Hello and welcome to a new series of reviews for RWBY. Today, I will be reviewing Volume 4, episode 1 of RWBY: The Next Step.
First off: due to the shift to Maya, the shading, particle effects and lighting have improved to the point of approaching professional. There are moments where the touch up work should have been better and the depth of field at one point is off but in general, the rendering is an improvement. What is an issue is the animation; the character animation is better with no sign of “puppeting” but there are moments of dead models where the models suddenly stop with no transition and there is no moving background or camera to help dispel the illusion of stillness.
For character designs, they added three new villains to the roster but their design is too simple. They look like a stereotypical bruiser, psychopath and plotter/negotiator with unique traits or features that would distinguish themselves from their archetype. The new costume for Ruby makes little sense as she’s now designed to be “sexy” but she still maintains her immature personality and behavior. The new costumes for the remainder of JNPR do work as they are more natural evolutions of their original style.
As for basic story, it handled it’s tone a lot better with the humor and the drama better segmented. The humor itself is more RvB style fourth wall absurd humor; it’s delegated to non action moments and low points in action so it doesn’t disrupt combat. The drama though is undermined by the lack of tension with the villains as the villains are underdeveloped with no real presence established for even Cinder. To use an example, Makishima Shogo in Psycho Pass was developed over the course of 10 episodes before the 11th episode when the viewpoint lead meats him. Cinder and Salam don’t have anything approaching this development. One thing that annoyed me about this show was that there was a scene with a farm that was superfluous to the plot and was merely padding to extend the run time. Other then that segment, the plot introduced Ruby’s team in a basic fashion and leads into Weiss’s story in a fairly competent way.
The opening isn’t the best. The visuals are standard foreshadowing and emotional music. the issue is the music for the opening. There is no range compared to “It’s Time to Say Goodbye” or the other openings, the tempo is slow and kind of dull, and the lyrics are trying to sell a bittersweet story with a happy end but there is no increase in the tempo or pitch of the song to correlate with that
RWBY volume 4, episode 1 leaves me apprehensive. The story seems to be trying to break from the issues of the last three volumes but I have concerns about the villains and the main girls.