So, who else had fun laughing at RWBY this week? Just me? I’m starting to wonder if you guys have a sense of humor! Not a sense of humor in the Rooster Teeth sense; that will get you killed. Here’s the thing, Rooster Teeth and the bulk of the fandom want the rest of us to watch RWBY like they do: one episode at a time without connecting the entire series together. It may sound ridiculous, but if you do you can ignore a great deal of its shortcomings and just focuses on the things it did right in that one episode; thereby making the entire series better because at least THIS TIME is better than LAST TIME.
Is everyone following along? Good. Because if you’ve being reading my reviews and keeping the dots connected with me, you were laughing along with me with Episode 2. In a competent series, a lot of plots points would have landed home and paved the way for an exciting new season of intrigue and action. Since RWBY is roughly fifty light years away from ‘competent’, we instead have a minor cluster that will lead into a cluster fuck of epic proportions by season’s end.
But I’m getting ahead of myself aren’t I? Let’s get back to the hard work of being the island of sanity in this ridiculous fandom. This is Episode 2 of Season 2: Welcome to Beacon! And, to help with the experience, here is some appropriate music to laugh along with!
So we begin this episode with Professor Ozbutt receiving a high-ranking, brass hat military type along with a contingent of airships and soldiers. The sad thing is that this scene is created the best one second of animation Mo & Co. has ever produced for RWBY. Yes it’s badly written. Yes both actors sound like resonating planks of wood. However, the small touches in the animation do more character development for Brass Hat than the last 18 episodes did for the main cast combined. And when I say ‘small touches’, I literally mean Brass Hat pouring some alcohol into his coffee.
Now before you through anything, let me preface it by saying that it was completely unnecessary to have that in there for him. He could have just taken the bad coffee and gone on with their pointless conversation (we’re getting to that). However, by adding that little moment in it defined him against the backwash of quirky, eccentric smartasses that make up the bulk of RWBY’s cast. So I’m not sure who made that call and it very well may have been Oum, but pat yourself on the back whoever you are. For a few seconds, there was something in this show on an animation level worth praising.
Unfortunately, as hinted, this was quickly ruined. Clearly the big festival they’re all preparing for is a target for our merry flock of dumbass villains and Brass Hat fills his role by bringing in reinforcements in case something goes wrong. Ozbutt, being all pacifistic, thinks it sends the wrong message and reminds his old friend that despite what he thought, it was peace time. This was laughable on many levels but I managed to boil them down to two because I have a mini-rant coming later.
The first point is the most obvious one: who in this universe is stupid enough to launch a terror attack on an elite school of highly-athletic, highly-trained teenagers who wielded ridiculous magical weapons? That’s like walking up to Cain Velasquez, calling him a bitch and slapping him in the face. You would be lucky to get carried out on a stretcher in that scenario. It was a little different with Colonel Stryker and X2 because he had the common sense to attack while they were asleep and separate the school’s heavy hitters from the younger students, but even that didn’t go very well because once they realized they were under attack the school FOUGHT BACK AND MANY GOT AWAY.
In RWBY’s scenario, most people know that they‘re coming AND we have the added bonus of an entire season’s worth of fight scenes where they either won or fought other opponents to a draw. There is, literally, NO THREAT here yet the potential attack is the focus of this episode. You know if the dumb kids actually lost a fight or if we spent more than five seconds on the villains of this series, MAYBE the warning would have some weight. But that would require competence and forward-thinking, which would get in the way of the next over-the-top fight scene MO wants to bring to the masses!
Priorities people! Priorities!
And on that point, what was with Ozbutt’s rebuttal that he hopes his students never have to fight a war? That’s the whole reason they’re in your school: die in a fire.
The second point is a bit more refined but still vital: this scene doesn’t build any sort of tension because we as an audience barely have a clue of what the Hell is going on? No one is asking for an exposition dumb, although RWBY hasn’t objected to it in the past. But having two supposed ‘old friends’ in a room where neither of them is saying anything has all the intrigue and interest of a lint brush. Too many writers assume that the way to build intrigue is to say nothing, but they’re wrong. The trick is to say something small and build off that small thing so that by the end it’s a big deal. So, what would that have sounded like in RWBY? TO THE CHALKBOARD!
- Ozbutt: So, I see you didn’t come alone Kal. (He looks like DCAU’s version of Old!Supes, so I kept calling him Kal when I didn’t call him Brass Hat)
- Kal: You got the same reports I did. I know you don’t want to think about it, but if there were an attack during the festival –
- Ozbutt: I can’t imagine anyone being foolish enough to do something like that.
- Kal: I can. I’ve seen what these savages are capable of. You may be right Oz, but I will not risk innocent lives if you’re wrong.
- Ozbutt: Very well then. Do what you have to. And I’ll continue do what I can for my students while we can still enjoy peace time.
…I’d put here that I’m waiting on my check from Rooster Teeth now, but we all know it’s not coming. There’s another benefit to this particular dialogue, but we’ll get to that later. For now it’s time to DUEEEEEL! And what honestly can I say about it?
Like I said on VNsNow Radio, people defended Ruby’s bad humor and quirkiness to the hilt, so their reward is MORE quirkiness and bad humor with the team playing some Yu-Gi-Oh knock off. It almost took the smile off my face not only for its complete unimportance to the episode, but also it ran roughly five minutes longer than it needed to. So! I could explain why this was pointless or I could get back to the stuff that made me chortle. I choose chortling.
