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The Retrospective Review
If you haven’t seen the RWBY White Trailer, yeah, you might want to go do that. It’s on the Rooster Teeth website, and it’s free. As always, please support the official release of the series.
Last week I kicked off my retrospective series with the RWBY Red Trailer. For a brief recap, I mentioned that the four character trailers that kicked off the series had three goals in mind. They were as follows:
- To introduce the main four girls.
- To teach the viewer how to enjoy the combat in the series.
- And to give viewers a taste of the world through the eyes of these characters.
When the RWBY Red Trailer first released, I wasn’t exactly a huge fan of what I saw.
As I said last time, hindsight for the series is 20/20. Retrospection matters. My love of the RWBY series didn’t come until I saw the release of the RWBY White Trailer and the introduction of Weiss Schnee.
If Ruby’s trailer is all about sentimentality and holding the things you cherish the most close to your heart. Then, the trailer for Weiss is all about the rejection of emotional sentiment. Of leaving behind childish whimsy, and losing one’s own identity in the process.
Don’t believe me? Let’s take a look. The trailer opens slowly, a quote flashes across the screen. This quote reads like this:
Then a spotlight shows overhead, the garbled mutterings of an announcer calls her name. The audience cheers as a white haired woman takes the stage. Her face is elegant, but there’s a slender scar blemishing her skin over one eye.
She’s dressed in white, with a splash of red, and a hint of black. Her expression stays serious in front of the crowd. The soft fluttering of of a piano begins to play as the crowd cheers.
By this point in the trailer, less than 30 seconds into it, I had already found myself captivated by Weiss Schnee as a character. Where the RWBY Red Trailer failed to instantly grab my attention, the RWBY White Trailer had captured me from the very beginning.
Weiss looks out to the crowd, takes a breath and closes her eyes. Then the song begins in earnest. Unlike Ruby’s song that was merely playing as a music backdrop and only had a few lyrics, this time Weiss is performing her personal story for the world to see.
Her song, known as “Mirror Mirror” is a testament that Jeff Williams and Casey Lee Williams really know how to make a soundtrack shine.
This song is probably one of the saddest in the original soundtrack for the first RWBY Volume. As the song plays, Weiss is shown to be singing it, although, her actual voice actress didn’t do the vocals. The woman singing is Casey Lee Williams.
This trailer turns into a flashback as Weiss continues to sing, her eyes still closed. The camera pans lower and the stage fades to black. A reflection of Weiss glows from the dark abyss as she stands atop it, a perfect reflection.
If you haven’t noticed by now, this is a far deeper, far more introspective sort of trailer on it’s face. This make sense. Weiss is the most reserved of the main four girls. She’s cold, almost needlessly cruel in the first volume of the series. However, that’s well and truly a facade at best.
Without this trailer for character context, which I will get to in a moment, Weiss would be little more than a complete and total ass during Volume 1. Episodes like “The Stray” and notably the episode “Black and White” which is the Volume 1 finale, rely on this trailer. It explains everything about Weiss and her eventual blind acceptance of Blake.
The reason is because Weiss isn’t actually an ass, and she’s doesn’t really carry the hyperbolic thoughts and feelings that she’s expected to have. She spouts them, but they’re not real. This trailer is a looking glass into all of it, literally. It gives us all of her key struggles, and allows us to see this girl behind the Schnee family mask.
Anyway, at this point her eyes are closed. It is now implied that anything beyond this point is a flashback of a memory. When her eyes open, kneeling in front of her is a gigantic armored knight. It bows to her in reverence, as if she were its queen.
Then, it stands to its full height, grasping its sword as the tempo of the music changes.
No longer just a soft piano melody with gentle singing, string instruments and percussion are added into the mix. The soft classical music begins taking on new urgency as Weiss faces down her opponent. Swords clash as Weiss faces down this armored giant, deftly avoiding his blade.
Her combat is almost like a dancer’s grace as she continues flitting around the arena floor like a ballerina. She uses her sword with frontal swings and forward jabs just like a fencer. Weiss relies on a complicated mix of pure skill, dust, and her semblance to gain the upper hand.
As I said before, the trailers build upon each other. In Ruby’s trailer, combat was the thing breaking the fourth wall.
For Weiss it’s the lyrics of her song, breaking the forth wall instead. This is her personal story. She’s telling us who she really is as a person, and she’s not going to wait for us to figure it out.
Just like how she treats Ruby in Volume 1, she’s not going to dumb herself down for our sake. The lyrics are poetic and layered in symbolism. I will speak about that in the analysis of this trailer, which is a separate post. For now let’s just focus on the poetic storytelling at play.
Viewers need to stand on Weiss’s level emotionally, and understand what she’s telling us. We viewers, are the mirror she’s talking to. It’s not just that she’s talking to herself. She wants to be heard, she has asked us if we can hear her in the song directly. She’s asked us if she needs us, because we are that mirror.
