Spoiler-Free Anime Review:
RWBY Volume 2
Rating: 8 out of 10 stars
Volume 1 was a good beginning that nonetheless had major issues with animation and a simplistic plot. Volume 2 veers away from the simple, ups the stakes, and has somewhat improved animation. I watched this volume the first time with my siblings, a second time by myself, and a third time with my closest friend.
Warning! Although there are no spoilers for Volume 2 in this review, there are minor spoilers for Volume 1.
RWBY is an American anime. Some people say anime has to come from Japan to be legit–I disagree. I share the opinion of many others that say anime is a style and not limited to the products of any one country.
The creator is Monty Oum, who developed the plot for the company Rooster Teeth. Originally the anime was an indie miniseries with a low budget, but it has become largely successful.
Volume 2 was released in 2014, and is available with subscription on Amazon Prime, and for free on Crunchyroll and Youtube.
Team RWBY is back and ready for their second semester at Beacon, but real life doesn’t stop there. Between classes and homework, they still have to find time to save the world. And between the White Fang, Roman Torchwick, and a mysterious new trio, they certainly have their work cut out for them!”ROOSTER TEETH quoted on Fandom
Basically, RWBY is about four young women who seek to become huntresses and defend the world of Remnant from shadowy creatures called Grimm.
Volume 2 consists of encounters with new villains, the ever-growing threat of the Grimm, a school dance, a mission that takes a turn for the worst, and preparations for the Vytal Festival.
- Memorable heroes
- Effective villains
- Interesting character naming rules
- Unique weapons and apparel
- Phenomenal fight scenes
- Team RWBY try their hands at a mission
- Original music
- Attractive intro
- Balance of comedic and tense moments
- Groundbreaking American Anime
- Animation is still amateurish
- Episodes shorter than the average show length
Since I introduced the members of team RWBY in my review of Volume 1, for this review I will focus on team JNPR.
Jaune Arc is a generally unskilled aspiring huntsman. He grew up in a family with seven sisters, and even though he desires to be strong, his abilities are underdeveloped. According to Fandom, Jaune was also meant to be similar to the character Sokka from Avatar: The Last Airbender–a normal person among people with special powers.
Jaune Arc’s name alludes to Joan of Arc. The spelling of Jaune is also evocative of the French word for yellow. Arc may also refer to Jaune’s special symbol, which is a rainbow-shaped double-arc, displayed prominently on his shield.
Jaune is loyal to his friends and becomes an increasingly competent leader of Team JNPR.
Nora Valkyrie is a fun-loving, talkative young woman with immense skill using her hammer-like weapon. Her character alludes to Thor from Norse Mythology.
There are a couple of theories regarding her name. It may be a shortened form of Eleonora, from the Greek word meaning “light.” Additionally, Fandom suggests that it may be derived from the Arabic word for light or that it may come from the flower name Nora Barlow Columbine.
Nora has a close relationship with her friend Lie Ren with potential for future romance.
Pyrrha Nikos is a prodigy, skilled at melee and long-range fighting. She is basically a celebrity athlete, admired by many. Only Jaune seems to have no idea of her fame when he meets her, and this may be why she develops a very obvious crush on him. According to Fandom, Pyrrha’s name alludes to Achilles, who once took on the name Pyrrha while in disguise as a woman, and to Nike, the Greek Goddess of Victory. Her name is also derived from a Greek word meaning “flame-colored.”
Pyrrha is compassionate, loyal, empathetic, and brave. Her semblance is Polarity, which allows her to magnetize and control metals.
Lie Ren is a talented young man who is able to fight easily long-range and melee. He ignores Nora’s obvious crush on him without being particularly cruel.
According to Fandom, his last name comes from the Japanese kanji word for lotus, while his full name is derived from the pinyin of the Chinese word for hunter. He was intended to allude loosely with Mulan.
Ren is quiet, thoughtful, intelligent, and stubborn. As shown in the food fight scene, he does have a side that is fun and spontaneous.
Mercury Black and Emerald Sustrai are introduced in Volume 2 as part of Cinder’s faction. With the introduction of these two formidable foes, the threat level is amped up somewhat.
Almost all character names and team names follow Monty Oum’s color naming rules, which basically require that all names should be inspired by color.
Other interesting themes are that all character names or the characters themselves on Team JNPR are inspired by people who dressed as the opposite gender: Joan of Arc, Thor, Achilles, and Mulan.
