|“||The weak die. The strong live. Those are the rules.||„|
|~ Raven talking to her brother Qrow.|
|“||You won't find it. Because Vernal isn't the Spring Maiden. I am!||„|
|~ Raven revealing she is the Spring Maiden.|
Raven Branwen is a major antagonist in the American web cartoon series RWBY. She is the mother of Yang Xiao Long, the twin sister of Qrow Branwen, the leader of the Branwen Tribe, and was a member of Team STRQ. She is also the true Spring Maiden.
Taiyang states Raven had a very direct approach, and saw traits that their daughter inherited. Taiyang also revealed that Raven had a number of unspecified faults that greatly contributed to the dissolution of Team STRQ.
She is voiced by Anna Hullum, who also voiced Trixie in Nomad of Nowhere.
Raven Branwen and Qrow were raised in a tribe of murderers and thieves. When they were teenagers, they were sent to Beacon Academy in Vale to learn combat and how to kill Huntsmen and Huntresses. The two formed half of Team STRQ, which also comprised of Summer Rose and Taiyang Xiao Long. The team eventually graduated and settled down with Taiyang and Raven marrying and giving birth to their daughter Yang Xiao Long. However, when the time came to return to the tribe, Qrow refused, instead preferring his new life as a Huntsman. Upon learning a terrible truth about Beacon's headmaster Ozpin's past, Raven abandoned her family and returned to the tribe alone. Taiyang was devastated, but ended up marrying Summer and giving birth to a second daughter, Ruby Rose.
Raven returned to the tribe and became their leader, running the tribe and leading them on violent raids and attacks against villages for food and supplies to ensure the survival of the tribe. At some point in time, Raven and her tribe came across the Spring Maiden and saw that she was very weak and tried training her, but she was unable to make the Spring Maiden meet her standards and knowing that she'd be a target of Salem, Raven killed her and became the new Spring Maiden.
In "No Brakes", Raven first appears when Neopolitan is about to execute Yang, teleporting in and silently challenging her, and Neopolitan flees immediately. Raven leaves just as Yang recovers, and Yang gets a brief glimpse of her rescuer before she disappears into a red portal.
In "Destiny", Yang is visited by her uncle, Qrow Branwen. Yang tells Qrow that she saw her mother when Qrow reveals that he asked him to pass on a message to her daughter, Raven saved Yang once, but will not do so a second time. Qrow muses that Raven is dangerous, with a worldview that not many agree with. He then offers some information that might help Yang find her.
In "Family", Qrow stays at an inn in Higanbana. He is served a drink he did not order, which the waitress explains is from a lady upstairs with "red eyes". He goes up the stairs and Raven wants to find out if Salem has Ozpin's relic, but the tribe of bandits attacked Shion. Raven chastises him for leaving the tribe behind, their "family," a term Qrow objects to her using to describe "killers and thieves." Qrow asks if she can tell him where the Spring Maiden is. Raven refuses to answer and exits through one of her portals, leaving an annoyed Qrow and a startled waitress.
In "Dread in the Air", Raven Branwen and two members of her tribe encounter Weiss Schnee, at the airship crash site and she is knocked unconscious and taken back to her campground to be held for ransom. She is also revealed to have the Spring Maiden, Vernal, among her tribe, having presumably taken the latter in once she ran from her responsibilities as a Maiden.
In "Lighting the Fire", Yang arrives at the Branwen Tribe camp with the defeated bandits and Raven Branwen congratulates her. She offers answers and a special meal, but Yang instead states that she is there to get her mother to use her Semblance to create a portal that will bring her to Qrow Branwen and therefore Ruby. Raven scoffs and attempts to send her away, but Yang is determined enough to fight. Weiss Schnee sees her former teammate when a tent crashes and she gives up trying to escape with subtlety. Weiss makes the Armored Knight break her cage and she joins Yang in the center of the fight. At Raven's request, Vernal causes lightning to strike in front of the Armored Knight before a fight can really begin. Raven calls a halt, warning everyone they will attract Grimm if they do not stop. She invites the two girls into her tent to learn the truth before they go after Ruby.
