WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for RWBY
RWBY Volume 5 left me feeling quite anxious after it finished. I’ve already made my feelings on it perfectly clear, both in my review and in the episode recaps on The Entertainment Dome, but it meant that I went into Volume 6 with trepidation when it began. Would the quality of the show continue to dip or would it pick itself back up? Some of you no doubt already know the answer, but these reviews are tradition at this point so let’s just get on with it before Volume 7 comes out.
Positive: The Funniest Volume So Far?
This one’s very subjective (then again, aren’t all my RWBY reviews subjective?) but am I the only one that thinks this is possibly the funniest volume of the show so far? RWBY‘s always had plenty of comedic moments throughout its run but I felt like I laughed a lot more while watching Volume 6 than any of the others, which is oddly hilarious itself considering how dour and dark it gets as well.
Aside from some good verbal jokes and character moments that are naturally funny, there were a few spots of physical humour too. Again, that’s nothing completely new for the series, but the improved animation means that it just looks a lot better. I love how stretchy Nora gets in a few scenes (she’s probably one of the main sources of humour).
There are even a few moments of dark humour, though it’s debatable whether they were intentional or not. I’m talking moments like seeing Ozma be reincarnated, instantly killed, reincarnated again and then dying again. Or during Salem’s outburst, everyone acting like scared children because one of the other kids did something bad and now mummy’s really upset.
Some other highlights include:
- Ren picturing himself at the beach, complete with imaginary beach ball
- Nora’s plan to ask the lamp for more questions
- Jaune and his sister
- Those two weirdo guards
- The look on Blake’s face when Jaune suggests stealing a ship
- The “jargon” scene
I don’t judge RWBY‘s quality on how funny it can be, but good humour is always appreciated and this will hopefully be something that will carry on into later volumes.
Positive: The Train Fight
The fight on top of the train isn’t anything particularly special but I figured I’d mention it at least since, when I first watched it, it was a lot more than just the volume’s introductory fight. It had been, like, three or four years since we last saw Team RWBY together. Seeing them separated was heartbreaking and one of Volume 5‘s best moments was seeing all four finally reunited by the very end, and this fight shows that despite being apart for a while, they still fight in perfect tandem.
It’s especially nice seeing Blake and Yang work together so flawlessly. Volume 5 showed that Yang couldn’t help but resent Blake for leaving but, in case it already wasn’t clear enough, that resentment is completely gone and she’s just happy to be with her again. Also, Oscar held his own quite well. He’s already come a long way if he’s able to go toe-to-toe with Grimm as vicious as those Manticores. And it was great to see Qrow do some cool stuff too. We hadn’t really seen him properly fight since his battle with Tyrian in Volume 4 (I don’t count the big fight in Volume 5; we barely saw him and he kept getting his ass kicked). His joint finisher with Ruby is easily one of the highlights.
Not only was it a good action set-piece to kick off the volume, it was a great opportunity to show that Team RWBY’s bonds are stronger than ever.
Positive: Ilia and Sun’s Goodbyes
I’m sure some fans were disappointed to see them go, but I think it was for the best that both Ilia and Sun left. The main group is arguably close to being overcrowded and having two more might’ve been a bit too much. However, I’m glad that they at least got a proper send-off and didn’t just leave off-screen or something.
While I wasn’t wholly fond of Ilia as a character, I do like how her character arc has been neatly wrapped up, with her and Blake officially back on friendly terms. Not to mention she’s clearly much happier than when she was with the White Fang. If this ends up being the last we see of her, it’s good to know she’s at least in a much better place (though I wouldn’t be opposed to her popping up again in the future).
That being said, did anyone else feel cheated that she didn’t kiss Blake goodbye? I don’t ship it or anything, but the way that scene was shot felt like that was what they were building up to. The camera being focused on her feet, her hesitating slightly before almost running into Blake – I fully expected the next shot to be Ilia backing away with a blushing smile and Blake’s face being beet-red. But no, she just wanted a hug. It didn’t even need to be a proper kiss; just a peck on the cheek. They show Blake doing that to Sun in the same scene so what gives?
Speaking of, Blake and Sun’s goodbye was sweet too and seems to be setting up him and his team for cool things in a future volume (possibly when Team RWBY heads for Vacuo?). It’d certainly be appreciated since the rest of his team haven’t had many opportunities to show their stuff.
If I had to criticise one thing, it’d be that the show still seems to be trying to push the BlakeXSun romance, which is weird considering something that happens near the very end of the volume. Then again, Sun does comment that Blake doesn’t need him anymore, which could be read as him acknowledging that a relationship between the two isn’t going to happen, but he’s okay with that because what matters more is Blake’s own well-being. It’s almost like a mutual break-up (even though they were never “together”).
I was initially very confused with Neptune’s sudden appearance, though, since he comes out of nowhere and acts as if he’s been with the group for a while, but a quick check of the RWBY Wiki revealed that Sun’s team attend Haven, which is where Volume 5 ended, so I guess he met up with them after the battle. Still, I think this is something that should’ve been made more clear in the show. Hell, if the rest of Sun’s team were already there, why didn’t they show up for the big fight? That would’ve made for a nice surprise.
Regardless of some personal nitpicks, this was the right time for both characters to leave and their goodbyes were handled very well.
Positive: Cinder Lived and She’s Madder Than Ever
Remember when I wrote in my Volume 5 review that I was anxious about Cinder being potentially killed off? BOY WAS I WRONG AND STUPID! The show couldn’t even wait to prove me wrong. Beginning of Episode 2… BAM! There she is, alive and angry. I do find it weird that the opening hid her identity (why do that if you’re gonna reveal who it is by the second episode?) but that barely matters. The point is, she’s still around and even more pissed off than before.
It’s kind of hilarious how Cinder went from this enigmatic and powerful figure in the first couple of volumes to almost routinely getting her ass handed to her, and it is paying off. This is arguably her lowest point. She finally gets back into the field after being heavily injured by Ruby and proceeds to be tricked, upstaged and nearly killed by Raven, leaving her weak and temporarily unable to tap into her full power. She’s even forced to hide her identity and sneak about like a low-life thug; a far cry from her previous status. It just further highlights that Cinder, for all her power and ambition, isn’t quite the calm and collected queen she initially presented herself as. Honestly, at this point, I am hankering for some concrete backstory for her so we can see how she even got here.
She admittedly doesn’t get a tonne of focus this volume, but it does a good job at reiterating her obsession with killing Ruby, despite Salem telling her not to. And we know how terrifying Salem is; the fact that Cinder is risking to disobey her just to fulfil her own desire for revenge is kind of maddening. This is obviously playing into what Salem says in another scene, about how her allies mustn’t put their own desires before hers, which could potentially be foreshadowing Cinder making a permanent exit from Salem’s faction, which would be kind of interesting.
I’ve seen a lot of theories suggest that Cinder will make her own team but, in my opinion, having three major parties seems a bit much. Personally, I think it’d be a lot more interesting if Cinder finds herself forced to ally with Ruby’s team – “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” and all that. It would make for some great drama and put another dent in Salem’s plan.
In retrospect, most of Cinder’s scenes in this volume are just set-up for the next chapter in her saga. But while she may not have done much, seeing her getting knocked back down to the bottom and slowly clawing her way back up is fun to watch, and I’m sure that whatever she ends up doing next will be a treat to witness. Though maybe she should get a better outfit to do it in. Like, what is she even wearing now?