She’s not sure if her own merits are good enough. She wants to be taken seriously. She feels that she isn’t. That she is somehow inferior.
Now, this is exactly what Ruby’s trailer referenced in regards to the color “white”.
While those lyrics were a factual assessment, Weiss attempts to explain those facts in poetic and lyrical way, using ambiguity.
Ruby’s trailer is self-assured and confidant. She knows she wants to be a huntress, and she’s ready to show off what she can accomplish.
Weiss is far less sure of herself. She wants the validation of others, but she’s afraid to ask for it. So, she’s asking us, the proverbial mirror.
Her faster and far more ruthless combat is an undertone to this as well. While Ruby shows us a fight that’s fun, Weiss shows us one that’s necessity. Weiss needs to fight this battle. It isn’t a choice. It’s an obligation, like so many other things in her life.
Unfortunately for Weiss, she’s still just a teenager trying to pretend she’s an adult. The adult world of Remnant will bring her down a few pegs, and so does the knight she’s fighting. She cannot stand on the world’s stage alone and hope to succeed that way. She needs others, she needs a place to belong.
In spite of her skill, this isn’t enough to stop the knight from countering every attack she lands on him. Finally he swats her aside like a paper doll.
She lands on the ground looking disheartened, defeated and bleeding…
Then the scene faces to black and Weiss is on stage again. Slowly she opens her eyes. Haunting operatic vocals fill the air as the moon overhead appears from behind dark clouds.
Weiss is still young, and just like Ruby, she’s a dreamer of bigger and better things. It’s just that those dreams don’t align with the world as she currently understands it. Her memories and expectations hold her down.
She’s asking us, the viewers, if she can really stand a chance to reach for her dreams. If she’s even worthy of those dreams at all.
Her eyes close again, and her memory continues. The flashback of how she got the scar in the first place is fresh in her mind.
The knight is still ready for more, and Weiss lifts herself up from the ground. There’s blood on her face, and determination in her eyes. Weiss won’t let herself be put down from a little thing like a head injury.
Instead she prepares herself for another clashing of blades. She’s smarter this time, going on the defensive and waiting for the right moment to take him down.
The song changes tempo again. This time, it’s not haunting, it’s empowering. She prepares her weapon, adjusting her stance, and strikes. A flurry of dust shimmers with every attack. A wave of ice spiking up from the ground as she returns the armored knight’s attack tenfold, effectively disarming him.
Then it’s time for her final attack. She readies her glyphs and the dust inside her sword. Trapping the the knight, she sends herself flying into the air, slicing a pinpoint attack into the knight. This turns him into a powder-like snow.
Sparkles of this now defeated knight fall onto the stage as she finishes her song. The blood on her face fades away. She opens her eyes and looks around as if trying to remember where she is. The crowd cheers for her.
When you saw this trailer for the first time, you probably cheered a little too, even if it was just to yourself quietly. I know that I did.
That’s because in the context of the series, Weiss is person worth cheering for. She’s worth her dreams and her ambitions. She wants to hear that cheering, she wants us, the mirror to tell her that she’s worth it. That’s what makes her so relatable even as early as the trailer itself.
Everyone wants to be told they’re worth something. That they’ve done a good job. Everyone wants just that one moment of satisfaction. That one thing that nobody can take away from them, because they earned that success themselves. That they are worthy of standing upon the worlds stage, accepted based on their own achievements.
In that way, Weiss resonates with that small part of humanity. We are the mirror she’s talking to, and we give her just that tiniest glimmer of hope.
Weiss looks out toward the audience and she offers her final bow. Her reflection is still there, a perfect mirror image upon the floor. Only she can see it truly clearly. The curtains close, and the trailer ends.
It’s as if through the eyes of the viewer, she’s finally seeing her true self. The person she really wants to be. The person she can become.
The RWBY White Trailer is a showcase of characterization at its finest. A lot of fans claim that Weiss is one of the most interesting characters in the series, at least, on her own merits. I wholeheartedly agree.
In this trailer we’re given far more depth to her character than we ever saw in the RWBY Red Trailer. This trailer built upon everything we were told previously, and extrapolated upon them.
The thing is, Ruby’s trailer focuses more on factual information. For Weiss, her trailer is almost entirely emotional. The fight was in her point of view, and the song lyrics reflect that as well.
The song stands in a league of it’s own, the animation is absolutely fitting, and the fight is captivating from start to finish.
All in all, this trailer is my absolute favorite one in the early volumes. I love this thing.
However objectively, I wouldn’t actually say it’s the best trailer we received. No, in my opinion, that credit goes to the RWBY Black Trailer, featuring Blake Belladonna. It is the textbook definition of what a trailer should be. Join me next time as I cover Blake’s trailer. You don’t want to miss it.
Also be sure to check out some related content, in case you missed it before. Don’t forget to check out the page “All Things RWBY” to see all of our related RWBY fandom content.
This has been Kernook of The Demented Ferrets…
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