In "Known by its Song", Raven begins to tell Yang Xiao Long and Weiss Schnee the "truth". She reveals to them that she and Qrow initially attended Beacon so that they could serve as a counterforce against other Huntsmen that posed a threat to their tribe. However, over time, Ozpin saw great potential Team STRQ, and held them in high regard. He then told the team many secrets about the world of Remnant at large, including the existence of Salem. Raven then shows off to the two of them her ability to shapeshift into a raven, which she heavily implies is an ability Ozpin gave to her and Qrow. Raven then opens up a portal with her Semblance, but not before offering them a choice: to stay and get their questions answered, or to join Ozpin in his war against Salem, which she believes is hopeless. Yang chooses the latter, as all she cares about is making sure her sister is safe. Before Yang and Weiss leave, Raven warns Yang that the next time they meet she may not be so kind, to which Yang responds by saying that she was not kind this time either. After Yang and Weiss leave and the portal closes Raven solemnly remakes that she knows she was not kind to her daughter during their meeting.
In "A Perfect Storm", Raven is shocked upon learning from Vernal that Salem has found them with four of her followers waiting for her: Cinder Fall, Arthur Watts, Mercury Black and Emerald Sustrai. During their meeting, she keeps a confident persona, orders her tribe to prepare to move, and has Vernal display her mastery over the Maiden powers. But after learning that the Haven Academy Headmaster, Leonardo Lionheart, is working for Salem, Raven loses her cool and states her refusal to get caught in the war between Salem and Ozpin. She is then pressured by Cinder and Watts with the White Fang's upcoming attack on Haven. Raven seemingly gives in, but asks for the death of her brother as he knows she has the Spring Maiden. After Salem's followers leave, she has Vernal follow them to learn where they are staying. Raven then reveals her plans to take the Relic of Knowledge for herself to ensure the survival of the Branwen tribe. She then shapeshifts into her bird form and flies to Mistral where Qrow is.
In "True Colors", Raven arrives at Haven Academy and manages to have Leo call Qrow and tell him that he managed to convince Mistrel's council to send in a small recon team to extract the Spring Maden from the Branwen Tribe. After the call, Leo is seen being in the same room with Raven where she admits how she's impressed that Leo is the first one to betray Ozpin and that he shouldn't be ashamed for trying to survive when he explains why he continues to cooperate with Salem. Though when asked who she was trying to convince, Raven abruptly makes her way out.
In "Vault of the Spring Maiden", Raven heads down to the vault with Vernal and Cinder. After dealing with Cinder who is mildly brags that Vernal must feel special, Vernal merely asks how to open the vault. Cinder reveals that the only way to open it is for the Spring Maiden to touch the final door at which point it will only open for her. At that moment Cider quickly uses Ice Dust to freeze Raven, after doing this Cinder tries to use her newly revealed Grimm arm to steal the Spring Maidens power from Vernal. However as Vernal collapses and Cinder is left confused on why she can't sense the Maidens power, Raven shouts that the true Spring Maiden is not Vernal but herself and prepares to attack Cinder.
In "Downfall", engages in a fight with Cinder who seeks to posses the Spring Maiden's power and during the fight, Raven destroyed one of Cinder's swords and a shard jabbed in her Grimm arm causing great pain. Raven remarked how Cinder's arm can't be protected by Aura due to the nature of Aura and how Cinder turned herself into a monster all for power. The fight progressed and the two maidens eventually unleashed their true powers to defeat each other. During the fight, Raven managed to get the upper hand, but rubble began to fall and stunned both maides. Raven was pinned down by Cinder, but she froze Cinder's feet to distract her and broke free. At the height of their fight, Vernal used her last breath to distract Cinder to give Raven the opportunity to deliver a final blow against Cinder and send her falling into the abyss. As she fell, Cinder froze Cinder and let her fall and gave her final respects towards Vernal in honor of her sacrifice. She opened the vault and was ready to take the Haven Academy relic, but Yang showed up and stopped her from doing so.
