Q-Taku: Animesque Web Series RWBY is Everything Wrong With “Strong Female Characters”

Q-taku is a column by Rose where she discusses anime, manga and other parts of associated pop culture and its fandom, and her take on it all as a queer feminist viewer.


 

rwby 1

Anime is a pretty varied medium, with a wide variety of visual styles. But there is one particular aesthetic – the big eyes, wild hair colors and action-packed battle scenes – that’s associated with it more than any other, and when even American productions like Avatar: The Last Airbender copy it, those shows tend to be popular among anime fans. So for a column that I intended from the outset to be about anime’s fans as much as the series themselves, I figured I should cover the latest anime fan fixation I wish would go far, far away: RWBY – even though it’s American and, thus, not technically anime.

RWBY is a web series created by Rooster Teeth, a group of mostly dudes who became famous for their parody series Red vs. Blue, created from altering footage of Halo games. It got big enough for them to get Microsoft’s endorsement, and to be available on mainstream streaming sites such as Netflix. And last year, it made way for RT animator Monty Oum’s own pet project: RWBY, which likewise was embraced by anime streaming site Crunchyroll and took off with anime and gaming fans alike.

So what is this show about? RWBY is about a group of girls with powerful magical potential, attending a magical-combat school to learn to defeat supernatural monsters and make friends. Four of them form a team called RWBY, from their names: Ruby, Weiss, Blake and Yang. At the end, it turns out that one of them is a part of an oppressed minority of humans who have cat ears/monkey tails/etc. and some of these “faunuses” (as they’re called) have started a terrorist group that threatens their society’s security. Or something like that. The thing is… RWBY is kind of a mess.

For example…

Its technical failings have already been well-documented around the Internet. The show looks awful (with numerous amateur animation problems), the writing is so full of clichés that it seems assembled from a dartboard of TVTropes page titles, and the voice actors make a high-school drama club sound like professionals. Fans like to excuse these issues by claiming it’s a “fan-made production,” but as mentioned before, Rooster Teeth is a licensed Microsoft partner; they’re far from “normal fans.” Others like to claim that they’re willing to overlook its many issues in order to have a fighting series that is centered on (so they claim) interesting female characters, and relationships between them. That claim, at least, deserves more respect and scrutiny, and has contributed quite a bit to the series’ popularity on feminist-fangirl hubs like Tumblr. So let’s look at if there’s anything to that.

A few years ago, the website Overthinking It came up with a “Female Character Flowchart” to document the many types of repetitive one- and two-dimensional female characters we see over and over again in fiction. I have it bookmarked, and my friends and I’ve brought it out many times over the years when we got into new shows, to see where the background female characters in it fall. Most of them have a “type” they generally fit, but are too unique to slot into it completely. But with the RWBY girls? Every single one of them fit those types to a tee. Every single one.

They sure don’t CHEER like real women…

What is more, all these stereotypes are those that are fairly particular to how girls are portrayed in anime. Protagonist Ruby is the perky “Genki Girl” – using a Japanese term for “enthusiastic/energetic,” it describes the type of character who is always bursting with energy and excited for everything. Ruby is excited to study magic at Beacon Academy, excited to make friends even when those “friends” are more reluctant. Just excited, excited, excited! And she rarely learns anything when that excitement backfires. Weiss is the “Tsundere” – the girl who alternates between standoffish snarkiness, and demure sweetness when someone penetrates her defenses; the ultimate fantasy of boys who like to pretend the girls who rebuff them secretly like them. Blake is the “Kuudere” – like the tsundere, but where her defense is simply ignoring people and hiding her face behind a book, instead of combating them. And Yang is the least complex of all, a one-dimensional “Team Mom” who seems to be there to encourage everyone and make them feel better, and little else. When she has a real personality, it changes with every scene.

Left to right: Blake, Yang, Weiss and Ruby

The side female characters are even more disposable. Nora seems to be there for nothing but SUPER WACKY RANDOM!!! jokes about “imitating sloths” and such. Pyrrha is main male character Jaune’s hypercompetent and flawless love interest. Later, we meet a robot girl named Penny who’s yet another sterile example of “socially-inept but in a CUTE way!” Really, for all the fans love to talk about RWBY‘s many female characters, the only character with any semblance of depth or an arc is a male character, Jaune. He has some actual problems as someone coming from a long line of esteemed Hunters who can’t live up to their expectations, and faked his way into their school. He also gets a few episodes about learning to stand up to bullies. RWBY may seem “feminist” on the surface, but any close analysis reveals its female characters are two-dimensional stereotypes. In short, they’re “Strong Female Characters” in terms of the famous Hark! A Vagrant comic strip – but not in terms of any real understanding of strong character writing. The fans can read all they want into the characters’ interactions and write reams of femslash fanfiction about them, but that doesn’t change the flatness of the original material.

Man, I WISH there'd been any hint of this in the actual show! Via dashyice.deviantart.com

Man, I WISH there’d been any hint of this in the actual show! Via dashyice.deviantart.com

This is, of course, a huge problem with how people talk about female characters in general across media: thinking that girls who kick butt but lack depth are better than “weak” or “vulnerable” female characters who are, nevertheless, better fleshed-out and more realistic. Yet, this particularly seems to come up with anime, since these female-centric casts at least seem to address some of what we perceive as problems from a Western perspective. English-speaking fans are quick to talk about how shows like K-ON! that revolve around cutesy (in anime-fan parlance, “moe”) girls participating in a school club are “feminist”, because they’re all about girls and their relationships with each other. They ignore that these moe girls’ personalities are all non-threatening stereotypes designed to appeal to male anime fans, not reflections of how real teenagers act – and the idealization of these characters can even sexualize little girls. The point is, the lines are drawn differently in anime than they are in Western media. Passing the Bechdel Test isn’t the main issue; it’s passing it with female characters who resemble how actual women and girls act, not Bella Swans whose only “fault” is that they’re clumsy, or something else endearing. And RWBY may be an American production, but it’s engaging with anime’s particular legacy of sexism.

TeamJAUN

Left to right: Nora, Ren, Jaune and Pyrrha

The RWBY girls’ ass-kicking makes them perhaps a little more powerful than the “cute girls doing cute things” of moe anime, but these “battle vixens” are still ultimately constructed around male fantasies. Is it really “empowering” to women if the only way we can get that empowerment is by removing our humanity, denying who we are outside of who men want us to be? If our only relationships with each other in fiction have nothing to do with how we act in real life?

Perhaps the new season, starting this week, will address some of those holes. It seems to be building to a conflict with a few more stakes in it than the school bullying-and-cliques nonsense that dominated the first season. I don’t think I have enough confidence in the writing team to pull it off, though. They’d have to accept that writing good female characters is about more than collections of tropes, and as long as their fans continue to praise them for merely not including panty shots, I don’t think they will. But feminist fans as a whole should demand better.

Rose is a 25-year-old Detroit native currently living in Austin, TX, where she is working on her Ph.D. in musicology. Besides Autostraddle, she works as a streaming reviewer for Anime News Network.

Rose has written 69 articles for us.

86 Comments

  1. Aww man. I’ve been wanting to check this series out, because I do thoroughly enjoy Dead Fantasy, but I think I’ll pass now. 🙁

    Although honestly I’m not sure what I expected from a guy whose claim to fame is animating hot Final Fantasy and Dead Or Alive girls fighting.

      • Because the writer should have clarified that by season she meant, ONE HOUR of content… that’s including the credits and title sequences… which actually also has their background stories and problems she so desires to find in the show…

        • I watch a lot of web series with episodes about the same length – The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, The Most Popular Girls in School, etc. – and all the rest of them managed to flesh out characters and create something interesting by this point in time. There’s really no excuse for RWBY’s incompetence, in that or any area.

          Also, I think “you need to watch the trailers” is kind of silly for a review of a series that’s designed to stand on its own – the same way it is when people say “you need to read the book/manga!” to reviewers of an adaptive movie or TV show. I’ve seen them, and I don’t think they’re as substantial as you claim they are. But they were designed to promote the series before it started, and not much more. If anything, it’s a more damning criticism of RWBY that they floated these ideas in the TRAILERS and then never did anything with them in the series proper. Either way, these fan gatekeeping statements of “your criticism isn’t valid until you’ve done X, Y and Z” are something I’m getting kind of sick of on the Internet.

      • So, I’m noticing a pattern here. Comments that I “left out all the good character development” or something along those lines, in this article.

