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Hello everyone, it’s almost time for my full breakdown of the RWBY series. I will be doing that by making YouTube videos and accompanying blog posts.
Before I do that, I wanted to make this post. Under my previous pen-name, and under my old blog, I had begun doing a retrospective episode-by-episode review of the RWBY series, and I plan to revitalize it and bring it here. I will also be doing analysis content too. The blog posts will also include the video that goes along with it. That way you can watch the video instead of reading about it, if you wish to.
The first two videos, and the blogs regarding the RWBY Red Trailer will go out on Friday, April 9th. This is going to be a massive undertaking, but I really love the RWBY series, so it’s about time I throw my hat in the ring and do more than write fan fiction.
In order to do that, I think it would be best that you understand my way of thinking. This post will contain my analytical basis and how I’ve decided to analyze each episode.
Firstly, I need to issue a standard disclaimer before I begin. Every analysis and review post regrading RWBY will cover my thoughts and opinions on the show. With that being said, an opinion is strictly that. It’s not meant to force you to agree with me.
In fact, I suspect many of you will disagree on several points. I heavily encourage you to formulate your own opinions on the series, as that is the hallmark of a healthy and functional fandom.
The Basis for Analysis
There are four key points that I use for any analysis. They are the following:
- Diversity of opinion
- Personal experience
These are in no particular order of importance, but they are things that I use. That being said diversity of opinion, culture, personal experience and critique are fundamental in fandom. This inclusion is the only way to keep a fandom from stagnating. No two minds will think exactly alike. It is important to respect each other, even if we don’t see eye-to-eye.
These four things are what I use to analyze any show, and that includes RWBY. Therefore, I’d like to discuss each one and how it applies to this analysis of the RWBY series.
As you can guess this is going to impact my entire view of the show. The awesome, the terrible, and everything in-between. If I like something, I like it. If I don’t like something, I don’t. It’s that simple.
For example, I love the food fight scene in Volume 2. To me, that scene is awesome! That being said, it breaks all logic as we know it in the show. So even while I praise it, I will also point out that it is a very broken scene connotically.
When a swordfish can remain a functional weapon while pillars are breaking and ceilings are being smashed through, it’s broken.
Awesomely broken, but broken none the less under a strict analysis. That’s why I will also be doing reviews along with analysis content. I cannot simply disregard scenes that break the mold. I wouldn’t want to, because they’re vastly important. The series was created by Monty Oum, and Monty had a rule. He called it “The Rule of Cool”.
If something seemed cool to animate or even just plain stupid fun, sometimes he put it in the show. The food fight scene sticks out to me as one of these moments.
The early volumes, particularly 1, 2 and 3 have plenty of “The Rule of Cool” moments in them. They break logic for the sake of entertainment, and that is a totally functional purpose. Later volumes also have these moments, but they aren’t done in the same way, and therefore shouldn’t be compared. Each volume as it’s own take on these moments, and they evolve accordingly, so to hold them all up to the same level would be flat out stupid.
However, if I were to disregard these moments, or bypass them entirely, I would be doing the series a huge injustice because these scenes are memorable and loved by fans.
Culture is in everything. You can’t avoid it. Sure, it has its problems sometimes. It’s not perfect, and it never will be. Culture sometimes changes, it sometimes shifts.
Without culture, we don’t have customs or traditions. We don’t have touchstones. Without it, we lose a great deal of our personal identity. Culture shapes all of us, in some ways it’s obvious. In some ways it isn’t.
I’m a white person that has an extended family of mixed race. My niece and nephew have much darker skin tones than I do, and a culture that is not the same as my own. Therefore I’ve seen what happens firsthand when people use culture and race as a weapon to do harm.
My worldview is shaped through that lens, and when it comes to RWBY, I take issue on several fronts regarding cultural diversity and the lack of it within the series. I see both sides of the coin when it comes to the concepts of culture and diversity within the RWBY series.
Or rather, allow me to say it like this; I see what the story was trying to do, I also see how it failed massively.
However, I don’t see this failing as something completely useless. There are useful things to discuss even within the confines of that failing. I will be doing just that.
For a perfect example: while the racial implications in the series are certainly poorly attempted most of the time, that level of idiocy does mirror society in a LOT of ways. This is 100% a product of social failings, where people are blinded to the problems at hand.
I’d say in some cases this is actually what makes the racism in RWBY so powerful. We don’t see the Faunus plight very well, and in my opinion there is no worst sort of racism than the type that no-one cares to see. The sort of systemic racism that no one sees as a problem in the first place, or even if they do see it as a problem, aren’t inclined to rise up against it. When racism becomes so normalized it becomes a non-issue to the general public, it’s sickening.
I’d argue that this is the sort of systemic racism the RWBY series attempts to depict even as early as Volume 1. I have en example. No one steps up to help Velvet, although someone should have.
Even Pyrrha Nikos doesn’t lift a finger to be of help. She may be disgusted by what she sees, and even makes a comment to her friends about it. Think about that for a moment. The most altruistically inclined characters like Ruby and Pyrrha don’t stand up against Velvet’s mistreatment.
Yet, Pyrrha Nikos also tells Jaune “I really will break his legs” in regards to Cardin’s bullying of Jaune. If he had wanted her to intervene, she would have.
