Firstly to say, I'm a terrible writer. I find composition to be very challenging and time consuming. I have very hard time putting my thoughts into a coherent essay, and often enough, I lack the focus to continuously write on a subject before I am distracted to other things. It's one reason why I never really write extensively on something. I find it difficult to have this kind of smooth 'flow' from conception, to elaboration, and finally, composition of ideas and thoughts. I'm close to be compared to one of those groups of 'writers that never really write anything'.
That said, I'm gonna spend some time tonight writing some of my thoughts of volume 3 of RWBY in-between doing some other random sh- ooh, shiny.
If you've read my past journal updates, you would already know that I found volume 3 to be fairly disappointing. There are so many things I can comment on and it's really hard to organize the point and where to start this journal update. My friend and I talked quite a lot about it in Hangout and the consensus is pretty consistent; that we are all quite disappointed in it and find it to be very flawed. These flaws are not the unavoidable type, but rather, feels like the culmination of amateur writers, lack of a distinct artistic direction, or simply having a fairly shallow vision of the series.
Still, I have no idea where to start, let's just take a stab randomly.
Since this is a thoughts on volume 3, spoiler alert.
Let's start easy. Opening theme song. I find the OP to be very uninspiring and unimpressive. Don't take this the wrong way, in its own, nothing fundamentally wrong, the song and the opening animation itself is pretty decent, and I kinda like the part where the camera circles around RWBY at the end, but the problem is, this is the third OP, and since the first one until now, all of RWBY OP has been very same-ish. Dramatic, fast-paced, energetic, and angsty, especially the second and third. There's a fatigue in that. I feel that it's a wasted potential to use the same theme again and again. Why not have something with more melancholic and slower rhythm, or something more hip, pop, and stylish, or something rock-ish with positive energy and excitement, or something more stylistic, instead of lavishing in more angsty and dark gloom? If the argument against that is this fits the darker nature of volume 3, then I'm gonna say it's the fault of previous volume for not accommodating a more different style of opening. I've watched anime for a long time and language barrier is definitely only a minor hurdle in making a more anime style opening. There are plenty of anime openings covered in English while still keeping the spirit of the original. Heck, even the super moe one is still doable in English, like;
Okay, I'm gonna honest, writing that one paragraph caused me to procrastinate and spent half hour listening to random english covers in youtube, which lots of them are really good, which further my point that high quality anime songs in English is VERY doable.
Okay, let's get to actual show here. First of all, I want to talk about tournament arc. There's always a tournament arc in every shounen show ever. And honestly, I think it's cheap. Tournaments are pretty cheap way to make random characters duel it out with each other. There's my first problem with tournament arc, in volume 3, most of the fights are pretty meaningless. By meaningless, I meant that there's no other motivation or reasons for these characters to fight beside because they're in a tournament. We are not explored at all on if there any of them has a compelling, exciting reason to join the tournament in the first place? The characters' reception of the tournament is very bland, as if the sole reason for the tournament is as a vehicle to bring cool action scenes without having to write plot on why these characters have to fight each other; as I said, cheaply convenient. There's no exciting rivalry, or pursue of victory, or meaningful character development through these fights.
All the matches in the first 5 episodes are essentially hollow, they're just flashy action scenes, lacking any real substance. To me the matches were too overly long and took too much time of what could have been great allocation to plot-expansion and character development. It make the show feels so superficial, sacrificing any semblance of quality characterization or story in favour of violent actions. In essence, you may call it 'excuse plot'. I'm not gonna go technical and comment on the actual animation quality of the fights themselves, but it is enough to say that I'm not that impressed by it, especially that there are moments where character movements feel so stiff and unnatural, or when actions and movements just went so fast and flashy that it really just feel that the animators were attempting to cover the flaws of the animation by making things too fast and tough to see.
I'm writing these in a batch you see, so I'll probably go on off a tangent every few paragraph.
Okay, let's talk a bit on the characters...
Each one of them is hollow, and underdeveloped.
Let me talk a bit on character development. First, I want to say that I have no official education of filmmaking, storywriting, or anything related to tv show, movies, cartoons, or whatnot. I'm a plain pharmacist, boring, I know. But I believe that character development and establishment can be divided into implicit and explicit. Explicit is fairly straightforward. It refers to a character's reaction and response to a clear and direct situation, often straightly related to the plot. Implicit characterization is the subtler thing. I refer it to how characters talk, react, and response to more normal situation where the event does not directly connect to a plot. Imagine if explicit is where character A just flipped the hell out of seeing someone being bullied due to being racially different and beat the hell out of the bullies, and implicit characterization is where upon random hearing some bystander talking about how s/he look down on someone of different race, character A gripped his/her fist harder, make some frown, and show some expression of dissatisfaction but otherwise that event itself don't serve as important plot point. Basically, smaller gestures that further describe a trait of a character.
Okay, just from this alone, there's already a flaw. Most of RWBY characters simply has little amount of plot, let alone any scene time for them to show their implicit characterization, making them really hollow as characters. Some people rejoiced when Weiss got herself some scene with Winter, but it's a really explicit character development. For me, it's just not enough to make me invest emotionally in a character. It's good that we finally has some story about Weiss, but that's it, we only get to explore the very basic of her character's conflict, we don't get to explore her as a fleshed out character whom we can relate or try to understand at deeper level. There's very little explicit development, let alone implicit development, resulting in almost all characters feeling empty.
The lack of characterization made any dramatic moments they had in volume 3 feels weak because I am not invested in them at all. Rather, the writers fail to give compelling reasons why I should give a damn about them. This is what happened when you timeskip ludicrous amount of time in-between volumes. I feel that what happened in-between would make a funner and engaging stories, while simultaneously developing the characters into someone I would care about. Not forgetting that having tons and tons of characters also hinder any investment of emotions due to lacking any exposure. The writers simply totally underestimate just making scenes of just characters in normal situations to develop them slowly, but instead, prefer to insert copious amounts of slapstick gag and humour. Not like they're incapable of making scenes of characters just talking interesting, I personally think Weiss and Winter's chat was well done with great cinematography. They can totally make compelling and deep scenes of characters just talking and bonding over a plot with great entertaining dialogues. It feels that as if the writers don't trust the viewers to be able to accept that and instead just spam flashy action scenes. It's not like they're hampered by airtime since they don't conform to a single format. So, they totally can afford a more nuanced and deep scenes filled with character developments.
In short, I can't give a damn about whatever happened to Yang because she has only been 'kinda there' since volume 1. I don't give a damn about Penny because she has had zero development since we discover she's a robot-thingie. I don't give a damn about Pyrrha because much like everyone else, she had very little story to her own.
Great, Pyrrha, we're gonna talk about her?
Sigh, I really hate what the writers did to Pyrrha. What has pyrrha done since volume 1? She unlocked Jaune's aura, and trained Jaune so he can fight better. In volume 2, she became all whiny and just wants to date Jaune.
See the problem? Every single plot related to Pyrrha is directly connected to Jaune. Pyrrha, an initially established badass in her trade, is reduced to very typical anime strong female character writing, to serve as catalyst for the male character's development. It's disappointing. Not to mention, in volume 2, her minor character arc is also poorly done. It essentially was her talking to another person "People don't want to date me because I'm scary strong.". We don't see any scene of these things happening to her. It's the sin of "Telling, instead of showing". In short, Pyrrha was an empty character and then she was shoved into this whole seasonal maiden thing and become all conflicted by it, which much like every other character, I don't really care much because she's underdeveloped.
To be continued whenever I feel like it. I'm not a good writer and I'm tired only writing this much.