Positive: The Relic of Knowledge
I’ve already mentioned a number of times in these reviews how much I love the fairytale influences that RWBY draws upon, so it’s no surprise that I was particularly pleased with the reveal that the Relic of Knowledge was a homage to the magic lamp from Aladdin. But rather than just make it that same lamp, the show adds an interesting twist to it so that, instead of granting wishes, it can answer three questions. This may seem like a very minor thing to get excited over but I just think it’s a really neat and interesting idea, especially since its power is actually kind of dangerous when you think about it, and it being in less scrupulous hands could be disastrous.
It sets a good precedent for the rest of the Relics as well. We got a brief look at them during the big flashback episode and I’m very excited to see what they are based on (calling it now – the sword is going to be Excalibur) and what their powers are. They could be very obvious and simple but I’m hoping that there will be some extra, unique details that make them stand out from other ancient artifacts from other media.
I may as well mention Jinn too, who’s got a very nice, traditional genie design (though I can’t help but suspect it’s somebody’s Rule 63 art of Disney’s Genie) and Colleen Clinkenbeard does a great job voicing her, making her playful yet blunt. You really get an otherworldly sense from her. Her best scene is easily when she scolds Ruby for misusing the lamp during the Leviathan battle, but she can’t help but smirk and admit that Ruby’s use of it to freeze time temporarily was actually smart. It’s always appreciated when the mysterious and powerful spirit character has a personality.
Positive: Ozpin Keeps Lying
Volume 5 tried so hard to make Ozpin seem like an untrustworthy character, and it kind of failed at it. So imagine my surprise and delight when Volume 6 managed to pull it off within two episodes. And to the show’s credit, it’s partly because it built on the foundation that Volume 5 started. Ozpin promised no more lies or half-truths. If the team was going to help him on his mission, he needed to be honest. But then he kept hiding information.
While it may be a little thing, his decision to not inform the group about how the lamp attracts Grimm, while arguably justified, doesn’t do him any favours in earning the group’s trust. The team are well within their rights to be ticked off with him about it but, like I said, he did admittedly have something of a decent reason to do it, just like his choice to cover up Lionheart’s betrayal.
It’s actually nice that Ozpin doesn’t hold any resentment towards Lionheart, preferring to remember him as a friend that sadly fell into Salem’s grip. He even states that Lionheart’s mistakes shouldn’t negate all the good he did before, no doubt a result of Ozpin’s own life as we find out later. He’s made more mistakes than anyone so he probably thinks it’d be hypocritical to discard Lionheart entirely. Furthermore, his lie is not only preserving his memory but also helping prevent further panic and outrage. This then leads into probably the first time in the series where we see Ozpin get frustrated and angry. Clearly, Lionheart’s betrayal hit him a lot harder than we first thought, as evidenced when Yang tells him that he can afford to be completely open with them since they won’t betray him:
“Do you really think Leo was the first?!”
That one line explains so much about Ozpin and why he continues to keep things to himself. The man’s been alive longer than any one person should be and has clearly suffered numerous betrayals. Those that he once considered true comrades have either abandoned him or sold out to Salem; no wonder he has serious trust issues. In that moment, his secretive nature becomes justified and you almost start to agree with him… until barely moments later when Oscar forcefully regains control to warn the group that he’s hiding something big. Cue Ruby summoning Jinn from the lamp, stating that she can still answer two questions.
Suddenly, any argument Ozpin may have had is gone. He had explicitly told them that the lamp wasn’t working. Despite everything the group has done together so far, he refused to wholly trust them, yet expected them to put their trust in him. These scenes are simply amazing, especially when, upon Ruby asking Jinn what he’s hiding, Ozpin makes a wild lunge at her in a vain attempt to stop her. It’s such an out-of-character moment that it borders on being almost terrifying.
After Volume 5 dropped on the ball on it, I was hoping that both we and the cast would be given legitimate reasons to distrust Ozpin. Funnily enough, these little lies, when all put together, did a hell of a lot more than Raven and Hazel’s cryptic nonsense ever did. And yet, the show would turn the audience’s thoughts about Ozpin on their heads immediately afterwards.
Positive: Salem and Ozpin’s Backstory
Oof, okay, we’re at one of the big ones now. Admittedly, I’m not a fan of huge exposition dumps. For me, important backstory information should be gradually spread out throughout the series. Little pieces should be revealed before all coming together right at the very end. However, not only was such an exposition dump sorely needed for this show, since so little about Ozpin, Salem, and the world’s own backstory was known, I feel like having a whole 30 minute episode dedicated to explaining said backstory was the best way of handling it.
First of all, I love the way it’s presented. Again, it all goes back to the fairytale influences. With how much of the show is based on those old stories, telling Ozpin and Salem’s story in the vein of a fairytale makes sense. I also like how the scenery shifts using Jinn’s blue smoke, showing how she’s in control of what we’re seeing. It’s a lot more visually interesting as well, as opposed to simply having scenes fade in and out. Having the point-of-view character change throughout was a nice touch too, and it even utilises some classic fairytale tropes. A beautiful, young maiden locked away from the outside world, a brave and heroic figure arriving to save her for purely noble reasons, and the two quickly falling in love upon their escape – it’s very traditional and I like that. But, of course, there must be a tragic twist.
Ozma dies, not by battle or in some heroic act but by a simple illness. Salem’s grief is completely understandable. She had spent practically her whole life locked away, and had now found someone she wished to experience the world with, only for him to be taken from her by pure chance. And this is something I very much appreciated from this flashback – it makes Salem more human. So far, we had only seen her as the cold, unfeeling monster that she is now, but here we see that she was once just like any one of us – sad and desperate to be with someone she loved.
Honestly, her inability to move past Ozma’s death and becoming angry with the gods’ refusal to do anything about it is completely believable. There isn’t much that is more tragic than seeing an innocent individual fall into despair and unable to pull themselves out of it, sinking further and further. But while I’m not going to pretend that the gods are blameless in Salem’s turn to darkness, neither is she. Her attempts to bring Ozma back failed and so she manipulated a large chunk of humanity to turn on their creators out of sheer spite and a desire for revenge. And it got the human race wiped out. Sympathetic? Yes. Good person? No.
As for Ozma… actually, just for simplicity’s sake, I’m gonna call him Ozpin from now on. Anyway, Ozpin, after kind of torpedoing his reputation, winds up going back to being sympathetic himself. Knowing his full history, ironically, makes his actions and attitude a lot more understandable. We also get to see him be more impulsive and less rational. He’s given a task by the God of Light that he only accepts because it gives him the opportunity to be with Salem again. And when he does find her, he more or less abandons the task. By the way, him and Salem recognising each other despite her little makeover and him being in a different body is admittedly romantic. It’d be almost heartwarming if everything that came before wasn’t hanging over them.
And it kind of only gets worse because Ozpin goes along with Salem’s “take over the world” scheme. Yeah, he thinks that it’s the best way to unite humanity in preparation for the gods’ possible return (and I’ll be getting to THAT later), but you know that he’s mostly being driven by his love for Salem. He doesn’t want to lose her again and was kind of willing to go along with possible enslavement. Fortunately, he does eventually wise up and when Salem starts straight up suggesting they cull humanity and replace them, he realises that the woman he loved is long gone and turns on her.
