Romance in RWBY: Blake/Ruby

Hello, Kernook here. It’s time for another “romantic pairing” posts. As usual, first, I’ll talk about all the reasons why you should “ship” these characters for a romantic pairing. Then, I’ll talk about reasons why other pairings might fit better.

If you have different opinions than mine, that’s okay. Everyone is allowed to like different character pairings… I like many of them. I don’t believe in “one true pairing” particularly in the RWBY universe as there are so many vast ways to explore the characters. I think RWBY is a fluid universe when it comes to romance with plenty to explore, so let’s dive into that reguarding Ruby and Blake, shall we?

I’ve already done one of these styles of posts regarding the “Arkos” pairing, which is between Jaune Arc and Pyrrha Nikos. If that pairing interests you, well then you may just want to check that one out. If not, no big deal, but i wanted to let you know it happens to be here if you cared.

In any case, the key thing to keep in mind when reading this particular post, or any others like it, is that I do ship a lot of characters. I think combinations offer interesting insights and ways to explore the series when you break out of the typical molds on canon ideology. Or at the very least, what passes for canon ideology.

“Canon” Verses “Fannon”

When I talk about “canon”, that means there is firm implication or proof in the series that something actually happens romantically between these characters. When I talk about “fannon”, I am speaking about things that the greater fan-base has concluded based on subtext, or clues in the series. Fannon is a very loose term, because it can almost mean anything depending on who you talk to.

Example: Saying that Blake and Ruby both read books for enjoyment is a canon fact in the series established all the way back in the first volume. However, saying that Blake and Ruby might enjoy curling up and reading together is fannon at best. We’ve never seen this happen in the show, and we can’t even assume they keep a preference for the same genre of books considering that Blake reads adult literature.

That said, the Blake/Ruby pairing, also known by fans as “ladybug”, is not a cannon pairing in the series. It is strictly “fannon” or commonly called “fan fiction fodder”. The pairing is made up by the fan-base. It has very little cannon ground to stand on. It will remain that way until the RWBY series proves otherwise.

Frankly, I doubt the animated series will go in that direction. It seems as though the creators of RWBY are headed towards the cannon pairing of Yang/Blake, also known as “bumblebee”.

I’ll cover the “bumblebee” pairing at a later date.

I tend to sail many ships, and “ladybug” just so happens to be one of them. I have written fan fiction on AO3 regarding this pairing, and I will continue to do so. That said, let’s get into the reasons why you should ship them.

Reasons to “Ship” Blake and Ruby (Ladybug)

Ladybug is a weak romance ship in the canon argument debate. However, their strongest argument, the best one in my opinion is their intended lifestyle and their future ambitions. From the start of the series Blake and Ruby are versatile and tactical fighters in the series and they’re both ruthless in combat against their target foe.

For Blake this is the White Fang, and for Ruby this is the Grimm. They both have goals to better the world, and even if they don’t know how to do that, they’re going to do their best to try.

This is explained during the mountain Glenn arc of the series. Neither of their teammates share that same ruthless tenacity early on.

Yang and Weiss just don’t have the same huntress oriented focus based upon bettering the world around them. We see this down to the core combat style of the characters too. Weiss is more defensive in combat, often acting as a support fighter. She has no clear enemy or direct focus upon which to aim her blade. For her being a huntress is a family focused center, and that will shift as the series progresses… more on this later.

Yang is more aggressive early on, but that’s because she loves to fight. Her semblance requires her to be in the heat of battle to really utilize it. That being said though, Yang’s goal to be a huntress has nothing to do with bettering the world either. She just wants to get out to see it, and being a huntress lines up with that.

Early on though, during the Beacon volumes of the show, Blake and Ruby are the most compatible when it comes down to their life and their future goals. This continues well into Volume eight, and no, I’m not kidding. It’s the one constant that they both have.

Secondly, they’re both outliers in their team. They have a difficult time forming bonds with others. This is another trait that is exclusive to the two characters early on. Ruby is the youngest, notably so. Blake is the only Faunus on the team. Both of them face adversity from these dynamics (Blake more so than Ruby).

Furthermore, arguably, Blake has the most life experience outside of the kingdom’s walls, but it’s to her disadvantage when it comes to forming meaningful bonds. Meanwhile, Ruby has the least life experience, and remains far less cynical as a result. As the series progresses Blake makes note of Ruby’s youthful optimism and tells her that she came to respect Ruby due to that seemingly “youthful” optimism that she once thought of as childish. She has come to admire Ruby deeply. This is a canon event in volume eight.

