First off, let me just say that this episode exceeds my expectations in so many ways.
For starters, the animation quality is phenomenal this time around. It is far more coordinated than it’s been in the previous two volumes, and really shines in the first act of the episode. Viewers are taken right into the heart of a battle sequence on the train that highlights Team RWBY’s excellent teamwork. But how did they get there in the first place? Just watch on….
As I predicted, it seems that at this point, the production team isn’t shying away from death. There is a lot of it in this episode, even if it’s only minor characters so far. There were two characters who I could tell right away would either die horribly or end up very hurt before the day was over.
Then, there’s the slaughter of any White Fang members who planned to rise up against Adam Taurus for his cowardly betrayal in the last volume…. Let us just say that Adam has some serious anger issues he needs to deal with.
The next act of the episode shows us the hours leading up to the Grimm battle on the train. QROWBYNJR are gearing up to leave Mistral for Atlas by way of Argus. Can you guess what mode of transportation they’ll be using? 😛 Even though Mistral will soon be left in the dust, we’re still treated to a few parting shots of the kingdom’s charming, Asiatic architecture in the train station.
I, for one, am relieved that they’re not attempting this leg of the journey on foot; otherwise, we’d be stuck in Mistral for another three volumes at this rate. Perhaps, now that they have one of the four Relics, Qrow and Ozpin have made the decision to move quickly. The Grimm, after all, are revealed to be attracted to the Relic. What a handy plot device — now we can watch them fight Grimm every week!
These early scenes are generally lighthearted in tone, but this doesn’t detract from the overall episode plot. In the last couple of volumes, I’ve felt that Ruby’s childish nature didn’t jibe well with the otherwise darker setting of this arc, but it looks like things are finally balancing out. Plus, did anyone else notice Ruby’s voice has deepened ever so slightly?
Once they board the train, the tone transitions to a more somber, back-to-business vibe. We get our first official look at the mysterious elderly lady I’ve dubbed “Maz Katara,” before focusing on Team RWBY’s dynamic as they’re adjusting to being together once again. Blake and Yang still have some unresolved issues, but Yang assures Blake that things will be fine. (Blake’s ears are SO expressive, by the way. I’m happy at how much this little detail has evolved throughout the years.)
Following a brief “team-building exercise,” which was a tad more serious than Ruby had initially planned, we’re shown how the battle with the Grimm started. Once again, the fight sequence animations are stupendously well-done. Everyone has a way to contribute to the fight, and there’s even a little throwback to one of Qrow’s early fighting moves with the scythe, only now he’s teamed up with Ruby.
Blake and Yang’s teamup moment against the new Grimm, which is apparently called a Sphinx, had me thinking of Spiderman’s quip in Captain America: Civil War. “Do you remember this really old movie called The Empire Strikes Back?” 😀
In terms of character development versus accurate character performances, Oscar Pine is getting his fair share. When the episode starts, Oscar seems more resistant to letting Professor Ozpin’s spirit take over. Only in a time of necessity, when lives need saving, does Oscar give his consent to “the other guy.”
The opening title sequence seems to hint at exploring the Wizard’s backstory, specifically in terms of the Wizard’s past hosts. I’m looking forward to understanding this aspect of Ozpin better, though I wonder why the Wizard’s voice remains sounding like Ozpin when we hear him. Is it the convenience of retaining Shannon McCormick as a voice actor, or is it perhaps the Wizard attempting to present himself in a way that’s most familiar to those he’s working with? It could be both. 🙂
The episode winds down with Team RWBY + Qrow parting ways with the remnants of Team JN
PR. RWBY will disconnect the storage cars, fend off the Grimm, and JNR will get the passengers to safety. (Oh well, I guess some of them will be going on foot after all….) One traveler, however, opts to stay behind with RWBY. And another unidentified figure (who bears a slight resemblance to Adam Taurus) remains with the train….
Who are these new people? Only time (and the next several installments of RWBY: Volume 6) will tell.