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The RWBY series toes a fine line between wonderful storytelling and awful storytelling. The world of Remnant is both unfathomably deep, and yet contemptibly shallow.
There’s a lot to unpack in the entire series. Some things are up to personal opinion, and others are vague enough to spark discourse even years down the line. This is my analysis of the series.
I’ll be honest, the RWBY series has flaws. The volumes can be clunky and inconsistent. It isn’t perfect, but I look at RWBY now as a diamond in the rough. So, let’s look back on what sparked this exciting hype-train so long ago.
From here on out I’ll be speaking as if you’ve watched the trailer and that you have at least surface level knowledge of the series. If you don’t have those two things under your belt, you really should watch at least the trailers and Volume 1 before you come back to watch this video. You can watch it on the Rooster Teeth website.
At the time of this blog post, RWBY Volume 8 is in full swing. Volume 9 has been announced. However, I am going to be starting where it all began. The RWBY Red Trailer.
Let me make one thing absolutely clear…
The RWBY Red Trailer does strictly what it sets out to do. It introduces us to Ruby Rose, a young huntress-in-training. In that regard it stands out with flying colors. With that said, let’s dive deeper.
Subtle Clues of Ruby’s Character
There are subtle hints to plot elements that were carefully woven into all of the trailers. Each one piggy-backs off the others in some way. This is a moment of great storytelling, showcased perfectly thanks to Ruby’s introductory song. This is my highest praise for the trailer. “Red Like Roses” is a lyrical masterpiece. It compliments everything about Ruby, from her disposition to her attire.
“Red Like Roses” flows perfectly with the scene as it unfolds. However, that’s not the only thing that makes this trailer so powerful.
Doleful tones carry gently as Ruby stands over her mother’s grave. Religion seems largely forgotten about in the series, but Ruby wears crosses that lay at an angle. Crosses like these are common in Christianity. The cross is known as a Missionary Cross.
Now this is important, as it signifies Ruby Rose as a missionary. While I doubt Christianity holds any real sway over the series, the intent of hunters could be seen as a spiritual endeavor. Something personal and deeply meaningful to that person.
Sanding over a gravestone, and carrying the symbology Ruby does, it’s hard not to see the similarities.
Particularly since when her hood is up, it looks as though she’s praying, or at least invoking the image of spirituality in some way. Think a nun, or the Virgin Mary herself.
In various christian faiths going on a missions is often a charitable thing. It’s all about crossing divides and spreading some sort of message onto others. Those are two things Ruby does in the series, although it has little to do with religion.
Ruby stands by her personal beliefs. She exhibits the desire to share them with others. She wants the world to be a better place, and voices that several times throughout the series. Furthermore, she believes that huntsmen and huntresses are intrinsically endowed with the means to do so. That to a degree, they must do so.
Now, in the series we see more often than not that huntsmen are not always altruistic people. However, that said, Ruby believes they should be.
This almost biblical imagery combined with the song, sets a strong tone that carries through the rest of the trailer and all through the volumes of the series.
As for the fight with the Beowolves, I appreciate it far more after watching the series. In the trailer, initially Ruby comes off as an overpowered little girl. Seeing the fight now, I can truly appreciate Ruby’s drive and her cunning. This mixed with the religious symbology makes for complex character.
She’s an expert in tactical combat for her age, showcased wonderfully in her fight with the beowolves. However, this is also a credit of her character design. Wars have been fought purely based on ideology since the beginning of time, and in the series this holds true as well. The show is full to bursting with Ideological conflict, and Ruby’s viewpoint is challenged time and time again as the series progresses. In later volumes, it’s challenged to the point she actually goes against her own morals on occasion. Particularly in volumes 7 and 8.
Also, as far as this trailer is concerned, hindsight is 20/20. Now that I’ve watched the series, I know she’s not overpowered. Far from it. She’s actually fairly weak in many ways that almost cripple her in the early volumes. Particularly, her social skills are completely lacking at the start of Volume 1. Her skill in combat is what earns her the respect of others when her awkwardness, and failure to spread her personal message doesn’t.
