Series creator Monty Oum passed away during the production of “Volume 3.” (Photo courtesy of Roosterteeth)
“RWBY’s” fifth volume leaves its viewer wondering where the time went. First airing on Oct. 7, “Volume Five” ran for three months before concluding on Jan. 27. Set in an original world, “RWBY” follows the stories of its four protagonists – Ruby, Weiss, Blake and Yang – as they journey and fight to save the world. “Volume Five” takes place as the heroes arrive in a new kingdom, and must seek out a person of interest as dark forces conspire against them.
For those whose value the premise of a show, “RWBY” has them covered. “RWBY’s” world has taken influence from both high fantasy and sci-fi elements, integrating them to a closer degree than shows of a similar premise. There are some concepts that stretch the viewer’s suspension of disbelief, but are a net positive to “RWBY’s” appeal both in its story and its action. “RWBY” also handles its exposition well, even though it still runs into occasional issues with providing necessary information. Its original setting and story elements serve well in inviting the viewer into the world of Remnant, the world of “RWBY.”
One cannot discuss “RWBY” without bringing up one of its biggest selling points – the action. “RWBY’s” models and props are all made with 3-D animation, and serves itself well to choreographed action. However, “Volume Five’s” action does not fully capitalize on the appeal of this. The animation and direction holds well at times, but is prone to overusing special effects and jump cuts. Despite that though, most of the action does its job and leave the viewers at the edges of their seats.
The animation itself is dodgy at times. Character models are executed well, with movements and expressions delivered amazingly. However, there is an odd disarray of the quality put into the show’s backgrounds and props. Character models can sometimes fit right in with their surroundings, only for the next scene to have them stand out like a sore thumb. In addition, the handling of large amounts of models are done poorly, with stiff movements and odd postures marking every shot they are included in. This inconsistency can be irritating for the viewer, but the show’s overall appearance does not suffer greatly from these lapses in quality.
Despite its focus being on action and visuals, “RWBY” succeeds in writing an engaging story as well. Its characters are likeable and plot holes are nonexistent, but there remains a level of inconsistency that “Volume Five” has done in all its other categories. The main thread of “Volume Five works to its advantage, building off of character interactions and plot development up until a climatic action scene. However, a subplot also runs alongside it, moving along at a faster pace until culminating into a midpoint climax.
The inclusion of a subplot is far from harmful to the volume’s writing, but with it comes issues in the pacing. When the subplot reaches its climax halfway through the volume, it drops off completely and leaves the main plot to run on its own. In an effort to tie the two threads together, the final action scene involves the events of the subplots that influenced the main plot in a weird, underdeveloped scene. This decision both divided attention away from the main plot and failed to support it with tension or development. In an effort to squeak in some more action into the final scene, the writers shot themselves in the foot.
Overall, “RWBY: Volume Five” is an entertaining watch, but not a noteworthy one. The show’s production has been steadily improving, but is still hindered by both changing their animation and poor writing choices. Despite that, “RWBY” as a whole has been airing for over four years, and has preserved in the face of worse than inconsistent writing and animation. Should one be interested, “Volume Five” has a runtime of four hours total and is available on Rooster Teeth’s official website or their official YouTube channel.
Final score: B-