To me, Ozpin comes across as one of the strongest characters in the show, and I don’t mean in a physical sense. I would not have blamed him for giving up at any point throughout his lives (Jinn says that some of his reincarnations were wasted in misery), but he picked himself back up and worked harder and harder to find the Relics, preserve them, and find a way to destroy Salem for good… which is why it sucks so much when we get to the final reveal of the episode – Salem can’t be killed (I mean, it’s possible that that’s not the case due to Jinn’s phrasing but the characters don’t know that so go along with me here). What an awful realisation – to know that everything Ozpin has done is kind of pointless, and he strung the rest of the group along, leading them on what could be a suicide mission without them knowing. It further ups the stakes and leads to some great character drama, but I’m gonna cover that more in a later section.
If I had to complain about one thing, it’s a certain aspect of Ozpin and Salem’s history that I feel should have been given more focus – the fact that they had kids. Am I the only one that thinks this should’ve been a bigger deal than it was? I’m still kind of losing my mind about it. And it’s heavily implied that Ozpin and Salem’s battle in their castle got their daughters killed. That’s got to have messed them both up but it’s never really mentioned or discussed. I also now kind of wish that we got see Salem actually be a lot more motherly to the likes of Cinder and Emerald. I think it’d be interesting to actually see her groom them into being replacement daughters for her (though maybe she’s already begun to do that? There are a few instances where she acts like a mum to them but in a much more twisted fashion).
All in all, though, I feel this backstory was fantastic in how it fleshed out Remnant’s history, expanded on both Ozpin and Salem’s characters, and upped the stakes in a big way.
Positive: The Gods
Usually, when it comes to god characters, they kind of fall into one of three categories – benevolent and caring, chaotic and destructive, or completely neutral with zero personality. And while I love a good “evil god” character to beat up at the end of an RPG, they’re rarely the most interesting of characters. But, while I don’t think these two will be at the top of anybody’s “favourite RWBY characters” list, they do have a few interesting things going for them.
The idea of a good brother of light and order and an evil brother of darkness and chaos is pretty standard, and the same goes for their relationship, with the God of Darkness growing jealous of the praise his brother receives from humanity. Though considering he lives in a lifeless hellscape surrounded by monsters and his first appearance in the show has him emerge slowly from a black pool, twisting and convulsing in a horrific manner and slowly walk towards Salem like something from The Exorcist, is it any wonder why nobody likes him?! Dude, maybe if you didn’t act like a creepy bastard, people wouldn’t think you were a creepy bastard!
That being said, I was somewhat impressed that he didn’t pull some “deal with the devil” crap on Salem when she asked him to resurrect Ozma. As far as I can tell, he only did it because he was genuinely pleased that somebody actually asked him of something instead of his brother, and had no ulterior motives. He’s not “evil;” he has an important role to play in maintaining balance, but his status as a being of darkness makes people distrustful of him. Of course, his actions ticked the God of Light off and led to a confrontation, but when the God of Light explains that Salem lied to the God of Darkness, the latter is immediately apologetic. It’s oddly refreshing and it highlights possibly the best thing about the two – they’re not perfect beings and, despite their status, very much act like people do.
For the rest of the big flashback, the two are actually on the same side. When the God of Darkness, disappointed with humanity’s decision to turn against them, wipes out the human race, the God of Light doesn’t stop him. He’s clearly upset about it but ultimately decides that it’s probably for the best. Yeah, he’s a hell of a lot nicer than his brother but he prioritises balance and order above all else. I really like this since it lets the audience form their own opinion on the two gods, rather than simply present them as good or evil beings. You could even make an argument that granting Salem immortality was their biggest mistake or an unnecessarily cruel act.
And their existence has now revealed a potential endgame for the show itself. If all four Relics are gathered in one place, the Gods will return and judge humanity. And with the way the world is now, the two will assuredly pull off a second extinction event; one that the human race won’t be recovering from. They are potential saviours and destroyers. I don’t know if Salem is aware about this as well (maybe she wants another shot at killing them again?) but, regardless, it’s a very worrying prospect but also an unpredictable one. After all, it may not even happen at all. Maybe the heroes will be able to avert it and defeat Salem just in the nick of time and choose to not call the gods back because humanity doesn’t need them anymore?
I also want to mention that I like the direction the show took with the gods’ voices as well. You fully expect them to have deep, booming voices with a lot of power and grandeur behind them but they’re both surprisingly soft-spoken. I was waiting for the God of Darkness to sound slimy or have a raspy tone but, while still a tad menacing, he sounds like an actual person. It’s just another neat subversion that helps the two stand out when compared to other characters of the same ilk.
I feel like the inclusion of god characters into RWBY could have backfired somewhat and made the overall story a bit more generic, but these decent twists to their characters have, fortunately, only added to it.
Positive: The Fallout After the Flashback
The scene immediately after the flashback is easily one of my favourite scenes in the entirety of the show. Aside from the sheer drama of the situation, rather than try and sway the audience into taking one side over another, it simply lets the scene play out by itself, allows the characters to act how they would act, and let the audience come to their own conclusion.
Ozpin doesn’t become defensive. He doesn’t try to explain anything or act like he’s still in the right. He just kneels in the snow, with tears quietly rolling down his cheeks as his worst secrets are laid bare before him and the group. He is completely broken, which I like because it’s not only continuing to show a much more vulnerable side of his character, it further adds to making him more sympathetic. This is admittedly debatable but it’s kind of hard to be angry with a guy who’s clearly suffering as well. And on top of that, he’s forced to admit his biggest secret – he doesn’t know how to beat Salem. It’s possibly the most honest he’s been so far, but it destroys any trust the others may have still had for him. Him later essentially ditching everybody and locking himself in Oscar’s mind for the rest of the volume doesn’t help.
And while it could be argued that Team RWBY maybe went too far in how they responded to this revelation, their anger is completely justified. They were essentially duped into a supposedly impossible mission, risking their very lives all because Ozpin convinced them that it was the right thing to do… and he didn’t even have a plan. As an audience, we’re able to look at different perspectives, but if any of us were in the position that Team RWBY were in, we probably wouldn’t be particularly forgiving towards Ozpin either.
I’m also pleased that Team RWBY’s main issue is with Ozpin hiding the fact that Salem apparently can’t be defeated. I was really worried that they were going to get hung up over the fact that the two were lovers and accuse him of still being in cahoots with her (which would’ve been stupid considering everything they witnessed) but, thankfully, the writers avoided that pitfall.
By the end of the scene, everyone is just in a dismal, depressed, and angry state. Maria Calavera may be there to help get everyone back on track for a short while but you can still feel the group’s sense of hopelessness. Ruby, god bless her, tries to keep some good going, reassuring Oscar that he’s not “another one of his lives” but Qrow immediately shoots that down:
“Don’t lie to him, Ruby. We’re better than that.”
Freaking OUCH! I’ll be going into how both Oscar and Qrow are handled in a lot more detail later on but, essentially, seeing the entire group’s morale completely decimated was gripping to watch and I honestly hoped it would persist throughout the rest of the volume. I’m admittedly not entirely pleased with how it was ultimately resolved, but that doesn’t take away from how well this scene was done.
