Anime · Television

RWBY: The Next Step (Review)

Look, I know I’m a couple of weeks late on this. As I’ve now done a quick refresher on RWBY 1-3 (free spoiler alert), I’m going to race through this and most of the rest of the reviews will be actually rather timely ones. So if that’s a concern, it won’t be for long. And let me just say before starting this that if you haven’t seen my earlier post about RWBY, it is incredible and has up to now has gone from strength to strength so I have pretty high expectations as the setting finally moves beyond the now destroyed Beacon Academy.

I had a friend say to me that this episode had disappointed a bit as it focused too much on villains who were evil for the sake of being evil. As the episode started off with this I held my breath a bit and had a look at that claim. Outwardly, it does actually seem that way, but only because we don’t know much about the villains aside from Cinder and her team, so at the moment their motivations are shrouded behind their personalities, and their personalities certainly seem suited to villainy, particularly Tyrion (if it is spelt like that god help them with Game Of Thrones references) whose sitting position seems deliberately evocative of L. Maybe that’s just me watching Death Note lately. Cinder seems to have gotten some extra depth to her, if that were possible from before, she always had a bit of menace but here she looks scared and subdued. Clearly whatever Ruby did to her at the end of last season is having an effect. Emerald and Mercury also look a bit unsure, perhaps they’re ready for a heel turn, I did have them down as potential candidates for that.

Once the episode moved away from the villains, any doubt that RWBY wasn’t back with a vengeance was eroded as we join team RNJR (which is the anagram I’m sticking to). By the way, I take that that team’s discussion about what they should call themselves, inconsequential as it was, a clear sign of how close to the community the developers of this wonderful show are, I recall quite a long debate on that very subject once people had gotten over the shock of the end of Volume 3. Seeing RNJR together again, and seemingly strong enough to move past the death of Pyrrha was pleasing, because they all seem happy, maybe a little jarringly so but I don’t know how long it’s been. Maybe I’m reading too much into it, or maybe it’s just coping mechanisms because we don’t want these guys to be sitting around moping, that’s clearly Yang’s job.

The battle against the Grimm golem thing was very cool, I guess that’s all I really have to say about battles in RWBY, very cool and breathtaking to watch, with Ren’s Mulan act coming to the fore quite nicely as he calmly finishes it off despite his swords being weak against stone. Jaune’s weapons were absent but it’s cool, he got them in an upgrade from this village they stopped off at. Which seems, remarkably peaceful considering it’s supposed to be in a wild wasteland where Grimm attacks are common. Maybe those World Of Remnant things last season overestimated the Grimm threat, or maybe that was propaganda by the kingdoms. Or the villainess, who was the narrator after all.

The artwork has advanced another stage, part of that is that the characters appear older, Ruby in particular looks a lot more mature now, very appropriate with her advances of character and the design shifts of Weiss, Cinder, Nora and her look initially jarring but appear more detailed and pleasing once you get used to them. Nora feels like much more of a person now just from a few gradual style changes, I can place her as someone who isn’t just a kooky crazy kid.

No sign of Yang or Blake and a brief appearance by Weiss wasn’t really enough to sate me, I’m sure there’s more hiding in the next few episodes though. The season opening theme, played at the end of the first episode, gave me a lot of good hints that we’re going to be travelling all around the Remnant world in a way reminiscent again of Game Of Throne, Walking Dead, any of the other modern shows with a large cast that get split up. Which is, as a plus, lots of different destinations to keep it fresh, I just hope they can balance all the characters right while telling a good story and don’t split it down too far. I’m sure Yang training with Taiyang will be very good for her character but she won’t spend the entire season there… I hope.

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