By Dustin Cabeal
RWBY is a straightforward concept. The title of the books is not only a combination of the main character’s names but also the colors that they wear. Did I mention it’s straightforward? Starting off as something from Rooster Teeth, RWBY has been one of, if not the only crossover hit to come from American and navigate its way into Japanese manga. The manga is made by Shirow Miwa and is adapted to the manga style both in its characters and the world.
The setting/central plot is a standard monster hunter world. The monsters are Grimms which is a bit eye-rolling given how much the “Grimm” world has been used in recent years. The other twist is that there are animal-esque people as well that are discriminated against in society. It should come as no surprise that the story and world are very white-washed, making the message of racial inequality remarkably tone deaf. It’s a bit of a significant plotline as well, which made it feel very hollow.
There’s a long, but vague explanation about the world being cover in darkness and some dust changing that. The dust gives people powers, but only the chosen ones, most of which seem to be pretty young white women. The story eventually covers each character’s backstory. It feels particularly random when it’s worked in. It does an immaculate job of building up the characters, but a smarter writer would have found a way for the backstory to feed into the current plotline and it definitely did not do that. Instead, its as if the main story was too dull and to break up the dryer weeks they went with backstories instead. All of this serves to make the girl’s first day at their new school incredibly long. That and there’s this constant mention of middle school that implies that there was a lot of story before this story. I was never enticed to want more of the previous story.
The artwork is quite good. You’d expect nothing less from a manga coming from Japan. There is a problem with some of the more eccentric villains all looking a bit too similar. None of them actually do anything in the story, so it’s not a big deal to keep track of them, but it did leave an overall sense of, “meh” when it came to the villains.
RWBY was better than I expected. Having read some of the story that’s currently running (or ended) in Weekly Shonen Jump, I wasn’t excited to read this first volume. I can’t say that it gets much better than this first volume, but if you enjoy what you read here or you’re just a big mark for the franchise, then check out the issue. For me, it was better than expected, but the choppiness of the story was too much to overlook and showed a lack of storytelling. It's hard to say if that’s because of Rooster Teeth/Monty Oum’s story or if that’s where Shirow Miwa’s skills are at, at the moment. Either way, it needed a lot more polish because reading it right now is like stop and go traffic with someone that sucks a breaking.
RWBY vol. 1