        What did I leave out, exactly? This article was 100% about the show’s character development, or rather, its lack of it. I saw every single episode of that first season (and I’m now watching the second), and I didn’t see anything there that I thought passed for competent character development. I didn’t go into moment-by-moment detail, sure, because it was unnecessary – the same pattern kept up throughout the series – and because this article could only be so long. It could be summed up in the description of broad patterns that I gave in the article.

        If you disagree with my assessment of the show, that’s cool! Give some examples (I’m not seeing many examples in these comments) of where you thought I was wrong. But saying I “left stuff out” seems a little silly. No, I just addressed it in a way that you disagree with – so tell us why.

        • I’m not mad.
          As of volumes one and two, you are correct. Things got better after volume three.
          Here are some examples.

          Please watch these episodes.
          Volume 3 chapter 6 (5:45 to the end)
          Volume 3 chapter 7 (The entire episode)
          Volume 3 chapter 8 (The entire episode)
          volume 3 chapter 12 (17:10 to the end)
          I think these episodes are vast improvements from Volume 1.

          The only issue I have with your article is this:
          You said “Ruby is excited to study magic at Beacon Academy, excited to make friends even when those “friends” are more reluctant. Just excited, excited, excited!” In the first few episodes
          she is actively antisocial.

          In episode 2 (1:46) Ruby says: “Why would I need friends when I have you?” Too her sister.
          This theme continues for the next few episodes, and yes, I know its pretty small, but It is one of my favorite parts of the show.

          Thank you for your time.

          • This is not ment to be a “you need to do x, y, and z” kind of thing, this comment is to give you examples of things that are good about the show.

    • No, watch it. Granted much of anime is over sexualized, but this is one NON example. It is very underwhelming in terms of sexuality. This is the first anime ive ever liked for this very reason. The episodes are short and there’s not always room for complete character development. The episodes are 5 to 15 mins each and 12 episodes in one season. This is an amazing series and im late to the party on it, but it is by far my latest obsession and newest favorite tv show.

    • Don’t worry. Trust me when I say that this article is pretty inflamitory. Most of the things they say here are exaggerated, and some could argue completely false. Like a lot. For one thing there’s more female than male characters and those female characters are not just disposable in personality. They all have actual character in them, if Yang started acting like Blake you can be sure the community would be at the very least confused if not in an uproar.

    • Don’t dare disrespect Monty like that. If he were more alive I would be more lenient. Also don’t trust everything you read on the Internet. While the girls personalities do have more two dimensional stereotypes there is a reason. That is because they are all based off of characters from different stories. In fact the parallels between their counterparts are fun to see in action. And you should always give something you have been wondering about a chance even if someone discredits it. It may not be their cup of tea but it could become your favorite thing possibly.

    • I dont think the author watched all of it. The characters all the same when I first watched it too. All stereotypes.

      They all become mkre that that…

      Especially Pyrrah (T_T), Penny and Yang. In my opnion, are the deepest characters in RWBY. Not any of the backstories can compare to Yangs and Blakes though.

      Plus, even before volume 2…we learned more about Yang and Ruby. Also their parents. Each character acts this way due to specific circumstances they were in during V2 and V3. They destroy every stereotype in V3. RWBY is yes, bad animation (except for the fight scenes) but a amazing plot and storyline. Its one of those shows you watch for story.

      No hate on the author since im sure V3 wasnt out when she wrote this!

      I still think its a pretty good show and if you can get past its faults…im sure youll love irx

  2. So I’m completely ill-equipped to comment on how the characters in RWBY fall into anime tropes (not have watched many other anime or anime-esque shows), but I do really like RWBY.

    Partly, I guess I don’t see the characters as only falling into the tropes you described (again, not terribly well equipped to comment, but what is the internet for if not making poorly thought out statements). But it does seem to me like those are some baseline characteristics, but that they get built on throughout the first season (Ruby is energetic about everything except meeting new people, because she is way better at dealing with weapons than other humans; Blake running off not to hide behind a book, but to attack someone she thinks is manipulating her former activist/terrorist group comes to mind).

    I also think some of the issues mentioned here might be a product of there only being one season of the show (like you mentioned). There’s a lot of backstory and motivation behind all of the main characters that’s been set up but not delved deeply into yet — ongoing issues with Blake being a faunus, why the heiress of a huge company decided/was allowed to go off to fight monsters for a living (and who set a giant enchanted suit of armor to attack her in the first place), Rose and Yang’s past being super vague and apparently a little dark.

    I agree that this doesn’t mean the writers are going to explore any of that in depth. I kind of live in fear that the big storyline being set up is going to lead to too many things happening to the main characters, and not enough because of them (such an issue in so many shows). But I do think it’s worth giving a shot.

  3. So, maybe not the most appropriate post for this comment, given that it’s about an American series drawn “anime-style”, but am I the only one who feels slightly uncomfortable that a non-Japanese (and probably white) person is the one writing a column about anime? I understand that it’s not always possible to get writers who are perfectly suited to the role but I feel like cultural critiques of anime, for instance, would be better done by someone who actually knows the culture where it arose.

    (Note: I’m not Japanese, but I’m an Asian person who’s somewhat fed up with white people being obsessed with Asian things and twisting them into something they’re not – much like Rooster Teeth is purportedly doing with anime and RWBY)

    • I understand your concern here. I just want to note that this column is largely about my personal experiences as a fan and promoting series I think are progressive to a new audience. I think if you look at my articles in this column and my previous anime-related articles, I try to make it clear that I can’t speak authoritatively as a white American, and also contextualize things in what I do understand about Japanese culture rather than simply give a US perspective.

      All that being said, anime is a global entertainment phenomenon. It’s made knowing it will likely have an audience in other countries, including Western ones. It’s to the point now where you have trans-Pacific productions like this year’s Space Dandy, which is released concurrently in the US and Japan due to collaboration between both studios. Anime is also heavily influenced by US media and the influence runs the other way, as we see here with RWBY or with Avatar: The Last Airbender. (Also, ftr, RWBY creator Monty Oum is of Asian descent.) Americans are a part of the audience, many of us have grown up with it (I saw my first anime – Sailor Moon – when I was six), and so I don’t think it’s true at all that our opinions on it are invalid.

      Also, I think there’s a difference between simply being a non-Asian anime fan and the “warping” of Japanese things you’re discussing. There are a lot of gross anime fans who are weird Japanophiles, but people like it for all sorts of reasons. For me, and a lot of the other non-Asian people I know who write about anime professionally for the Internet, it’s more an extension of a general interest in film and animation. It’s interesting to me that it’s only with non-Western media where people assume you can’t be a fan of it without having some weird fetishistic interest in the entire culture. No one assumes all Doctor Who fans are Anglophiles, even though many of them are.

    • As someone who is also Asian, I totally understand feeling annoyed and frustrated when that occurs – particularly with Japanese culture because it’s so high profile right now.

      Rose has on several occasions put up the disclaimer that she is a white Westerner with little knowledge of Japanese culture. It sounds like she’s trying to do her best to face the topic as a earnest fan and analyst without making assumptions about the culture (my own disclaimer: I haven’t read the articles in great detail).

      Yes, it would be ideal to have someone who has a thorough understanding of the culture but for the most part, anime fans and the queer feminist activists don’t often overlap.

      The writers either volunteer or are asked to contribute. I’d like to think that if anyone with that cultural understanding wanted to volunteer for articles from a different angle, Autostraddle wouldn’t turn them down. At the same time, it doesn’t seem likely that the site would currently have the search of such a writer as a high priority item in their gay agenda.

      Though now that we’ve pointed this out… perhaps someone might do a guest post or more?

      • Thanks! I agree with what you said. (Also I posted that comment on mobile from a ballpark with crappy wi-fi, so that might’ve been why it wasn’t showing up!)

        I’d also like to note that I’ve tried to improve on my knowledge of Japanese culture and media as I’ve been writing anime articles for Autostraddle and interacting more in Internet anime fandom in general. I wrote my first anime-related article for the site about two years ago, so I’ve been doing a lot of studying-up. I definitely think knowledge of the original cultural context is important with any non-Western media, and try to reflect that understanding in what I write about it.

    • Considering the author basically went out and said she’d like the characters to be more sexualized (in that image caption) I don’t want to defend her, she’s definitely no feminist.

      but your comment was pretty racist. Your race shouldn’t qualify you for anything.

