Hiyo, everyone! Today, I come to you with a review of RWBY Volume 5. For those of you who don’t know, RWBY is a web show run by a company called Rooster Teeth that follows the journey of many young huntsmen and huntresses as they study to become skilled protectors of their world and, eventually, come face to face with evil. I highly recommend this anime (Yes, I consider it anime.) to any fans of the genre, but today’s post is not aimed at selling the show in general, because I will be focusing on Volume 5 and discussing loads of spoilers for all seasons in the process.
So, if you’re interested in an awesome anime with an unusual animation style (which improves as the series progresses), please check out RWBY starting from Volume 1! And, for those of you who are all caught up… let the spoilers begin!
I felt Volume 5 started by slowly reversing the separation process that occurred at the beginning of Volume 4. Early on, we see Weiss and Yang make their ways to Haven, where Team RNJR, Oscar, and Qrow learn the general situation then take on relatively passive roles. There were a few enjoyable fights sprinkled here and there (The one between Weiss and an army of giant bees comes to mind!), but, overall, the story was much more character driven than action driven – a trend that continued, to a lesser extent, throughout the volume.
Blake spent most of her time in Menagerie, not reuniting with the rest of her team until the end of the Volume. Her story focused on uniting the Faunas in the defense of Haven Academy, which was targeted by Adam, who took leadership of the White Fang by force. Volume 5 takes time to show Blake and Sun (and Qrow, on another front) failing to progress their causes long before they succeed, which is typical of structured storytelling, but I felt the inevitability of their failure was so obvious that there was no tension to begin with.
The story becomes more interesting around the halfway mark, when Cinder and co. make their return and confront Raven and her tribe. They forge a forced bargain to bring Raven and Vernal, who they think is the Spring Maiden, to their side so they, too, can infiltrate Haven Academy (whose headmaster is conveniently in their pocket) and retrieve the Relic hidden beneath.
Throughout all of this, I feel many of the heroes did a lot of sitting around and idle planning. Of the main characters, the only ones who felt like they had substantial story arcs surrounding them were Blake, Yang, and Raven – which is a definite problem in a story focusing on character development.
The last few episodes spice things up via the large battle at Haven Academy, in which almost all the characters take part. However, the battle was not the carnage I expected given the large number of participants. Instead, it constantly shifts focus between characters, and many of them end up with no more in-combat screen time than a few exchanges of blows. For example, Ruby and Yang face off against Emerald and Mercury for a while, and while it’s implied that they’re continuously fighting, so little of it is shown that I was left disappointed.
On the plus side, we finally learned what Jaune’s Semblance is – aura amplification. I’m glad it wasn’t just healing.
The highlight of the Volume was episode 13, during which there was a wonderful duel between Raven and Cinder. The clash between two maidens was less over the top than I expected (given Cinder’s ability to create a small sun around her at the end of Volume 3), but the fight was still magnificent to behold. At the end of the encounter, Cinder is left frozen and falling – and that’s the last we see of her. There’s no confirmation of her death and no sign of the Fall Maiden powers being transferred. My guess is that she’ll survive somehow; her character arc still feels very incomplete. I want to know why she’s so desperate to be powerful.
Unfortunately, episode 14, the finale, was utterly underwhelming compared to episode 13. I don’t think it featured a single substantial fight scene. Adam is sent running instead of being properly dealt with, which felt like a cop-out considering how much he was built up as a villain throughout the season. Blake rejoined her team, which was touching to watch. The two best moments of the episode were when Yang verbally thrashed Raven, exposing her for the weak mother she is, and when Salem finally killed off the cowardly Professor Lionheart. (The headmaster of Haven.) Aside from that, pretty much everything is left open. The villains suffered a major setback, but the only meaningful one who might have died is Cinder; the rest all live to plague the heroes again later. Overall, I felt this last episode was too predictable. It didn’t offer the same closure the previous volumes’ finales did.
While I’m being quite vocal about Volume 5’s faults, I still enjoyed watching it, and eagerly awaited the new episode each week. I was happy to see more of the characters I’ve become so attached to, and I can’t wait for Volume 6. I just feel surprisingly little happened for such a long volume.
What I’ve heard of Volume 5’s new soundtrack is, unsurprisingly, stellar. As always, Casey and Jeff Williams did a masterful job with the new music, and I can’t wait for the full versions of some of the new songs, especially “The Path to Isolation” and “All Things Must Die.”
My final score for RWBY Volume 5 is 3.5/5. Despite its flaws, Volume 5 still expanded on the series’ lore and provided some good character development. I hope the writers build on that in Volume 6 – and add a few more action-based scenes. =p
Have you guys seen RWBY Volume 5 yet? If so, what are your thoughts? Do you follow any other web shows? Please let me know in the comments below. Until next time, ciao!