Another name theme is references to flowers, which is more apparent in my review of Volume 1.
Weapons and Apparel
Other than Jaune’s weapon, which is basically a hand-me-down sword, Team JNPR’s weapons are impressive. (If you want to learn about Team RWBY’s weapons, check out my review of Volume 1.) It is worthwhile to mention that even though Jaune’s sword is boring, his expandable/collapsible shield is rather helpful and creative.
Nora’s weapon is called Magnhild, which is referenced in the Volume 2 song “Boop,” and functions as both a hammer and a grenade launcher. It utilizes pink dust that fits her character design. According to Fandom, the name comes from Old Norse, German and Norwegian and is based on the words for “mighty” and “battle.”
Nora’s clothing design befits her lighthearted character with the bright pinks and heart design.
Pyrrha Nikos’ weapon and shield are called Miló and Akoúo̱. According to Monty Oum’s Twitter, their names mean “speak” and “listen” respectively. Miló can change between sword, a javelin and a rifle, allowing long-range and melee attacks. Furthermore, the shield Akoúo̱ can be thrown like a discus.
According to Monty Oum’s Facebook, Lie Ren’s weapon is called StormFlower. It consists of two handguns with sickle like blades.
Like most weapons in RWBY, Stormflower is useful for close combat and long range.
Inspiration for his clothing was influenced by Chinese culture.
RWBY always has phenomenal fight scenes. Seeing Team CFVY fight had to be one of the highlights of the volume, though. Professor Oobleck was no pushover, either. Even just seeing Team RWBY against White Fang members and Grimm was impressive. They even have new names for their formidable new team techniques, such as Freezerburn, Checkmate, and Ladybug.
What I like about the mission that Team RWBY undertakes is that it forces them to confront the reasons why they seek to become huntresses. Additionally, I think it is kind of funny that they see these huge Grimm passing by at a distance at one point and are like–yeah, those beasties are a little too dangerous, let’s stay clear of those. Even talented fledging huntresses have their limits. It kind of reminds me of RPG games such as Final Fantasy that have monsters far too difficult to beat that you have to just avoid until later in the game.
Unlike with many anime, the music in RWBY was created exclusively for RWBY, with foreshadowing built into the songs and songs that seem linked to specific characters.
The music was composed by Jeff Williams, and his daughter Casey Lee Williams does a lot of the vocals. According to Fandom, Jeff Williams does not regard the songs as canon and asserts that they should not be taken literally.
To me, that just seems like he is covering for himself and Rooster Teeth in case the story ends up veering too far from the lyrics, but I know that so far the songs fit the theme and story very well.
The best songs in Volume 2, in my opinion, are “Time to Say Goodbye” and “Caffeine.”
The intro for Volume 2 is beautiful, even if the animation still leaves much to be desired. The backgrounds are simple, but I appreciate how it switches art styles in the middle.
The music in the intro fits the anime and hints at a darker future for the show.
Comedy and Tension
The most comedic moment has to be the food fight that occurs in the first episode of the volume. It defies logic, and yet it is so hilarious that I do not care.
Humor is also shown in the dialogue, such as when Ruby addresses the group as “Sisters, friends, Weiss…”
There are plenty of tenser moments too, such as when Emerald and Mercury confront Tukson, when Blake worries herself into complete exhaustion, and when a Grimm attack threatens innocents.
The 3D animation of RWBY is made using Poser, and thus differs greatly from most other anime. The major consequence of a low budget combined with this 3D style was that it made the whole volume look underdeveloped.
The animated movement was occasionally awkward, even though Volume 2 showed improvements over Volume 1. There are no longer just silhouettes for background characters. However, in the dance scene there are copies of some partners, giving it an overly simplistic feel.
Each episode in Volume 2 is 12 minutes long. That’s still short for an anime episode, and there is no reason they shouldn’t have just combined episodes to make them longer.
Contribution to Anime
RWBY is unique because it is one of the few American anime. It is filled with references to Western pop culture and folk tales. Additionally, its animation style, while underdeveloped, sets out on a separate path from typical anime.
Volume 2, while it is better than Volume 1, is not as great as the later volumes, mostly due to poor animation. If you’re not sure about the show after watching 1 and 2, I would say you should at least try Volume 3 before reaching a final judgment.
That being said, Volume 2 is fun, enjoyable, and totally worth your time. I would recommend this Volume for ages 13 and up.