“RWBY”: The Captivating YA Animated Series

Yang, Penny, Weiss, and Blake at the end of Volume 8
Yang, Penny, Weiss, and Blake at the end of Volume 8

Last year, when looking for another animated series to watch, I came across RWBY, a young adult animation, and one of Rooster Teeth’s flagship series. While I wasn’t sure about it at first, as I watched all eight seasons, I became invested in the characters, especially the protagonists, and a fan of the show itself.

RWBY is the brainchild of the late Monty Oum. It is known for its captivating stories and a theme song, sung by Casey Lee Williams, which begins every episode, foreshadowing what happens in the season/volume. Although the series has the classic conflict of good vs. evil, there are well-developed characters with intricate storylines, elements of horror, and good character development. Some characters are even morally grey, like General James Ironwood or the Ace Ops. Other villains, such as Cinder Fall, don’t want to strictly follow their leader.

Ruby in Volume 9 preview
Ruby in Volume 9 preview

The anime-inspired series is named after the four main protagonists: Ruby Rose, Weiss Schnee, Blake Belladonna, and Yang Xiao Long. They stand against villains, such as Salem and her enforcers, like Cinder, Arthur Watts, Neopolitan, Tyrian Callows, Mercury Black, and the Grimm monsters. On the other hand, Ozma/Ozpin/Oscar Pine, Lie Ren, Nora Valkyrie, Qrow Branwen, Robyn Hill, and Jaune Arc, among others, help Ruby, Weiss, Blake, and Yang fight against the forces of evil.

The show is clearly mature as it features its share of blood and gore, and the death of some characters, with the antagonist, Salem, even engaging in human experimentation. On the other hand, this science fantasy/adventure/action series has a large focus on magic, and sci-fi elements like the cyborg girl, Penny Polendina, and scrolls which can receive and record messages. Each of the protagonists, like those on RWBY, have a semblance which derives from their aura, helping them battle against the Grimm and other villains, either including powers such as object manipulation, disorienting people, or super strength.

I don’t want to give away too much of the plot but I will say that the show features various supporting LGBTQ characters. In Volume 6, Saphron and Terra-Arc, a lesbian couple with a son named Adrian, as confirmed by Lindsay Jones, the voice of Ruby, who the protagonists, and their friends, stay with on their journey to another kingdom. Additionally, in the Volume 5 episode “Alone Together,” Ilia Amitola confessed her romantic feelings to Blake, and was later confirmed by show writer Miles Luna as a lesbian in a Reddit AMA.

Most prominently is May Marigold, a trans woman. Unlike other trans characters in animation, she is voiced by a trans female voice actress, Kdin Jenzen, and her character came out as trans in the Volume 8 episode “War,” which she described as “something so wildly powerful & meaningful.”

LGBTQ characters in RWBY so far
LGBTQ characters in RWBY so far

There is a lot about the series which is wonderful. There is a strong possibility of confirmed LGBTQ representation in the main cast, especially since the voice actress for Blake, Arryn Zech, confirmed her character as bisexual in May 2020, and some even have argued that the shipping between Blake and Yang, known as Bumbleby, will come become canon in the show’s next volume.

Even if this doesn’t happen, the show is still powerful, from its music to the characters, the voice acting to the visuals, which have improved from the earliest seasons to the present-day. Although the fandom may be toxic at times, the show is unique in its colorful ship names, especially the femslash ones, like Baked Alaska (Yang and Neopolitan), Blood Mint (Ruby and Emerald Sustrai), Freezerburn (Yang and Weiss), Ladybug (Ruby and Blake), or White Rose (Ruby and Weiss) to name a few.

So, if you haven’t seen RWBY yet, whether on VRV, Crunchyroll, Amazon Prime (in some locations), YouTube Movies (for purchase/rent), or on the RoosterTeeth website, now is the perfect time during the show’s hiatus, before Volume 9 begins again sometime in 2022.

Author: Burkely Hermann

Burkely is an indexer of declassified documents by day and a fan fic writer by night. He recently earned a MLIS with a concentration in Digital Curation from the University of Maryland. He currently voraciously watches animated series and reads too many webcomics to count on Webtoon. He loves swimming, hiking, and searching his family roots in his spare time.

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