Tentacle-Free Anime: "RWBY" Vol. 4 (2016) Review
- by Kazekun, 28 February 2017
Holy crap, peeps. 2017 been one helluva busy year so far. I'm truly sorry for the delay in getting you all this review, but here it is! RWBY volume 4! The latest season recently ended and we need to talk about it now, so without anymore waiting...
Volume 4 is a lot like volume 2, in that not a whole lot really happens because the season is set to be more of a set-up or intermission between the important chapters. Some shows dedicate whole episodes to character growth and building up the plot, RWBY seems content with spending whole seasons doing that. And it's not necessarily a bad thing, except when we get episodes that are a whole 12 minutes long but feel like only 5 minutes worth of material drug out for fluff.
So much of the previous seasons took place at Beacon, it's not until now that we get to see the world through Ruby and team JNPR traveling across country to reach the big bad. Blake, who actually gets a great character arc this season, heads with Sun to the one of the capital cities of the Faunus and her home. Weiss, we get to meet the rest of her family and see into the type of world she grew up in. With a father and brother like hers, it's no wonder she's so uppity. And while Yang spends the entirety of the season at home attempting to come to grips with her new lease on life, we get a lot of great screen time for her and Ruby's father allowing us to see a bit more into their own home life.
Going back and talking about Ruby and team JNPR, their subplot ended up being my favorite of the season which shouldn't come as a surprise but Blake's was a good contender for best subplot of the season as well. While Ruby herself doesn't get a lot of growth herself, Jaune is given the opportunity to memorialize Pyrrha by mixing his weapons with hers so that she's always around.
And of course both Ren and Nora get much needed character development. They were already characters I enjoyed because of their great personalities however we finally get to learn their back-stories this season and damn it had me almost in tears. Ren loses his family in a massacre caused by an incredibly eerie and haunting Grimm, and Nora seems to have grown up without a family as we only get to see her young self as a street rat fending for herself.
The new Grimm by the way is a fantastic new addition to the mythology of these monsters and it's honestly kind of nice to see that the further our heroes dive into the unknown the more horrifying the monsters become. It makes a lot of sense and I appreciated that.
Blake spends the first half of her story arc on a boat to see her parents, but once she gets there things really pick up and we're introduced to a wonderful cast of extra characters. Mainly, her parents. Both her mom and dad are simply wonderful to see on screen, and her mom is an especially new favorite of mine. She's so cute and innocent, plus her seemingly innocent crush on Sun is just adorable. If she weren't married I'd ship the two so hard.
Weiss has arguably my least favorite subplot. Only because half the people surrounding her are just unlikeable. Her butler is great, but both her brother and father are insufferable. And I'm happy there are characters that are like that that exist in this world but neither character gets much if any character growth this season. Weiss sort of does, she definitely learns a new ability, but we'll just have to see where things go from here.
We also get an interesting character development for Cinder this season as well. She spent so much of the previous seasons either playing the secret big bad hiding in the shadows, or when she is on screen she's very cocky and owns whatever room she's in. Both physically and through her personality. That all goes out the window as we see the aftermath of last season's explosion that completely froze Beacon and cause a great deal of physical and mental trauma to Cinder as well. I think this is an incredibly interesting addition to Cinder's character as she's been forced to be more subdued and vulnerable. I can only imagine what her hatred for Ruby will bring in the coming seasons.
Going back to my issues with the season however, my biggest fault with the the way things went down was that we got twelve issues of story yes, but ultimately not a lot got done when you think about it. Given that each issue is around 12-20 minutes on average instead of being consistently 20-30 minutes like a normal episode of a show, that allows for some episodes to get further along in the story than others.
And so by the end of it, Ruby and gang may have made it to their destination but it feels like they never ended up traveling that far. We know because they tell us through dialogue that they traveled very far but we don't actually see it as many episodes in their subplot are stuck in two separate villages. So it feels like the story gets slowed down tremendously simply so that by the end of this season everyone's not already facing off against the new big bad of the series.
This goes for Weiss, Blake, and Yang's storylines because they all stay in one place pretty much throughout the season. It's not only until the finale that any of them decide to make a move to push out their prisons and continue on their individual adventures. I propose that by the end of next season team RWBY will be back together, but we're gonna see each of the storylines stall a bit before we get to that point. At least if season 5 is anything like this season, anyways.
The villains so far seem pretty generic in how they act, but they're cool. We don't get a lot of screentime with them however in order to get to know them. One of the new bad guys, Tyrian, does thankfully get quite a bit of screen time in order to plague our heroes but he's still kind one note as a character right now. He's the crazy violent one.
We also get a subplot that doesn't get very much traction at all this season and is 100% just set up this season for bigger things to come, but it's also a subplot that I hope the pay off is really good because right now I'm not really jelling with it. And that's a subplot featuring Professor Ozpin. Last season he was seemingly killed by Cinder in a fight we really didn't get to see sadly, but this season his consciousness finds its way into that of a little boys head – named Oscar Pine. Their souls have somehow intertwined and I'm very curious to see where this goes because both Ozpin and Qrow, Ruby's uncle, seem to know what's going on. However Ozpin won't explain anything to Oscar and thus the audience and that bugs me.
Ultimately, there's a lot good about volume 4 of RWBY and it's still a show I would highly recommend people watch. But it does have major pacing issues that I'm finding more and more cracks in as I watch the show. Such as it should not have taken 3 seasons for us to learn the true story behind the world of this show, and there shouldn't be whole seasons dedicated to build up while other seasons are relegated to being the culmination of what was set up in the previous seasons.
I cannot wait for volume 5, for sure, and it's hitting this fall. However, at the rate they're going I'm not sure at all when this story will reach its climax. It's not that I want it too, but with a streamlined story like RWBY you can kind of begin to tell when the story is about to start winding down and we'll start getting all the answers and payoffs we've been waiting for. I literally can't tell that with this show. I thought I read somewhere that it was supposed to only go 5 seasons, but at this pace there's going to need to be at least 2, maybe 3 more seasons just to finish the story. In my personal opinion.
RWBY volume 4 is good. Let me say that right now. It's really good. There is no bad season of RWBY. But it wasn't my favorite. In fact, looking back, I'm not sure which season is my favorite. I just really like this series and I can't wait to see what comes next. There are pacing issues but the good stuff overshadows the bad by quite a bit. I think, ultimately, this series will be remembered quite fondly when all is said and done. At the very least I have a lot of faith this series is going to end on a high note when it does.
Final Score: 4 Lost Hunters and Huntresses out of 5
Read our reviews of the previous seasons: 1, 2, 3.
Have you seen the fourth volume of "RWBY"? Let us know what you thought of it below!