RWBY Volume 4 Blu-Ray Review - Anime Review

Following last May's glorious review of RWBY Volume 3, I was absolutely thrilled to get my hands on a review copy of RWBY Volume 4, which wrapped up its digital run a few months back (February 2017). Tearing into the shipping package I was greeted by a familiar band of misfits and was more than happy to dive back into RWBY. Unfortunately Volume 4, while it looks absolutely stunning on account of new techniques and technologies available, there are some parts of this arc that did not resonate as well with me as volumes in the past have.

After watching Volume 4 this past week I went back and re-watched the first three volumes (which you can do here with a Rooster Teeth First account) as something just did not sit well with me and I could not put my finger on it. Make no mistake, when I compare the animation and art from Volume 1 to Volume 4 there is a significant difference in the art, and with all due respect to the current animators, they are not quite to Monty Oum's (RIP) level yet, but they are certainly learning and it shows, for the better. Rooster Teeth have certainly gotten better on both fronts and while that is absolutely amazing, I am a bit concerned that they are starting to focus more on the minutiae and not on what made the first three volumes so amazing; the characters. Sure Ruby, Yang, and the gang are all still their lovable selves, but something is off.

As you get through the first few episodes of Volume 4 it begins to become apparent where the issue lies, especially after going back to watch the first three Volumes. RWBY was strong because each of its individual main characters, were stronger as a group. Volume 4 sees them split up or with other Hunters and the magic is just not there. There are some neat individual arcs that cover a bit of character development, like Yang coming to terms with her near-debilitating injury or an expansion to Weiss's familial arc, but what little is there is very difficult to really piece together the concept as a whole. It does not help that Ruby is pulled away from her stellar supports and those that are in place are far, far less reliable as characters. They are just not as good as the original Team RWBY.

On top of, or rather, due to, the many-faceted arcs that are now taking place (I can think of seven right off the top of my head, five of which are sub-arcs, two primary arcs) Volume 4 can almost feel like a filler season. The same can be said for many anime out there, but it feels particularly strange in RWBY. Likely due to the short, irregular length of each episode (that are getting significantly longer as the franchise ages and Rooster Teeth grows as a production company).

 It is not all doom-and-gloom though, as the stunning Kara Eberle and gang are back with their stunning voice work, and can we take a moment to reflect on the sheer quality of the audio engineers at Rooster Teeth? Stunning soundbites and ambient audio pair so incredibly well with the world class soundtrack. RWBY has always had a stellar musical score, and it just continues to get better and better as time goes on. On top of it all, there are some fight scenes that so fast, so crispy, and all eye candy (and Weiss's new outfit's pretty great too!).

In all I am most interested in seeing what Volume 5 brings, as it has a whole wealth of arcs to pull from and if they play their cards right, the next season could be the strongest yet; the hard part is waiting for it. With a voice cast that puts larger productions to shame, an audio engineering department that movie studios should envy, and a knack for nailing openings that few other anime can, RWBY Volume 4 is a welcome addition to any fan's library. Though lost at times, by feeling like a season full of almost-finished micro-stories, the latest Volume of RWBY is certainly a purchase for fans, the only downside is that there just does not feel to be all that much substance. Regardless, it is still a fantastic (and quick) return to the world of Remnant.

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Article by Robert


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