  4. I had never heard of this before, so I did some googling. Dear GOD this looks awful. Visually it’s just hideous, and the motions are even worse.

    I can’t comment on anything having to do with character and plot development, because I haven’t actually watched an episode. But, I don’t think I’d be able to get passed the visuals on this one.

  5. I don’t think RWBY is a ‘feminist’ imitation anime but it’s certainly not the heaping pile of trash the writer of this article is making it out to be.

    Yes, you can try to categorise the women into anime tropes, but as another commenter has already pointed out, you’re conveniently missing out the character development that doesn’t suit the argument you’re trying to make.

    Ruby is energetic and cheerful, yes, but she also struggles with a lot of insecurity over being a team leader and she’s often worried that she’s not the right person for the job, especially with her insecurity over being younger than all the other students. She tries to prove her worth to the other characters and makes mistakes in the process. She is more than just the box you’re attempting to fit her in.

    Weiss can go from sarky to sweet. Wow, it’s almost like women can have changing moods! Again, you’re conveniently ignoring Weiss’ back story about why she’s so defensive. She talks about the ongoing war between her family and the White Fang and it’s known that she had a tough childhood, perhaps even with an abusive father (she admits that the ongoing war meant that her dad would always come home angry which ‘didn’t make for a very good childhood’).

    Blake, once again, has more character development than you’re making out. She’s distant because she is a faunus and faunus are marginalised in society. It’s a defence mechanism for her and it’s entirely justified.

    Yang is a motherly figure, sure. So what? She’s LITERALLY Ruby’s older sister. I defy any older sister to not act protective over their younger siblings especially when they’re in a dangerous situation. Acting like being a motherly figure is a bad thing is a shitty kind of feminism in itself- you’re acting like women can’t be strong if they’re motherly which is just tripe.

    Listen, with the exception of the creator/lead animator Monty, the crew of people that go into making RWBY are mostly white men, so obviously the show is going to have some problematic elements, but it’s not a bad show. In particular the women who voice Ruby and Yang (Lindsay Jones and Barbara Dunkleman) are huge inspirations to me because they are important members of the company and they both smash the idea that women can’t be funny, that they can’t play games, that they can’t be successful in male dominated areas. They are huge inspirations to me and I am so happy that they are part of the show.

    Also, as far as the animation style, that’s just a matter of preference. I found it a bit unusual for the first couple of episodes but now it just feels like any other anime/ imitation anime. There were some animation problems, for example the background scenery was really busy looking while the background population was just black shadows and it looked a bit weird, but that’s been acknowledged and now for season 2 they’ve changed the art style to make it look cleaner. They also took on board the fan’s criticisms that there wasn’t any POC or LGBT+ representation and they’re amending that from now on, which is a hell of a lot more than you’d get at some other companies.

    Also as an aside, I follow feministroosterteeth on tumblr and that ask which you linked to about ‘merely not including panty shots’ was taken entirely out of context, so yet another example of you twisting or omitting things in order to strengthen your argument.

    • Thanks for mentioning the FRT post, I hadn’t clicked on it but yeah, it seems a little weird to call that ‘praise’ when the actual quote is ‘pretty okay’. Also, his response:

      “Article here. I think it raises some interesting points. I too find RWBY pretty shallow at this point, but given the way that RvB improved I’m willing to take the chance that RWBY will find its feet and flesh the characters and the plot out. It could use more depth. I don’t really know enough about the character tropes to comment, but it’s been talked about before in this tag.

      I’m not a fan of the way they pulled an out of context ask from my blog and ignored all of the critical discussion surrounding it, but whatever. That’s journalism, I suppose.”

  6. I like RWBY.

    The female walking cycles are downright awful. (I wanted to gag in the first episode of the new season, with Cinder and Emerald. Seriously you guys.) Jaune getting the first and therefore currently only serious character arc (unless you count the start of Blake’s and the Weiss thing that’s developing) literally made me want to punch something. They need to get a female animator in, preferably several. Maybe a female writer too. That’s not even considering the cookie scene and whatnot. The voice acting is … well, it’s not bad for amateurs. The story is kinda cliche and, yes, the characters do fall into stereotypes sometimes, particularly the more minor ones.

    I still like it. I like Nora and Penny and the dumb jokes and I like girls punching stuff until it falls over. I really like girls forming battle strategies on the fly and being considered capable leaders, even little feminine girls with high voices and ‘combat skirts’. I’m also not sure we’re watching the same show where Ruby is concerned – did you watch more than the first few episodes? She’s excitable, yes, but she’s insecure and always trying to prove herself, and I wouldn’t say she’s all about ‘friends friends and more friends’; that’s Yang egging her on. I’ll concede Yang being flat, although given how short the show currently is I’m giving them leniency on developing her character later, but Weiss and especially Blake are definitely more than 2D. Actually, yeah, looking at your paragraph about the main four I’m not sure how you came to your conclusions about Blake either. Eh.

    Also for saying that they’re ‘more than normal fans’, I mean, they are, but they’re not exactly a huge studio either. RvB isn’t known for its animation, it’s known for being a funny show about some guys in a canyon. The animation’s far from perfect (see above re: no woman walks like that unless she’s on a catwalk what are you doing for gods sake there are women in the same building as you just get them to do a bit of mocap) but it’s serviceable and the fight scenes are pretty cool. But then again, I liked the animation in KLK and god knows they were phoning that in 3/4 of the time.

    I’m not sure where I was going with this. Mostly, I think, that there are legitimate things to complain about re: RWBY, but I’d argue that it’s not quite as bad as you’re making it out to be. Cliche, yeah, well animated, nah, but it’s fun and has some surprising depth. And it passes the Bechdel test!

    (Honestly I would watch a show that was entirely Nora hitting things with her hammer/grenade launcher and Penny decimating shit with her weird puppet swords, and then them being cute and eating sweets afterward. I also liked K-ON!, though I’m not sure I’d call it feminist. Calling anime ‘feminist’ or ‘not feminist’ seems weird when Japanese culture is so far removed from what white feminism deals with. Does anyone have recommended reading on Japanese feminism? That seems like something I should be educating myself on.)

    • Obviously I disagree that RWBY is good, but.. I also watched every single episode of Kill la Kill (and have considered covering it for this column) and I don’t think there’s any comparison, really. KLK never had CLIPPING, for one. There’s a difference between the art and the animation, and while KLK sometimes had some (often intentionally) cheap-looking visuals, the animation never suffered from what I saw, and especially not to the degree that RWBY has. RWBY is just clearly people trying to do something that they don’t know how or their software doesn’t permit them to do, with how the animation doesn’t work.

      Re: “Calling anime ‘feminist’ or ‘not feminist’ seems weird when Japanese culture is so far removed from what white feminism deals with.” Well, RWBY is an American series and I was responding to its embrace by the fandom as “feminist” when I think it’s anything but. Is it sexist? Not really, although it does trade in a lot of sexist tropes. But I’m just disappointed that people consider this good feminist representation when these characters are so poorly-written and underdeveloped. (People keep commenting to say I deliberately ignored stuff, but… no, I watched every single episode of that show. I just don’t think that what you’re making out to be genuine development was actually any of that.) This is 2014, we can demand better for our female characters than this shoddy pile of cliches and tropes.

      Re: anime – the comparison to K-ON! is based on what I’ve seen brought up by both Japanese feminists and American feminists who are educated in Japanese culture, alike. It’s a series that appears progressive to American eyes a lot, but tends to be taken as regressive there because of the way it infantilizes and simplifies its female characters. Although, again, it’s more part of a pattern in that whole genre of moe, “cute girls don’t cute things” anime.

      I’ve read some good arguments that feminism shouldn’t be applied to anime and other non-Western stuff, and I guess I just don’t really buy that. The battle lines are different in each country, especially when we’re talking about entertainment and what are the common sexist stereotypes and what they need more or less of, but patriarchy in a broad sense overall works pretty similarly across the world. I don’t think every version of feminism-practiced-by-white-women is “white feminism”; it’s possible to educate oneself on and be sensitive to the way this shit changes depending on where you are. Which is something I try to do with anime.

      But more importantly, anime is pop culture designed for a global audience, not a deeply-entrenched and sacred part of Japanese culture that would be difficult for Westerners to understand without context. It’s heavily influenced by American media and that includes a lot of our stereotypes. So I think it’s totally legit for people in another country to talk about how it personally affects them, especially when we’ve grown up watching this stuff and it’s influencing our own media. And a lot of my reactions here are particularly to what the English-speaking fandom considers “feminist” or not, and how I agree or disagree with that based on my own observations.