The Lyrical Symbolism
The opening lyrics go like this: “Red like roses fill my dreams and brings me to the place you rest. White is cold and always yearning. Burdened by a royal test. Black the beast descends from shadows. Yellow beauty burns… Gold.”
What I’d like to point out is that while these lyrics take nods to the main four girls, they also all apply to the way Ruby sees the world.
Now she’s just a young teenager at the start of this series.
About fifteen years old, and due to this the lyrics are simplistic. This mirrors the way she treats her teammates in Volume 1, and the conflicts she will ultimately have to face throughout the volume.
Weiss is cold by her nature at first, and always striving to be the best.
Failure isn’t an option for Weiss, and she treats Ruby like a naive child for a strong majority of Volume 1. Even when she’s being nice to Ruby, it’s the same sort of niceness you’d give to a child. Probably a young one that says things without knowing any better. It isn’t until Volume 2 that Weiss truly begins to see Ruby as an intellectual equal, instead of a child.
Blake is a shadow that looms over Ruby. A person she can’t understand or even get close to.
Every time Ruby attempts to reach out, Blake keeps her distance. This culminates in the final conflict of Volume 1, where Blake is so far out of her reach, that Ruby’s own voice gets lost between her teammates. While Blake runs off and Weiss is quick to anger, the burden to keep her team together falls on Ruby’s shoulders. She doesn’t handle it very well at all, requiring Yang to mollify Weiss.
Yellow beauty is a nod to Yang, Ruby’s older sibling. In the series, Ruby idolizes her at first.
Yang’s popular, has a lot of friends, she is more mature and she’s beautiful. As a younger sibling, Ruby has a lot to live up to. The nods to Summer Rose are certainly prevalent in the song, but the nods to Yang are too.
Entering into Beacon Academy, is terrifying for Ruby. As much as it’s her dream to be a huntress, it’s not her dream to be a team leader. It’s not her dream to be in the spotlight, and it’s not her dream to hold all of that immense responsibility on her shoulders.
All Ruby wants to do is help people… nodding back to the religious symbolism and missionary work, the message that Ruby truly wants to spread becomes difficult for her to talk about in Volume 1 this showcases in the “Black and White” arc. Team unity, helping others, and finding her own place as a “normal girl, with normal knees”. All of that truly takes a back seat to being a team leader. All of this is buried deep in the subtext of the lyrics, and it is truly masterful.
Now on a quick nod to the Grimm:
Let’s talk about the early Beowolf design. I actually like this design better than the show’s counterpart. They look feral and vicious, something to truly be intimidated by. I think the different design we received in Volume 1 was good, but this one is just better in my opinion.
Take notice, they have bloody looking mouths and eyes. They have a shadowy coat and wispy looking claws.
It seems as though they are truly creatures spawned by the depths of hell itself.
With Grimm looking like this, it fits the lyrics better in my opinion. The implication is that it is her dream to become a huntress. Their red mouths and eyes are a nightmare. They fill her dreams with that nightmare, and the only way to be at peace with herself is to become a slayer of those nightmares, the creatures of Grimm.
Meanwhile, The Volume 1 Beowolves are plated with bone and white claws. There’s nothing wrong with them, they just look more like an animal and less like a hellspawn.
That’s the point I take from the song personally. Without the context of Grimm design “Red like roses” sounds like Ruby’s focused on the horrors of blood and carnage. While it is still completely serviceable to utilize the song that way, the lyrics lose some of their poetic charm under that new lens.
There isn’t much more for me to say about the RWBY Red Trailer. I can’t compliment it more without digging into Ruby’s character. Since this is just supposed to cover her trailer, I’ll have to refrain for now. I have plenty to say about her, but, that will need to wait until I cover the RWBY volumes properly.
All in all, the RWBY Red Trailer is a foundational touch-stone of the series. It’s helped to shape the fandom that we know today. It gave us our first tastes of RWBY as a series, and Ruby Rose the character.
At first, we fans didn’t know quite what to expect, and that alone held our collective interests. Since the series is still ongoing, and it hasn’t died a slow death yet, I’ll let that impressive accomplishment speak for itself.
In the next analysis I’m going to cover the RWBY White Trailer.
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