Well, RWBY Volume 6 has come to an end. As obsessed with this series as I am, I think it's about time I reviewed a Volume. Lots of spoilers and opinions ahead.
Before we begin, let's go over what I think of the series thus far. RWBY Volumes 1, 2, and 3 I think are some of the greatest pieces of animation ever produced. They were well paced, interesting, funny, and had hands-down some of the best fight scenes in anything I'd ever seen, and still remain some of the best in recent memory.
However, in early 2015, the series' creator, director, lead animator, and original voice of Lie Ren passed away. The series had to be put on hold as the crew (affectionately dubbed "CRWBY") had to figure out what to do without their leader. RWBY Volume 4 came out in 2016 with new animation, new direction, and new writing. It was good, but it felt... different. The entire Volume was one long journey, and we were suddenly barraged with a ton of new characters and ideas that felt a little out of place. However, it still made for great storytelling, so Volume 4 was good.
Next came Volume 5, which was, in my opinion, a major disappointment. While it had its good moments, almost the entire Volume was talking with little action or interesting conflict. The Volume wrapped on an anticlimactic ending that left me wanting more.
Now Volume 6 has wrapped, and I'm going to talk about it.
The main purpose of this Volume seems to be finally explaining many of the series' mysteries and furthering the character development. This Volume finally reveals Ozpin and Salem's histories, as well as confirms the existence of the two gods and reveals Salem's ultimate plan. All the while, Jaune Arc, Nora Valkyrie, and Lie Ren must finally confront the death of their friend/lover Pyrrha Nikos head-on, Ruby Rose needs to figure out how to be a good leader, and Blake and Yang struggle with their shared past trauma involving Adam Taurus.
The first thing I'm going to say is that this Volume was MUCH better than the previous one. This one began to feel like those original three Volumes again, with impressive fight scenes and actual interesting conflict and development. The reveal about Salem and Ozpin's past and the ladder's diabolical plan also was fitting with the new feel of the show and served as GREAT conflict. Also include the anticipated return of Neopolitan, who teams up with Cinder Fall to track down and kill Ruby (but not until the two duke it out themselves in easily the best fight in the Volume). Add in some awesome new Grimm, too, as well as a lot of callbacks to the original Volumes that makes it feel like it is going back to its roots.
However, I have my criticisms, and I'm sad to say that there are a fair amount. This Volume suffers from the same major problem Volumes 4 and 5 did: not enough happens. This, like Volume 4, was just one long journey with pacing that was way too slow. A trip like the one they made in this Volume would be done in a few episodes of the original Volumes, but here it takes twenty. This Volume also suffers from the anticlimactic ending that Volume 5 suffered from, with no big battle or revelation, but rather a character moment that ultimately amounts to very little. But now here's the one that you're all going to kill me for: in this Volume, Blake Belladonna and Yang Xiao Long officially became a romantic couple, and I'm just going to say it: I think they were better as just friends. Yang and Blake worked so well because they were unlikely friends, but they always put each other first. They were like Frodo and Sam; they work really well as close, close friends. But once you make them lovers, it dulls the relationship and just makes it... awkward. One of the reasons I liked Blake with Sun Wukong so much is because they worked like a couple from the beginning; they were perfect for one another. But this Volume kind of insultingly makes Sun "just a friend" and acts like he was never intended to be anything more, even when he clearly was. I know that Blake and Yang are great together, and they could work as lovers, but it honestly feels out of place and almost like pandering to the shippers.
So before I give a final verdict, here are some closing thoughts about RWBY as a whole and the series' future: RWBY will continue to remain one of my biggest obsessions. But I think I need to finally accept that it isn't the same show as those first few Volumes, and most likely will never be like that again. So if I want to enjoy the series to its full extent, I need to stop with what I want to see and what I am seeing. I guess it is because I loved the first three Volumes so much and I do hold the series to such a high standard, but make no mistake that I still do enjoy the series.
As for my final thoughts on RWBY Volume 6, I will honestly say that I really did enjoy it. It was a bit of a breath of fresh air that reminded me why I love this series so much. It still has some issues that it needs to work through as well as a few questionable decisions, but I do think that it is worthy of RWBY and am excited where Volume 7 will take us next time.