Chapter 5 of Volume 4 is out, and man, it was certainly an interesting chapter to say the least. Lots of small, yet very interesting details were spread throughout the episode, that I think were worth talking about. It wasn’t exactly a bombshell of an episode, but what it lacked in concrete actions and revelations, it made up for in world-building information and character interaction. Without further ado, let’s get into the episode, and what we can stand to learn from it!
Starting off, we finally get an actual look at the continent of Menagerie. It’s a rather intriguing place- seemingly bright, beautiful, and happy at first, but thanks to the interactions between Blake and Sun, we get to understand that such a pleasant first sight belies the social inequality that led to its creation in the first place. Sun’s initial reaction was like mine, and if I had to guess, many others. Menagerie comes off as natural, close-knit, and, even if crowded, a sense of community seems rather apparent for the faunus, helped along by the small details, such as when the child, asking for money, receives some.
I personally loved the inclusion of such small details, especially considering the conversation that immediately follows, because for once, we finally get to see for ourselves the effects of the discrimination Faunus face, in a unique manner. We’ve seen the White Fang, and their justified anger, but the creation of a community specifically for Faunus somehow seems so much more concrete. Experiencing the dual-sided nature of Menagerie adds a lot more depth to the social problems of the world of Remnant, compared to the more immediate threat of Salem and the Grimm. It’s not just violent retaliation, it’s not just civil protests, and it’s not just a sort of cross-species tension, it’s become for many some sort of acceptance of their situation, creating a place where all Faunus may be accepted. However, this raises the question of whether the mistreatment of the Faunus will play a great role in the plot, in episodes or volumes to come. I guess only time will tell.
On a side note, seeing the different kinds of Faunus, and how naturally they seem to live and interact, was rather cool to see. It felt communal, natural, which, again, speaks to the diversity and complexity that has been built up by the writers, in the world that has been created.
The Belladonna Family
Now this- this, was really cool, getting to finally see Blake’s parents. The reveal that Blake had parents at all was awesome, and finally getting to see them on-screen was a pleasure, and not just because they’re interesting characters. Specifically, seeing Blake’s interactions with her parents, and her relationship with them, spoke a lot about what her past may have been like. Many people up to this point seem to have assumed that Blake lived on the streets, taken under the wing of the White Fang, and had some sort of similarly rough past. However, the reveal that (holy sh*t) her father, of all people, was the leader of the Fang at some point, changes ALL that around. They live in luxury, her parents seem to care for their daughter (unlike another specific member of RWBY) and just, everything makes so much more sense as to why Blake would have joined up with the Fang in the first place. It sheds a different light on Blake’s reclusive nature, showing how her parents seem to care for very much for her. What could have caused her to be so embarassed or intimidated about going home then? Why the hesitation? In true RWBY fashion, so many new questions were raised, but at the same time, the answers we got involving the mysteries of Blake’s past feel quite satisfying.
As much as I enjoy what we got to learn about Blake through meeting the family, the design and personality of her parents cannot be ignored either. Dare I say it, on the surface, the Belladonnas seem most like a healthy real-life family, barring the obvious. The father is a big important guy who has work to do, is suspicious of the potential boyfriend, but still cares about his daughter. The mother is the encouraging, outwardly caring woman who, of course, has to get in her opinion on the potential love interest. I don’t know what I was expecting, but this was rather refreshing. Of course, there is almost certainly going to be drama down the line, what with Blake’s hesitation, and her father’s position of power, but for now, I enjoy the dynamic of her family, especially compared to the family of someone like Weiss.
The White Fang
Next, we get the first event of the episode that directly connects us to the plot- the White Fang messengers’ interactions with Blake and her father. This scene, apart from showcasing Ghira’s ability to be intimidating as hell, raises some interesting questions about how exactly the White Fang is perceived, and how they operate. The two representatives were certainly trying their best to cover their tracks and play it safe, and in doing so, they dropped some details we’ve never heard before. They referred to the head of the Fang as “High Leader Khan,” and differentiated between the main part of the White Fang, and a splinter group led by Adam. Of course, for all we know, they could be lying, but the fact that Ghira seemed to be oblivious to the explicitly malicious activities of the White Fang, indicates that there might be some truth to the idea that there could be a more violent offshoot of the White Fang, raising many questions. Were the two representatives traitors, loyal to Adam, or is the White Fang, all the way up to High Leader Khan, actually a malicious organization? Whether or not the White Fang as a whole has become violent, or that there is an element of truth in saying that Adam was the sole head of the violent offshoot, remains to be seen.
And of course, we receive a little bit more information regarding Blake’s backstory and relationships here. Based on how Ghira reacted to her outbursts, we now know for certain that he respects her as a person, which is, again, a welcome sight compared to Mr. Schnee. We also learn about two interesting things regarding the White Fang. First, Blake’s departure, teased at over and over again throughout the series, seems to have been taken rather well, at least, on the surface. Second, Blake would be missed by one “Sister Ilia,” indicating a relationship to someone in the White Fang that ISN’T Adam. This is rather interesting, but until we get more information regarding the White Fang, there isn’t much else to be said, to be honest.
The Plot Moves Onward
Finally, during the last minute or so of the episode, we get an indication, finally, as to the plot moving forward in a concrete way for both Blake, and Tyrian. The small exchange between the Fang members indicates that Adam will be coming back into play, and man, about time. This was a great episode in regards to Blake’s character development, and throwing Adam back in the mix will be rather cool to see- even if I hate his guts. Getting to see Tyrian, actually progressing in his quest to find Ruby, is rather cool as well. Perhaps when the hiatus is over, we’ll finally get to actually get some action with team RNJR!
Overall, this was a solid episode, that, again, showcases the world of Remnant very well, and provides boatloads of characterization for Blake, that I greatly enjoyed. And now. Onto the hiatus!…Ugh. Well. We’ll get to the end eventually- gives us a chance to enjoy the holidays!