(SPOILER ALERT: This is a full breakdown review for “The Greatest Kingdom”)
(SPOILER ALERT: This is a full breakdown review for “The Greatest Kingdom”)
Readers, the wait is finally over—RWBY: Volume 7 has begun. We’re diving back into Rooster Teeth Animation’s anime-style fantasy-action web series with “The Greatest Kingdom” (considering the content of this premiere, the title sounds sarcastic). Released on November 2nd on Rooster Teeth FIRST, it is the first chapter out of a planned total of thirteen for this volume. While it’s more subdued than I expected, it nonetheless gives an overall solid opening—and that huge revelation towards the end makes me highly anticipate the next twelve chapters.
Volume 6 ended with Team RWBY (Ruby Rose, Weiss Schnee, Blake Belladonna, and Yang Xiao Long) and company flying towards the Kingdom of Atlas in a stolen Atlesian airship. The tone turned quite ominous as they realized that a high number of airships were guarding the Kingdom, as though preparing for an attack, and we knew that whatever was about to happen, their arrival wasn’t going to be as easy as we’d hoped it would be. “The Greatest Kingdom” starts at that very point, where they’re trying to figure out what’s happening, why the airships are arranged in this aggressive formation, and if it really is safe to land. As Weiss suggests that they contact Winter, her sister and a special operative in the Atlesian military, Maria Calavera, sitting in the pilot’s seat, decides to steer the ship not toward the giant floating rock upon which the primary, technologically-advanced portion of Atlas sits but down to the city on the ground beneath it.
During their flight over the rundown-looking city, they pass big screens with General James Ironwood on them, and he’s promising that “the Kingdom of Atlas will remain strong, and it will remain safe.” The last time we saw him, he had a few days’ worth of stubble, but now he has a full-on beard that highlights his weary air. As for calling up Winter for help, that idea gets shot down once they see another screen with her on it, proclaiming that “failing to cooperate with Atlas military personnel is a punishable offense.” I’m not certain whether Ironwood or Winter will become outright villains this volume. It’s much more likely they’ll be taking reasonable and sympathetic actions to protect their home, but in the process, they’ll end up impeding the heroes.
After landing somewhere in the city (we never see where they land the airship, they just emerge from an alleyway, so that’s a bit of a plot hole there), the gang starts making their way through it. They’re unsettled by the city’s police state dystopia—troops of Atlesian military robots march along the streets, little drones fly around, and the people living here are clearly impoverished. A truck trundles by with miners covered in grime, and for a moment we get a shot of graffiti that reads “show your teeth” alongside some sort of an animal face; this is probably Faunus-related, since Atlas subjects them to slavery. Then we see one of those drones follow Yang and take a picture of her, which has to be a Chekov’s gun. Someone must be controlling the drone, maybe Weiss’s father Jacques, and now they know the crew is in town. I love it when Yang has her in-character moment of kicking the drone away.
They also run into a drunkard who overhears Blake criticizing the city’s neglected state, and he gets belligerent with the group. His friend in the purple hat mentions that the embargo got them in a rough place; nobody in RWBY had mentioned the embargo for so long that I’d almost forgotten about it. I do think it’s great when, in response to the drunkard calling Blake “stupid Faunus,” Weiss uses her Myrtenaster to hurl him into a trash bin, and she says, “It was worth it.” This indicates the significant growth in her character arc since Volume 1, back when she used to discriminate against Faunus herself. On the other hand, it would have been the perfect moment for Yang to stand up for Blake and give us Bumblebee stans something to cheer for.
Maria takes the gang to meet Pietro, an engineer who does checkups on her techno-goggles every ten years and gets around in a chair with robotic spider legs (which has to transform into a mech). It’s funny when he mentions he’s working on shoes that make you dance, and when he offers to let his guests try them, Nora Valkyrie cries “YES!” During their discussion, Pietro says that when the Fall of Beacon occurred, someone meddled with Atlas’s security code (most likely a reference to the android soldiers that were hacked into at the end of Volume 3). He goes on to assert that this must have been masterminded by a genius or one of their own, or maybe even both. This makes me wonder if it’s someone we already know (Ironwood, Winter, Jacques). After it becomes implied that Pietro built Yang’s prosthetic arm, he says he recognizes Team RWBY because his daughter talks all the time about them.
Then an alarm blares through the city, at which point the heroes rush out to fight the oncoming horde of sabertooth-like Grimm. Honestly, this is a mediocre action sequence that pales in comparison to the Volume 6premiere, where everyone was battling Manticores and a Sphinx on top of a train in the mountains. I do like how we briefly focus on Blake when she draws Gambol Shroud but then notices its broken blade—a callback to the Bumblebee/Adam Taurus fight in Volume 6. Yet another reference to that is the split-screen shot, which I wouldn’t mind seeing in RWBY more often.