      But yeah, the K-ON! thing came from something I’ve seen pointed out repeatedly about how Japan’s stereotypes and forms of sexism are different from America’s, especially in media. Anime does actually have a lot of all-female casts, so I don’t think the Bechdel Test has as much relevance there… it’s more about whether the female characters are substantial and realistic rather than shallow fantasies, and appealing more to horny dudes or their fellow women. I saw RWBY as reflecting those anime patterns with its characters, but really, that shit isn’t progressive on either side of the Pacific. Writing empowered female characters should be about what women, not fanboys, want, and reflecting our actual realities in fiction rather than fetishistic distortions.

    • I would like to point out that Cinder Fall’s walk was done using mocap, and using a woman, according to the production diary. So I guess that’s Jessica Nigri’s fault?

  7. You can’t judge characters and plot in the same catagory as artwork and visual. I love shows that have great plots but horrible art, while i can respect that a bad show has amazing visuals. Does not liking the way it look really warrant bringing the whole level down? There other series, Red vs Blue, looked like absolute horse sh*t in the first season, but now that it’s on it’s twelth, it’s much improved. Just give them time to get used to the medium. They had to do the entire first season in about 8 months and it has improved now that it’s on its second. All the voice actors are employees of the company. Whoops, looks like it’s not only girls. There are about a dozen on the animation team only, speaking of which, ALL learned how to walk in heels so they could better animate the characters who wear them. I’m not going to say anything about your depiction of the plot, but please don’t place the two in the same catagory. It’s disrespectful to any actual reviewers.

    • For me personally, they are related. And not liking the art does bring down the quality of a show for me. Here’s my thinking:

      If the art or writing is bad, then the other needs to be pretty damn spectacular for me to be able to get past it.

      Also, I can forgive bad art, but everything else needs to be REALLY REALLY amazing to make up for it.

      Just like if the writing/voices are bad, I can get past it if the art is AMAZING.

      In this particular case, the art of this one is really bad. Like… EXTREMELY bad. So for me, if I’m going to enjoy the show as a whole, the writing/voice etc needs to be of a quality much higher than it would normally need for me to enjoy it.

      I realize Art and story aren’t the same category,so to speak. But for me, they ARE a packaged deal.

  8. ” I’m going to throw my two cents in here real quick. The episode length for RWBY is around 14-16 minutes not including intro and outros, this is similar to RvB as well as many other online series. RWBY is quite different is appearance of RvB so i believe RoosterTeeth and Monty used most of the first season to show off the combat aspect of the show. This is mostly due to Monty being amazing at animating these scenes and to gather a good following before delving deep into plot.

    The articles complaint about RWBY being a mess plot wise is, in my opinion, just showing how the reviewer does not understand how to set up a story. The first season is mostly setting the essential base for the story (character introductions, setting, and hinting at the main plot) and they did that well with the short episode lengths. The second season is now starting off being more plot focused while still being easy to follow and not obvious.

    As for the technical issues they are small and happen in major productions all the time. RWBYs art style happens to be a fairly unforgiving one which makes these issues more blaring. It has also been said the first season was a little rushed, that of course plays a pretty big role in how some small details could have been overlooked. I’m hoping the animators have gotten a better handle on the software so we shall see less small mistakes.

    How the reviewer broke down the character types really demonstrates how they did not pay attention to the show, it is also a better reflection on their need to generalize the characters. We haven’t seen the girls in too many highly strenuous situations. However we have gotten little tastes of the more serious sides of both teams RWBY and JNPR in the first battle they all had together as well as the final battle of season one. Ruby often is very positive and a little goofy, but we have been shown that she truly yearns to be a good leader/friend. She shows insecurity about being selected leader though she has amazing concentration and prowess while fighting. Weiss is standoffish, this stems from her lack of friends form what seems like an issue since childhood and strong need to find validation not only from others but also from her self. Blake has been given a lot of character development from her unique position as a white fang member coming back to haunt her, making her feel the need to be more reclusive in fear of poor treatment. I see Blake being a driving force in plot development in the future. Finally Yang is very much a motherly figure especially to ruby WHO IS HER SISTER which makes sense. I see Yang as a genuine, fun loving, individual. (she is also my favorite)

    I think the characters are fine examples of strong females they are hardly one-dimensional. They all are different from each other while showing realistic personality’s. They don’t all need to be devoid of tropes as I am sure you could find anyway to pin a “type” on them when you simplify them the way the reviewer did.

    The reviewer seems to have a hard time understanding “Strong Females” can follow any trope or type and still be strong. All of the female characters (and male characters) show personalities that can be related to real people. They may not be your idea of strong but they are no Bella Swans. RWBY’s characters are starting to get shown in harsher situations that flesh out their characters in realistic ways.

    All in all, watch RWBY it’s awesome”-A tumblr user

  9. *clears throat* As Volume 2 of Season 1 (please be sure to understand this as it is important) has ended, I can say that things have improved. Character development has happened for one. Then there’s the animation, and I must ask: what makes you think they aren’t TRYING? They have a large team now, they know the software they are using, and if you never saw Red Vs Blue Seasons 8-10, then you clearly aren’t familiar with Monty Oum’s talent (may he rest in peace). I see a lot of complaints about the animation style and I must ask, what makes it any different from other animations that have flaws? I’ve seen several animation flaws in numerous Pixar films, but it’s fricking Pixar. At least RWBY’s animation has evolved. There are also little touches that if you pick up on them are nice to see how much effort went into making these small details.

    Then there’s the voice actors. Again, if you are unfamiliar with Red Vs Blue, then you don’t understand that some of these people are ‘veterans’ in a sense. Barbara Dunkelman, Joel Heyman, Jen Brown, Shannon McCormick, and Gray Haddock are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to voice actors that work with (or for) Rooster Teeth. And let’s not forget Jennifer Taylor who voiced Halo’s Cortana.

    Now let’s be honest: there are few means to avoid a trope when making characters. Were RWBY made a decade ago, there might be tropes based off of it instead of it falling into tropes. So much time has passed that there’s a trope for just about everything. Prime example is the popularity of the anti-hero and how people reference Dexter or Walter White. Truth be told, the anti-hero existed before them. The oldest trope to exist is good vs evil.

    Another thing to think of: every character has roots to something we know about. Juane Arc is based off of Joan of Arc. Ruby is based off of Red Riding Hood. Sun Wukong is based off of Goku from Journey to the West. Cinder Fall is said to be based off of Cinderella. Nora Valkyrie takes a lot of inspiration from Norse mythology. Penny is obviously based off of Pinocchio.

    I like RWBY because it was made by people I actually have come to know. I also like it because there are often refrences to Red Vs Blue (e.g. Joel’s line “Detach the caboose!” in reference to him RvB character Caboose). When I first saw the trailers, I was reminded of RvB’s action scenes (which would not appear as much in Season 11) and knowing that Monty was working on it made it all the more better. There are things not to like, but the fact that RWBY grew and attracted an audience outside from those who watched RvB has to say something. I mean, what other example is there for Japan to be taking in someing made by a USA company? A small company that isn’t very mainstream at that fact? There is none. Nickelodeon and other media making companies have foreign-based branches. Rooster Teeth doesn’t and they were offered a deal to have a foreign company dub something they did. That’s more than rare, that’s unheard of.

    Hate RWBY or like it, either way, don’t discredit where credit exists.

  10. There is so much wrong in this article that I wanna puke I’m thoroughly convinced that the straw feminist that wrote this watched only watched about episodes and it’s sad that people like this love to find something popular and just degrade it despite obviously having no idea what they’re even talking about and because of that this is my first and last visit to this website.

  11. While you’ve put probably already seen they very disagreeing thoughts on your article I’d like to add a few more so that you can see where we might be coming from. I sort of dislike the fact that you see Pyrrha as Juanes play thing. She is in fact her own women and constantly saving his butt throughout the show.

    Weiss does fall into the place you it her but there’s a character development behind her. Her father’s company and the White Fang have made her the way she is. She’s not just having a mean outer shell she is cautious. She doesn’t want to get hurt and that’s how she was raised. It’s not as if she can show her cute nice side when you crack her shell, she has to learn how to be nice.

