The June 6, 2017 Blu-ray release of the web series "RWBY: Volume 4" from Rooster Teeth once again shows that Japan lacks a monopoly on entertaining high-quality anime. The production values alone on "RWBY" show why BD exists. The colors are indescribably vibrant, and the sound is crystal clear. Fans can look forward to V5 webisodes in a few months.
The following YouTube clip of the "RWBY" V4 intro. highlights the style of the show and provides a sense of our heroes.
This latest chapter in the saga of the titular fierce warrior with the heart of a lion and the soul of a tween picks up soon after the events of V3, which is part of the Unreal TV reviewed September 2016 BD Steelbook V1-3 release of "RWBY." V4 is understandable on its own, but watching the lore that the earlier chapters establish puts the most recent adventures in better context.
Our fierce huntress and her small band of merry dudes and babe are mystical weapons for hire en route to complete the Hobbit-style quest that almost surely is the focus of V5 episodes. An early battle that pits them against a particularly vicious species of the monstrous grimm reinforces the lesson of teamwork in this series whose core audience includes tween girls.
This group further encounters a foe who greatly contributes to the lore of the series and adds context to the V1-3 events. One spoiler is that our group learns about the yin and yang creation story that includes the origin tale of the grimm and the current plans regarding those big bads.
Meanwhile, the peers of the core group become anime boomerang kids following their V1-3 training to become the hunters and the huntresses charged with protecting the general populace from things that go bump in the night (and in broad daylight.). In many respects, this is as if the girls of the '80scom "The Facts of Life" mostly return home on their graduating from the prestigious all-girl Eastland Academy.
The aforementioned Ruby is the sassy and tough but inherently naive "Tootie;" the evolving rich girl "Blair" of the group returns to the home of her not-so-upstanding industrialist father. Things are going fairly well until the V1-3 exposure of "Blair" to the real world prompts her to act out in a manner that puts her at odds with Daddy. Her step-brother benefiting from this falling out adds another awesome "old money" element to this tale, which ties into the bigger picture.
The reformed tough girl with a past "Jo" returns to the seeming paradise where her parents live; this storyline provides the best moment in V4. Banners that represent a modified rainbow flag are flying high as a pretty blonde boy with abs of titanium who is tagging along expresses his awe that everyone is welcome in this community. The sad truth is that scratching the surface reveals that the powers-that-be are less magnanimous than represented.
Similar to the adventure of "Blair," "Jo" opens the eyes of her parents to the nature of the nefarious White Fang gang who still are a part of the lives of said 'rents. This leads to an epic rooftop battle with an incredibly cool ninja.
The fourth member of this group is the "Natalie" only in that she is having a tough time moving on from the wounds that she sustains in her earlier adventures. She is living with Dad, who is supportive and kind. This also is the setting of a raucous mini-reunion that refers to fun times at "Eastland."
Quickly getting down to business at the beginning of V4 keeps things moving ahead. The manner in which the good folks at Teeth begin tying everything together at the mid-way point helps build events to what almost certainly will be an awesome V5.
The most obvious girl power aspect of this series is having it revolve around fierce teens who can kick ass with the best of them; a related aspect is having the (mostly pretty blonde) boys take a backseat to our warrior princesses while still having their backs.
The copious BD bonuses include "behind-the-scene" features.
The Rooster Teeth three-volume steelbook Blu-ray set of "RWBY" is an entertainingly apt follow-up to the (Unreal TV reviewed) Teeth three-season Blu-ray steelbook Blu-ray set of 'Red v. Blue: The Chorus Trilogy." Both series, which awesomely can be watched in an uninterrupted movie format, show that the animation from the Teeth nerds is as stylized as it is creative. These qualities make both sets perfect for the enhanced picture and sound associated with Blu-ray. The starry nights in "RWBY" could not be any clearer if you were there.
The following thoughts regarding the plot of "RWBY" V1-3 come a few weeks before the October 22, 2016 premiere of V4 episodes.