Positive: Salem’s Rage
Salem has always been an intimidating figure. Even back in Volume 4, her very presence was enough to make you afraid of her and told you that whoever she was, she was very powerful. But we had never seen her angry, not properly anyway. We’ve seen small glimpses of it, and here we not only saw where her rage came from, but how strong it was too.
The scene of her villain squad gathered in her meeting room is thick with tension from the moment it starts. Her silently sat at the end of the table, Hazel, Mercury and Emerald standing opposite her, afraid to properly look at her – even Tyrian and Watts (respectively a cackling madman and a smug asshole) are completely silent, with fearful looks on their faces, and they’re not even the ones she’s mad at.
I think what I like the most about this scene is that Salem isn’t necessarily mad that they failed. I mean, she probably is, but her dialogue makes it clear that she already knows who is to blame; it’s just that no one is being honest about it. Hazel (I guess in an attempt to protect the two kids) tries to take the fall, resulting in Salem flipping the table and very nearly killing him, eventually managing to get Emerald to admit that it was all Cinder’s fault. It’s oddly refreshing to see, and a stark reminder of how much influence she has over the rest of the group. They work for her and cannot prioritise themselves like Cinder did, or there will be hell to pay.
I’m kind of shocked that she chooses to leave Cinder out to rot rather than get her back, especially considering Cinder being the Fall Maiden means she’s instrumental to Salem’s plan. She probably did this so as to set an example for the rest of the group and to see if Cinder is even worthy of rejoining the group. Though who’s to say that Salem would welcome her back, and considering Cinder’s own goals at the moment, it’s looking increasingly unlikely.
And of course I have to mention her full-on outburst after learning that Ozpin is still alive. The cracks on the windows slowly build up to it, black smoke swirls around her rigid body – you know it’s coming, and so do the rest of the villains who scurry off like frightened children, because they know nothing they say or do is going to calm her down. It’s a lot more effective with the knowledge the earlier flashback provided – knowing their history helps explain why she’d react this way.
Though I can’t help but wonder one thing. If Salem is as powerful and unstoppable as the show has suggested, how has she not succeeded sooner? Why has she recruited all these other characters to do the dirty work if she could just go out there and do the job herself? Chances are this will be explained later, and probably has something to do with the silver eyes (maybe that’s her weakness?)
All in all, Salem’s status as main villain hasn’t been diminished in the slightest. She’s received a lot more depth and I really hope that we see her be a lot more direct in the immediate future, as that post-credit scene promised.
Positive: Neo’s Return
Ever since her first appearance in Volume 2, Neo has been one of my favourite characters in the whole show. Actually, scratch that, I think she is my actual favourite. So after her sudden exit in Volume 3, I was flabbergasted by her complete lack of appearances since. Over time, though, I slowly began to accept that she probably wasn’t going to come back and her fate would forever remain a mystery (I was honestly getting sick of the writers tip-toeing around it whenever they were asked and wanted them to just say she wasn’t coming back so I could be put out of my misery). And then this volume happened. In case you’re wondering, my reaction to her return looked a lot like this:
I’ll admit that Neo didn’t necessarily HAVE to come back, but I had my reasons for why she should aside from my bias. While it never got much, if any, focus, it was heavily suggested that her and her boss, Roman Torchwick, were actually pretty close, so his death would have hit her hard and she would want revenge against the person she considered responsible – Ruby. So imagine my surprise when that’s more or less exactly what the writers had in mind too, with the only difference being her target – Cinder.
Her actual appearance is fantastic too, immediately attacking Cinder and reminding the audience how capable of a fighter she is. I know Cinder was heavily weakened at the time and, at full power, would’ve obliterated Neo, but it’s still an impressive showing on Neo’s part, only helped by how well animated and smooth the fight itself is. Not to mention that she looks perfect in the updated animation style, with the addition of Torchwick’s hat being all you needed to understand her feelings. If I had to complain about one thing, it’s the new outfit she gets at the end of the volume. I just don’t think it looks as good as her original one and seems like an unnecessary change.
That incredibly minor criticism aside, I’m still ecstatic to see her back and her team-up with Cinder really excites me, due to both of their vindictive streaks and shared grudge against Ruby. These two could achieve some really nasty things together and I can’t wait to see where it goes in the future.
Negative: Blake & Yang’s Scene in the Shed
This could come across as a needless nitpick but this scene really bugs me. It’s not awful or anything, just… infuriating. At first, it’s fine. Blake and Yang get some proper alone time to talk about Adam, with Yang admitting that she still gets flashes to the time Adam cut off her arm, and Blake tries to reassure her, promising that, if Adam ever does come back, she’ll protect her. And Yang doesn’t like that.
Now, I get why Yang gets mad at this. She reads Blake’s declaration as Blake viewing her as “weak” because of the loss of her arm. Whether Blake actually feels that is debatable, but it still causes Yang to passive-aggressively storm off. It’s not actually a bad scene, so why does it bother me so much? Well, I think I can explain my reasoning.
First of all, I don’t feel like it’s in-character for someone like Yang to not bluntly address how she feels. Instead of telling Blake that she doesn’t need protecting or something, she just takes off and gives Blake the cold shoulder. It also feels highly unnecessary since we had a really nice moment in the first episode where Blake tried to help Yang with her bag, clearly overcompensating and feeling guilty over Yang losing her arm. And Yang just calmly told her that things were okay. It was a sweet moment that managed to swiftly address this aspect of their relationship; this scene almost undermines it.
But probably my biggest issue is that it doesn’t really go anywhere. It’s not like it affects their relationship throughout the rest of the volume. We never see them being distant or awkward around each other; they act as if the conversation never happened. The only time it’s ever called back to is during their confrontation with Adam, where Blake says they’re “protecting each other.”
TL;DR, this scene feels kind of pointless and should have been further expanded upon or simply removed entirely. And if you think I’m just being nitpicky, well, I have a proper criticism coming up next.
Negative: The Apathy
Conceptually, I think the Apathy are actually a pretty good idea for a type of Grimm. Unlike most of the Grimm we’ve seen so far, the Apathy don’t pose a threat in terms of physical strength and aren’t even particularly fast either. But, their screams can sap your will, make you tired and feel lethargic – they make you want to just stop. And while maybe one can be dealt with pretty easily by an expert Huntsman or Huntress, what happens when there is a whole horde of the things? That whole bit of Team RWBY desperately fleeing from the things was certainly effective and full of tension, so why am I classing them as a negative?
Well, firstly, I think their design is kind of boring. Most Grimm have been based on animals or mythological creatures and while most of them are pretty simple, there is some appeal in seeing this show’s take on a wolf, an elephant or a dragon. And some of them are legitimately really cool-looking and unique, like Volume 4‘s Nuckelavee and the Manticores and Sphinx from the beginning of this volume. The Apathy, though, are just zombies. Aside from the Grimm aesthetic, there’s nothing about them that makes them seem more distinct from other zombie-like creatures.
But my main issue with them is how they are handled and their role within this volume’s narrative. One thing I was really interested in seeing was how the group was going to handle the information they learned from the big flashback. As I wrote earlier, their morale took a massive hit and only continued to dwindle in the following episodes. At one point, Weiss even says that she’s beginning to wonder why they are even bothering to carry on with their quest.