Opposite to this, their teammates just can’t relate to them. Weiss has spent her time in the spotlight. She’s famous, and she can be very narrow-minded. She’s standoffish by choice early on. Yang seems to fit in with everyone so long as her temper doesn’t get in the way.

This means that Blake and Ruby share an unspoken bond merely because of their nature. They’re outcasts to a point, and that perfectly explains why in the early parts of the series they have no decent character interaction together. Ruby’s too awkward, and Blake always had much more important things on her mind. This also makes for great fan fiction fodder, because writers can play with that topic in all sorts of ways.

Thirdly, and this heavily ties into the first point of a life’s goal, they both know exactly what they want out of being a huntress. The only question in their minds is how to attain it. They both want to be huntresses for the greater good of society. That’s a trait you can’t ignore. It’s so integral to Blake and Ruby as characters that Weiss and Yang just can’t measure up in the lifestyle awaiting them because of what huntresses truly are.

Ruby wants to be a huntress to help people. Blake wants to be a huntress to aid in the Faunus plight. This directly juxtaposes their other teammates. In later volumes, Yang struggles with taking the heat of that decision, such as in volumes seven and eight. As for Weiss, she’s more firmly grounded in the ideologies of a huntress by that point, but Blake and Ruby still have the firm upper hand on her there.

In the end for Weiss and for Yang, being a huntress offers freedom in some way shape or form from family related struggles. Being a huntress is about finding catharsis that comes down to the heart and core of these two characters and their personal family related demons. For Yang this is her mother, Raven, and for Weiss it comes down to her father Jacques.

When it comes to long term “work and life balance” capability the ladybug ship wins the war of ambition by a large and fast margin. This aspect of shared ambition and their emotional ethics is important. Blake and Ruby treat the act of being huntresses as an altruistic endeavor. It’s arguable that Blake and Ruby would grow up into a romance very well as adults. This becomes even more paramount in later volumes.

After a team disagreement, Yang actually leaves the core members of team RWBY for a while to work with their other friends. However the fact is, she leaves Ruby, Blake and Weiss based on that disagreement. Blake stays, she doesn’t choose to go with Yang, this is a core growth. Blake the runner, stays put. Yang, takes another step forward to understanding Raven’s reasons for lashing out and leaving for good. When the group reunites, they’re all stronger for these learned lessons… but what I said above holds true, when the chips are down, and you have to make the hard choices, Ruby and Blake will always choose what being a huntress truly is.

Even their weaponry reflects this. They both use equipment that is complex and dangerous to use. Crescent Rose and Gambol Shroud both have the ability to transform into scythes. Blake’s weapon is classified as a “Variant Ballistic Chain Scythe”. It’s important to note that Ruby is a weapon fanatic with a love of scythes that as she says “is also a gun”.

They both stand up firmly for what they believe, sometimes to their own detriment. Both of them prove to be strong leaders in their own way. Ruby is the leader of her teammates. Blake showcases her skill in leadership the Menagerie arc, learning to unite fellow Faunus together. Yang and Weiss just aren’t the same in this capacity. They’re happy to play “second fiddles” to wider narrative arcs.

They’re not leaders, and despite the complaints Weiss has in volume one, she quickly learns she’s not fit to be a leader at all, that’s not her strength.

Yang shows absolutely no skill in leadership at all. For Weiss the desire to lead the team is short-lived. She learns to be happy falling in line behind Ruby as the “best partner” that Ruby will ever have.

All-in-all as future huntresses, Blake and Ruby are very compatible. They have aligned skills and noble ambitions. They have a true desire to triumph over adversity, and they have the gumption to do so.

They would likely be happy traveling together helping the world after graduation. This is the strongest argument to make in favor of the “ladybug” pairing. Being a huntress isn’t just a job, it’s a lifestyle. Blake and Ruby wish to live as huntresses in similar ways. This could pave the way for a long term relationship. In “ladybug” fan fiction it often does.

There is an argument to be made about Ruby and Blake sharing a few interests and traits. In my personal opinion there isn’t much in this category, but I’ll go over some of them anyway.

Both of them have a fondness for reading. Ruby has her love of fairy tales. Blake has an appreciation for trashy romance novels. In the series, Ruby attempts to befriend Blake when she sees the Faunus reading in the corner.

Both of these characters share a deep empathy towards others, although Blake chooses not to make that obvious until volume eight. Ruby comments about Blake’s “cute kitty” ears early on in the show, showing at least a little interest in Blake as well.

