By: Zelyhon & Mithrandiel
Set Review (Mithrandiel)
Rooster Teeth kept it simple with the volume 5 release – no steelbook cover like they did with their previous RWBY Anthology. The case art is cool, but it was weird not seeing a reversible cover…maybe I’ve been reviewing too much anime lately! The volume is contained on two blu ray discs: one that hosts the show and the other containing a couple character shorts and a brief featurette on 5 years of RWBY.
One thing to note is this volume doesn’t feature the ever-popular “Movie Mode” that was found in previous volumes. Rather than a seamless stream of episodes back to back, they all feature end credits, etc. It’s disappointing that they removed this, and I hope that it’s brought back with volume 6.
Also included in the set is a short sampler of the upcoming manga anthology, largely focusing on Weiss anecdotes. They’re equal parts funny and touching, and will likely motivate you in picking up the latest volume for yourself!
Season Review (Zelyhon)
Volume 5 of RWBY, Rooster Teeth’s anime (or anime-ish, if you insist on drawing distinctions a certain way) series has come out in full. I found Volume 4 to be a bit lackluster after the tremendously exciting Volume 3. Volume 5, however, does a good job of addressing some of the concerns I had with the previous Volume. That being said, let’s take a look at how it all shakes out.
Volume 5 picks up right after the previous one left off. Team RNJR and Qrow have finally made it to Haven Academy to investigate where Cinder came from as well as to warn them of the threat to the relics. Oscar has also made his way there to join up with the team. Weiss is on her flight from Atlas towards Mistral as well, not knowing RWBY had made her way there as well. Yang is on her own mission to find her mother, Raven. Blake, her parents, and Sun begin trying to gather influence to stop the White Fang’s plans.
While I didn’t like how the last Volume went entirely, the various plot threads all coming together is a solid starting point. Three of the four members of Team RWBY are all converging on Mistral for one reason or another. When we finally get our reunions for the various team members, it’s a very good feeling. I especially liked the scenes of the teams sharing the big meal right after Yang and Weiss rejoin them. It felt nice to see these characters all together again and to see exactly how different they all are from the early points of the show. Things like that really help highlight the character growth and maturation of the characters over time. While the remnants of Team JNPR don’t get as much to do this season (outside of Jaune when confronting Cinder towards the end), it’s nice to get the development from Yang and Blake in particular. Yang has a lot of issues to work out this season, both towards her mother and towards her team. You can really see how she still seethes over Blake leaving them behind and how parts of that might be connected to her feelings towards her mother. The confrontation with Raven in the last episode ranks really high up there in my list of favorite points in the entire show. A big portion of Blake’s development was from the end of the last season, but we get a chance to see it throughout her actions this season. It’s a nice change from what had come before, though I had some issues with the length of her plotline I will discuss later.
Probably the part that surprised me most about this season, though, was how much I grew to like Oscar during it. Last season, he was mostly a non-entity to me. I knew they were building to something, but since he didn’t do much last season, it didn’t amount to much. Now that he’s here with the rest of the cast, however, he’s starting to come into his own. I think the explanation of what is happening to him is definitely interesting and raises some curious ethical issues. He suddenly had this other soul forced on him, which is now guiding him down a path he may never have wanted. Since Ozpin and Oscar will eventually merge, it’s an open question of how voluntary and ethical this is. Sure, Ozpin says his soul goes to those of like mind/stance/morals/etc. who will probably agree to it. It still feels like a big question about what it means that, due to Ozpin doing this, Oscar may cease to exist as his own entity and just become Ozpin in the future. Another highlight of the season for me was Oscar talking to Ruby about fear and how people can do what he is now forced into.
I was fond of the voice acting this Volume. It definitely feels like the various voice actors have grown into their characters. They do a great job backing up the heavier moments with an amount of emotion that feels appropriate, but not over the top. Special recognition should go to Barbara Dunkelman, the voice of Yang. As mentioned above, the story for Yang and its eventual conclusion was a favorite part of mine this Volume, and the voice acting really sells the anger frustration towards Raven in their scenes together.
The animation and art direction this season are also very nice. We get our first real look at one of the major kingdoms outside of Vale (in addition to Menagerie last Volume, which isn’t technically a kingdom, but still…) this Volume, and it’s really interesting how different it is in certain aspects. There is a world of difference between Beacon Academy and Haven Academy. I liked how different it felt, even with both of them being schools. I’d have liked to get a bit more of the town itself, since essentially all we got of the actual town was during Qrow’s montage. That being said, we spent three seasons in Vale, so it’s only natural we had more time to see beyond the school there. The animation and facial expressions continues the improvements of last season. The change in visuals from the first three to the later two was a bit jarring at first, but I’m quite happy with it now.
That being said, it’s difficult for me to talk about the animation and art without then diving into the fight scenes. I know I’m not the only one to notice or comment on the fact that since Monty Oum’s passing, the fights themselves have gotten much less dynamic. The scenarios aren’t as crazy, there’s not necessarily as much creativity or innovation in the actions or movements, and it just feels much more…grounded, for lack of a better word. Compare, for instance, the first major group fight in the series to most of Volumes 4 and 5. The group fight against the Nevermore was incredibly dynamic. The fights on the highway and the train were wild rides where the whole cast got to show off interesting moves, dodges, special attacks, etc. In this volume, we have one fight that definitely tries to evoke the same spirit as those earlier fights. When the Maidens fight, we see some hints of what was before. The giant glowing tree, the collapsing cavern, and the great agility of both fighters definitely remind me of things that came before. It’s definitely the best fight of the volume, and better than the fights in Volume 4. It doesn’t quite reach the same levels as some of the best in the series, but is definitely a commendable effort. That being said, his work in general shows that Monty Oum had a gift for dynamic, interesting fights all in his own style, so it stands to reason that the magic cannot be precisely recaptured.
My other main gripe with the season is that Blake’s plot, while important and eventually connected with the rest of the Volume, goes on a bit long for the payoff we eventually get. I understand why it needed to be there, but with how long it took and how quickly the final bit wrapped up in the end, I feel like it could have been more streamlined.
This was a very strong season overall. As you might be able to guess from the fact I cited two conversations as some of my favorite moments, I am very fond of the writing and character growth this season. At this point, followers just need to ask themselves if they’re invested enough in the world, the characters, and the writing to keep going even if the fights are not what they used to be. For me, personally, they definitely are. I am eager to see what they have for us when we move up north to Atlas next season.
Interested in picking up Volume 5? You can do so here!
RWBY (Volume 5)
- Good character moments, particularly for Yang and Oscar.
- Good to see more of the world outside the World of Remnant shorts
- Strong voice acting for the characters
- Manga preview piques interest for upcoming release
- Fight scenes don't equal volumes 1-3 in many aspects
- Blake portion drags a bit and doesn't connect as well as it should.
- No movie mode