I’m sure many will disagree with me, but I had hoped that this was going to be the central conflict for the rest of the volume – our heroes expressing an ever-growing desire to give up and just go home. They had learnt that their mission was impossible and completing would most likely only delay an inevitable outcome. We’ve very rarely seen internal conflicts throughout the show and I think this would’ve been fascinating to watch the team struggle with further hardships that continue to wear them down.
Of course, Ruby would be the exception. She’d try to keep spirits high, desperately try to look on the bright side, but her optimism would be routinely shut down. She’d reach a point where no amount of can-do attitude can pull her friends from their depressed and weary state. Maybe she would start to succumb to it herself. But in the end, her determination would prove unwavering. She’d find reasons to keep moving forward and continue the mission. And eventually, the rest would see it too, overcoming their own lethargy and despair and strive even harder to keep their world safe.
While we do gets shades of this from the episodes set at Brunswick Farms, there is one major issue I have, and it’s that their disillusionment seems to primarily come from the Apathy. Granted, it is arguably implied that the Apathy only amplified feelings that were already there but their presence alone kind of ruins the whole thing for me. Instead of overcoming their negative feelings through their own strength or by finding strength in each other, they did it by killing a bunch of scary monsters. In fact, once they’ve escaped the farm, the group pretty much get back to normal; their doubts now completely gone, as if taking out and escaping the Apathy was all they needed to get over it. Do you see where I’m coming from?
The Apathy were a good excuse to bring Ruby’s silver eyes back into the spotlight and lead into her properly learning how to use them, and I’m sure most people wouldn’t want a whole volume of the group being depressed because it might get kind of boring and repetitive, but I feel like we could’ve had something a lot more special and uplifting. I appreciate the message the writers were trying to convey with the Apathy but, sadly, these kinds of feelings can’t be dealt with by beating up some creature.
Positive: Emerald’s Doubts & Mercury’s Resolve
Ever since the beginning of Volume 4, I was curious to find out how exactly Emerald and Mercury felt about their situation. It was quite clear that the two were in way over their heads – a pair of angry kids that had somehow found themselves associated with demons and psychopaths. Why on earth were they working alongside these literal supervillains? Well, we finally get a scene that explains that.
Emerald asks the exact same question I’ve been asking – why are they there? And this immediately leads into Mercury’s justification – he wants to be on top. We only ever had the minutest of details about Mercury’s backstory – he’s the son of an assassin who he killed himself. It was pretty hardcore and quickly showed that while Mercury acts like a laid-back and nonchalant jerk of a teenager (which he is), there’s a much darker side to him.
Because of his abusive father, he’s bitter and resentful over his Semblance being stolen – which, by the way, is one of my favourite reveals in the show. Not only is a Semblance that steals others a pretty cool power (and perfect for an assassin), it explains a lot about Mercury’s own attitude. He himself explains that his lack of a Semblance means he feels he has to work even harder than anyone else to be strong, and that seems to be all he wants. As Tyrian himself suggests later in the scene, Mercury has only ever lived a life of violence – if it’s all he’s known, why would he want anything else?
He’s probably not aware of it, but it seems (to me, at least) that Mercury doesn’t even know exactly what he wants. It’s like all he wants is to not be weak, and if he can get that by helping Salem win, then he’ll gladly follow her orders. And the fact that he’s able to go toe-to-toe with the likes of Pyrrha and Yang with no Semblance highlights how powerful he’s capable of being, and makes him more of a threat than we initially thought.
As for Emerald, it was always clear that she was only hanging around because she was devoted to Cinder, not Salem. So what happens when Cinder is gone? Of course Emerald would start to express doubts, and it’s finally made abundantly clear that Emerald remained by Cinder’s side because she saw her as family. But, as Mercury correctly points out, Cinder never felt the same way, leading to quite the outburst from Emerald. The two have bickered a lot before but this is the first time where we see the two properly go at each other, and while it doesn’t necessarily go anywhere in this volume, Emerald’s feelings are clearly potential set-up for the future.
Could she abandon Salem to side with Cinder, or will she realise that Cinder’s been taking advantage of her and find her own reason to aid Salem? I personally hope we get some more concrete backstory for Emerald. I feel like we’ve learned enough about Mercury to completely understand his character now but Emerald’s own upbringing could be further expanded upon to show how she became so dependent on Cinder.
This is one of those small moments that’s kind of overshadow by a lot of Volume 6‘s other qualities but, considering how little the focus the two have had since Volume 3, I’m glad it’s here.
Positive: Maria Calavera
At first, I wasn’t sure how to feel about the show introducing a third mentor figure for the group, but considering Ozpin’s whole deal and what happens with Qrow, Maria’s presence does help tremendously. Despite only just getting involved with Team RWBY, she’s able to effectively take charge and keep the group moving during their low points, helping to fill in the void that Ozpin and Qrow leave. Plus, she finally brings in some actual background on the silver eyes. They’ve been a source of mystery for years and were barely brought up, so who better to bring more information about them than a former silver-eyed warrior?
But to be perfectly honest, the best thing about Maria isn’t her role in the story – it’s the fact that she’s so damn entertaining. I genuinely think she has some of the funniest lines in the whole volume; that whole scene with the cashews is delightful. We should all aspire to be as petty as she is when we’re old. Even when she’s not being funny, it’s just nice hearing her talk. Melissa Sternenberg is simply fantastic in the role and manages to capture every aspect of Maria’s personality flawlessly – her wisdom, her crankiness, her cheekiness, and her self-loathing.
That’s probably the most interesting thing about Maria – she’s already near the end of her own story. While we do get a brief flashback to her tenure as a legendary Huntress, we only really know Maria as she is now – the old woman who has lived with so much regret. She hates how she ultimately fled and hid herself away, afraid of being found and attacked again. It goes to show that even powerful warriors like her can be vulnerable and scared. In a way, her meeting Ruby was a bit of a blessing, because now she’s found someone that she can teach and pass her own knowledge onto. She may not be able to fight anymore, but she’s found a way to start helping people again.
It’s subtle, but Maria was in a dour place as well at the beginning of the volume and, like everyone else, was able to pull herself out of it and is motivated to keep up the good fight. I’m not expecting her to get major focus or development in the future but she’s such a delight to watch, I’d be fine with her taking a backseat to the young heroes.
Positive: Qrow’s Arc
One thing I was certainly not expecting to see in Volume 6 was a character arc for Qrow. After all, he was a mentor character and, for the most part, mentor characters don’t really get development because they’ve already had it off-screen. They’ve reached the end of their journey and their role is to pass their wisdom onto the actual main characters before tragically dying. But, instead, it’s actually Qrow who takes the revelations about Ozpin’s past the hardest and he gradually starts to fall apart.
While it’s been slightly touched upon and hinted at, Volume 6 is where we really see what kind of an effect having a superpower that literally causes bad luck would have on someone’s mind. Qrow kept his distance from people because he didn’t want to risk his bad luck hurting the people he cares about. While it’s not without its advantages, it’s a pretty terrible Semblance to have all around, but Qrow was able to deal with it because he had a noble goal – saving the world. If he was “cursed” to bring bad luck wherever he went, then he could balance that out by doing good. That’s probably what Ozpin told him.
