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Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Editorial: 5 Things We Hope To See in RWBY Vol. 5

Editorial: 5 Things We Hope To See in
RWBY Vol. 5.

So, we have a release date for the next volume of RWBY, putting it at around the middle of October, and, much like I did in the run-up to Volume 4, I think it's high time I did a list of some things I'd like to see in the upcoming volume.

On a related note, it's also recently been announced that Rooster Teeth will be creating Gen:Lock, an original giant mecha drama, so I'm really looking forward to that.

Anyway, on with the list.

Backstory for Cinder.

Despite Cinder having been in the show since the very first episode, we know almost nothing about her. We know almost nothing of her backstory, and very little about her motivations -- the best we have is that she reacted somewhat strongly to being asked if she believes in destiny.

(Unfortunately, RWBY's fandom is sort of terrible about not leaping to conclusions and substituting what they know with what they want, which has led to all manner of things that people accept as given about Cinder -- for a while there, there were hundreds of people earnestly believing that she was leader of a Grimm-worshipping cult.)

Even with Salem's appearance in the show, I would argue that Cinder is still the most important villain, the one with the most weight with the audience and the most dramatic stakes involved for the characters, so learning more about her history and her motivations really is a must at this point.

RWBY reuniting (and a new member for JNPR).

Volume 4 mostly involved each member of RWBY as separate units, with Yang off training with Taiyang, Weiss under the thumb of her father, Blake in Menagerie with her parents, and Ruby off with Team RNJR (in fact, family could be said to be the principal theme of the fourth volume, with less time spent focusing on teams and more time spent focusing on familial bonds). 

That worked fine for a volume, but it wouldn't work for two -- and with both Yang and Weiss on their way to Ruby's location, it's looking like it won't have to. More than just about anything else, I think what fans want to see at this point is Team RWBY reuniting as a unit -- which obviously raises the question of what happens to Team JNPR, and honestly, I'd like to see them get a new member. Somebody who is radically different from either Pyrrha or Ruby, and who mixes up their dynamic.

Of course, the sticking point to Team RWBY reuniting is the 'B' in that acronym, because Blake is not only still in Menagerie at the end of Volume 4, she seems set to stay there for the foreseeable future as she takes back the White Fang. Which leads us onto ...

A conclusion to the Menagerie plotline (and a defeat for Adam in the process).

Menagerie is an interesting setting, and Blake's storyline about reclaiming her birthright and taking back the White Fang that she knows is definitely shaping up to be a compelling one. That said, with the arrival of Salem and her quirky miniboss squad into the show, the White Fang and Adam are getting increasingly crowded out by a growing number of villains.

In an ideal world, I'd like Volume 5 to focus predominantly on defeating the White Fang, with Ruby, Weiss, and Yang joining Blake and Sun in Menagerie and the five of them taking on the White Fang and Adam, finally putting an end to both of them once and for all. We still need that Sun vs Adam duel, and moreover, both Yang and Blake's character arcs almost demand that the two of them face off against Adam again.

Volume 5 seems like a good place to finish off the arc of a villain who's been with us since the third trailer, especially since it really doesn't seem like there's much of a place for Adam in a show that now has Salem, Cinder, Watts, Hazel, Tyrian, Emerald, and Mercury as villains, and an already tangled plot about Maidens, Silver-Eyed Warriors, Grimm, and Relics.

A character revealed as LGBT.

When I did my last list of things I'd like to see in RWBY, this was -- not terribly surprising, given that a decent percentage of fanboys break out into hives whenever the idea of gay people shows up -- the most controversial item, and a volume on, I have the exact same wish for the show.

Since nothing has changed, I can totally just repeat what I said last time: One of RWBY's great advantages as a television show is that it's not beholden to the whims of out of touch executives, of conservative networks who don't want to rock the boat, of distributors who might refuse to work with more forward-thinking shows, and so on, and so forth.

It's in an almost unique place of freedom, and it's certainly taken advantage of that somewhat -- we know from the problems Legend of Korra faced that action shows with female leads are often hamstringed by networks, so the fact that Rooster Teeth has given us an action show with four female leads is pretty neat.

There have been general rumblings about how it'd be nice for RWBY to have LGBT characters for a while, and there's really no reason for them not to: LGBT people do exist, after all, they make up a significant part of the population, and as the cast of characters grows, it's baffling that we've not really had any yet.

Maybe some slightly better animation.

Volume 4 suffered from a few teething problems as the show changed its animation software -- while the resulting animation definitely looked sharper, more vivid, and more professional than the three volumes prior, the fight animation noticeably suffered from the lack of an in-built physics engine, making fights often seem weightless and strangely jarring.

Even the best fights of the volume, such as the duel between Tyrian and Qrow, suffered from this problem, although the animators certainly grew somewhat into the new technology as the volume went on.

Ideally, I'd like to see those problems eliminated altogether in the next volume, and possibly also some brushed up visuals just in general. Of all the things on this list, this is probably the most likely thing to happen: The animation has -- occasional dips aside -- generally been better with each volume, after all.

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