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Monday, May 2, 2016

RWBY: VOLUME 3 -- Blu-ray/DVD Review by Porfle



I was a bit lost at first, coming in after two seasons as I did, but it doesn't take long to get caught up in what's going on in Rooster Teeth's American anime epic RWBY: VOLUME 3 (2016), a 2-disc Blu-Ray+DVD Combo Pack from Cinedigm. 

Once I picked up the threads of this sweeping tale of a futuristic world called "Remnant" in which super-powered teens train at academies to become hunters and huntresses in order to protect the world from evil, it was easy to get addicted and begin to dread the inevitable cliffhanger ending to the season (the bane of so many season DVD sets). 

The main team of wannabe huntresses is known as RWBY (pronounced "ruby") whose color-coded members consist of Ruby Red (red), Weiss Schnee (white), Blake Belladonna (black), and Yang Xiao Long (yellow).  At first they seem to be the usual girly-girls we find in such series as "K-On"--they're funny and sometimes a little ditzy in addition to being great athlete-warriors--but as the events of the story progress they and others around them reveal many levels of depth to their characters.


The script features a good mix of comedy and drama with very appealing character interplay.  This includes scenes of both the teens and their teachers, older siblings and relatives, guardians, etc. with plotlines growing increasingly complex with each episode until at last the fate of humanity hangs in the balance. 

The initial focus of the season is on a grand tournament involving teams from all academies, one which symbolizes the lasting peace achieved among the once-warring continents.  Team RWBY competes against other groups with acronyms such as SSSN ("sun"), JNPR ("juniper"), and CRDL ("cardinal").  Whenever the story gets a little slow, it's back to the arena for more adrenaline-fueled game play.

These sequences are loaded with frenetic fight action that's creatively directed and animated, with editing that is lightning quick but easy to follow.  The various characters and their individual powers and backstories come together in interesting ways during this segment as they either band together to face their foes or team up in different combinations.


By now we've come to like and identify with several of the good guys while the bad ones reveal hidden machinations that will set the stage for the season's spectacular final battle, which takes up much of the story's running time. 

When this begins, we get to see all those fighting skills we've been watching in the arena get put to practical use, and the result is a lengthy series of spectacular encounters between the teen heroes and an attacking army of deadly beast-creatures known as the Grimms.  In addition to them, one team of teen warriors will emerge as the villains and their leader will acquire a power that threatens massive death and destruction.

This entire sequence is enormously entertaining and pays off in all sorts of satisfying ways for anyone who likes PROJECT A-KO or similar types of anime.  Just when you think things couldn't get any more intense, we're assailed by still more visual wonders and wicked plot twists.


The creative people at Rooster's Teeth, headed by the late Monty Oum who was the show's creator and lead animator, have stocked this series with beautifully-designed settings and characters brought to life using 3D Poser technology and motion capture. 

This, along with great voice talent (and some really catchy songs) creates an eye-pleasing hybrid of old-school cel animation and computer generated cartoons which allows the characters considerable expression while freeing the writers to let their imaginations run wild.

The 2-disc Blu-ray/DVD combo pack from Rooster Teeth and Cinedigm contains two commentary tracks (directors and cast) and trailers along with five featurettes detailing the creative process behind the series ("Legacy of RWBY") and the World of Remnant itself ("The Tournament", "Huntsmen", "The CCT (Cross-Continental Transmit System)", "The Four Maidens").  The latter is especially moving and supplies backstory for one of the season's major plotlines. 

I don't often see a story escalate from colorful action-filled fun to catastrophic disaster epic the way RWBY: VOLUME 3 effortlessly does in its fast-moving and involving 176 minutes.  This is great anime entertainment that left me wanting more.

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