The first volume was purely introductory. It showed us it’s characters and the magic equivalency known as “aura” which is also what unlocks the semblance of the characters. Aura is basically a shield that protects and heals you but the semblance is the characters’ unique ability. Any being with a soul can access aura and use it, almost like a form of mana or ki.
As far as conflict is concerned, it took it’s time starting off with a bit of melodrama between Weiss and Ruby. I cannot say that it was the most enjoyable thing in the world but it was handled in a that felt natural and didn’t take too long to pass by. And honestly, the conflict between them was only natural to begin with considering their polar opposite personalities. We then moved onto some character building for Jaune who wasn’t all that liked to begin with but this was a way to set the record that Jaune, while he was and arguably still is, comedic relief; he’s someone that continually grows more courageous each volume because of his aspiration to become more than just a scared kid.
Once more, Jaune’s role in RWBY is oddly subversive. He seems like a typical male protagonist but he doesn’t occupy that role, Ruby does. Instead, he’s what a male protagonist would be but he’s placed in a position where he doesn’t have plot armor and this is taken advantage of later on. Volume 1 ends with on a rather political kind of drama. Blake is revealed to be a faunus (human lookalikes with animal traits) and was part of the White Fang, a criminal organization run by faunus . Weiss was displeased with this fact but Blake had run away to talk with Sun and discovered that the White Fang was working with the main villain of this volume: Roman Torchwick. Roman’s role as the introductory villain was well- received due to the fact that he’s both simple yet charismatic. He may just be someone who’s supposed to slowly ease us into the bigger villains of this world but he was always someone that had character.
After the fiasco with Blake and Sun going up against Roman, Weiss and Blake had a discussion that resolved the drama between them with Weiss accepting Blake as she is.They key thing in RWBY volume 1, and this is gonna sound weird, but nobody really developed as a character except for Jaune. The point was not to develop them, rather, it was to get the characters to know and respect each other. It was all intentional for reasons that’ll be explained in volume 2.
It is also worth mentioning the quality of volume 1 isn’t great. There’s a lot of sloppy handiwork at play with certain objects clipping through and outside of the fighting animation, the characters move very robot-like in how they walk and even tilt their heads.
This volume is when they really started to emphasize their child-like behavior with the craziest first episode I’ve ever seen.
Case in point. Volume 2 really amps up the idea of a peaceful life for the huntsmen in training and discreetly describes to us how unaware they are to the dangers outside the walls of their kingdom. But team RWBY was still concerned with what was going on ‘inside’ the kingdom with the White Fang and Roman Torchwick. Thinking that it would be “fun”, they decided to hatch a plan to uncover Roman’s scheme and as soon as that scenario played out; we were introduced to new villains who made their mark for their nonchalant and witty attitude while also proving that they don’t mind getting their hands dirty.
Later on, we explore more of the world outside of the academy in a field trip where we learn a little more about how the grimm grow and think but we also learn about the characters’ motivations for training to become huntsman where the supervisor of the field trip, Professor Oobleck ask team RWBY what made them choose this line of work? And they had some legitimate reasoning but the uncertainty in their voices said more than the words they spoke. They had reasons but they didn’t have ‘motivation’, necessarily. This is all, again, to accentuate how young they are and how ignorantly they visualize the world. This is something that will be appropriately followed up on volume 3…
Oh and quality has been exponentially increased with voice acting actually matching the characters and animation outside of combat actually looks significantly more human. Still issues with object clippings and a few other inconsistencies but a major improvement from volume 1.
The “Empire Strikes Back” of this series, if you will- is easily regarded as the best volume for it’s… “surprising” ending but let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves. It was really hinting towards that tournament arc kind of vibe but admittedly it wasn’t quite hitting the mark and I really questioned why. It was still relatively well- received because it did introduce minor characters that all had various quirks, cool abilities and weapons that colored their personalities in a way that doesn’t require too much screen time to flourish. But the reason was because the tournament arc was really just not super important. It hardly had any build- up to it and there wasn’t any fights fans were hyped up to see, with the exception of Yang vs Mercury but that was some 5- star wrestling type shit, seriously, Mercury is fucking amazing, but I digress.
The important aspect of volume 3 is to show the characters ,who so innocently live out their days in false peace, the true despair that’s crawled within their barriers. To show them that: nobody is safe from losses, from scars or from… emotions. And this perfectly reflects onto the unsuspecting viewers who had no idea what was coming and the realization that this isn’t a show about girls learning how to fight. It’s about watching future heroes fall and die. It’s about graying out what color there was and it was about crushing the fairy tale fantasies into dust!
Quality has slightly improved in so far that there wasn’t a lot of clipping and voice actors were amazing.. Mainly Vic Migogna as Qrow who was absolutely perfect. Oh yeah and Qrow was introduced, he’s a drunk uncle. He’s guaranteed to be super cool, trust me.
By this point, all characters are just trying to cope with everything that’s happened, thus far while going on this journey to look for the masterminds behind the tragedy. Of course, they realize that they are now in a world torn with war but they do their very best to keep their spirits up and stay together.. At least, for the main group we follow consisting of Ruby, Jaune, Ren and Nora. But ultimately, all characters are just learning to cope while and pick themselves up and that’s really the morale of volume 4.
Quality has evolved into amazing artwork, beautiful scenery and great animation. Though, it seems with the loss of Monty, fight scenes definitely don’t capture that magic anymore. It is sad but we’ll just have to move on with it.
RWBY is a lot like watching life pass you by, in terms of story and in quality. It’s evolved ever so incredibly into what it is today and what it will continue to be as we enter into volume 5 and I sincerely hope you will join me in the world of Remnant…