And then green lasers shoot down from the sky and kill the remaining Grimm. It’s truly a holy-crap moment for me when Penny Polendina, the robot who apparently died in Volume 3, lands on the street with rocket boots and long hair. We find out that her core had been recovered and she’s actually Pietro’s daughter. Even better, her memories have been restored, and she has such a fantastic reunion with Ruby. Really, I was overjoyed to see her dash at Ruby yelling out, “Salutations!” I’ve predicted before that the show would bring her back, but I never thought it would happen right in the Volume 7 premiere. I’m still a White Rose shipper, but now that Penny is here, I’m as equally supportive of Nuts and Dolts.
But after Penny flies away, a unit of elite officers called Ace Ops swoops in to arrest the gang, confiscating their weapons and the lantern-like Relic of Knowledge. The chapter ends with our heroes being thrown in the back of a police van and the doors slamming closed (reminds me of a similar ending in a chapter from Volume 6, when the gate of an Argus military base was shut on them).
After that are the fantastic opening titles, which not only push the boundaries in terms of the kind of animation RWBY has used in previous titles (in general the animation for the entire chapter is impressive), but also give some hints as to what Volume 7 may offer.
— Character redesigns involving new getups (my favorite is Weiss) and some haircuts (Ruby reminds me of Captain Marvel’s Avengers: Endgame hairdo).
— Two villains, Tyrian Callows and Dr. Arthur Watts, make an appearance, but none of their associates. Does this mean we won’t see Salem, Cinder Fall, Neo, Hazel Rainart, Emerald Sustrai, or Mercury Black at all for this volume? I was hoping for an Emerald/Mercury redemption arc at the very least.
— A showdown between Ironwood and Oscar Pine. Is there a conflict related to Oscar being the next incarnation of Ozpin?
— A lengthy shot of Qrow Branwen and Winter fighting together against Tyrian, harking back to Qrow and Winter fighting each other in Volume 3 and then Qrow fighting Tyrian in Volume 4.
— A mysterious character whose face was on posters declaring “Protect Mantle” in the sub-Atlas city. Their white hair makes me wonder if they have any relations to the Schnees.
— At the very end of the OP, in the background of the credits for series creator Monty Oum, one of the four Relics (a crystal-topped staff, possibly the Relic of Choice) appears very briefly.
Generally this is a satisfying premiere, largely in part due to Penny’s return. I’m excited to see where RWBY will go with her and how she and Ruby will interact. Of course, the foreboding atmosphere of Atlas gives a clue that this fun won’t last forever, and it’s possible that she may lose her memories somehow and become a weapon, considering the heightened enforcement of the Kingdom’s militarist policies. I must say, though, that I’m only okay with her resurrection because it makes sense in her specific case, being a robot. On the other hand, I’m not in favor of Kerry Shawcross and Miles Luna repeating this trope with Pyrrha Nikos.
My biggest complaint about “The Greatest Kingdom” is that it feels pretty mellow for a premiere. It should pack a punch, but what we get, aside from Penny, is a lot of exposition and an unexceptional fight sequence. We barely even get any meaningful character interactions, other than Weiss defending Blake and a look that Yang and Blake exchange during the fight, and this is such an easy way to infuse an episode with more emotion. Granted, it’s only eighteen minutes, which is a little longer than a normal chapter but quite a bit shorter than the Volume 6 premiere. But we could have had another minute or two of good character moments. And speaking of Bumblebee, how much longer do we have to wait for this to be represented properly? I’m going to be very frustrated if all we get over the next few chapters are longing looks and smiles.
It will be interesting to watch how the story develops in Atlas, what with the police state element, the social inequality in regards to the wealthy living up on the floating rock and the poor who are stuck below them, and the possible roles that Weiss’s relatives and Ironwood may play in all of this. I hope we get to meet Weiss’s mom and explore the Schnee family dynamic more deeply. And Jason Liebrecht, who had been hired to replace Vic Mignogna as Qrow this volume, gets the voice right for the most part, although it isn’t as husky as I would prefer.
My prediction for the next chapter is that everyone will talk to Ironwood and learn more about what’s transpiring in Atlas. There might be a small scene with Tyrian and Watts; the last we saw of them in Volume 6, they were leaving for Atlas.
With everything that the heroes have ahead of them, I have high hopes for RWBY: Volume 7. It’s gonna be plenty of fun watching it for the next three months.
Windup score: 91/100