I know that Fridays are usually for analysis, but man, RWBY Volume 4 just wrapped up, and I’ve gotta talk about this crazy, crazy ride.
Another winter season, another volume of RWBY wrapped up. After the emotional mess that was Volume 3, the story of RWBY seemed to gain so much scope than before- there was a new, unheard of villain, Maidens with supernatural powers, and a whole world yet to be explored. The world of Remnant had opened up, the plot had began to move, and the characters we knew and loved for three volumes already now had a chance to grow. So, riding off the hype of Volume 3, how did Volume 4 do?
1. Story: 7.0/10
Picking up from the ashes of Volume Three, we follow the path of our intrepid protagonist Ruby, who has joined up with her friends Jaune, Nora, and Ren. Forming team “RNJR,” their goal is to travel all the way to Haven Academy in the Kingdom of Mistral, knowing that their mysterious enemy is somewhere over there. At the same time, however, the remnants of team RWBY struggle through their personal struggles. Weiss is in Atlas, suffering under her father’s authoritarian grip, Blake heads back home, hoping to run away from her friends, and Yang, now lacking her right arm, deals with the loss of her friends, and the pain from the Battle of Beacon.
So, in short- Volume Four did a LOT for our knowledge of the World of Remnant, but as far as expanding on the stories of our characters, it wasn’t the most effective. Don’t misinterpret this- RoosterTeeth did a WONDERFUL job, all things considered. The way the overarching plot of RWBY has been so far, this Volume was bound to be meant for rebuilding, character growth, and world growth. However, a four-way split,- technically six-way split- in story is hard for any series to do, and for a 12 episode season, there wasn’t exactly much time to expand on the individual stories of our heroes. Essentially, there was a LOT of content in this season, but it lacked lots of depth.
Was there anything that happened before Weiss’s concert? What about a sense of time for Weiss’s and Yang’s training? Where was the buildup, what was the point of having Sister Ilia watch Blake? All the important, general plot details were there, but again, the development of each of those plot events simply wasn’t given time to grow naturally. The pacing was bad- not because what we saw didn’t make sense, it was just that we didn’t have enough time to develop them fully.
2. Characters: 9.0/10
Now, we get to the first part of what made Volume Four so, so, sooo enjoyable, at least to me. The fragmented story may have made structuring the Volume difficult, but it DID allow for new characters to shine, and old characters to experience growth. RWBY has always had great designs and moments for the characters they’d introduce, but, unlike Volume Three, we got to see legitimate character growth that was done, in my opinion, very well.
With Jaune, we get to see his continual resolve to become stronger, Weiss deals with her familial problems, Yang deals with essentially depression, and, surprisingly, Ren and Nora are given backstory that fleshes them out far more than anyone really expected. Every main character of teams RWBY and JNPR are given their moments to shine, and we really get to see how much they’ve grown, especially compared to the first Volume. Their growth is not shoved in our face, for the most part, instead, proceeding rather naturally, and I love that- that we got to see character growth through specific character moments, rather than just stating, “this is how I’ve grown,” as many other series are prone to doing.
Add on top of that new, interesting characters everywhere- Blake’s family, Salem’s evil gang, Oscar the Farmboi, Weiss’s asshole father, and it just shows that RoosterTeeth knows how to design some great characters. Shout out to Tyrian in particular, for being an excellent, intriguing, fun villain to watch, by the way.
Basically, RWBY’s fourth volume had wonderfully done characters- my only complaint is that it feels like some of the scenes with said characters were rushed- that the split story, again, was unable to do some characters justice.
3. Art/Music/Style: 9.3/10
Okay, okay, as great as the characters were, this is where RWBY’s fourth volume shines. Having switched to the animation software Maya, the CRWBY is able to create extremely beautiful, fluid scenes. I feel like, in a lot of ways, the crew was showing off what Maya could do, with water physics, extensive, detailed backgrounds, and above all, great facial expressions that conveyed emotions very, very well. This new animation was a large part of what gave Volume 4 a sense of polish that, up to this point, RWBY as a whole had lacked. Even Volume 3 seemed to be limited by the software they used, but with Maya, those restrictions are gone. Especially, again, with those facial animations, they were SO much better than in previous seasons.
Also, the music. Goodness, the music. John Williams, you are one brilliant composer- or at the very least, you have a knack for using very appropriate music that matches the events of the story. Remixes of older themes to trigger a great sense of nostalgia, new, hard rock themes that are just classic RWBY, and even more orchestral, dramatic soundtracks, the variety that Volume 4 has displayed is great. I wouldn’t say that there are any huge, standout performances- but rather, there are just a multitude of consistently quality ones. Whether it was a remix of “Boop” for Ren and Nora, a remix of “Cold” for somber scenes, or even just small musical cues- a piano note to match somber dialogue, a percussive accent to highlight action- it’s all there. Kudos to you RoosterTeeth. I greatly enjoyed this.
However, there is one qualm I have to mention with the general style of volume four- and that is just…some parts of the animation. I’m not alone on this, when I say that despite a notable increase in animation quality, specific fight scenes, specific actions, didn’t seem to carry any weight behind them. Fight choreography in particular, just didn’t seem truly satisfying to me until halfway through the season. Of course, they were still visual spectacles, but they just seemed to lack a bit of “oomph” that RWBY as a whole had become known for. It’s a relatively small complaint, but still something i feel should be noted.
5. Personal Enjoyment 8.5/10
Despite some pacing issues, Volume Four of RWBY was absolutely great to watch. If you care about the characters at all, you’re going to find some enjoyment at least in watching their development, and learning about the worlds they live in. There was some decent build-up to the final scenes, and despite undoubtedly being a set-up volume, it was done very well, considering the amount of time they had to work with. It wasn’t a Volume Three, it wasn’t a huge emotional, story-driven climax of excitement, but it didn’t need to be. I enjoyed it for what it was- a bit of break time, in which heroes and villains both recuperate, and the characters are given time to grow.
All in all, I’d have to give the fifth volume of RWBY an 8.45/10. The storytelling wasn’t the best of the series, beat out by Volume Three, but it was able to accomplish a lot for the characters we know and love. It was meant to progress the plot, and set us up for the next volume of RWBY, and in that regard, Volume 4 was a huge success, that I really, really enjoyed watching.
Well yeah. That about sums up my thoughts on Volume Four- what about you guys? Think the Volume was better or worse than the last one? And of course, are you ready for that hiatus? Leave a comment down below!