Tentacle-Free Anime: "RWBY" Vol. 3 (2015) Review
- by Kazekun, 2 August 2016
Things have been pretty up and down lately. Outside the stress of work and every day responsibilities I've been trying to get in a certain amount of hours in Pokemon GO. While I'm not as successful at it as some people I wouldn't say I'm too bad. Currently I'm mostly playing it to catch'em all rather than battle for gyms. Enough of that though, let's get to talkin' about RWBY!
While season 2 was overall a fun season, after watching season 3 I feel more and more like it was only filler in order to allow our characters one more season to be innocent before tearing their world apart. Of course, it also introduced us to some new characters that play bigger roles in season 2 but ultimately smaller roles in season 3, and it showed us a bit more of the enemy while still holding back, so that we can really get to see their true powers here.
Given the innocence of the first 2 seasons it's no surprise that here at the possible halfway mark the characters and the story were forced to mature. And man did it ever, as season 3 serves as the strongest season yet in terms of story ideas and execution along with bringing some character's stories to a close. While I do feel this season felt rather short and rushed compared to past seasons with how little of the actual tournament served as important to the overall plot, I still liked it a lot for how ballsy it was and what all we got to learn about the ever-expanding lore of the world our heroes live in.
Now I'm not saying all this for the sake of how dark and edgy the season was compared to previous seasons, only that I was impressed with the boundaries pushed in this season as compared to previous seasons and that I appreciate the studio for what it accomplished and for what this all means for the story going forward.
The season begins with the tournament between countries, the Vytal Festival as it is known, and we're treated to several opening episodes of flashy and cool fights between our main characters and other schools. Those other schools often obscuring the line between awesome designs and incredibly boring designs for their students. While the fights are definitely great to watch the style is changed up to feel a little more by-the-book cinematic with a lot of close-up shots and cut-aways rather than the wide-open brawls we got from Monty's original direction. That's another sad note, the master of animated fight choreography wasn't around to direct some of the coolest fight scenes in the series to date.
I loved the fighting episodes and seeing so many different schools and students tackle their opponents in really unique and cool ways was a highlight of the season for me. I'm a sucker for tournament storylines and I do wish we could have spent longer on the Vytal Festival than we really did as half-way through the season the storyline completely shifts to Cinder and her small band of vagabonds finally making their move against Beacon Academy and the world of Remnant.
The tournament is only a front however for the real story. This is where the lore is opened up to reveal that the four seasons, Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter are real forces of power given to four maidens and passed down through – surprisingly contrived and not well explained means – generations of maidens. The maiden of Fall with the power over the element of Fire has fallen and a secret cabal has been watching over her to make sure the transfer of hosts goes smoothly. We are also told that in the attack on the Fall maiden half of her power was stolen, leading to the possibility of two new hosts in the future. A first for this world and also an unbalancing to the laws of nature.
I love this reveal and getting the backstory was pretty great as well. Seeing these adult side characters from seasons past take on larger roles to expand their power over this world was great and I'm really looking forward to seeing what comes next for these new elemental beings in seasons going forward. Cinder, of course, is the half-host to the powers of Fall as we've seen in as early as season 1 that she has the ability to control Fire.
While Cinder's endgame is still a mystery the events that take place in the season with her are epic in scale and every scene she was in while showing off her powers reminded me of the Phoenix Force from the X-Men and I wonder if Monty or the team took heavy influence from that character.
Ruby, Weiss, Blake and Yang do feel sort of like background characters for a number of episodes this season but come back in big ways towards the end. During Cinder's siege on Beacon our girls are put through the ringer as they're forced to grow up on the fly and face real world truths that they forgot under the protection of their teachers. By the end the team is completely broken apart and all four girls go their separate ways.
This is very important because it sets up interesting new team dynamics and character emotions going forward. Ruby is now co-leading a team with Jean, Nora and Ren. Blake has gone MIA. Weiss is being put on lock down by her father. And Yang is going through the most emotional stress as she ends the season with one of her arms cut off.
I'll say it again, this season was ballsy in the moves in made with its characters and deciding to bring the structure of society falling down as hard as they did. As Yang is my favorite character of the show it’s her storyline that I'm most invested in going into season 4 as season 3 ends with her essentially giving up on the adventurer's life.
But wait, Ruby is co-leading a team with Jean, Nora and Ren? Where's Pyrrha, you may be asking? Again, this season pulled no punches by the end. Pyrrha actually had a very large role to play this season as she was chosen to be the natural next maiden to inherit the power of Fall. Unfortunately this put her in the line of literal fire when Cinder besieged Beacon and led to the series' first major and heartbreaking death. As a storyteller myself I can only hope we won't see a resurrection so that this event doesn't lose its power, however as a fan of Pyrrha I was very upset to see it happen even though I knew it was needed for the story to have some weight.
We also get to meet Ruby's uncle Qrow, as well as Weiss' older sister Winter – totally devoid of the power of Winter in case you're wondering. Of course these two awesomely badass characters know one another and it leads to some great scenes between the two. I love both of them, and while Winter came across as stuffy and full of herself at first by the time she exits the season she really proves how loving of a sister is and how cool she is as a person. Qrow is just an all-around drinkin', doesn't play by the rules, pseudo-hobo kind of guy and quite the cool cat. Err... crow.
One thing I'm definitely excited for going forward is getting to see more of these two characters. They really bring a lot to the table and are actually important at that. Especially Qrow who plays a really large part this season in the lore of Remnant and the powers of the four seasons. He's also the reason Ruby uses a scythe as her main weapon as she fashioned hers as an homage to her dear ole uncle.
The music was just as great as always and the animation was truly top notch. With each passing season the show really does look better and better. The background characters are completely filled in and, like last season, aren't shadows anymore which I love. It really helps with the full realization of this world. The song RWBY vs. FNKI is the stand out song of the season for me with its bumpin' disco electronica mixed with jazz for a blasting 4 minute track that really gets me groovin' every time I hear it.
Season 4 begins in October and we're going into a time skip with the new status quo. Which I find interesting because the way this season ends it feels like any events following this should be addressed immediately in one long continuous narrative. It's not like the big bad is going to sit around for a couple of years and do nothing after all they've finally accomplished. But I trust Rooster Teeth and Monty with their plans for the story so all I can do is get excited for what come's next and let the storytelling chips proverbially fall where they may.
There's quite a lot that happened this season, some of it I just couldn't tackled in this review for the sake of length, but almost everything that happened this season I was happy with. This was a really good season and if you haven't watched it yet really do yourself a favor and get on that. There's also a spin-off series going on currently titled RWBY Chibi consisting of weekly, non-canon 3D styled anthology shorts set in the world of RWBY and starring outr main characters in super deformed kawaii versions of themselves. I don't have a lot to say about it except that I feel like it's super cute and really fun. It's legitimately funny and if you're a RWBY fan you need to do yourself a favor and check this series out.
Final Score: 4 All-Powerful Forces of Nature out of 5
Have you seen the third volume of "RWBY"? Let us know what you thought of it below!