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RWBY Volume 4 Review – Bingeworthy

RWBY is an anime style action comedy series produced by Rooster Teeth. Volume 4 of the series splits team a traumatized RWBY apart and scatters them across the world of Remnant.

RWBY Volume 4

RWBY is back with a subdued somber tone, which is a relief after the high tension and intensity of the previous volume. That is not to say that the events of volume three are ignored. Far from it. The Fall of Beacon has effected everyone, from the principal cast to the supporting characters. Coping with loss and trauma are the central themes of the volume with each character finding their own way through their grief. Once again Ruby Rose steals the show. Lindsay Jones impresses with her ability to blend cheerful innocence with gritty determination. Her boundless enthusiasm and quirkiness helps maintain a light hearted feel for a show that grows darker by the volume.

Where previous volumes begin on a high note; a foiled robbery. a massive food fight, and the Vytal Tournament; RWBY Volume 4 begins very dark. Grimm rise from pools of black sludge and prowl about a burned wasteland of molten lava and pale stone.  In a castle high on a mountain Mercury and Emerald look down on the landscape in absolute terror. Perhaps they have begun to doubt their life choices.

Meet the New Boss…

Even Cinder, the main villain so far, has suffered a deep trauma. She is no longer the confident, commanding figure she once was. Her face is badly burned, her right eye is gone, and to her humiliation she is nearly incapable of speaking. This earns her the ire of her fellows in the room. She is no longer in charge, Salem is. Voiced by Jen Taylor‘s hypnotic soprano, Salem is a commanding presence and a clear example of the troubles to come for the World of Remnant. It is here we see that the destruction of Beacon is only the first phase of a world wide endeavor with Salem at its head and the creatures of Grimm at her command.

Ever Moving Forward

After the Fall of Beacon Team RWBY is scattered across the world of Remnant. Through their eyes we finally get a glimpse of the larger world RWBY is set in. Ruby and team JNPR venture to the continent Anima bound for the Kingdom of Mistral. She, Jaune(Miles Luna), Ren(Neath Oum), and Nora(Samantha Ireland) choose to deal with the pain of their losses by taking action, following leads to find those responsible to destroying their home. This journey not only highlights Anima and Mistral, but also sheds some light on the character and backstory of Ren and Nora, two characters that have lacked any significant depth for some time.

Qrow, voiced by Vic Mignogna, follows close behind to keep an eye on his favorite niece. Through him we finally learn a little more about his twin sister, and Yang’s Mother, Raven. Spoiler, she is not a nice person.

Post Traumatic Stress

Of the members of Team RWBY, Yang(Barbara Dunkelman) was injured the worst. After being manipulated and humiliated in the tournament she rushed to fight in the battle of Beacon determined to redeem herself. In the battle she confronted Adam Taurus, Blake’s former mentor, and loses her right arm. The loss is devastating and leaves her in a deep, dark depression. She is haunted by nightmares, helpless to defend herself as she relives the battle over and over again and panic attacks brought on by sounds and sights.

It is through her eyes we see what Yang and Ruby’s home life was like on the island of Patch. Taiyang Xiao Long(Burnie Burns) is a loving father and huntsman and does his best to care for his eldest daughter. But even the arrival of a prosthetic arm to replace the one she lost isn’t enough to bring her back from the abyss. 

A Castle of Ice

Weiss(Casey Lee Williams) returned to her family’s estate in Atlas with her Father, Jacques Schnee(Jason Douglas). Like Yang, we learn what Weiss’s home and family life is like though her eyes. What we see is a cold and dark place where her father’s will is law. We are also introduced to her insufferable younger brother Whitley(Howard Wang) and house butler Klein(J. Michael Tatum). As hinted in the past, Jaques is not a kind man. His concern for the family and the business do not extend far beyond his reach, influence, and profit margin. Weiss chafes at his tight grip over her and longs to return to the world at large.

General Ironwood(Jason Rose) returns in this volume often butting heads with Jacques over how the kingdom should respond to the fall of their neighbor. Ironwood took the loss of Beacon and his friend, Professor Ozpin, personally and his methods grow more totalitarian by the episode.

Beyond the Bow

Blake(Arryn Zech) vanished at the end of Volume three with no hint at all of where she was going. We quickly find Blake aboard a ship bound for the Faunus colony in Menagerie, her home. Joining her, uninvited, is Sun Wukong(Michael Jones). It is through the two of them that we finally get a glimpse into Blake’s past, her family, her home life, and some insight into the White Fang. Blake’s father, Ghira(Kent Williams) is the former leader of the White Fang before its turn to extremism, and the current Chieftain of Menagerie. Her Mother, Kali(Tara Platt) is warm and caring and shares a fondness for Sun that Ghira does not. 

Blake ran from Beacon because she blames herself for all the pain and loss she and her friends suffered in the battle. She was a member of the White fang as it descended into violence and terrorism, she was involved with Adam, their leader, and she pained a target on her team by joining them. Blake’s guilt guides her every action and exploring those feeling with her familt and Sun is one of the most fulfilling stories of the volume.

Updates and Upgrades

RWBY began humbly with a small team and limited resources. Non combat animation wad slightly wooden and background characters were simply silhouettes. Season 2 and three saw slight improvements to the base design but the biggest improvements so far are in RWBY Volume 4. Dynamic lighting adds much needed depth to the colorful backdrops, settings, and characters. Improed facil animation aloows for a greaterrange of expression fo all characters, especially the manic Tyrion. Each character’s aura and semblance(inherant mystical abilities) have their own effects in greater detail. Rooster Teeth’s animation department really doubled down and I can’t wait to see what they do next.

The loss of series creator and writer Mony Ohm left many feeling that the future of RWBY may be uncertain, but this RWBY Volume 4 shows that the series is in good hands with a bright and exciting future filled with compelling story, terrifying monsters, nefarious villains, and of course, Heroes.

Thank you for watching and reading.

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