RWBY: Volume 2 is the follow-up smash hit to RWBY: Volume 1, where Rooster Teeth achieves the dual goals of injecting the episodes with pure energy and deepening the storylines and characters established in Volume 1.
Team RWBY — consisting of Huntresses Ruby Rose, Weiss Schnee, Blake Belladonna, and Yang Xiao Long — are back for their second semester at Beacon Academy, continuing their training to fight the Creatures of Grimm in the fantasy world of Remnant. They are also digging deeper into Roman Torchwick, the crime lord, and the White Fang, an extremist Faunus organization, trying to figure out the next step in their scheme to gain control over a powerful element, Dust. With General James Ironwood flying in from the kingdom of Atlas, accompanied by his airships to provide security for the upcoming Vytal Festival; the introduction of the conniving Cinder Fall, whose abilities include Dust-generated pyrokinesis, and her two minions, Emerald Sustrai and Mercury Black, working hand in hand with Torchwick; and a Beacon prom and the insecurities that constantly seem to arise around such events, more obstacles than ever are standing for RWBY to overcome.
Volume 2 consists of twelve episodes, each one lasting roughly between twelve and seventeen minutes. This contrasts with Volume 1‘s sixteen episodes, each one lasting between four and fifteen minutes. I prefer Volume 2‘s longer times, which allow more space for the story to build up.
The first one begins with Emerald and Mercury, who pickpocket a Dust shop owner and then assassinate a man who tries to leave the White Fang. We go on to meet Cinder herself as the three of them discuss their plans with Torchwick; all four villains play off their sinisterness well. And Cinder, Emerald, and Mercury were actually seen in a post-credit scene for Volume 1; in fact, Cinder goes back even farther, helping Torchwick escape from a Dust robbery at the beginning of Volume 1. Then the episode does a great job of switching from the villains’ shadow world on one side to the heroes’ high jinks on the other, where we get to see the most intense food fight ever between Team RWBY and Team JNPR (Jaune Arc, Nora Valkyrie, Pyrrha Nikos, and Lie Ren).
Read my review for Volume 1 and you’ll get a clear picture of what’s to come: liveliness spread throughout the storyline, quirky humor, characters for whom you genuinely care, battles you can’t tear your eyes away from, relationships that continue to develop. Volume 2 enriches all those core aspects. I especially appreciate how much closer Jaune and Pyrrha grow towards each other, topping off with a side-splitter of a scene at the prom.
It’s commendable how new characters seamlessly mesh with the cast, including Ironwood, the head of Atlas’s military and its academy; Neptune Vasilias, a friend of the monkey Faunus Sun Wukong; Professor Harold Oobleck, a nerdy former Huntsman; and Cinder, Emerald, and Mercury. People from Volume 1 also return, including Ozpin, Beacon’s headmaster; Sun, who is friends with Blake; Glynda Goodwitch, another Beacon professor; Velvet Scarlatina, a bunny Faunus; and Penny Polendina, a girl with an unusual connection to Atlas’s technological prominence. An extra layer of whimsy exists with the sources of inspiration that Rooster Teeth continues to thread into the characters, e.g. Dr. Seuss’s picture book Harold And The Oobleck or Coco Chanel for Coco Adel, a friend of Velvet’s.
And the frosting on the cake includes things like Oobleck’s thermos that transforms into a flamethrower/club (the weapons are creative as hell), the elephantine Goliath and the reptilian Creep for the Grimm (they maintain their reputation as the ill-boding army of beasts), the history that’s revealed for a part of Remnant towards the end of Volume 2 (the world-building expands remarkably), the marvelous animation style (I particularly favor how it looked for two fight scenes, both including mechs called Paladins), and a slew of songs sung by Casey Lee Williams and written by Jeff Williams (one is a pop tune, “Shine”, that is as anomalous to the hard rock soundtrack as it is catchy).
I give praise for the climactic scenes, where the battle involves more people, more weapons, more Grimm, and it just feels bigger. There are also a few revelations, including a startling post-credit scene, that make you eager for the next volume.
Just like the previous review, I urge you to watch RWBY: Volume 2 and enjoy every moment of sincerity, action, and merriment that it gives you.
Windup score: 94/100