US animated online series (2012-current). Rooster Teeth. Created by Monty Oum (1981-2015). Executive Producers: Mattie Hullum, Burnie Burns. Writers: Miles Luna, Monty Oum, Kerry Shawcross. Directors include Monty Oum (volumes 1-2) and Kerry Shawcross (volume 3 onward). Voice cast includes Jen Brown, Barbara Dunkelman, Kara Eberle, Lindsay Jones, Miles Luna, Shannon McCormick, Taylor McNee, Jen Taylor and Arryn Zech. 60 various-length episodes to date, plus eight character shorts, sixteen "World of Remnant" shorts and 47 "RWBY Chibi" humorous, non-canon shorts. Colour.
The world of Remnant has four human kingdoms, besieged by the "Creatures of the Grimm"; combating the latter are the huntresses and hunters, trained at each kingdom's Huntsman Academy. After a history of battling the Grimm a period of stability has been achieved through the discovery of "Dust", a powerful energy used in the Weaponry and clothing of the huntresses and hunters: "Dust" recalls "Quintessence" from Voltron: Legendary Defender (2016-current) in being a plot-convenient Power Source which blurs Magic and science. By the end of the third series the main antagonist, Salem (Taylor), has succeeded in overrunning the Beacon Academy in the Kingdom of Vale and now plans to take the remaining three.
The show's focus is Ruby Rose (Jones), accepted into Vale's Beacon Academy two years earlier than most students; with her sister Yang (Dunkelman), plus Weiss (Eberle) and Blake (Zech), she forms Team RWBY. Weiss is an heiress and cat-eared Blake a Faunus – human-like but with animal traits; the Faunus have suffered prejudice from humans for centuries. The fellow Beacon Team JNPR is also prominent – particularly Pyrrha (Brown) and Jaune (Miles). There are many other characters of note, including the Headmaster of Beacon, Ozpin (McCormick) – who may be immortal (he undergoes Reincarnation) – and mention should be made of Penny (McNee), cut to pieces by her own weapon in season 3; however, as this friendly soul is a Robot and her head is intact, a return is likely.
The huntresses and hunters appear to be clothed a little impractically for battle, a point answered when Weiss comments on Penny's lack of battle readiness and Blake remarks "says the girl wearing a dress!" allowing Weiss to clear the matter up: "it's a combat skirt." Their Weapons, though giving barely a passing nod to the laws of Physics, appear to be hi-tech in nature: Remnant has everyday twenty-first century Technology, but the military clearly has more advanced capabilities; all this exists side by side with magic and other fairy tale tropes.
RWBY's writing, animation and voice acting are uneven, though usually competent and sometimes excellent; the fight choreography may impress even those normally inclined to fast-forward battle scenes. The show was also brave enough to kill off one of its six main characters with no indication this is anything but a final death. More than the sum of its parts, the whole – particularly Team RWBY itself – warmly engages the viewer, to make this one of the noteworthy current animation series. [SP]
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