    Yang is, well Yang. I was somewhat disappointed with your assessment of her. While she does act as the motherly figure in the group I threw that more on to Weiss and I chose Yang as the party girl with a big heart and tragic back story. With the opening of season two that was really hit home.

    There is so much to Blake. Just like Weiss she is cautious and afraid of getting hurt. While I feel like her backstory will be more tragic, her story teaches lesson.

    Ruby herself isn’t all what she seems. She hasn’t quite got it all figured out and that’s like most of us. You call her the giggly type, which she is, but there’s a deeper idea in their. She created her own weapon. One of the most deadliest weapons in Remnant. And she’s dealt with the loss of her mother. There is a certain wisdom or knowledge inside of her, not just some airhead girl.

    Jaune I feel has the least development. He likes Weiss, pretty shallow, and isn’t good at hunting. The further topics while choosing I won’t get into from season 2 but he doesn’t really develop. Yang and Blake have a backstory, Weiss and Ruby somewhat have a backstory mentioned and all we know about Jaunes life is two things.

    I’d also like to take the time to mention that the animation style is going to be a hit or miss for most people. It’s something to get used to and they are new at this. Seriously me have done work on videogames not tv shows. It’s a work in progress and they are learning from their mistakes as they go. I personally think with the season two the style has gotten a lot better.

    RWBY is a unique show and I find the plot to be enchanting. The idea that girls can fight as good as guys or better is great. The heroes are loveable the villains are adoring. The plots good and the animation style is a work in progress. I fell in love with the show for something deeper, not the surface of placing categories. Categories are made to be a starting place, not a boundary. Over all RWBY’s a pretty great show and don’t even get me started on the instrumental music. To die for.

    • *RWBY is a unique show and I find the plot to be enchanting. The idea that girls can fight as good as guys or better is great*

      But anime and live TV & fimlm have had shows with women fighters for years. The Avengers, Blakes 7, countless anime – ALL the major fighters in PASWG, Gunslinger Girls and Black Lagoon are female, just as in Dirty Pair and Gunsmith Cats. And you see something like at least parity in Attack On Titans, Evangelion, Gunbusters, Hellsing, Kill La Kill, The Railgun/Magic Index series. This is probably the norm in anime.

      And many of these shows actually have characters who are just a riff on a page from TV Tropes.

      That’s what’s alarming about this show: it selected a set of cliches that have proven fanboy friendly in the Japan, dumbed than them down to an unusual degree, and did nothing else. It’s like the writer didn’t think female characters deserve actual personality.

      Otoh, at least we were spared a Rei clone.

  12. A very fair review. Obviously the show does succeed for some people, but I can only think this is because of its very mediocrity. In a way it’s like a Star Wars “expanded universe” novel: it appeals to people who embrace the comfort of the familiar and the recycled. Who are a very large group, as sales of those novels show: a lot of people *want* plot and character recycling rather than the effort of trying to cope with Panty And Stocking or Flow My Tears The Policeman Said.

    Where I’d differ is that I think the weakly written female characters’s aren’t weakly written because the show dismisses women. Instead the show creator tended to the non-threatening and – like his audience – perceived the cliched anime teenage girl to be the least threatening character there is. Which I admit maybe a distinction without a difference.

    Anyway, the script is just bad: I just watched an hour of RWBY and I know less about the main characters than I did after the first 10 minutes of Champloo or (literally) the first minute of PASWG.

    However, I can understand someone who wasn’t familiar enough with anime cliches to experience the show differently. You could even read as feminist if you didn’t understand that these characters are objectified cliches designed as virtual pets for male fan boys.

  13. Very good article, that anyone should probably read before engaging in any conversation about all-female cast shows.

    I valiantly put up with the whole first season, just in hope that maybe things were going to get heading *somewhere* after a rough start. I deeply regret this, though: apart from royally losing my time, I underwent some serious headache over why such a terribly written show could actually get successful. Mounty Oum and RT’s combined fame carried the whole thing on its own, maybe? Beats me.

    One of the things that bug me the most about people calling this a feminist show centered around female characters and the relationships between them is actually less about the characters (although there’s already plenty to say about it, as you’ve demonstrated) than about their relationships. Whatever it is.

    In the course of the whole season, we get a cliché “genky girl butts head with snooty girl” thing between Ruby and Weiss, then… abyssimal nothing until the last two episodes which suddenly revolve around Weiss and Blade “endangered friendship” (whose interactions throughout the season amounted to a grand total of two words exchanged in their introductory episode).
    Apart from that, nothing we can call a relationship, not even with quotation marks, between any female character, main or secondary. We can call ourselves lucky they at least got to interact to each other from time to time. No wonder the femslash fanficers are going wild, they have a whole world to build from nothing! They’re like in a sandbox! That’s why us people find it bland, it’s nothing but sand!

    Oh, and in case someone wonders “But then, what happened between the Ruby and Weiss arc and the two last episode?”, the answer’s simple: a quarter of the season was entirely devoted to Jaune, the audience-surrogate male character who’s a bit nerdy but actually super strong inside and who don’t notice the super hot Amazonian girl’s feelings for him.

    But, you know, feminist show about strong female characters and their relationships, right?

  14. Congratulations, you just nitpicked an anime that isn’t even an anime. Seriously, the animation styles are completely different. The story telling and writing styles are completely different. The character sets are completely different. RWBY isn’t even remotely anime, and your attempts to compare it to such are so pathetically far-reached it’s actually kind of amusing.

    As for quality of production, what do you expect with a group of people using a far more complex animation system than anime with smaller teams in the same time frame? They still do a damned good job. It doesn’t make it any less enjoyable.

  15. From what I understand of this article (I haven’t seen RWBY) and how Jaune is the only leading character who shows an arc, this first season would pass the Bechdel-Wallacetest , but it wouldn’t pass the Mako Mori test, right?

  16. I don’t deny that RWBY has a ton of flaws and could stand to have better writing. You’re right in saying this is not an amateur production, but it’s certainly not Pixar or Disney. So, yes, if you’re only experience with CG animation is Disney, Pixar, or Dreamworks, it’s not going to hold up. However, the budget is spent well. The scenes that really need to look good, the action scenes, are dynamite. They contain great choreography and are a non-stop thrill ride of “Wait? Did they just do that? That’s so sweet!” As far as the females characters go, I will admit that in the first season, they were heavily arch-typed (Nora probably being the most guilty of this). However, delving into season 2, they actually start getting fleshed out a bit more. Although Pyhrra’s story line is about a romance with a boy, when she explains her reason for liking Jaune they make sense. And she’s not throwing herself at him. She just wishes that someone like him would ask her to dance, which is a realistic wish for someone in her position. Yang also gets a ton of development in her conversation with Blake. We see that although Yang is a thrill seeking wild girl, she also is acutely aware of how rash action and impatience can lead to danger. She’s also smart and gentle enough to know how to talk to someone as motivated and determined as Blake. We also see how far Blake is willing to go to stop something bad that she perceives as partly her fault. Ruby and Weiss have yet to undergo the same kind of development (although now with Weiss’ mom and Ruby’s dad appearing in Season 3, I’m guessing we will see them grow a bit). While the main female cast still fit within arch-types, I think they’ve been given enough individual traits to be separated, at least partially from those arch types. I can tell by the season 2 writing that the writers are trying to move beyond that. But, I can also tell it will take some time to do so.

  17. I have to disagree with most of what was said here. First, you’re throwing these girls into these stereotype boxes like “genki girl” and “tsundere”, but the late Monty had every intention of making this an anime, including these tropes. Even so the characters aren’t as one dimensional as you say. From your remarks it seems obvious to me you’ve only watched the first season (and it is possible there was only one season available at the time). But there is quite a bit of character development over the 3 seasons so far. It’s slow paced, but it’s definitely there. Because the series is primarily comedy the development is slower than you’d expect than from a drama though, for example.

    And you mentioned the animation being bad… That is certainly true. For the first season. In the first season, the details were lacking and background characters were just silhouettes. But in the second season, all the background characters had bodies, and the staff paid more attention to details. The animation improves drastically every season (probably more funding). The third season is much, much better too. The colours, the details, the character expressions, their movements, its all improved greatly. Just watching the very beginning of volume 3 chapter 1 made me do a double take because I never expected the animation quality to improve that much. You could see every blade of grass, every star in the sky during sunset. The animation has gotten so much better.

