Abusive relationships exist in real life and in fiction. When handled in fiction the writer(s) need to be very careful how they handle this real-life struggle in order not to jeopardize their characters or plot. It needs to be structured in a way that happens over several arcs, sometimes not even the main focus of the story. A perfect example of this is Blake and Adam’s relationship from RWBY.
This article is going to be discussing events that occurred in Volume 6 Chapter 11-12, some events (as told by the RWBY fanbase) that tore apart the fandom. And for the wrong reasons. This article will be unbiased as possible and focus more on the characters’ POV rather than my own. And while I was personally shocked that Rooster Teeth Animation decided to go the route they did with Adam Taurus’ fate, it was due to a strong reminder that reality and fiction don’t always have to be so far apart from each other.
RWBY is a very raw and emotional series. One that discusses topics that people avoid discussing around the dinner table but should be talking about. While there are some anime tropes here and there, RWBY avoids following the crowd and in a sense does its own brilliant form of storytelling. The series represents several powerful themes:
When RWBY is watched as a whole series, not episode by episode (but as a whole) these themes become much more vibrant and visual not through the plot, but through the characters. RWBY has an amazing plot, one that allows us to create our own characters, but its focus isn’t the plot, it’s the development of the characters and their flaws and struggles.
Blake, in particular, has a very interesting form of development. While quiet, shy and soft-spoken we see Blake break out of her shell volume by volume. Her development was never forced, it was shown.
Adam Taurus, Blake’s ex-partner, was first revealed to us in Blake’s RWBY trailer. It wasn’t until in later volumes where we saw the supposed heroic Adam on the train, was soon to be written as an obsessive, angst-filled and manipulative ex. The hints are all there. Especially if you focus more on Blake’s POV and how her reactions are whenever Adam was mentioned.
Reactions are very important to focus on, especially in a character’s mindset. She cowers, becomes quiet, sad and aloof whenever Adam came about in a conversation. Rooster Teeth did a fantastic job showing this side of Blake because it was constructed carefully and very much human. It was never forced. Here’s a perfect example of this being forced.
Character A: “I am abused by so and so.”
Character B: “Let’s help you!”
Character A: “You saved me. Thank you.”
That’s telling not showing. Dialogue is important to writing, but so is showing what your character is feeling. And since Volume 1 Blake has been showing us signs of her abuse.
In real life is someone tells you to “behave”, “look pretty”, “stay quiet” and even do their best to put you “in your place” where you have no say on how to live that life, and that person is someone who loved or trusted what would you do?
What if that was all you knew?
What if you thought that loved one was right?
What if you didn’t know any better because you looked up to them?
What would you do?
Any writing prompt or question can be answered with the word “why”.
Let’s try it.
Blake was scared and shy in the first few volumes.
Because we find out her past with the White Fang was horrible.
Because she didn’t believe in how Adam was going about things.
Because Adam had murderous intent.
Because he was obsessed with the cause and probably knew nothing else in life.
Possibly because he was able to manipulate Blake this way.
Because Adam needed to control Blake because he couldn’t control anything else around him.
Because the World of Remnant was in a dark place and the world was truly broken.
So write it like this:
Because the World of Remnant was broken and a dark place Adam needed control. So he controlled and manipulated Blake due to her insecure nature. He was obsessed with the White Fang’s cause because he knew nothing else in the world. He had murderous intent which Blake then realized and so she left the White Fang.
No matter the circumstance, Adam was wrong to treat Blake this way. Even if the world was wrong and “unjust” does that give him a reason to manipulate someone? No. Adam was a lost soul. We don’t know much about his past but you don’t let your past control you, nor do you let it allow you to treat other people with manipulation. What matters is how you react to your past.
Will you let it make you feel weak? No.
Will you let it help you grow? Yes.
Will you hurt others because others hurt you? No.
Will you help others going through your same struggles? Yes.
Adam was a coward. He didn’t want to change nor would he allow anyone to convince him otherwise. He had a bit of a God Complex where he was right and everyone else around him was useless. He allowed his past to define him and so belittled Blake because if you look deep within Adam’s character structure, you can tell that he hated himself.
The Schnee Dust Company branded him, used him and as far as we know probably tortured him. But Adam wasn’t redeemed. He didn’t follow the path to redemption like an anime antagonist would. Why? It’s not bad writing. It’s because, as stated earlier, RWBY reminds us of the human side of fiction. Do we all get redeemed in life? No. Do some of us follow the path to redemption? Yes, but not everyone. And that’s human.
The way Adam spoke about Blake could also be interpreted as how the Schnee Dust Company spoke about him. He was classically conditioned to hate himself and others. But he was still wrong no matter how you look at it.
Blake also started to hate herself and hide her nature as a Faunus because of being judged by others. A reminder of her nature brought up memories of Adam. We don’t know the extent of the abuse but when Adam told Blake to “behave” in Volume 6, you could tell what type of relationship it was.
Based on Blake’s reactions as well you can tell she was both physically and mentally abused. The abuse was revealed to us to be true in Volume 3 during the fight between Yang and Adam. Adam’s way of belittlement and violence revealed so much about the way he may have treated Blake throughout the course of their relationship.
The fandom was supposedly torn by the fight scene with Yang, Blake and Adam in Volume 6. Some say it was forced or forced the Bumblby ship on others. After rewatching the fight scene you can’t help but ask how? How was their relationship forced on the viewer? That whole scene was meant to represent Blake’s newfound courage and her ability to move forward in life. That scene represented willpower and Monty’s famous saying “Keep moving forward”.
After discussing this with many people they have said that many viewers thought Yang brutally murdered Adam out of spite, or that it was Rooster Teeth trying to force the Bumblby ship again. Despite the scene being brutal and extreme, if you look into it and watch it over several times, you will see that it was self-defense. Adam didn’t hesitate, he was going to kill Blake and Yang wouldn’t allow her to die by his hand. This was also a human scene because self-defense is something that tends to be overlooked in fiction. A scene like this could even help others in real life who were in abusive relationships or even others who were assaulted.
This scene also brought back Yang’s willpower to live. Adam’s manipulation and abuse even conflicted with her in earlier volumes. Volume 4’s major focus was on Yang’s depression and PTSD. It showed us her fear of Adam, so much fear that it infected her mind into having mental images of Adam killing her and nightmares of Volume 3’s events.
The Bumblby ship has also been hinted at for so many volumes, and their relationship, respect, and love for one another has grown over the years. A fight scene showcasing two characters who were impacted by Adam’s hatred and manipulation does not mean that it’s a scene with a focus on a forced ship. Bumblby is structured and a healthy written relationship. The fight between Adam, Blake and Yang was focused on them moving forward and fighting back against their fears.
Yang protected Blake and Blake protected Yang, but most importantly they learned to protect themselves and fight back against a force that was causing them to lose themselves and their willpower. They gained it back and kept moving forward.
What are your thoughts on the Adam vs Blake and Yang scene? All opinions are welcomed on All Ages of Geek so long as they are respectful.