As you can see, this is the weaker argument to make in favor of the pairing. Sadly, Ruby and Blake don’t get much screen time alone together. They don’t have time to bond. The few scenes they do share are mainly in the early volumes of the series when they’re at odd’s with each other. Sadly, most of those scenes aren’t even positive dialogue exchanges. Now later volumes, namely Volume eight, once again gives us a tiny bit of fodder to play with, but it’s weak at best without the wider view of the huntress lifestyle to back it up.

The subtext in the series is that Blake and Ruby interact by default as team members. We don’t actually see a deep bond form between them. Clearly there’s a deep friendship there in some capacity, but we can only speculate the extent of it.

Fans have often criticized the show for a lack of content regarding Blake and Ruby as friends, and that is often why shipping them can be difficult. Still, when you think about the perspective in this way, it actually makes a lot of sense. There’s a slowly growing chemistry here and one that’s pretty natural when you consider team dynamics, and how Yang and Weiss play stronger supporting roles for their team members.

Ruby and Blake don’t have strong moments together, because frankly, they’re both on equal footing and don’t need the emotional back-up from each other. They get that from their partners. Blake from Yang and Ruby from Weiss.

Until they’re separated and work as partners themselves, we don’t have to see it. Volume eight proves that their bond is just as strong, though… perhaps stronger in this way, even if only in this way. If you care to look for this subtext, there’s a whole wealth of it to find here.

Reasons to Sail a Different Ship

In all honesty, I will sail the “ladybug” ship until it sinks, just as I will sail the bees and our beloved roses. That said, ladybug does have a lot of downsides. Writing fan fiction for “ladybug” can be very difficult. It’s not that the pairing is impossible. Rather, it’s that you have to go looking for commonalities in somewhat strange places.

Blake is obviously more mature than Ruby when it comes to romantic relationships. At the start of the series Blake is reading adult media. The implication is that she’s engaged in at least some of those acts before entering Beacon. This can be a major issue for fan fiction that takes place during the Beacon/Vale arcs of the RWBY series. The two year age difference between these girls might as well be night and day. That’s fitting though, at fifteen you hit separate milestones than you do at seventeen and eighteen which is about the age of the other Beacon characters. Remember, Beacon is closer to a university than it is a high school.

On her team, Blake has more chemistry with Yang and Weiss from the get-go. You could even make an argument that she has a stronger chemistry with Sun and Ilia than she could ever hope to have with Ruby outside of the profession and lifestyle of what a huntress needs to be.

To contrast that, Ruby has her own strong chemistry line-up. Weiss is obviously the strongest. Little miss “shut up, don’t touch me” is still very willing to hug Ruby back, and that’s a mirrior of the hug between stand-offish Blake and a very physically driven character like Yang.

For someone like Ruby, Jaune sticks out fairly well as a strong contender too, but even Penny, Pyrrha and Oscar make the fan fiction rounds a fair bit. If you want to get really weird and do the sibling romance thing, Yang’s a strong contender too. No shame for those who do, but I’m on the fence about how I feel about that one.

Either way, frankly because there’s hardly any canon material for Blake and Ruby as a romantic pairing, other pairings just make more sense on a surface level. Blake gets more valuable screen time with Sun, Weiss, Ilia, and Yang than she does with Ruby. Those scenes are central plot elements for Blake and they can’t be easily ignored.

The same could be said for Ruby, though. Her key cannon material revolves around Weiss, Penny, Pyrrha, Jaune and in later volumes Oscar.

Now we come to the final nail in the “ladybug” coffin. For all of the arguments I made to support the pairing, most people can make a very valid counter rebuttal. I’m about to do that here…

Firstly, Blake is practically a ninja and she benefits more from fighting alongside Yang or Weiss. Both of them have semblances that compliment Blake’s fighting style in a way that Ruby’s just can’t. The same can be said for Ruby, she benefits more from fighting alongside supporting fighters like Weiss. As it is, both women are better off sticking with their cannon combat partners after graduation.

They have weaponry that is complex and dangerous to use. This is all the more reason not to be fighting side by side. Neither of their weapons are entirely predictable. Ruby’s odd fascination with weaponry doesn’t end with scythes, and wouldn’t end with Gambol Shroud anyway. She would be just as enamored with any weapon type that she hasn’t seen before.

Secondly, Ruby is the youngest and that is a huge problem in early volumes. She might be a prodigy, but early on she’s incredibly naive in all of the ways that Blake isn’t. Also, because Blake’s a Faunus she has the potential to have other interesting character pairings. Weiss can be narrow-minded because of her family and her upbringing. Overcoming those odds is a classic “odd couple” sort of romance. Honestly, that’s a driving force in most Weiss/Blake fan shipping, also known as “monochrome”.

