Alternative title(s): RWBY: Hyousetsu Teikoku
Web series adaptation by Shaft
Streaming on Crunchyroll
In the world of Remnant, humans and human-animal hybrids called Faunus go about their days as best they can with the constant threat of monsters called Grimm hanging over their heads. At Beacon Academy, where teens are trained to become licensed Hunters and Huntresses to destroy these Grimm, the new school year’s most recent arrivals include Ruby Rose, Weiss Schnee, Blake Belladonna, and Yang Xiao Long. Together, they form Team RWBY, and despite their differences, they must study and battle as a unit if they wish to graduate and achieve their dreams.
Artemis’ verdict: Fast-Paced If You’re a Fan, Near Unwatchable If You’re Not
I’ll preface this by saying that yes, I’m well aware the pacing will (probably) slow down at least somewhat over the next few episodes, given that the writers chose to use said episodes to cover the entirety of the Volume 1 story and part of Volume 2 within that timeframe. As you’d expect, it’s a lot. However, I have to judge this on what I actually got, not on what I imagine could happen moving forward, so here we all are.
This absolute breakneck pacing means pre-existing RWBY fans could likely follow what was happening without too much trouble – although the speed at which the main events were covered also meant that a lot of the character development and emotional payoff moments simply weren’t there. In contrast, I have to assume that first-time RWBY watchers were a bit confused at best and utterly lost at worst, faced as they were with a disjointed mess with way too many sudden scene cuts/character jumps and frankly, characterization that felt about as flat as the artwork. To add insult to injury, many of the character designs and set pieces felt generic, while the fight scenes – which are kinda one of the points of the series in the first place – lacked any kind of fluidity or grit. I was honestly quite dumbfounded at how lackluster the whole affair looked.
I’m curious enough to watch another episode, if only to see if the pacing does indeed slow down enough to reveal some comprehensible storytelling and/or characters worth investing in. That said, considering how deeply unimpressed I was after dedicating over an entire hour of my evening to this, I’d say RWBY: Ice Queendom is on pretty shaky ground.
Jel’s verdict: Hot Mess
I’ll admit, I skipped the original RWBY series because I was turned off by the visual style. So hearing that Shaft would be doing a more traditional anime version piqued my interest. Unfortunately, none of the creativity or flair you might expect from a Shaft production is present here. With the exception of some extremely over animated fight sequences, the quality ranges from average to downright bad. The worst part though is the inconsistency, with some shots varying in quality so much that they look like they were handled by a different studio.
The plot and characters don’t fair any better. The first “episode” in this hour long premiere was fast paced but easy enough to follow. It’s when we hit the middle that things become utterly incomprehensible for a first time viewer. I understand they want to get to the new story content, but they could have at least framed this all as a recap or a flashback or something. Presented as is, it’s almost silly how they expect you to deeply care about characters who have only been on screen for a few minutes.
I’m willing to accept that this is not for first time viewers, but I’m not sure what a long time fan would even get from this. Maybe some nostalgia? If that works for you, cool. But as for me, and I suspect anyone else who hasn’t seen RWBY, this ain’t working.