My 2 Cents on RWBY: Volume 6 – Episode 1, “Argus Limited”

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(SPOILER ALERT: This is a full breakdown review of “Argus Limited” and the events at the end of Volume 5)

A snowy forest fades into view. The animation is the best I’ve seen in a while, beautiful and crisp. The opening titles introduce you to RWBY by Rooster Teeth. And then, just like you’re hoping for, it cuts up to the mountain slope where Team RWBY, Jaune Arc, Nora Valkyrie, Lie Ren, Qrow Branwen, and Oscar Pine are battling the Creatures of Grimm atop a train that’s about to speed into a tunnel.

Yes, RWBY: Volume 6 has begun! The first episode, “Argus Limited,” is twenty-two minutes long and takes place after Team RWBY (Ruby Rose, Weiss Schnee, Blake Belladonna, and Yang Xiao Long) has finally reunited; they, along with their companions’ help, had protected the city of Mistral from a White Fang attack and stopped their foes from stealing a lantern-like object called the Relic of Knowledge. Now they’re going to take the Relic to Atlas and figure out what to do from there, but first they need to pass through the Grimm-filled countryside between Mistral and the northern coastline of Anima on the Argus Limited train.

After the dramatic opening battle the episode cuts to members of the White Fang — an organization of Faunus, people with physical animal traits, who take extremist measures to liberate their kind from their human counterparts — as they accuse the leader, Adam Taurus, of being cowardly for abandoning his followers at Mistral. He kills them all, apparently disturbed afterwards by a comment from one of them that the “Belladonna girl” is affecting him (Blake, a feline Faunus, used to be part of the White Fang herself and was very close to Adam).

At the train station where everyone is waiting, Qrow is delivering a letter to General James Ironwood of the Atlesian Military about the events at Mistral that took place two weeks earlier and how the public report isn’t open with all the details. Blake says goodbye to Ilia Amitola, who is taking part in the new Faunus movement under Blake’s father, Ghira Belladonna; Ilia used to take orders from Adam during her time in the White Fang. Blake also talks with her friends Sun Wukong and Neptune Vasilias; Sun is heading off to Vacuo with his team to improve himself as a team leader. Then Dee and Dudley, two amateur Huntsman who are tasked with defending the Argus Limited from Grimm, offer themselves as bodyguards to the group, but Qrow dismisses them. Of course, Ruby and Yang can’t help but make funny faces at them. This is the scene where the RWBY-esque lightheartedness starts to return, after that prolonged period of Team RWBY being divided for all of Volume 4 and most of Volume 5.

The passengers try to settle in after the train departs, but it doesn’t take long for Manticores to attack — winged Grimm that resemble the mythical beast with the lion-like body and the stinger tail but without the human features. There’s also the Sphinx, which is larger than the Manticores, doesn’t have nearly as big of a mane and so looks a bit more cat-like, and whips around a snake for its tail. By the way, I think it’s awesome that these beasts are inducted into the Grimm legion as a result of Rooster Teeth going to the artist who posted concept art of manticore-inspired Grimm on Reddit and having him develop them further.

The gang joins Dee and Dudley up on the roof of the cars to fight the Grimm. After a Manticore flies away with Dee, Dudley activates the train’s armor system and the turrets. The latter only draws more Grimm into the battle. The scene circles back around to where the clip first began, with the train heading toward the tunnel. Most everyone gets down from the roof in time, but Dudley’s arm gets caught and breaks.

Inside the train they persuade Dudley to shut off the turrets. Jaune uses his Semblance of amplifying other people’s Aura to treat Dudley’s broken arm. Professor Ozpin reveals through Oscar (the former Headmaster of Beacon Academy’s soul has been intertwined with the boy’s) that the Grimm are pursuing the power of the Relic. Ruby’s plan is for Team RWBY, Qrow, and Oscar to stay behind with the Relic and fight the Grimm in the rear half of the train while Jaune, Nora, and Ren evacuate the passengers to the front half. Jaune uses his Semblance to boost Ren’s emotion-camouflaging Semblance and cloak the passengers onboard from the Grimm. They separate the train in half, leaving RWBY, Qrow, and Oscar to kill the remaining Manticores. The Sphinx, like the Deathstalker, the Nevermore, and the Nuckelavee, earns the pleasure of being saved for the boss fight.

The rear half of the train runs off the track, though, when the Sphinx breathes a fireball as it is killed. Team RWBY, Qrow, and Oscar survive, but they certainly aren’t expecting an elderly, short woman with peculiar goggles to emerge from the train. Her goggles, made out of a thick silver metal with glowing blue inlay, squint and widen as if they’re really her eyes. According to the cast her name is Maria Calavera. It’s hard to tell what kind of ally she may become.

“Argus Limited” concludes with the main theme accompanied by “Rising,” written by Jeff Williams and sung by his daughter Casey Lee Williams. They’re also responsible for “Miracle,” which backed the train battle. I’m glad to see RWBY’s primary antagonist, Salem, and her inner circle — Hazel Rainart, Arthur Watts, Tyrian Callows, Mercury Black, and Emerald Sustrai — as part of the theme, confirming that their return is imminent. Cinder Falls, who had been a thorn in Team RWBY’s side for so long, was absent, seeing as she was killed off in Volume 5. I don’t think Rooster Teeth will imitate Marvel and resurrect her, but maybe they’ll have Salem focus her powers on doing just that — a tidbit of a theory to keep in mind for future story arcs. The main theme includes a new character, a prowling female figure in tan and beige robes and a hood; I wonder what role she will play.

Classic weapons like Yang’s Ember Celica, Blake’s Gambol Shroud, and Nora’s Magnhild are brought back into the limelight. Dee’s mace and Dudley’s musket are okay, but I hope there will be a larger amount of new and intriguing weaponry than what we saw in the past couple volumes.

As for judging “Argus Limited” as a whole, I think it struck all the right bells. It has fast-paced action with the train battle. It has heart with the little moments that Blake shares with Ilia and Sun and that Team RWBY shares among itself. It has crackling tension with Adam lashing out against his subordinates. It has a dash of eerie mystery with Maria and her peculiar glasses. It has fluent exposition to cover the recent happenings. It’s a marvelous opening for RWBY: Volume 6, making way for eleven more episodes.

Windup score: 92/100

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