This proves my point that mistreating Faunus is considered a normal behavior for the characters in RWBY. It’s just the way things are, and even the characters that ideologically find it awful, see no need to lend a hand. Perhaps in a way, they see no point to do so, finding it a struggle they couldn’t win anyway.
The show is mostly through the eyes humans and not the Faunus themselves, so of course what would be depicted is through the eyes if the blindly privileged.
However, the fact the show often fails the Faunus and the real world implications are a point of concern. It is something I will be bringing up from time to time.
But, let me be clear.
Racism is awful, it is toxic, but that sort of normalized racism does exist in reality. It has through history, and that is just a fact. The failings of the show is not that racism is depicted in this way, but that ultimately, the one person who should have a voice to add to this nuance doesn’t often have the chance to voice it.
The Faunus plight is not often shown though the eyes of Blake Belladonna. Rather we see more meaningful scenes through the eyes of Sun or Ilia, and to me this poses the biggest issue when it comes to the Faunus plight.
With Blake Belladonna being a main character, central to the show in fact, her opinions should have been shown more in the totality of the volumes. We should have seen both sides of the coin more conclusively. The vast majority should not merely be the side of privilege that the humans of the series entertain. Then again, with the vast majority of main cast members being human, this ideology makes sense to a degree as well.
The issue isn’t a simple one, and there isn’t a “cut and dry” solution, either. The show could have very easily swung in the opposite direction, too. Blake and the other Faunus could have been over the top. That would have seemed preachy and on the nose.
Given my own personal family ties, I have a very particular perspective on this. However, I’ll speak more on that when I dive into the episodes where this becomes an issue. I won’t harp on Volume 1 too much, as it isn’t until Volumes 2 and 3 where Blake is a known Faunus among her team and trusted friends.
Opinions and cultural backgrounds are powerful enough modifiers to change analysis on their own. However, personal experience adds to that in a way nothing else can.
All of our personal struggles and achievements are very different. No two people will have the exact same experience. My personal experiences certainly impacts the way I view RWBY, and the way I analyze it.
When it comes to the themes of the show, personal experience holds a lot of value to all of us as fans. It is what makes the characters relatable. Weather we like to admit it or not, it builds the foundation of whether or not we agree with the characters and what they do.
For example, I think Jacques is a terrible father, but I also don’t think Taiyang is a good father either. I think they’re both horrible in their own ways. One is just an asshole, and the other is just a flawed man. However they both have shortcomings as parents, and I will be addressing that.
Furthermore, I think Yang is certainly not the “best” older sibling in a lot of ways early in the series. I find that she is not a good role model or even all that supportive where it truly counts early on. That is not to say she is a bad character, far from it. If she was perfect in every way, that would be flat out bad writing from a narrative perspective. She’s just not perfect, either, as no one should be.
I’ll be highlighting those moments, since they appear constantly in Volume 1, and have resurfaced again in volumes 7 and 8. This does not mean that I hate Yang, or that I don’t enjoy her time on screen. It just means that I’m not going to let her, or any character slip through the cracks when they cross major a line. They all do from time to time, but if I call a character out on it, that doesn’t mean I inherently hate them.
I do have characters I hate, mind you. However, that’s just personal opinion. I won’t just bash them even if they aren’t one of my favorites. Most characters in the series have good qualities. Characters commonly on the chopping block for harsh criticism usually have their merits too, and I won’t ignore that.
All of this finally brings me to the last point…
All three of the above modifiers shape the critical thinking required to analyze a show like RWBY. My talking points, the issues I take with the show, and the praise I give the series all of that comes from the factors I’ve just listed. There are times I may overthink something, or not think much of it at all.
Either way, my critique is never going to be the end-all, be-all of a series.
If anything, it is just one deep dive of many. My love for the show, and hatred of some aspects are based upon the foundations that have shaped me into the person I am today, and I cannot completely remove myself from that lens. Although I will attempt to be as objective as possible.
Got all of that?
Good, let’s move onto one last caveat. I believe strongly in the phrase “show, don’t tell”. This means that I won’t be taking about anything that isn’t in the series as factual, or even cannon. If it is *NOT* in the RWBY media someplace, it is *NOT* going to be considered for analysis.
Furthermore, I’m going to consider RWBY a greater universe. Think Sailor Moon or comics in general. The light novels, manga, games, and animated series are all RWBY, but sometimes they heavily contradict each other or “retcon” something.
In general my analysis series will only be using what the media itself contains for its analysis. The other RWBY media will get it’s own separate analysis when it is time to do so.
There is plenty to unpack regarding RWBY as a series, from in-depth critique of the show, character analysis, reviews and more. I plan to do just that.
Well, that’s about all I have to say for this post. With this out of the way, I can begin the analysis properly.
Now I can dive into the series, starting where it all began. The RWBY Red Trailer with both an analysis and a retrospective review. They will be separate posts with differing content. One is critically based analysis, the other is just an opinionated review.
Both videos and blog posts will be posted on April 9th, which is this Friday. Keep in mind that patron supporters get videos a day early. Anyway, I shall see you Friday with this double post of content. See you there.
This has been Kernook of the Demented Ferrets…
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