I believe to write a review you have to maintain a sort of emotional distance from the content. You can enjoy what you are reviewing, but also must be aware of its faults. So when I come across something I really, really enjoy I do find it difficult to review. This is why I gave myself a cool-down period of a couple days after watching the premiere of RWBY Volume 3. You know watch the episode a couple of times so the excitement can be cut back a bit, and maybe notice some things that I did not before. But I can say that at this point I have watched the premiere four times, and had my chance to dive into the fan communities around the internet, and still cannot help but smile every time I think of the new volume.
So excuse me if I fangirl a bit, but it has been a long year since the last volume was completed. In that time RWBY saw the tragic death of its creator Monty Oum, and the show’s fate was up in the air for quite awhile. Though Rooster Teeth made it clear the series would continue when and how was unknown. It was not until the company’s annual convention, RTX, in August that fans were given a glimpse into the show’s development. From there things seemed to progress pretty quickly, and Volume 3 was released to the eager fans. These fans were so excited that they actually crashed the forty servers running the website. But, like I said, it has been a long year. Can’t really blame us, right?
Anyway, on to the synopsis!
The main focus of this episode was the jaw-dropping action that the Vytal Festival is all about! After Team RWBY dominates the four-person round, they elect to send Weiss and Yang onto the doubles round. On their way to grab some much-needed festival food, they run into Emerald. You remember Emerald, right? The green-haired, sword-wielding powerhouse who just so happens to be one of the main villains of the series? Not that Team RWBY knows, of course. Apparently her team, which we will call Cinder’s Faction because they technically do not have a team name yet, was able to advance as well. Now she and Mercury may face off against Weiss and Yang in the later rounds. Well, so long as Cinder allows it. From some small talk among the Faction it seems that they have moved on from stealing dust crystals and allowing monster invasions of major cities. Now they have stakes in the Vytal Festival, but as to why is a mystery.
Actually, everything Cinder’s Faction does is a mystery. Anyone else notice that? We are on the third volume and have no idea what the overarching evil scheme is. Yet somehow it works so well. The audience is given just enough to understand what the Faction’s focus is at the time, but nothing more. The series pulls you along, keeping you curious yet satisfied with what you have.
Of course there are some clues to what is happening, though not necessarily in the show. Volume Two’s soundtrack had character-based songs, one of which is labelled “Sacrifice” and appears to be about Cinder. The lyrics seem to be pointing towards Cinder surviving some horrible tragedy, though she is supposedly dead. After that experience she is seeking revenge, but through some sort of revolution. (And, yes, I have analyzed song lyrics for this series. I was a literature major, so analyzing things has become second-nature at this point.) Of course if you listen to the soundtrack it points to a much darker story than is portrayed by the series. Maybe this is foreshadowing something, or maybe it is because the soundtrack is done by the Jeff Williams, who wrote the music for Project Freelancer-era Red vs. Blue. (And if you do not know what that is, then you have thirteen seasons of an amazing show to catch up on.)
But no matter what way you look at it, the RWBY soundtrack has absolutely no chill. The opening theme for this volume includes the line, “Maybe it’s the pool of blood the innocents will lay in, when in the end you fail to save them.”
One final note I would like to make about the premiere is that the animation quality has increased drastically. The sequences seem to be much smoother than past volumes, and the characters seem to be more detailed. New this volume is the mixture of 2D and 3D animation, which I find quite nice. Main characters and elements are rendered in 3D, while background characters and some environments are in 2D. Though it is clear where these two styles are mixed, I feel that it gives the world a more populated feel. Without the worry of rendering everything in 3D it seems that the animation team has been able to spend more time perfecting their techniques.
All in all, I think it was a fantastic episode, and stands out as the best premiere yet. I cannot wait until next week to see how Team JNPR faired in their fight!