    As for your comments on feminism… That was just ridiculous. In the first place, what does it have to do with RWBY at all? There are far more females in the series than males, and they are by and large more fleshed out than the males. In fact, most of the males are one dimensional. Jaune may be the only one who isn’t, and he doesn’t even get much screen time. Of course more layered male characters are hopefully being introduced as well… Qrow and Adam should be more significant in volume 3, and they’re both pretty awesome. And the prexisting characters like Ozpin and Ren have room to grow as well.

    At any rate, just about everything written on this article is wrong. Not because it isn’t true, but because the writer obviously didn’t stick around long enough to see the series develop. The series has been planned to go for at least 11 volumes/seasons, and the author of the article clearly only watched one at the time of writing. Thats like writing a critical review of a book after just barely finishing the first chapter.

    • >>At any rate, just about everything written on this article is wrong. Not because it isn’t true, but because the writer obviously didn’t stick around long enough to see the series develop.<<

      This is nonsense. Compare the entirety of RWBY to the first 25 minute episode of Kill La Kill; KLK does more in those 25 minutes than Rwby manages in its 4 hour(?) run.

      …You really can't excuse a writer by saying "He's not had enough time!" when he's had more time than King Lear or The Godfather or Taxidriver or enough times for the first episode of Buffy, The Simpons, Futurama, The Shield, Gurren Lagann, PASWG, KLK, and Evangelion combined – and all of those shows managed to establish their major characters in those first episodes. Come to think of it, Rwby's had enough time to equal the entire run of PASWG plus Dead Leaves plus FLCL…

  18. I doubt the person who wrote this will ever see this, but i would love to see a new review of the show, seeing as it’s grown from someones mind baby to something just a little bit more professional

  19. Alright, I give up. I tried to read this, but I’m worried I’ll lose my eyesight and brainpower.

    Who gives a crap if the characters are stereotypical? I’m personally a big fan of RWBY (Not big enough to buy all their merch) and I can honestly say that I like the characters. Yes, they are very predictable, but hell, so is pretty much every character in TV. Making an original character is like making a new drink to beat Coca Cola. Only one in a million will ever do that, while the rest all have similarities to all the others. But, keeping the drink analogy, every drink is appropriate at a different time. Eg, you wouldn’t have a Coke in a fancy restaurant, or at a pub with your mates. Good writing isn’t always about the characters, but about the situation they are put in.

    Let me give you an example: Nick Valentine from Fallout 4. His character is full of the 1920’s detective; Deep, gravelly voice. A long trench coat. A fedora. A depressing backstory. A good-looking, nervous secretary. The list goes on.
    What makes his character interesting and different is a) He’s a robot, and is experiencing racism all the time, and b) He’s living in post-apocalyptic Boston. Yes his character can easily be found in a black-and-white cop drama, but people love his character for how he’s written into the story.

    Same goes for RWBY. Yes, it’s very amateur, but the story does the same thing; It places these stereotypes into a world that hasn’t been effectively used before. Plus, if you actually watched the series instead of nitpicking the show apart, you’d notice that the characters change a lot.
    Ruby starts off as excitable and “quirky” (*shudders*), but changes to a leader, as well as realising that the world isn’t all about fun and games. She still sticks to her morales though, of being the storybook hero
    Weiss begins as the rich, annoying brat that wouldn’t even touch anyone without 50 0’s in their bank balance. As the series progresses, she begins to bond with everyone, and realises that money isn’t everything, and sometimes you have to support others, even if it’s not beneficial to you
    Blake, much like Valentine, starts off by trying to avoid prejudice. She’s broken and scared, but hides it behind her bow. After a while, she realises that she can help everyone, and change the bad name her kind has been given. She also learns to love again, after her heart was stomped on by Adam
    Yang is different; She doesn’t change much in the series. There’s mild differences, like bonds made with unlikely friends, but she stays pretty much the same. I do think that the next volume will change her character a lot though, and anyone who’s seen the volume finale will know why

    Just so anyone reading this knows, this is my first time on this site. Honestly, not the best article to start on in my opinion, but seeing as it’s the first thing linked when I typed “Why is” into Google, I had to have a look 🙂

  20. Stereotypical? No, while they do fit certain archetypes, I’d hardly call the characters stereotypical. Stereotypical would be Blake finishing each sentence with “nya,” being about three cup sizes larger and acting very bubbly and hyperactive. Stereotypical would be Yang not understanding the concept of a bra, never opening her eyes, not fighting and being a good cook, essentially everything she isn’t. Stereotypical would be Jaune wearing glasses, never growing (which he does do) and being very easily embarrassed, as well as Ren being a girl and wanting to viciously screw him. Another example would be Weiss saying ‘baka’ at least once.

    And even if they are stereotypes, a funny little thing is they grow past it. Yang may not grow much, but from what I’ve seen she doesn’t need to. She’s tough, she doesn’t take any shit, she’s in control of her life. She could certainly kick my ass, I can tell you that, and the only character outside of adam (because from what I’ve seen that comparison of combat ability just isn’t fair, it’s like comparing an xcom rookie to Rambo) who has ever managed to win in a fight with her is another girl. Erm, forgive my ignorance but feminism is about proving that women are as good as men, right? Well in terms of combat ability that certainly seems to be the case, as no man (Again, discounting adam) so far has been able to so much as scratch her, while a woman, a shorter woman, no less, was able to completely flummox her. On the subject of her appearing motherly… erm… how? Was there a lunch packing scene I never noticed? The only comparison I saw was her “keeping everyone’s spirits up.” This is one of the single most ridiculous statements I’ve heard this month, and for two reasons:

    A) Ok well a bard in an rpg buffs his allies, increasing their spirit with songs, are they a team mom? Because the impression I got was more of a mix between “jack of all trades” and “informant. How about doctors, I mean I think anyone would consider death a real downer. Ooh, parties keep people happy too, maybe we should consider them offensive stereotypes! And cake! You know what, I keep myself from giving up in college, so I guess I’m my own team mom! The point of this joke is: simply keeping someone from being a depressed, self-loathing sadsack does not automatically make them team mom, learn your roles better. Seriously, you want a team mom go look at Compa from hyperdimension neptunia or Marissa from Fairy Fencer F.
    B) OH MY GOD SHE SHOWED CONCERN FOR ANOTHER HUMAN BEING! I CLEARLY SEE WHAT YOU MEAN NOW, FRIEND, WE MUST KILL HER WITH FIRE! HOW DARE SHE TRY TO MAKE SOMEONE ELSE FEEL BETTER, WALKING AROUND ALL SMUG AND EMOTIONALLY BALANCED, DOESN’T SHE KNOW HOW TO MIND HER OWN BUSINESS?!!

  21. Also, on the topic, it’s not magic, it’s more like elemental explosives. Also even if it was magic, they aren’t learning how to use it, THEY ALREADY KNOW THAT! They say it themselves a ton during the series, “we want to slay monsters” or something of the sort. They aren’t learning magic, they’re learing combat, how to fight.

  22. So I will exclude volume 3 from this because I’m pretty sure it was made before then. And if not for shame on you. So first I’ll bring up a point on character personalities. For main characters while their personalities aren’t entirely unique and out of this world there is a reason for it. It is so people will actually see them as other people and not some larger than life person who is at a status they could only dream of which is something a lot of media does and honestly it is kinda disheartening. It makes it seem that to be a good person you need and to make a difference you have to be bigger than a person who lives the life of a secret agent or be a genius. But that simply isn’t true. In RWBY all it says about changing things is by going to school, learning to fight for the good of people, owning your own business or shop, etc. But anyways that got a little off track from their personalities. These personality archetypes are much more complex than you let on and even have subsection to them. It makes it so the characters can be more identifiable, while remaining some depth, and are actually realistic. A few of the best people I know fit into one of the categories you mentioned. While there is more depth to them than those archetypes though they are actual people. I think Monty made them this way so people could identify with them or just recognize them as just people.