A defiance of social norms and adversity makes interesting plot points both in the series and in fan fiction between these two characters. Monochrome has incredible strength by nature throughout the entire series because of this.

Thirdly, they both know exactly what they want out of being a huntress, and that’s a problem. Those desires are similar, but also very different down at the key crux of it all. Given Blake’s character and her motivations, it’s possible that one day she would cease to be a huntress. Chances are good that Blake will end up leading a re-established group like the White Fang. This would turn into a conflict of interest. All that Ruby ever wants to be is a huntress, that is her entire ambition. It’s arguable that both women would be better served by finding other relationships and living their lives elsewhere.

Where Yang and Weiss are intent to follow, Ruby and Blake are natural born leaders, and to heads in this case sometimes aren’t better than one. The emotional support, and team turned family unit relies on this family to maintain its equilibrium to a degree. Weiss is very keen to keep it that way, and her protectiveness of that unit is a good argument for why the romances would never shift. Weiss is particularly territorial over her friends and her teammates down in the subtext… she’s actually a mirror of Sun in that way. If you screw with them, you screw with her, and end up in a garbage can as a result.

Weiss has already made the promise to be the best partner that Ruby will ever have. She fully acknowledges and accepts Ruby as a leader. Weiss is a pragmatist at heart. She sees the value in following Ruby’s orders… and to a greater degree, following Ruby’s ideologies when her own fail to measure up to “be the better/less cynical person” that she wishes to be.

Yang shows no interest in leadership at all, and she willingly follows Blake’s lead at the drop of a hat. Yang has always been as supportive of Blake as possible. To be honest, cannon just slaughters the argument in favor of the “ladybug” pairing when it comes to this point.

Looking at everything from this angle, we can come up with a few different conclusions.

While its true that Blake and Ruby are very compatible as huntresses, they require other teammates to be truly remarkable in combat. They have aligned skills and noble ambitions, but that will lead them in vastly different directions in life. Chances are good they’d be even happier with their other teammates after graduation. Being a huntress isn’t just a job, it’s a lifestyle.

There’s a good chance that Blake will move on, and if Ruby wishes to live as a huntress she may end up alone. Weiss becomes embroiled in the trade after renouncing her family name, and it’s clear she views her team as her family, stating so to her asshole of a father in volume 7. while it’s unclear if they will be a canon ship or not, whiterose has and will always be a very powerful shipping contender… and the way she maintains and upholds the concept of this new family unit really can’t be understated. She truly becomes the mother hen to the wider group, a position that Yang used to fill.

As I said before, there is a very weak argument to be made about Ruby and Blake sharing a few interests and traits. This is a very pairing specific issue. The rebuttals I would make depend entirely on what “ship” I would be trying to sail instead. Listing everything would be impossible, I’ll just say that the rebuttals here are endless, because they literally are.

Final Thoughts

The ladybug pairing is a ship best explored in small fluff pieces, alternate universes, or fictions where ideology play a strong factor in the narrative. That’s because Ruby and Blake don’t have the same sort of natural progression that other characters do. Most of their important scenes together are in volumes 1, 2,3,7, and 8… volume 6 has some content, but it’s not particularly powerful. That honor goes to the roses and the bees, particularly the bees.

The “ladybug” pairing is ultimately unique. Unlike the other shipping combinations of team RWBY and beyond, there isn’t a lot to work with. In fact, “ladybug” shippers probably have the hardest time making a relationship between Ruby and Blake seem believable. However, that being said, the subtext is particularly strong depending on how you choose to view it.

A good deal of Ruby’s friendship or possible romance with Blake remains implied. It’s never shown in direct detail. They don’t have any interactions that turn into long-running direct core plot points, either. All of the other teammates do, but Ruby and Blake just don’t.

Trying to romanticize what little we do see, requires creativity. You can’t sail this ship if you’re following strictly cannon screen time. You need to step out of the box and be willing to suspend some of your disbelief to truly enjoy it.

That being said, “ladybug” is one of my top ten pairings in RWBY. No matter what your view is, I will avidly sail this ship until it sinks.

What are your thoughts on Blake/Ruby as a ship? Love it? Hate it? Tell me why down in the comments below.

This has been Kernook of The Demented Ferrets, where stupidity is at its finest and level grinds are par for the course. I’ll see you next time.

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