But now, everything he knew has fallen apart. The rest of the group are hurt by Ozpin’s deception as well but Qrow has known him for way longer. Ozpin gave him a reason to fight, to try and make things better – I bet Qrow never once questioned Ozpin’s actions. Whether it was because he felt indebted to him or not, he completely put his trust in Ozpin. And then he learns that his faith was based on a lie. It’s hard not to blame Qrow for falling into depression.
I think what I like the most about Qrow’s arc, though, is that his downward spiral isn’t immediate. It’s slightly gradual, since he does continue to try and lead the group for a while. At the farm, he takes watch duty and says that he’ll wake everyone up early so they can move out. There’s a part of him that’s trying to keep focused on everything, but it sadly slips and he finds himself turning to alcohol for relief. He’s always been a bit of a drunkard but this is the first time where he starts to veer into actual “alcoholic” territory, and it is not played for laughs at all.
Take the Apathy attack, for example. While Team RWBY are fleeing for their lives, he’s just drinking himself into a stupor, and later needs to be physically dragged away. He doesn’t even realise the danger they’re in until he sees the burning Apathy. Or how about later when Cordovin turns the group away? He immediately gives up and just leaves to get drunk again, ignoring Ruby’s pleas. It’s made abundantly clear that, because of his Semblance, he considers himself a liability, but he only really becomes that because of his actions; his self-loathing driving him to lash out at the people around him. The character that blames themselves for everything that goes wrong can very quickly become tiring, but the writers managed to nail the right balance to keep Qrow being sympathetic. Plus, his Semblance means it’s very possible that the setbacks the group encounter ARE because of him.
Fortunately, Ruby is able to pull him out of it by the end. I’ll get a bit more into it in the next section but Ruby finally getting fed up with his attitude was great and was probably the wake-up call he needed. Seeing his beloved niece continue to press on must have inspired him to do the same, and it was especially nice to hear her say that her and the team still needed him. Maybe that’s what Qrow needed – a place where he could belong and be loved unconditionally? That’s just my take but, by the end, he’s found his own reason to move forward, as exemplified by him choosing not to take a swig from his flask. He no longer needs the false comfort that alcohol provides.
I was honestly counting the minutes until Qrow’s inevitable death but, after this arc, I hope he keeps on living and gets to see the better world that he helps make.
Positive: Ruby’s Development
Let’s be honest here, despite being the main character, Ruby hasn’t exactly had much development. Don’t get me wrong, I still love her, but she’s essentially the same character she was at the beginning of Volume 1, especially when compared to Weiss, Blake, and Yang. Those three have changed so much since that first volume, whereas Ruby’s only real growth has been her experience as a leader. However, this volume forces Ruby to undergo some changes. Or, at the very least, deal with challenges that she’s otherwise not had to worry about before – namely, her own teammates.
Granted, it doesn’t take over the whole volume (which, as I said, I hoped would happen) but part of Ruby’s character is how she motivates people. She makes those around her strive to do better and that, if they keep moving forward, things can get better. So what happens when that doesn’t work? We got a glimpse of it in Volume 5 where she tried to appeal to Raven and was quickly rebuffed, and then we see it happen again but with her friends. Despite my personal grievances with this mini-story arc, seeing Ruby struggle to keep spirits high and her usual optimism failing and slowly dwindling was one of my favourite things about the volume as a whole.
We also get to see Ruby expressing an emotion that she’s not particularly familiar with – anger. Sure, she’s been angry before but it was either petty, child-like anger (like her early interactions Weiss) or directed at a villain. Here, the anger comes from her frustrations at her own teammates. In fact, I think that’s the better description – she gets frustrated. She yells at them after they try to dismiss her worries over dropping the lamp down the well; that moment where she throws the empty bottle on the ground to wake up Qrow was such a shock because we’ve never seen her like this before, and it’s great.
Her growing annoyance with Qrow is probably one of the highlights. She has worshipped her uncle nearly her whole life and has emulated him to some degree, so it must break her heart to see him be so morose, closed-off, and defeated. She initially tries to take the gentle approach, reassuring him that she’s there for him and he can talk to her about anything, but he keeps pushing her away, resulting in her finally exploding at him after he tries to shut down Jaune’s plan for getting into Atlas. But, it doesn’t mean she thinks less of him. She understands his pain and just wants to reassure him that he’s still loved and needed, no matter what he thinks of himself. And it looks like she got through to him if her hug at the end is any indication. She may have grown up a lot, but she’s still his niece.
One other thing I loved, though, is that while she does try and keep the team motivated, she’s actually just as lost and confused as the rest of them, which she admits to Maria. It’s a nice reminder that while she is a leader, she’s also still a young girl who doesn’t entirely know what she’s doing. It also highlights how strong she is to keep going despite everything she’s learnt so far. Maybe the mission is impossible, but she refuses to let that be a reason to do nothing at all.
I’ll cover a bit more about Ruby in a later section but, basically, while she’s always been one of my favourites, it was great to see her undergo some more personal struggles and come out the other side uncompromised and more determined than ever.
Positive: Jaune’s Arc
Jaune’s arc may have been relatively short compared to Ruby’s and Qrow’s (it only really lasts over the course of two episodes), but it’s actually a conclusion to something that’s been slowly building up in the background over the course of the last few volumes – his survivor’s guilt and his grief over losing Pyrrha.
His breakdown is another one of my favourite moments in the volume. His anger is real and justifiable. Ozpin was the one who dragged Pyrrha into this whole mess, convincing her that she needed to become the next Fall Maiden, and it led to her death. To learn the whole truth would piss Jaune off. Her dying was bad enough but to have died for a lie? However, we also see Jaune cross a line. His anger leads to paranoia and he assaults Oscar, a poor innocent kid who was forced into a conflict he had no part in. I particularly love how Jaune is almost immediately aware he went too far and just takes off in silence.
Even Ren and Nora are pissed and storm off to join him, which is great. I was fully expecting them to be more understanding but, no, they take off seething and struggling to process it all. But the best part of this scene is that no one even mentions Pyrrha, because they don’t need to. The writers didn’t feel the need to remind the audience because they trust said audience to have been paying attention and already know exactly why Jaune acts the way he does.
This then leads into the real crux of Jaune’s arc – his meeting with the mysterious red-haired woman, who, by the way, infuriates me because I want to know who she is. I know the whole point is to not know and it makes the encounter more effective but, seriously, who was she?! Pyrrha’s mum? A ghost? TELL ME!
Anyway, it’s a nice scene because we finally get to see Jaune come to terms with Pyrrha’s death, realising that, much like Pyrrha, he and the others need to try to achieve their goals. Even if the odds are against them, they are the only ones that can do it, whether it be for the sake of everyone else or to honour Pyrrha’s memory and sacrifice. We also get to see Nora and Ren express their own feelings, specifically about how Jaune seems more than willing to let himself die if it means saving them, telling him that they love him and can’t afford to lose him too. While it’s never directly brought up, I get the sense that Jaune also felt that he should’ve been the one to die in place of Pyrrha. But him dying instead of Pyrrha wouldn’t have made things any better, because Team JNPR would still have lost a friend.
Jaune could very easily have been a character solely defined by his grief. Fortunately, that’s not been the case and this little arc of his, while understated, was effective at displaying his lingering sadness without it becoming overbearing. And with him having seemed to have let go of his guilt, I look forward to seeing where his story goes next.
