At this point in the Rooster Teeth web series RWBY: Volume 3 is the most intense volume, still exuding the same humor and sincerity with which we’ve become familiar but also stringing more darkness through the storyline until it builds up to the heartbreaking climax.
The Vytal Festival Tournament is upon Remnant, and Team RWBY is just one of various teams from the kingdoms’ Academies who are partaking in the combat rounds. Things seem better than ever, especially since crime in Vale has been completely absent since the crime lord Torchwick was arrested. However, with Cinder Fall and her minions Emerald Sustrai and Mercury Black focusing on the Tournament as the crux of a scheme to disrupt Remnant and Professor Ozpin giving one of his students the opportunity to make a life-altering decision that may help to stop Cinder, it won’t be long before everyone gets thrown into the chaos.
Volume 3 includes twelve episodes ranging mostly from thirteen to eighteen minutes, except for the twelfth one, which lasts for twenty-eight minutes. The beginning starts with Ruby Rose talking about her friends in Team RWBY (Red, Weiss, Blake, and Yang) to her mother’s grave. However, it’s also a tribute to the creator of the animation series Monty Oum, whose death makes this the first volume to be released without him. Keep an eye out for his signature at the end of that scene. Then it cuts to Team RWBY fighting Team ABRN in their first round of the Vytal Festival Tournament, giving us a taste of the fast-paced action and creative weapons, including a Dust-powered hoverboard. We also get our fair fix of laughs through the following fairground scene, which includes over two straight minutes of some of my favorite gags in the whole series.
Just as for the first two volumes, Rooster Teeth develops the story while maintaining energy and action. New main characters are introduced well, like Qrow Branwen, Yang’s biological uncle and Ruby’s honorary uncle; Adam Taurus, a high-ranking member of the White Fang; and Winter Schnee, Weiss’s older sister and a specialist in the Atlesian Military’s Special Operatives unit. There’s also flair for the minor characters who appear as Tournament opponents, like jazz player Flynt Coal and roller-skater Neon Katz.
Rounded relationships and characterizations abound with Jaune and Pyrrha struggling to deal with feelings for each other, the stern but still-close sisterliness between Weiss and Winter, Qrow’s brusque and slightly drunken personality, and a flashback that shows how Cinder met Emerald and Mercury and also gives a good look at her ruthless quest for power. The history of Remnant expands with just as much integrity, especially with revelations about the Tale of the Four Maidens and the silver-eyed warriors.
The Tournament fights are enjoyable enough, although they don’t match up to what we’ve seen in previous volumes. There’s also an absence of Grimm for quite a while, although this helps to build them up for the big finale, especially with the Alpha Beowolf, the Alpha Nevermore, the Griffon, and the Dragon. And the weapons, oh the lovely new weapons — the only one that tops Qrow’s Harbinger, a huge sword that curves into a scythe, is utilized by Velvet Scarlatina. But I won’t dare spoil the surprise.
Prepare yourself for the whirlwind of events during the last few clips, because they are much more grim (pun intended) than the climaxes for previous volumes. It could have been compressed from fifty minutes to forty or shorter, but otherwise it maintains the pace and tension right up to the very ending, backed up by Jeff Williams’s dramatic, well-composed scores. And, as always, make sure you watch the slightly eerie post-credit scene.
All in all, Volume 3 takes what has been constructed in 1 and 2 and layers more bricks on top, then shakes it up and leaves us breathless, uncertain about what will happen in the next volume.
Windup score: 96/100