RWBY Manga Review
When I recently reported that Shirow Miwa(of dogs bullets and carnage fame) was going to be adapting the hit Rooster Teeth series RWBY for a manga series, I never thought I would end up reviewing it. Typically, manga is not my thing, I prefer to read light novels, or just watch anime, but RWBY is one of my recent favorites, so I thought id would give it a try. Turns out that the high energy, super action of RWBY plus the skills of Miwa, make for an amazing manga. Characters fly off the page, heavy line art giving each panel a weight typically reserved for American super hero comics. Massive double truck panels convey a sense of grand scale to the action, and there is just enough back story on the world of RWBY to engage fans and make them interested in the series other media.
I was concerned that RWBY’s frenetic movement wouldn’t translate at all to the static format of Manga, but here again Shirow Miwa shows his skill. Each page with action feels like it’s alive, and in long held manga tradition, speed lines, blurs, and various onomonopia successfully convey the frenetic feeling of motion the show is known for. I never felt like the story dragged on, despite a good bit of world building that’s needed to explain why these characters are fighting scary monster things, and chasing after dust.
In case you have never heard of RWBY before, it’s a basic post apocalypse story. A race of monsters called the Grimm have overrun the world, and elite hunters harness the energy of all living things (called dust, an homage to His Dark Materials) to keep the Grimm at bay. RWBY barrows much of its aesthetic from fairy tales, from Grimm to Marvels Blade. The title character Ruby Rose wields a massive Scythe that can also shoot like a rifle. There are references a-plenty to various Eastern and Western Mythology’s in the form of character names, weapons, and even places. On the topic of weapons, RWBY has some of the best. Swords, Scythes, giant cannons, and even fists are all taken to absurdist levels. I Think my favorite weapon is the thin rapier tha Weiss wields, that doubles as a revolver. All of the weapons have a feeling of immense weight, that’s accomplished by almost never showing them in full. I love the attention to detail that goes in to each weapon, and the way that Miwa draws them you can feel their weight and speed.
The book is broken up in to easily digestible parts, with a total of 15 chapters. Each of the ladies of team RWBY get origin chapters and by the middle of the book we arrive at all of our heroines at the main location of the story, Beacon Academy. I really liked the little bit of back story we got on each girl before the main event, and if I had to say one negative thing it might be that all of the back stories except for Weiss’s seemed to be a bit brief. After the intro’s we get to the meat of the story, a fully original work where team’s RWBY and JNPR fight against a massive grim called King Taijitu, who takes the form of a snake. Ill leave the results up to your imagination but with two teams of hunters needed to fight against the Grimm you know it has to be a powerful one.
Now this is a review, so I have to talk a little bit about what I didn’t like. I mentioned the thick lines earlier, and while they look great on the page they also have a single negative to them. Some pages end up looking blurry and murky. While this is also in part due to the action packed nature of the source material, I feel a more soft art style might have served this story better. Miwa makes liberal use of negative white space for backgrounds, and while at first I had a strong dislike for the it, I found it growing on me over time. I must also mention that some of the work feels rushed, like the shading part was done in a hurry and just not quite finished. This may be intentional and my unpracticed eye just doesn’t have the skill to pick that up, but it did bother me a bit.
Overall RWBY is a fun, action packed entry point to the RWBY world. It provides enough background for first time entrants to the series, and the second half provides a new story for those already fans of the franchise. Its early parts differ little from the show, but I still its worth the entry price to those who are already fans of the series.