Back in 2000, Sony Pictures Classics acquired and released the film Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon …
Think of a universe with the main characters from the Wizard of Oz, then throw in Little Red Riding Hood wielding a bad ass scythe rifle, battling guy straight out of Clockwork Orange, and you have the start of the first episode to the series RWBY, which is currently on it’s fourth season.
Rooster Teeth, the same digital studio that released the machinima YouTube classic “Red vs Blue”, is responsible for this tale of hunters and huntresses, battling dangerous monster called Grimm, and various other forces looking to disrupt all order in the world of Remnant. We follow two teams of young hunters/huntresses, team RWBY (Ruby Rose, Weiss Schnee, Blake Belladonna, and Yang Xiao Long) and team JNPR (Jaune Arc, Nora Valkyrie, Pyrrha Nikos, and Lie Ren) as they navigate their way at Beacon Academy, through life, and through conspiracies that threaten their world, as a whole.
RWBY was the final series creator Monty Oum worked on before his untimely death in 2015. Known for his advanced digital battle sequences, most notably in his masterpiece Dead Fantasy, Monty used his skills in digital animation to flesh out this coming of age tale with the fans in mind. Many of his characters are designed for easy cosplay recreation, without the use of excessive fan service, which only exemplifies the strength of the overall writing of this series, since each episode logs in over a million hits on YouTube, and counting. With inventive weaponry, imaginative battle sequences, balanced story line, and likable characters, RWBY became one of the series that successfully made the transition from YouTube to Netflix and the show’s popularity seems to be picking up considerably more steam.
The series itself is a lot of fun to watch, with various homages to other anime series and pop culture references for GenXers and GenYs, keeping everyone entertained. The seasons have evolved both visually and story wise, providing it’s own shocking moments in season three that left many hardcore fans freaking out in similar (although minor) Games of Thrones fashion (see Akasan’s reaction to RWBY Volume 3 YouTube videos for first reactions-don’t watch, if you don’t want spoilers). The animation is very heavily battle driven, but balanced with a strong consistent story line throughout, peppered with some lighthearted humor (food fight, season 2). Rooster Teeth made sure to not throw the baby out with the bathwater, unlike other series, like Marvel’s Daredevil in their first season, relying on heavy fighting sequences, in every single episode, to keep the viewers entertained. Writers Miles Luna and Kerry Shawcross pick up the mantle, this time without show creator Monty Oum, for season four. As of this piece, season four, episode eight is available on YouTube, with new episodes out every Saturday night. Advanced episodes are available via subscription service through RoosterTeeth’s website.
One of the other things I enjoy about this series is the score. Outside of the scene score, the music, heavily pop rock, is composed by Jeff Williams, and performed mainly by Casey Lee Williams, who also is the voice behind Weiss’ singing, is a great compliment to the series, and the title track changes every season, each hinting at the overarching story line of that season.
Season 1 and 2 of RWBY is currently available on Netflix and YouTube. Volume 3 and 4 are only available on YouTube and on Rooster Teeth’s website.