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Monday, May 28, 2018

RWBY: VOLUME 5 -- Blu-ray Review by Porfle

When I was a kid, it was Santa Claus and the county fair that gave me some of my best annual thrills.  Now, it's the disc release of each season of Rooster Teeth/Cinedigm's mind-candy American anime series, "RWBY", the continuing adventures of those four multi-hued heroines Ruby Rose (red), Weiss Schnee (white), Blake Belladonna (black), and Ruby's sister Yang Xiao Long (yellow)--the latest of which being the 2-disc Blu-ray, RWBY: VOLUME 5

Here's the backstory: after a catastrophic war that almost destroyed everything, the world of Remnant has been divided into four kingdoms dedicated to maintaining peaceful relations.  Also drawing them together is a common enemy, the Grimms, a never-ending army of terrifying supernatural beasts that constantly attack both urban centers and outlying villages, drawn by negative emotions such as fear, panic, and hatred. 

The main line of defense consists of hunters and huntresses, those born with various super-powers who train from a young age at special academies until ready to take on the Grimms.  This is where we first met Team RWBY shortly before their academy was attacked and virtually destroyed by a combination of Grimms and a group of terrorists known as White Fang, made up of human-animal hybrids called Faunus under the command of a secret cabal of sinister villains.

As season five commences, the mixed group of RWBY and JNPR (Juniper) team members have completed their arduous journey to the neighboring land of Mistral and its Haven Academy, in a quest to gather more huntsmen and huntresses for the battles to come.  But all is not well--the academy has been infiltrated by evil forces of both White Fang and the dreaded sorceress, Salem, and most of its best warriors murdered.

Meanwhile, Ruby's sister Yang is not only dealing with her new robot arm but must confront her own mother, Raven, now a renegade criminal with very dark dealings involving Salem and her minions.  These include vengeful Cinder and some of the worst members of White Fang, who are now targeting Blake and her family because of their efforts to establish peaceful relations between the Faunus and the human race.

It may sound complicated, but darn if all this drama and intrigue isn't just as riveting as the many intense battle sequences that occur during these fifteen serial-like chapters.  The characters are all fascinating and beautifully conceived, with scintillating dialogue that's either richly dramatic or breezily funny. 

This time there is, in fact, much more personal and political intrigue, now that more of a foundation for such plot complications has been gradually established over the previous seasons and our increased familiarity with the characters makes deeper explorations of them possible.  Both good and bad guys this time around are three-dimensional and increasingly interesting to observe. 

As always, the looks of the series is absolutely gorgeous--even moreso, now that the technology used in creating the digitally simulated "cel animation" look of the show has gotten better and better over time.  Never has "RWBY" looked this gorgeous, richly colorful, and stunningly designed.  The result is often breathtaking, and always a treat for the eyes.

As for the battles themselves, they're choreographed and executed for maximum drama and excitement, with new species of Grimm as well as new human and Faunus opponents.  In an early episode, Weiss takes on a swarm of Grimm resembling giant hornets who attack the transport she's using to get to Mistral.  In the thrilling finale, all the forces of good and evil clash in a prolonged battle that spans several chapters and had me on the edge of my seat the whole time.

The 2-disc Blu-ray set from Rooster Teeth/Cinedigm contains the 15-chapter saga on one disc and special features on the other.  These include exciting character studies (deleted scenes), a "Five Years of RWBY" series recap, a collection of featurettes ("CRWBY") detailing various elements of the show's creation, and a manga booklet. Total story running time: 244 minutes.  Widescreen with English Dolby 5.1.  English captions are available.

As always, RWBY: VOLUME 5 kept me thoroughly, deliriously entertained and left me wanting more.  So while my younger friends are awaiting Santa's return, I'll be looking forward to my next annual wallow in the incredible adventures of my current favorite cartoon heroes. 

Release date: June 5, 2018


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