Teeth principal (and wife of Unreal TV reviewed Anchor Bay film "Lazer Tag" star Michael Jones) Lindsay Jones provides the voice of titular "RWBY" heroine Ruby Rose. Ruby is a spunky teen girl who is apt to viciously kick ass one minute and pet a puppy while smelling a rose and eating ice cream the next.
Ruby calls Remnant her home; we meet her using her super-speed and her personally designed sniper-scythe to thwart a gang of evildoers led by very "Clockwork Orange" like Roman Torchwick from stealing a large quantity of the valued commodity dust. This substance plays a large role in humans retaining their superior position of their once (and future?) non-human oppressors.
The arrival of a huntress, who (along with other huntresses and hunters) protects the general populace from the numerous vicious and highly carnivorous creatures on their world, during the battle is significant in many ways. This encounter leads to child prodigy Ruby enrolling in the prestigious Hogwarts-like Beacon Academy, which trains hunters and huntresses, two years before the traditional age for admission.
A cool aspect of Beacon is that it is like any other high school in that it has every teen stereotype known to man and humanoid. Giving the boys some love, these everyteens include not-so-agile emo boy with a huge secret (no, not that one) Juane Arc (voiced by Teeth principal Miles Luna) and arrogant jock bully Cardin Winchester. The manner in which these two boys figuratively kiss and make up is the stuff of tween fiction everywhere. We further get to see one of them totally rock a strapless formal dress.
For her part, one of the girls at school has a secret of her own regarding both her ancestry and her prior activities. Another chick with a large secret is a genuine small wonder.
Other team drama includes angst regarding who is asking whom to an upcoming dance; stress related to otherwise extraordinary abilities not including an ability to rythmically move to music, and a dreamy surfer boy and elitish lad stirring up assorted emotions. in other words, typical concerns at every high school.
An early Beacon assignment sends the kids on a quest that is designed both to test their skills and to determine the configuration of their teams. Ruby is among those whose demonstrated abilities earn her a team leader position; thus leading to forming titular Team RWBY. The manner in which she highly annoys her crew, including older sister Yang and rich girl with something to prove Weiss, is one aspect of the element of the chosen ones.
Other drama comes in the form of teams traveling to Beacon to participate in a tournament, visitors with a less noble purpose showing up to pull a large dust robbery, and a controversial peacekeeping force. All this introduces more kids with issues, increasingly daunting challenges, and the role of the military in a time of tense peace.
Highly amusing events early in V1 lead to Team RWBY achieving their goal of what effectively is an internship as a cover to pursue the investigation that they begin in V1. It is equally amusing that the leader to whom they are assigned is far less dynamic than hoped for.
The girls do get their desired encounter with Roman Torchwick and his unlikely army. This leads to a quasi-steampunk adventure on what effectively is a runaway train. This in turn pits our heroines and their allies against a pack of the vicious creatures known as grimm. The aftermath of this battle closes out V2.
The "Harry Potter" vibe really amps in V3. Although the holding of the aforementioned tournament evokes thoughts of a somewhat kinder and gentler "Hunger Games," much of the focus is on the tactics and destiny of Ruby and her peers. This includes learning that a old folk tale is true and that the Beacon faculty has a deeper purpose than training the next generation of hunters and huntresses.
Relatives who come calling include Uncle Crow, who is the first trainer of Ruby and has a history (and a present) with several principals (no pun intended). We also meet Winter, who is the bossy older sister of Weiss.
Reveals near the end of V3 include that Ruby is even more special than believed and that the big bad of V4 (and beyond?) is someone believed to not be a foe.
The best way to wrap up this not-so-grand review of this epic series is to state that the Americanized anime, copious humor, and clever plotting make "RWBY" a good choice for anyone into adolescent saga and/or good old teen drama.
The extras include insightful behind-the-scenes features but alas lack the hilarious PSAs of "RvB."
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