In "Haven's Fate" Raven is confronted by Yang and tries to make her daughter leave, but she doesn't and she continues to confront her mother and call out Raven for her hypocrisy, cowardice, and how she continues to abandon her friends and family to run away from trouble. Raven got upset and was even called out by Yang for being scared of Salem and yet, she continued to push forward the idea of survival making her appear as nothing more but a hypocrite. Yang admitted that she was scared, but was honest to admit it and wouldn't leave. Yang walked into the vault and took the relic, but Raven said she was sorry seconds before she turned into a Raven bird and fled from Haven Academy completely. In the after credits scene of the episode, a black feather flew by Taiyang's house implying that she returned to her home and original husband.
Raven wears a shallow cut black and red dress, five necklaces with an assortment of beads, a red girdle-belt, and a pair of matching gauntlets. She wears gloves in Volume 2, but in Volume 4 onward she wears fingerless gloves.
An object that looks to be made from feathers hangs from the right side of her skirt. She also wears detached black leggings with a red splatter pattern in Volume 2, but in Volume 4 onwards her leggings are solid black. Under her leggings she wears black boots, which have red high heels and soles. Her most distinctive feature is a fearsome, full-face mask that resembles the face of a Creature of Grimm. The mask has four eye slits, further enhancing the character's inhuman appearance. In Volume 2, Raven's eyes are visible through the lower slits, but in Volume 5, the slits are black and red inside.
Under the mask, she looks very similar to Yang, sharing the same facial shape, though her hair is more ravenous and black with red highlights, her eyebrows are a little bit higher, her complexion is significantly lighter and there are slight age lines under her eyes. Raven's eye color is the same shade of red that Yang's shifts to when enraged. Her hair is loosely done up in a ponytail, tied by a red shawl, with the ends resembling curved black feathers. A cowlick can be seen protruding from the top of her head, similar to that of her daughter's.
|“||You're right. I don't know you. I only know the Raven dad told me about. She was troubled, and complicated, but she fought for what she believed in, whether it was her team or her tribe! Did you kill her too?||„|
|~ Yang to Raven.|
During a conversation with Yang, Qrow calls his sister a dangerous person whose worldview clashes with his own. Nevertheless, in "No Brakes", Raven saves Yang's life from Neo but later has Qrow warn her daughter not to expect any "further kindness."
In "Family", it is revealed that she has a "survival of the fittest" mentality and, despite having graduated from Beacon Academy as a Huntress, has little issues with taking lives of the innocent or even that of other Huntsmen, indirectly or otherwise. Raven is more serious than her brother and is somewhat demanding, focusing on her mission over family ties. She sees Qrow as a traitor for leaving their tribe. Additionally, Raven is a cynic who claims to have foreseen Ozpin's failure to protect Beacon from its destruction. She believes that Ozpin is not the man her daughter thinks he is and condemns those who trust him, such as Qrow, Ruby and even Taiyang.
In "Two Steps Forward, Two Steps Back", Tai reveals Raven was stubborn during her academy days, had a very direct approach and saw strength as all-important in a fight, traits that her daughter inherited. He adds that Raven was ambitious and gave her all to whatever cause she saw as just. Taiyang also revealed that Raven had unspecified faults that greatly contributed to the dissolution of Team STRQ.
Raven has a penchant for patronizing others. She acts condescendingly toward Weiss and Yang in "Known by its Song" and toward Cinder's group in "A Perfect Storm". Raven credits others' success with their relation to her, especially with Yang after she could handle the trap set at Haven Academy.
Raven's intellect and skill is apparently infamous. Cinder states she has heard numerous stories of her strong and clever reputation before trying to rob Vernal's supposed Maiden powers, only to discover Raven had managed to fool her, for she is the true Spring Maiden.
After defeating Cinder in "Downfall", Raven shows a softer side, taking the time to close the deceased Vernal's eyes and thank her for her service. This side of her is further shown in "Haven's Fate", in which she and Yang share an emotional conversation. After Yang calls Raven out for her cowardice in refusing to fight Salem and for showing a callous indifference to her own daughter's well-being, Raven once more begs Yang to stay out of the war against Salem, to which Yang refuses. Raven subsequently breaks down in tears, her love for her daughter finally showing itself. Raven tearfully apologizes to Yang before departing in her corvid form.
