Even though I am someone who has always been extremely welcoming toward anime-inspired Western creations, I somehow never understood RWBY. So when the announcement for RWBY Ice Queendom came, I was rather skeptical of it since RWBY hasn’t really done justice to its fans.
Even in its heyday, back when Tumblr was still a free-for-all and CGI anime was very novel, I just didn’t get the appeal. This is sad because, on paper, the plot is really interesting. But somewhere down the line, things deteriorated and now, I can’t be bothered to pick it up. So, color me surprised when the hype around an anime adaptation of RWBY from Japan started building up.
RWBY: Ice Queendom is neither a reboot nor a remake of the original series. It is, instead, being referred to as ‘canon-adjacent’ i.e., it has the same skeleton as its CGI predecessor, but is being made using a different creative direction. And so far? It doesn’t look all that unappealing. The trailer looks to be surprisingly promising, with gorgeous visuals and smooth animation taking center stage. With parent company, Rooster Teeth, collaborating with Bandai Namco Arts, it’s an aspirational effort, to say the least.
Believe it or night, western franchises getting an anime adaptation isn’t all that rare. I mean, the Powerpuff Girls got one, under the name Powerpuff Girls Z. Heck, even live-action shows got in on the action, like when CW’s wildly popular Supernatural was made into anime by Madhouse Studios, of all people. Sometimes, franchises just sell well globally, and something like RWBY, which was already touted as the ‘first American anime production to be exported to Japan’, making it the perfect cannon fodder for a popular anime release.
Though the problem with RWBY has always been its writing. Where it started so strong, clearly following in the footsteps of something like Avatar: The Last Airbender, it quickly started losing speed and became a little more than cliché. By the fifth volume, it had completely lost its aim and became the subject of many, many commentary videos on YouTube. This is why RWBY: Ice Queendom comes at such a perfect time. It may not be a reboot, but it might just be the thing to breathe life back into the fandom. So, let’s discuss.
RWBY: An Outlier In Animation
I think a huge point of contention between RWBY stans and non-RWBY stans was simply the art style. 3D CGI animated shows are the norm now but a style such as RWBY, which is meant to be anime-inspired and, therefore, two-dimensional by its very nature?
It came off as clunky and just a little bit unappealing. Of course, as time went on, things got better but I couldn’t fully commit to it like I would’ve, say, something like Beastars. With Beastars, the jarring design worked well when combined with its grittier story. It added an edge that made it stand out from other CGI animated shows, in a good way. (valium)
RWBY, I feel, never really got comfortable in its skin.
Bad Writing And Lack Of Growth:
Speaking of, one of the main reasons you see old fans of the show turning on it now is because of how the story has dragged on with little to no exposition that makes it worth it. Like, it’s great to have a long-running show, but not when there is barely any meat to it.
RWBY has been airing for seven years now, that is more than enough time to build a compelling narrative and give the fans something close to a resolution. Instead, it’s like all the focus goes to animating the show to be as trauma-core as possible without any regard for actual storytelling.
When you have characters that keep dying and resurrecting with almost no consequences, solely for the shock factor of it all? It comes off as really insincere.
Could RWBY: Ice Queendom Rectify The Sins Of The Past?
I’ve always been a fan of taking something underrated and using its bare bones to give life to something much more meaningful. We saw this happen with Castlevania, a game franchise that was popular in the 90s but ended up dwindling in the 2000s. Only for Netflix to come out with, quite possibly, its best-animated project to date.
But in that case, Castlevania was already a great premise, with tons of potential for storytelling. And that’s the same thing with RWBY. The RWBY universe is intricate, with great world-building that can be integrated so well into the anime. The characters, at the beginning at least, were all multifaceted and intriguing, but the CGI anime never utilized them to their full potential.
However, just two episodes into RWBY: Ice Queendom and it’s already a massive improvement. They are telling the same story as the first season with additional original content in the middle to make the exposition more coherent, something the original failed at.
So far, it’s too early to tell whether this will be another wasted remake or a breakout hit. But one thing is for sure, RWBY: Ice Queendom is not some run-of-the-mill reboot, it’s better.