Negative: Oscar Barely Does Anything
A number of characters had some really good focus in Volume 6, either undergoing development or revealing new sides to them. Oscar, unfortunately, was not one of those characters, by which I mean that he hardly had any focus, despite the show setting him up for it.
It’s kind of baffling. We never really get to see him dealing with the aftermath of the big flashback aside from one brief moment, most of the time at Brunswick Farms is spent on everybody else, and when you think something really interesting has happened with him running away, it turns out he only left to get a new outfit, having decided that if he’s really on borrowed time, he wants to do all he can to help his new friends and save the world. I mean, good on you for coming to this conclusion, Oscar. I just want to know why this happened off-screen.
For a character that’s supposed to be really important, it’s starting to feel more and more like Oscar’s inclusion was an afterthought, since he doesn’t really do much this volume either. Volume 4 was his introduction so it made sense for him not to do a lot as it was focused on establishing his character. In Volume 5, he met up with the group and began properly learning what he had to do and work on his fighting skills. Here, though, aside from a few moments peppered throughout that could easily have been done by anyone else, he doesn’t add an awful lot.
And while it’s nice seeing how quickly the group has accepted him and express worry for him when they thought he left, Oscar doesn’t really interact with any of them individually. I can’t even tell you what kind of relationship he has with them because he never gets to have proper one-on-one conversations with them. The only character he’s formed some sort of relationship with is Ruby but even that’s very underdeveloped and doesn’t even progress at all in this volume.
The one thing he had going for him was how we would deal with learning about Ozpin’s history. Him actually running away could have led to some great drama and it would’ve been interesting seeing how he manages to decide to stick around anyway and help, without Ozpin’s influence or guidance. But, as I said, that all happened off-screen, which is simply disappointing.
At this point, Oscar feels like less of a character and more of a glorified backpack, whose only role in the story is to carry Ozpin around. And when Ozpin vanishes, he has nothing to do. I want to believe that he’ll start to come more into his own in the future but, after this volume, I’m really worried that this is the peak of all the kid has to offer.
Positive: The Big Robot Fight
RWBY‘s fights are well-known for being fast and frantic, with characters zipping across the battlefield whilst flipping the bird at basic physics. That’s not really something you can do when one of the fighters is a giant, lumbering robot. But, for what it’s worth, I really enjoyed this fight for a number of reasons.
Firstly, having a much slower fight helps it stand out and give it its own identity. Plus, the Dust cannon the robot has makes it a unique opponent compared to the last big robot our heroes fought. I actually kind of like the robot’s slightly primitive design as well. Compared to the more modern Atlas robots we’ve seen, it looks rather rustic and old-fashioned, which perfectly fits Cordovin’s character. Not to mention, hearing her losing her mind over being undermined by her arch-nemesis and a bunch of children is very entertaining. Kudos to her voice actor Mela Lee for going full-on ham in this scene.
It’s also great seeing how all the heroes work alongside each other. Fights with a lot of characters involved run the risk of becoming messy and confusing, but not only is it always clear what’s going on, everybody contributes in some way and gets a cool moment. Ren scaling the robot like it’s Shadow of the Colossus, teaming up with Qrow to destroy the shield generator, Jaune using his Aura to save Nora and tank a hit from the robot, Ruby and Weiss collaborating throughout the whole thing – it’s just a fun fight to watch. Plus, the accompanying music is a banger.
And then there’s the big conclusion, where the team actually come close to losing the fight. They did a good job scrambling together a new plan to deal with Cordovin but, in the end, the robot’s sheer firepower overwhelms them. Oscar comes up with the idea to shoot the missile launchers but that fails thanks to Cordovin’s quick reactions. It looks like all Ruby can do is try and talk her down. And when that doesn’t work, she zooms inside the big cannon and, with a single shot from her sniper rifle, causes the thing to kind of implode and makes the robot inoperable. The music for that scene in particular is amazing; it might just be one of my new favourite moments.
It may not be among the show’s greatest fight scenes, but it’s still an entertaining and well-paced one that also serves as a good contrast to the volume’s other major climactic battle.
Positive: Adam & His End
And now we get to the other big one. After the last volume, myself and no doubt many other fans had grown quite sick of Adam. He was no longer the threatening force that he initially was and had become an annoying, uninteresting nuisance that we wanted gone. So I am absolutely thrilled that the writers have finally removed him but in a way that’s dramatic, memorable, thrilling, and manages to make up for all the pitfalls his character had fallen into and properly show him for what he always was – spiteful, pathetic, unhinged, and very dangerous. Volume 5 tried to do that somewhat but it’s a lot more effective here.
I do find Adam’s appearance towards the end a little weird though, since he arrives with almost no build-up. Aside from a character short released before the volume started, an early scene in the first episode, and a couple of infrequent appearances throughout (where it’s not even clear if he was actually there or not), he gets no other focus and almost seems to exist just to ruin the team’s plans to steal a ship. I was somewhat expecting to see much more of his backstory be explored, showing how he became the man he is and what his life was like before joining the White Fang and meeting Blake. However, this is a very minor complaint since it doesn’t detract at all from his appearance in the last few episodes and his lack of focus may have been intentional, since it’s not his arc that’s getting a resolution – it’s Blake and Yang’s. He thinks he’s the hero of his own story when he’s anything but, and his relatively small appearance in Volume 6 highlights that.
I get the sense that the writers wanted to avoid making the audience sympathise with Adam, which I’ll admit I came very close to doing once he took his blindfold off. I was fully expecting to see some sort of scar (or even no scar at all so as to subvert my expectations). But what I saw made me feel sick – the Schnee Dust Company’s logo imprinted across his face (can he even SEE out of his left eye?!). In that split-second of a moment, I understood how Adam came to be who he was. While I would’ve liked to have seen some backstory, the scar is enough to explain almost everything you need to know. But then he starts talking and any sympathy he may have deserved flies out the window. His anger may be justified but it doesn’t change or make-up for his actions. He’s barely a person anymore – he’s just malice and anger, and he genuinely seems to believe that killing Blake will make everything better.
I’ve got to say, while I criticised him in the past, his voice actor, Garrett Hunter, delivered his best performance ever in those last episodes. He sounds legitimately angry during numerous points, yet never whiny like he did in Volume 5. While he does speak some absolutely bullshit lines, constantly blaming Blake for everything wrong that’s happened to him, attempting to guilt her and saying everything could have been avoided had she “just behaved,” it makes him deliberately pathetic this time, as well as frequently reminds the audience how awful of a person he is. I’ve heard that, apparently, Hunter felt uncomfortable with some of Adam’s lines, but he sounds like he’s having some fun getting to go all out this time. His calm, controlling front has completely slipped away and he can only switch between insanely lashing out and being a smug prick.
And, of course, I have to write about his death. I was initially a little iffy about Blake and Yang killing him (I’m not usually a fan of the heroes killing their enemies), but this was probably the only way it could’ve been done. He certainly wouldn’t have stopped trying to hunt them down if they had simply knocked him out, and him getting himself killed via his hubris or something may have felt cheap and too convenient by some fans. But what really makes his death so impactful is how oddly understated it is.