    Also if you think all of the characters don’t have their fair share of problem or sad events happen to them then you are sourly mistaken. As you said one is reveal to be a Fanus which as you know has extreme racism towards that group. While she does hide this fact, think what it must be like. Feeling so threatened that you feel you have to hide yourself from society. You wouldn’t because in our modern world it is not nearly as bad for anyone. While individuals have their own opinion groups generally abstain from discrimination. Even the Pope who runs the Vatican has said being gay is fine. Now this is of course excluding groups like the KKK because their sole purpose is discrimination and these groups are not widely followed. Next with Norah and Ren while they don’t outright say it for the most part it doesn’t take that much thought to find out they have lost everything. Their home, family, and who knows what else. It is a subtle message that is repeated again and again until volume 3 where they outright say they have nothing. Now it is still referenced through the entire series so you must have picked up on it otherwise you are as blind as a bat. As for Ruby and Yang they both lost their mothers. Technically Yang lost two moms as their mothers are different people. Literally the opening shows Runy living in the shadow of her mother so she has to define herself apart from her mother. Which children are generally a bit like their parents. So this is a tough task and for a 15 year old I might add. At that age most kids shouldn’t have any problems like stated previously or here. While Yang’s problem is her quest to find her mom. Which again is never said outright until near the end of volume 2 but is again hinted at time and time again. Weiss has to deal with her family, mainly her father, being dissatisfied with her decisions and having to prove herself to one of the most powerful men on the face of Remnant. Tell me that isn’t a daunting task to accomplish. As for Pyrrha I think she has it worst. She is famous as you know and renown for her skills. But this makes her larger than life a trait that Monty clearly thought was a burden as he wrote her describing it as so. And with John you already pointed out his problems. But you called him essentially a secondary character with more depth than the main character. While I will disagree with you on that from that he has more depth that is an opinion. What isn’t an opinion though is his status as a character. He isn’t the Main character but he is a main character. Practically everyone in the main two teams is a main character. Ren and Norah maybe not as much but they still are. Just not as pronounced roles.

    Now while it is true that it is a male fantasy, because Monty who wrote it is a guy, it still has a woman directing it. I am sorry I don’t know her name but all the names I know that are involved with Rooster Teeth are Gavin and Month so not a big list.

    And finally the animation. While I don’t mind as much that you think the animation is bad and in all honesty it is there is more to it than you let on. First off just because they are endorsed by Microsoft doesn’t mean that all the content they make will be on par with Microsoft themselves. It just means Microsoft pays them money. What they do with that money is agreed upon and the most likely scenario is that most of it goes towards rent of the place they have set up shop at and upkeep of that place and equipment. Also they don’t give jobs to just anyone. They give them to people they can trust. Also have you seen many 3D animations that look good from a group who only who had to edit time and placement on their previous works. No. This is new territory to them still.

    P.S. If you were a real critic you would tell people your thought then ask them to make their own. Not just completely discredit it.

    • Also, “fans of feminism” are exactly the kind of people I hope dont like RWBY, Feminists are trash, they are entitled stuck up, greater than thou assholes who want the world served to them on a silver platter.

  23. This entire article is grasping at straws and looking entirely too deeply at something.

    “May seem feminist on the surface but really isnt because the characters are too bland to me mehhh”

    Do you know how you sound? This is stupidity at it’s finest.

    Please, cut the bullshit and face reality. The only good points you had was the terrible animation (especially in the first volume), and the writing is a bit subpar at most.

  24. Ok, so I REALLY want to like RWBY. I really do, but I can‘t. I can‘t really say much about it because I‘ve only seen about 6 episodes of season 1, but the characters! Ugh! I just can’t stand their personalities. Though this might sound harsh; I wouldn‘t care if any of the character (mainly the main cast) passed away in the show. Their character development is so bad that if something bad did happen to them, I wouldn’t feel anything. There are a few exceptions, but from what I’ve seen so far, I don‘t think I could make it through season 1.

    People are telling me it gets better, but looking at screenshots at season 2, I’m still not very impressed. I do love the fight scenes (R.I.P. Monty Oum) and the trailers had me coming into the show thinking that every second could be cool girls fighting monsters and bad guys, but what I had gotten just didn’t meet my expectations. And do we really need another main female character with a scythe, we have Soul Eater for that.

    And RWBY is not an anime, people! It was made in America, so it is an animation/cartoon. Also, people praise it like it’s the greatest animated series of all time and how “the animation is better than anime itself” , so we just won’t talk about all the many beautiful anime series out there; we‘ll just talk about the one with the sub-par dialogue and cringe-worthy animation series that was MADE IN AMERICA.

    I’m thinking about watching the rest of it, but I’m just not sure. I’m sorry if I hurt anyone who really likes this series, I didn’t mean to do that to anyone! Also, I do agree with the stereotyped characters, of course the character in all black is dark and mysterious and (surprise, surprise!) she’s a faunus, the one in all white is elegant and snobby and of course she had a bad childhood-which rich kid in fiction has ever talked about a perfectly peachy life, the one in yellow is bubbly and happy and her weapon is totally useless I believe, and the one in red is supposed to represent a strong, bad-ass woman, but has social issues?. And the title of the show doesn’t even look like it’s supposed to be spelled as ‘Ruby,’ it just looks like some letters put together!

  25. The writer of this article should have disciplinary action against her for intentionally slandering a work that she only watched maybe a few episodes of.

    As others have said, this is just straw feminism, the kind that turned feminism from a movement into an excuse. The author is using feminism as a way to gain popularity and is bashing any work she can without giving those works an honest review.

    Jaune wasn’t the main character of Season 1. He was a side character, who had a side story that ONLY existed to make Pyrrha look good.

    Oh, and the show is called RWBY because it’s named after the 4 colors the girls’ names are based off of: Red, White, Black, Yellow. If you did any bit of research on the work, you’d know that.

    If anything, RWBY is the MOST FEMINIST WORK to come from the Internet, and possibly to ever exist at all. Not only is this due to all the lead characters being 4-Dimensional, but the majority of the cast are females, none of the female characters are weak, shy, or lusting over boys, and the male characters solely exist to make the female characters look good…every single episode.

    This critic should have her works reviewed and her article deleted. It is nothing but straw propaganda that spreads misinformation.

    • >> The writer of this article should have disciplinary action against her for intentionally slandering a work that she only watched maybe a few episodes of.

      The above probably isn’t the stupidest start to an Internet post ever, but that’s only because the competition is so steep.

      >> Jaune wasn’t the main character of Season 1. He was a side character, who had a side story that ONLY existed to make Pyrrha look good.

      Learn to read. The author didn’t say that he was the main character but that he was the only character with anything like a storyline.

      >> If anything, RWBY is the MOST FEMINIST WORK to come from the Internet

      I think a terrific amount of fanfiction would prove you wrong, not to mention excellent webcomics like Digger, Strong Female Protagonist and Freefall. But RWBY isn’t competing with those – it had an actual budget, so the fair competition was Steven Universe and Kill La Kill. And both those shows did more with their characters in the first episode that RWBY managed in the 2 absolutely awful seasons I sat through on Netfix.

  26. >>Weiss is the “Tsundere” – the girl who alternates between standoffish snarkiness, and demure sweetness when someone penetrates her defenses; the ultimate fantasy of boys who like to pretend the girls who rebuff them secretly like them

    This – from the author of the article – is only moderately ridiculous. Anime had plenty of male tsunderes. We probably wouldn’t be afflicted with with Hetalia if it wasn’t for Arthur Kirkland’s army of tea drinking fan girls. And male tsundere has been the dominant trope of Western romantic fiction for females since it was created with Wuthering Heights.

    • Then there is Faye Valentine:

      >>She’s a sarcastic woman with her own agenda, one that isn’t always in harmony with that of the other crew members of the Bebop. While she comes to value their assistance and companionship as the series goes on, she never sacrifices her independence and snark, and is a master with a gun or a well-placed punch when she wants to be. It’s the fact that she’s so smart, capable and unpredictable that I find Faye sexy – far more than just her looks – and even if a date with her would probably be… ill-advised, it would be too interesting not to try.<<

      That's the AUTHOR'S description, So, no, an interest in tsunderes isn't just a male heterosexual thing.

  27. Even tho this artical speaks some truths about some stereotypes and such, I don’t insult the animation quality. I’m sorry but have you heard they have a BUDGET for the seasons, but this artical was probably written before volume 2, defiantly before volume 3.

    And it’s really hard to animate these things, in fact, the scene where Sun was fighting Roman Torchwick with his Gun-Chucks, it was said that took WEEKS to animate.