Powers and Abilities
|“||Oh, shut up! You don't know the first thing about strength! You turn your back on people. You run away when things get too hard. You put others in harm's way instead of yourself! You might be powerful, but that doesn't make you strong.||„|
|~ Yang to Raven.|
Raven is armed with a sheath that has a rotary chamber filled with different types of dust blades, reminiscent of the dust vial chamber of Weiss Schnee's Myrtenaster. The blades, when connected with the accompanying handle, are reminiscent of long-bladed, single edged odachi, or "great sword". Using the handle, Raven is able to wield a variety of different blades, each one possessing a different color and property.
By reattaching the handle to the sheath, Raven is able to interchange, or if need be, replace the Dust blade. The blades are telescopic in nature, which allows them to be approximately twice the length of the sheath. She tends to most often use the blade made of Red Dust, though she has also used others. The colors seen so far in combat include: Red, Blue, Yellow, Gray/Black and Green. The Dust blades, though powerful, can be broken if struck several times or hard enough.
Raven possesses great speed in combat, so much so that her attacks are difficult to follow with the naked eye. She shows proficiency in "Iaido", the art of swordsmanship practiced by Adam Taurus, as seen when she first engages Neopolitan. Though after her initial attack, she challenges Neo with a more traditional stance, indicating a more intricate fighting style.
It is stated in "Welcome to Haven" that Raven is equally matched with her brother Qrow, although this did not take her Maiden Powers into account.
Without knowing that it was his sister, Qrow Branwen deduces that much of the damage wrought in Shion village was caused by the Spring Maiden, exemplifying her destructive utilization of the Spring Maiden's powers. She is able to generate a lightning strike in "Lighting the Fire", summoning it from the sky like the previous Fall Maiden Amber could. In "A Perfect Storm", she is able to summon strong gusts of wind and turn the sky from clear to cloudy in an instant. In both cases, she was able to disguise her power and make it appear that Vernal was performing the feats.
As the Spring Maiden, her power can be used to open the chamber at Haven Academy, which contains the Relic of Knowledge. Her eyes gain a dark red aura when she demonstrates her powers, which is possibly the reason why she wears her Grimm mask often. In "Downfall", during Raven's fight with Cinder, she makes use of several different elemental powers. She can generate ice, either by condensing it into weaponry, forming ice spikes or freezing from a distance. She can also generate electricity from her hands, using them to supercharge her weaponry, release it in close ranged strikes, and generate fields of electricity around her. Lastly, she demonstrates the ability to fly.
Raven's Semblance allows her to create portals to instantly teleport to people she has bonded with. While she is never seen using her portals directly for combat, she has used them to teleport to Yang in order to save her from Neo, as well as to leave the bar in Higanbana after talking with Qrow. Raven can also allow other people through her portals, as she did with Weiss and Yang. In each instance, she swings her sword to create the portals. She has bonded with at least four people: Taiyang Xiao Long, Qrow Branwen, Yang Xiao Long and Vernal.
Like her brother, Raven has the ability to transform into a corvid, specifically a raven. This ability was bestowed upon her by Ozpin through magic.