He doesn’t go out with a bang; he’s simply stabbed twice through the chest. It’s a very normal death, especially when you compare it to other major character deaths so far. All he can do is mutter a quiet “Oh” as he realises what happened, before stumbling forward and falling to his knees. And as you see the life leave his body, he tumbles off the edge and into the water below; his body bouncing off some rocks on the way down like he’s a rag doll. It’s an undignified and fitting death for someone like him.
I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy Adam being much more villainous. It’s actually impressive how, in the space of a handful of episodes, he went from a character I hated because I found him tiring to a character I loved to hate. It also helped that he took part in one of the series’ best fights.
Positive: Blake & Yang VS Adam
This fight is easily the best moment in Volume 6, and could be a contender for my favourite fight in the whole show. Outside of some simply stellar animation, it manages to be fast-paced without becoming confusing. You can always tell what is happening, and every punch, gunshot, and sword swing feels like it matters. I remember flinching a number of times throughout, like when Adam slams the hilt of his sword into Blake’s head. In fact, every stage is awesome for different reasons.
Blake VS Adam is satisfying since we get to see Blake properly hit back at the man who abused her for so long. Yeah, she got to do it a little bit in Volume 5 but it’s so much more intense here since Adam has made it clear he’s not holding back and she’s doing it alone. I was a little miffed that she was initially afraid of him when one of the best bits in Volume 5 was her standing up to him with no fear or hesitation but, to be fair, she did have a whole army backing her up then. And besides, the fear does fade away and is replaced with determination; she doesn’t hesitate to fight back and defend herself. And even when she’s knocked to the ground, she isn’t begging him to stop like in Volume 3 when he verbally attacks her; she rightfully calls him delusional and doesn’t try to apologise for stuff that wasn’t her fault to begin with.
Then, we get the incredibly satisfying sight of Yang flinging her bike into Adam. How did Yang know how to even do that? Who cares, it’s cool and watching that bit never gets old. I was always curious how Yang would act once she encountered Adam again, and seeing her immediately throw herself into the fight with no hesitation to protect Blake was great. But, at the same time, the show once again reminds us that Yang’s trauma is still there; something that douche-bag Adam tries to take advantage of. She is still slightly afraid of him, but her desire to keep Blake safe is far stronger and I love that.
Finally, there’s the two perfectly working together to take him down. It’s rather short, since Blake eventually gets taken out of the fight for a bit, but it was something we’ve all wanted to see for years and it lived up to the hype; the highlight being Yang remembering the lessons her father taught her and being smart to save using her Semblance to tank Adam’s last hit, catching his sword by the blade and punching him into the ground. The only thing that could have made it better would have been if she snapped the sword in the half (like, come on, that would’ve been way cooler than throwing it away).
And how could I not write about the music? It’s awesome for every section of the fight, combining all of the characters leitmotifs. My favourite parts are when Yang first arrives, accompanied by an instrumental version of Armed and Ready, and during Yang and Adam’s fight where both of their theme songs seem to be battling for dominance. A part of me wishes that the credits song, Nevermore, was used in full for the fight, but it does get used at the very end when Blake and Yang deal the final blow. The song is all about how Blake and Yang will no longer let Adam control their lives, so having its instrumental play during Adam’s defeat is perfect.
My only nitpick is that I kind of wish that all the other characters got to fight Adam too. I know that Blake and Yang were the only ones he had any meaningful interactions with, but imagine how cool it would have been to see the whole group take him on, being completely overwhelmed by his raw strength and forced to wear him down. I especially would have liked to see their reactions to actually meeting him, particularly Ruby. How would she have acted meeting the man who took her sister’s arm? However, the fact that Adam deliberately waited for Blake to be separated from the group highlights how much of a massive coward he is, despite his strength.
What else can I say except that it’s the part I look forward to every time I re-watch this volume, and I’m almost tempted to go watch it again right now.
Negative: Are Blake & Yang Actually a Thing Now?
I would not blame you for rolling your eyes at this next bit but, I’m sorry, I can’t help but be a teeny-tiny bit perplexed by this. I’ve seen so many people, after watching the aftermath of the Adam fight, celebrate that the Bumblebee ship is now canon. And I’m just sitting here like… “Is it though?”
I don’t know, it just doesn’t feel official to me. Like, it’s been done in a way where it could be interpreted as the two entering a relationship, but it’s vague enough so that it can still be read as being platonic. I’ve not seen any of the staff actually directly confirm anything or explicitly say “Blake and Yang are girlfriends now” either.
Granted, the way Blake and Yang act around each other very much feels like an admission of romantic feelings. Hell, Adam certainly seemed to think they were a thing (“What does she even see in you?!”). How they hold each other after killing Adam, with Yang gently caressing Blake as she cries into her chest, screams romantic overtones, and we see the two holding hands constantly afterwards too. Maybe I’m just really stupid and not picking up on the very obvious signs. After all, you don’t need to have characters kiss or say “I love you” to put across a romance. But after the show has had explicitly gay characters already, why be somewhat subtle when it comes to these two?
I’m hoping that the show commits to this in future volumes. Have it be a lot more explicit, maybe, or even make their new arc be all about trying to balance their new relationship with their mission to defeat Salem, if only to give their fans more to fawn over.
Oh, and make the White Rose ship canon too. Come on, throw me a bone here, I can only make up my own romantic subtext between Ruby and Weiss for so long!
Positive: Defeating the Leviathan
While I wouldn’t call this moment a fight scene, I felt like I had to give this scene some praise since it is the true climax of the volume. It’s not flashy or anything; it’s honestly a pretty simple but nicely done scene to show Ruby finally controlling her silver eye powers. It’s got a good build-up, with Ruby remembering Maria’s advice and focusing on her friends and family, leading to a bunch of scenes from the previous volumes that fill the audience with a sense of nostalgia. But it’s then overrun by all the bad memories, showing how even after so long, Ruby is still haunted by the Fall of Beacon and the deaths of both Pyrrha and Penny. She then cleverly uses Jinn’s time-stopping powers to give herself a little more time, managing to re-focus herself and results in our first proper look at her mother, Summer Rose… which would’ve been amazing if Tumblr hadn’t SPOILED IT FOR ME!!!
Ahem, anyway, the music that plays is great as well, creating a beautiful sense of triumph. You feel proud of Ruby for pulling it off, knowing that her newfound control of these powers will only make her stronger and help her overcome whatever else she’ll face in the future. However, it doesn’t kill the Leviathan, which is good since it shows that she still has some growing and learning to do; the silver eyes aren’t an instant-win she can just pull whenever she wants. It also allows Cordovin to redeem herself by rocking up to the fight in her mech, missing an arm, and using a kick-ass drill to take the beast down, before allowing Ruby and friends to slip away as thanks. All in all, a pretty solid finale to end the volume on.
And that’s it for Volume 6. In case it wasn’t apparent by this point, while I certainly have some gripes with it, it’s easily one of the best volumes. I was initially going to call it my second favourite and grace it with a silver medal, but it may just top Volume 3 as my all-time favourite. Regardless, it’s still of phenomenal quality and thankfully makes Volume 5 look like more of an outlier than the start of a downward trend.
My hopes are extremely high for Volume 7 now, but I’m no longer wary like I was over a year ago. With a new locale in the form of Atlas, more opportunities for character drama, and several villains on the move, I absolutely can not wait to see what’s in store for Ruby and friends.