving around her plot as well. Hopefully, Volume 5 really steps up to the plate and gives us something phenomenal. On that note, I guess I’ll leave off with some speculation about Volume 5. Obviously, Watts has infiltrated Mistral, and appears to have one of the teachers (potentially even the headmaster) as a mole. However, I think he won’t put the major plot through until Volume 6. So what do I think Volume 5 will be about? Well, it’s stated at the end of Volume 4 that Adam is planning to overthrow the head of the White Fang and take the position for himself. Blake wants to prevent that, and take over instead. So, I think that Volume 5 will largely focus on that conflict. The White Fang have formed the backbone of the opposition force so far, and the conflict against them will likely take up most if not all of the focus next season. Plus, Blake and Yang both have a grudge against Adam, and he’s been heavily built up so far as a major threat. So the climax and resolution to that conflict is likely going to be a huge focus. With that said, the final confrontation of that story is probably going to be Blake, Yang, and Sun vs Adam. Should that happen, Sun has no chance whatsoever of escaping alive. Not only is he no match for Adam, but he’s pretty much expendable from a story perspective. The only thing he can really do for the story anymore is get killed in front of Blake, in order to heighten the drama of her vendetta against Adam. Regardless, that’s what I’m guessing will happen next season. I guess we’ll see. As for Volume 4, I give it an A-, with a Buy it, you moron stamp of approval. Hopefully Volume 5 can push this show into Pretty Good territory. We’ll know soon enough.


Author: WhenSomethingCriesAgain

Several years ago, I found myself positively brimming with opinions and insight, with no way to express them, so I began writing, and found that I liked it. I decided to start a page to keep records of my writing, and hopefully convince a few people to agree with my ideas.

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