|“||Yang, we have a lot to talk about.||„|
|~ Raven, to Yang Xiao Long.|
|“||I told you Beacon would fall and it did. I told you Ozpin would fail and he has.||„|
|~ Raven, to Qrow.|
|“||I lead our people now. And as leader I will do everything in my power to ensure our survival.||„|
|~ Raven, declaring what she cares about most.|
|“||I think… we just hit the jackpot.||„|
|~ Raven capturing Weiss.|
|“||You were patient, determined, and strong enough to make your dream a reality. Well done, Yang.||„|
|~ Raven, proud of Yang finding her.|
|“||Family. Only coming around when they need something.||„|
|~ Raven about family.|
|“||You know, it takes real strength to march in here and demand such a favor of me. I've got to say, I'm impressed.||„|
|~ Raven on Yang's request of her.|
|“||Ozpin is not the man you think he is. And Qrow is a fool for trusting him. I would know, I trusted him once, too.||„|
|~ Raven warning Yang about "the man behind the curtain".|
|“||If you're really going after your sister, then you need to know the truth.||„|
|~ Raven's request of Yang as the episode ends.|
|“||Not all of them. Some people are just in it for the money and the fame, but there's even more that are just looking to grow stronger. Your Uncle Qrow and I didn't attend Beacon to become Huntsmen, we did it to learn how to kill Huntsmen.||„|
|~ Raven, explaining her and Qrow's reason why they attended Beacon to Weiss and Yang.|
|“||I'm giving you a choice. Stay here, with me, and I'll answer all your questions and more. We can have a fresh start. Or… you can go back to Qrow and join Ozpin's impossible war against Salem, and meet the same fate as so many others. But can you really go back to trusting someone that's kept so much from you?||„|
|~ Raven, gives Yang a difficult choice to choose from.|
|“||Yang. If you side with your uncle, I may not be as kind the next time we meet…||„|
|~ Raven's warning to Yang before watching Yang and Weiss entering her portal.|
|“||I'm not helping Salem, I'm not helping Oz! I don't want a part in any of this!||„|
|~ Raven, to Cinder.|
|“||Of course not. They'll never leave us alone. Once our purpose has come and gone, we'll be discarded. Salem only uses people until they are no longer useful. If we want to have any chance of defending ourselves against her, then we need this Relic. If Qrow and those brats want to follow Ozpin, then let them. When the chaos reaches its peak, we'll grab the Relic and make our escape.||„|
|~ Raven, to Vernal.|
|“||Man up! You did what you had to do to survive, there is no shame in that.||„|
|~ Raven, to Lionheart.|
|“||Leo did what any sane person would in his position - he looked at all the information he had in front of him, assessed the situation, and made a choice.||„|
|~ Raven, defending Leo's betrayal of Qrow.|
|“||You sound just like your mother.||„|
|~ Raven, dismissing Ruby's heartfelt plea for working together.|
|“||You turned yourself into a monster just for power.||„|
|~ Raven, to Cinder.|
|“||If you were stronger or more clever, then maybe… you'd remember to watch your back!||„|
|~ Raven, to Cinder.|
|“||It's not that simple. You don't know me, you don't know what I've been through, the choices I've had to make!||„|
|~ Raven to Yang.|
|“||I've stared death in the face over and over again! And every time I've spat in that face and survived, because I'm strong enough to do what others won't!!||„|
|~ Raven to Yang.|
|“||Who do you think you are lecturing me?! Standing there, shaking like a scared little girl?!||„|
|~ Raven, to Yang.|
|“||I... I'm sorry...||„|
|~ Raven, to Yang, tearfully after their argument.|
- "Branwen" is Welsh, meaning "blessed white raven/crow", which corresponds to her first name. Raven can refer to a number of bird species in the genus Corvus, or in reference to the color black.
- As well as the fact that their first names, Raven and Qrow (crow), are both black birds in the genus Corvus. Specifically, ravens are a type of crow.
- During the scene where Yang talks about her search for Raven and being saved by her uncle Qrow in "Burning the Candle", the text on the chalkboard (enlarged) is an extract from a poem about Huginn and Muninn, two ravens from Norse mythology. The text supposedly reads:
- Hugin and Munin fly each day over the spacious earth.
- I fear for Hugin, that he not come back, yet more anxious am I for Munin.
- In Volume 2's post-credits scene, Yang meets Raven, who removes her mask. Raven then tells Yang that they have a lot to talk about, as the screen cuts to black, ending the Volume. However, after the death of series creator Monty Oum and the departure from the previously planned storyline, this scene was later confirmed to not be canon. In continuity, is presumably now a vision or dream.
- She wears the same necklace as Neopolitan and Coco Adel. Incidentally, she faced off against the former before she retreated.
- Her unofficial theme is "All Things Must Die", which is heard during her fight with Cinder.
- Her mask appears to be a more elaborately styled version of the Grimm Masks worn by the White Fang.
- Notably, her mask and feathered hair give her an appearance markedly similar to a Nevermore, likely referencing her name.
- The red and black portal Raven uses is visually similar to the one created by Cinder's glove in "Beginning of the End". A similar looking portal is seen in both the Volume 1 and Volume 3 Opening animations.
- In the Japanese dub, she was voiced by Megumi Hayashibara.