So after awkward teenage hormones because apparently any story with a teenage female protagonist needs that, we go to Blake brooding about the events after the Season One finale. Apparently she and Ozbutt had a little conversation where he revealed he knew that she was a hybrid (‘Faunus’ in RWBY terms but I like my label better) because he isn’t as stupid as he looks or acts or talks or…I’m getting off point. We then get a little back and forth between the two on hybrid-human relations in the RWBY-verse and, honestly, this is the part where I had to keep rewinding because I was laughing so hard I kept missing the dialogue.
Oh Blake, where do I even begin with you?
So, where do we begin? Let’s start with the idiotic points on racism that Mo & Co. tried to hash out so we can fully understand Blake being her usual idiotic self. If you were just watching this episode, you would be inclined to think that Blake was right because Blake is a major character and, ergo, a moral compass for the plot. But if you’ve been hanging out with me since Season 1, you remember this:
Welcome back Bunny Girl. You have been missed.
Again, following through on the logic of RWBY, as well as their fan base, this is a moment where Cardin’s being a douche and we should want Jaune to stand up for himself and kick his ass. However, if you connect all the dots, you would realize that Bunny Girl is a student at one of the most prestigious academies in their world with the implied purpose of using her skills to defend their country AND (that is just the left foot; here comes the right) the fact that she is there isn’t a big deal to other hybrids in this world. That doesn’t make her the exception: that makes her common.
The same thing happened in the season premiere where our lovable band of racist psychopaths kills a hybrid just because. This is, by all appearances, an intelligent man with good standing in the city, who also owns his own business and apparently has enough money to try and escape from the consequence of him working with the bad guys. Yet, despite him and Bunny Girl, we’re constantly told just how bad hybrids have it in the world of RWBY and that more needs to be done to lift the heel of oppression from their broken foreheads.
Okay. I’ll bite. Present them. And I don’t mean the same BS of a character telling me how bad things are for hybrids because, as we have already discussed, that doesn’t work when the only hybrids you show are leading a decent life. SHOW me the hybrids who are suffering from a culture that is determined to see them as a lower class and then maybe your main storyline will have a bit more weight than what your audience feels about racism in real life.
‘Well Blake doesn’t HAVE to prove her point. The very fact that she feels the way she does is proof enough!’
Touché Mr. and Mrs. RWBY Fandom. Touché. We must take Blake’s feelings into account. After all, she has to hide her ears constantly in order to be accepted in Beacon’s culture! Maybe she does have a point about the culture and how people need to take more steps to combat anti-hybrids sentiments! After all, it only fuels extremist groups like White Fang, right? So it’s up to everyone to fight the hideous racial attitude that poison the Vale of Arryn I MEAN the Vale of Vale and stand up for all hybrids whenever someone tries to bully them for what they are!
Someone has detected my raging sarcasm! If that was you, give yourself a cookie! You’ve earned it!
Again, on this set of reviews we look at RWBY as a connected work, rather than one episode a piece. So we remember when that screenshot above of Bunny Girl was taken Blake was, at the most, three feet away. If this is how she really felt, that probably would have been the moment to jump in and intervene. Hell, you can still have Jaune involved and keep the focus of the entire arc on him (there was a four episode span that focused exclusively on Jaune…yup). But NOPE! Blake is more than happy to sit back and watch another hybrid suffer, then bitch about how humans treat hybrids. Some call it a strong moral compass. I call it cowardice.
And that’s really the big joke of this episode. For everything Mo & Co (especially the Co.) wants Blake to be, she really isn’t. They’ve had ample time to build her up to fill this role in Season 2 and instead they chose not to. So instead of a strong anti-heroine who wants to create a better world for her kind by what we get is a whiny, pretentious coward…fucking Hell I just realized Blake is Suzaku from Code Geass. As if I needed another reason to laugh at this show, now I’m going to think of this.
God I hate Code Geass. Let’s move on.
So Blake convinces the others to start investigating what Cane Thief and the White Fang are up to, only for Ruby to inadvertently run into the main villainess and her lackeys posing as students. This was just…funny. This was just too funny. I know this is a shonen staple where the heroes have to fight in a tournament to face off against the main villains. It’s as old as Yusuke and Younger Toguro. But, honestly, what in the bluest of blue hells do villains achieve by acting as students here? Wouldn’t it be more threatening to, I don’t know, have them being an actual threat and creating chaos? And, on that note, wouldn’t Goodwitch recognize the head bad witch since, I don’t know, they fought each other in Episode Freakin’ One?
Nah. Forget all of that. Obviously we all needed to see the evil girls in schoolgirl outfits so there you go! Maybe we’ll get a love quadrangle between Dark-Skinned Girl, Snarky White-Haired Bishonen #451, Monkey Bone and Blake! That’ll liven up the oldest shonen cliché known to mankind!
SO! Clearly I had way too much fun with this episode. It isn’t so bad it’s good by any means; it’s just bad. A lot of the mismanagement of Season 1 bore fruit here and crippled their attempts at SERIOUS STORY TELLING. Blake is still a broken mess from the cluster that was the Season One finale, the major conflict is shallow at best, idiotic at worst and, despite extending the time for each episode, we are still stuck with more filler than plot. First we get a food fight just because and now a Yu-Gi-Oh rip off, which means next week I’m expecting a lot of time in the pool for our main cast.
But, this season so far has been far from typical because Rooster Teeth doesn’t have the blank slate they did with Season 1. Now they are trying to piece together the failures of plot points they left in the dust in the name of bad humor in order to to build something cohesive in Season 2. And so far it has been fun to watch everything they put together fall apart with the barest application of logic. Here’s hoping that next week’s episode is just as much fun to watch as this one was. I may have to break out my Hawaiian shirts.
FINAL RATING: 2/10 (TERRIBLE)