You may have heard the name being bandied about by fans of Rooster Teeth. You might be a fan of Rooster Teeth yourself and know of it in passing from the website. You might have never heard of it before and clicked on this article because you thought the article looked cool. Whichever it is, let’s talk about RWBY.
Slight spoilers for the first two episodes.
What Is RWBY?
RWBY is an animated series created by Monty Oum of Rooster Teeth; it follows Ruby Rose, a young girl chosen to enter the prestigious Beacon Academy a few years earlier than normal due to her prodigious fighting ability. Beacon Academy divides its students into teams of four and teaches them everything they need to know about protecting their world, Remnant, from a force of evil, called the Creatures of Grimm, monstrous perversions of real-world animals made of shadow and piercing bone. These Grimm are drawn to negative emotion and attack humans on sight with very little exception. With the comparatively recent discovery of a magical substance called Dust, Hunters and Huntresses wage endless war on the Grimm.
There are three other tools in each trainee’s arsenal, in addition to Dust: their weapons, their Aura, and their Semblances. A Hunter’s weapon is custom made, usually by them, and is specifically tailored for their personal use only. Hunter weapons also have the almost-universal property of being able to transform into a different kind of weapon upon command; for instance, Ruby’s huge mechanical scythe “is also a customizable high-impact sniper rifle.”
Aura is the physical manifestation of a person’s soul, and thus anyone with a soul can use it. Aura has to be activated by exposure to another person’s Aura or by intense stress, but once it is, it can be used and trained like any other ability. The main use of a person’s Aura is to defend against physical injury, although pain and other sensations like heat can still be felt. With enough training, Aura can also be used to augment attacks and weapons, causing bursts of force that can propel objects through the air or even explode Grimm. Another use of Aura is to accelerate the healing of wounds, although this is shown to be unconscious thus far. It is also unreliable, as the acceleration has been shown to be unnoticeable so far. Continuous use of a person’s Aura depletes it, and if it runs out, that person can be injured and killed.
Finally, Semblances are a unique magical power everybody on Remnant possesses, kind of like the Quirks from Boku no Hero Academia. Because they only require Aura and not Dust, they are perhaps the most widely-used tool a Hunter possesses. A Semblance can affect the user or the world around them; the possibilities are literally endless. However, unlike Quirks, they are always useful.
Who Will I See?
Our 15-year-old main character’s name is Ruby Rose; after stopping notorious criminal Roman Torchwick from robbing a Dust shop in the city of Vale, she is enrolled in Beacon Academy two years early and made the leader of Team RWBY. Her weapon is a mechanized scythe/high impact sniper rifle named Crescent Rose, which she is said to be extremely proficient with after training extensively with her Uncle Qrow (pronounced ‘Crow’). She uses the recoil from shooting to accelerate her movement around the battlefield and slow any falls from great heights she may experience. Her hand-to-hand combat skills, meanwhile, are extremely lacking. Her Semblance allows her to wrap her cloak around herself and dash faster than the eye can track, leaving a flurry of rose petals in her wake. She can use this power in midair as well. Due to her propensity to wear a red hood, as well as her character short “Red”, she is obviously an analog of Little Red Riding Hood.
Weiss Schnee is the heiress to the Schnee Dust Company, the leading provider of Dust the world over. After enrolling in Beacon Academy against her father’s wishes, she is drawn into Ruby’s antics and ultimately ends up Ruby’s teammate and the first friend made at Beacon. Her weapon, named Myrtenaster, has to ability to use Dust in conjunction with her Semblance to affect a variety of magic upon the world through magic circles called glyphs. The most notable of these magic circles allows to her summon ghostly images of foes she’s previously defeated, although this ability is not available to her at the beginning of the series and must be trained up. She is the second member of Team RWBY, and as her name attests, she is an analog of Snow White.
Blake Belladonna is a Faunus, a humanoid race that possesses animal traits like ears and tails, and a former member of the White Fang, a terrorist organization that has been making trouble throughout Remnant. After realizing that her partner, Adam Taurus, was becoming more unstable and cruel in his actions, she saw the Fang for what it was and left to enroll in Beacon Academy. Although Faunus are not restricted from enrolling in Beacon, they still face significant prejudice, and thus Blake initially wears a bow atop her head in order to disguise her cat ears. Her weapon Gambol Shroud is a gun with a double-edged sword and a ribbon attached. She can use it as a sword and a gun separately, but she can also fold the sword down like a sickle and swing it around on the ribbon like a kusarigama. Her Semblance allowed her to create shadow clones that are indistinguishable from the real thing, allowing her to distract and confuse enemies, and Dust allows her to solidify these clones with elemental properties. She is the third member of Team RWBY, and an analog for both Belle and the Beast.
Finally, Yang Xiao Long is Ruby’s older sister. In contrast with Ruby’s mother, Summer Rose, Yang’s mother Raven Branwen is still alive and leading a clan of bandits. Yang’s been wrestling with Raven leaving her, her sister, and her father for quite some time, and would like nothing more than to know why she did it, although it’s not something that consumes her entire character. She does want to be a Huntress independent of her mother, and looking after her remaining family is also high on her list of priorities. Her weapon is a gauntlet named Ember Celica that double as a gun; the recoil from the bullets firing can increase the power of her punches, and the armored forearm brace can deflect shots from most personal weaponry. Her Semblance allows her to absorb the kinetic energy she takes from attacks and redirect it through her own punches to attack harder, but she still takes the full damage of each attack before she uses it. As well, if she receives enough energy, her hair catches on fire, and if she gets angry, her eyes turn red. As well, anger can cause her to spontaneously catch her hair on fire without being in a battle. She’s the last member of Team RWBY, and due to her voice actor’s statement that her power comes from her hair, an analog for Rapunzel.
Okay, Yeah, But Who Else?
Also pretty high on the list of people to watch out for are Team JNPR, composed of Jaune Arc, Nora Valkyrie, Pyrrha Nikos, and Lie Ren. They’re mostly secondary characters in the first three seasons, but starting in season four they’re upgraded to main characters.
Jaune is an insecure young man who uses a sword and shield named Crocea Mors in his fights, unique in the fact that they’re two different objects instead of one weapon that switches between two forms. Also notable is the fact that he does not know what his Semblance is, and that before the first episode, his Aura had never been activated before. It takes Pyrrha noticing that he’s struggling during the test on the first day to get him the exposure to another’s Aura needed to do the job. He is an analog for Joan of Arc.
Speaking of Pyrrha, she is a world-renowned tournament competitor with four consecutive high-profile wins under her belt. Like Jaune, she also uses a sword named Miló and a shield named Akoúo, but the sword can also turn into both a rifle and a spear, and her Semblance and Aura have been activated for a long time. She has the power of polarity; she can use her Semblance to control metal objects, like a magnet. She is an analog for the ancient Greek hero, Achilles.
Nora Valkyrie and Lie Ren have known each other from childhood, and are thus very close to each other. Nora is a very clear analog for Thor with her use of a giant hammer/grenade launcher named Magnhild and her Semblance of using lightning to power up (discovered when she was struck by lightning as a child). Ren, called almost exclusively by his last name, uses twin automatic pistols with sickle blades attached to them; they are referred to together as StormFlower. He is an analog for Mulan.
Is There Anything Else I Need to Know?
Anything essential will either be introduced in the first few episodes. There are a few musical leitmotifs that will tell you more about certain scenes, and those can be found in the so-called color trailers, simply titled “Red”, “White”, “Black”, and “Yellow”. They’re not essential for viewing, though.
We don’t yet know what happened to the moon.