  28. Um, guys, this is a FEMINIST review; they’ll try to ruin ANYTHING that is enjoyed by making got out to be “sexist”. This article was meaningless the moment I read that it was written by one, but I read it anyway just so that it wouldn’t be presumptuous of me… I ended up wasting my time, because I was correct anyway. All I wanted to do was read a criticism to broaden my perspective, but the first thing To show up on google was narrow minded trash.
    Although I do agree with some statements (animation quality), everything else I kind of saw coming as soon as I saw the word FEMINIST. I find it ironic that she notices the tropes amongst FICTIONAL characters to be a bad thing, while she’s the very evidence of a trope that exists in REAL people. This is why I don’t take the word ‘Feminism’ seriously anymore. Thanks internet.

    • You’re right, but of course they’ll deny it. The one thing feminists hate….well the one thing anybody hates, is being told they are wrong. feminists hate it more than anyone else.

  29. I had to stop reading half-way through. Why? Well it always interested me that people like you exist. People who focus so much energy and hatred on something. If you don’t like it, move on. You come across as someone who may generally hate most things, especially men. I’m a pretty good judge of character, even with a single look at somebody. Of course, I like to verify that and give people the benefit of the doubt, but you article almost 100% confirms this.
    You literally pulled feces out of your anus and created issues where there didn’t need to be, just like a neo-feminist.
    Please note, I don’t have anything against REAL feminists, but radical ones, like you, I’m assuming, I cannot stand.
    I don’t even know where to begin picking apart your pathetic attempt at attacking a great show. yeah it has a lot of room for improvement but…..the masses don’t lie, and the masses enjoy it.
    Maybe you should let go of all that inner hatred.
    Actually, you should, it’ll do you good.
    I’m not going to entertain a retort from you, or anyone else.
    I’m a realist, and I like to keep things as real as they get. Don’t blame me because logic and intellect trumps emotion, in these situations.

  30. Forgot to mention, anyone who reads this, please learn these facts:
    Nobody likes to be told they are wrong.

    Feminists hate being told they are wrong more than anyone else.

    Feminists, if something doesn’t fit their Narcissistic ways, they will blow up, blow things out of proportion, create issues where there arent any, and many other horrible things.

    “Narcissistic personality disorder is a mental disorder in which people have an inflated sense of their own importance, a deep need for admiration and a lack of empathy for others. But behind this mask of ultraconfidence lies a fragile self-esteem that’s vulnerable to the slightest criticism.”

    Of course there’s more to their disorders, but that’ll give you a good idea of why feminists these days, are utter trash and useless.
    This is why nobody takes it seriously anymore. The good ones let the bad ones spoil the bunch and take control.

  31. As an Asian American I am uncomfortable / borderline offended that this show is being made. I’m also tired of reading White people excuses on why it’s OK: Airbender wasn’t OK – it’s racist: You all didn’t let Asians talk because you were so wildly in love with your White Feminism to give us any space to speak. This show idea isn’t OK either: It’s still racist.

    Even if one of the creators was Asian, what does the team look like now? Are any of them Asian? Do any of them have relatives or connections to the very “anime” they are so “inspired” by that they want to steal every aspect of it as White people?

    These people forget why Anime even happened. They don’t remember or know that Asians were not welcome in the American animation industry even though it was decades ahead of Japan by the Japanese internment. Japanese Americans would have loved to have joined Disney or a similar back then in America, but they were never accepted as Americans. That’s part of why anime exists and why they love it as their own culture.

    Because it is something we made because we were rejected for being Asian. And now these people who aren’t interested in connecting to these roots, the people who don’t see the importance of keeping Asians in anime, want to make an “anime”???

    Just call it a cartoon. What a bunch of wannabe Asian fakes.

    • https://www.tofugu.com/japan/osamu-tezuka-history/

      In the link above, it’s specifically stated that Osamu Tezuka, the proclaimed “Grandfather” of anime, was inspired by Walt Disney and Max Flesicher, two western animators. So the fact that you, Sumire, are trying to say anime is completely separate from western animation is laughable at best and ignorant at worst. In fact, from what I’ve heard, Japan has borrowed a lot of cultural points from us and vice versa so the country you are trying to defend doesn’t want it. In fact, by my recollection, one of the most famous and influential anime creators is Hideaki Anno, a man whose first work is basically “Mecha Top Gun” and the aesthetic of anime at that time was very similar to our cartoons. So it’s still being influenced by our culture and thus, not mutually exclusive to them. Not to mention by your logic, Anime should be decried as not being true animation and every anime creator in the world are “a bunch of wannabe American fakes.”

      Also, I’d like to address the disgusting usage of America’s past actions against the people of today. Unless the people at Rooster Teeth themselves denied these animators, you have no reason to hold that against them as they cannot control what they’re ancestors did. In fact, you using that argument is racist so you fall to your own argument. And no, you aren’t exempt from this because you’re american. Uncle Ruckus is black and he shouts the N-Word in the most derogatory way possible.

      You may never see this but I don’t care. So long as no one makes the same mistake, I’m fine with you never hearing this. And if you do, all the better!

  32. RWBY isn’t about girls studying magic, far from it. They study martial arts obviously and only some of them use dust to be able to battle with elements like fire and I’ve like Weiss does. The animation isn’t perfect, but the fighting choreography is amazing, especially when Monty animated it. I like the girls of RWBY, even if they fall into a type it doesn’t mean they’re one dimensional. There’s reason for why they have the personalities they do, and their diveresity gives girls an opportunity to have someone to relate to.

  33. I feel like this is a strange analysis of the show in that it characterizes the women as being portrayed in a sexist manner for being two-dimensional. This is strange to me because most of the male characters also feel equally two-dimensional.

    This feels like a bad trait of the show, but hardly one that is directed only to the women. There ARE more female characters, so certainly women are more affected than the male characters are. Even so, Lie Ren is standard “calm and collected mystery man”, Jaune is “Weak but well-intentioned”, Ozpin is “wise old man”, Ironwood is “Does bad for good reasons”, Oobleck is “everything is educational”… the list goes on and on.

    If only the females suffered from poor characterization, maybe I could agree there was some sexism. But if everyone suffers from poor characterization, that sounds like a problem in writing, not sexism.

    I feel like attitudes like this are what drove me away from feminism. This is an inability to distinguish between poor writing and problematic sexism. If the author cannot tell the difference between females being written in a sexist manner and every character being bland approximations of themselves then I don’t know what to say.

  34. The majority of this article is filled with moot points at this time. The current Vol 4 turns the story on its ear. These tropes no longer apply as the author intended.

  35. Now, I hate RWBY for many reasons. Largest of which are the fact that it looks terrible and its story is generic and predictable. But I’m sorry, that flowchart you posted is probably the worst thing ever made by a human. It is packed full of straight up lies, exaggerations and lack of understanding.

    For instance, Azula is mentioned as being sexualized. How exactly was she sexualized? I’m thinking back over then entire series and there is literally no point in it that I can call blatant sexualization. She wore a swimsuit once, I guess? But everyone did, including the guys, and it was because they were at the beach. And the story didn’t focus on it whatsoever, in fact it focused on how she has severe difficulty relating with people and the other problems of the people around her. Otherwise she is depicted as basically always wearing gender neutral armor that covers everything but her head and hands.

    The entire chart seems to be designed around taking a very shallow read of a character and jamming it into a particular slot. Worse yet it is so overly broad that you can basically shoot down any character ever made depending on how you interpret them. Seriously, give me literally any female character you think is strong and I’ll jam it into this thing.

  36. My I ask how much of the show have you seen? I’m not meaning to sound nasty or to insult you when saying this, I’m genuinely curious.

    Since everyone else has stated every point I was going to make I’ll make this one… the Pyrrha Nikos point.

    In your article you say she’s the “flawless love interest” and I to that I say that’s the point of her character. She’s meant to look unstoppable because that’s her only flaw in her eyes.

    She hates being perfect because she feels like people only respect her and hang out with her because of her popularity… everyone except for Jaune, who has treated her as a normal person even when he finds out she’s a well known fighter and it’s this sort of personality Jaune has that Pyrrah is attracted to him.

    Another point I want to talk about is the whole “rwby may seem like a feminist show” and to that I must object, I don’t think Rwby is a feminist show, I think it’s a show someone made because he liked the idea. It’s a pet project that Monty Oum has always wanted.

    That’s why I like this show so much, despite the animation errors or the voice acting or any sort of point you made in this article. Because despite what you said this show had heart and effort put into it even now when the original creator has sadly passed. Rwby isn’t a feminist show… it was a dream project that a talented young man had and never stopped working on. And that’s why it’s so popular.

    I apologise if this sounds insulting or cringey to some people but it’s something I wanted to get off my chest.

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