First off, I must confess: I have never seen the RWBY anime. In fact, I didn’t even know about RWBY until I read other other articles my fellow writers have contributed to the site. But upon delving into some research, my intrigue was immediately sparked by the show’s description. The problem was that there are nearly 100 episodes to catch up on if I wanted to start the anime. Conveniently for me, the first volume of RWBY: The Official Manga is currently available to read. I decided that it might be easier to follow along with the story through the manga in its beginning stages.
The protagonist of the story is Ruby Rose, a scythe-wielding prodigal warrior with a huge heart. Written and illustrated by Bunta Kinami, the manga starts with her stopping a robbery at a Dust shop (upon further research I have learned this is also how the anime starts). Ruby is an aspiring huntress and showcases incredible combat skill and power beyond her years in dispatching the criminals. She then meets Glenda Goodwitch, who takes her to see the headmaster of Beacon Academy, Professor Ozpin. Ozpin praises her handling of the thieves and interviews her about becoming a Huntress. He invites Ruby to enroll in Beacon Academy, despite being two years younger than most first-year students.
Ruby starts her first day on Beacon’s campus with her older sister Yang as her tour guide. She immediately develops a reputation around the school and becomes known as the “grade-skipper”. One of the first students she meets is Weiss Schnee, heiress to the Schnee Dust Company and a cold girl in both personality and in Semblance. Weiss immediately takes a disliking to the “grade-skipper” despite Ruby’s best efforts to remain cordial. Other students are soon introduced, including the cat-eared Blake Belladonna, the sheepish Jaune Arc, and the esteemed Pyrrha Nikos.
Professor Ozpin instructs the students to report to Beacon Cliff for their first lesson. He aks them to descend into the Emerald Forest below and collect relics from the temple ruins. He also informs them that the first person they make eye contact with upon their arrival will be their partner for the next four years. Ruby hopes that she sees her sister first so that they will become the perfect pair. Ozpin further warns the students that the Emerald Forest is home to Grimm: monstrous creatures that take various shapes and forms and are capable of nothing but destruction. Despite this looming threat, Ruby is still more afraid of locking eyes with Weiss Schnee than any brainless beasts. Ruby must soon learn that she has to overcome all her fears if she aims to be a Huntress.
The first volume of RWBY: The Official Manga fantastically highlights all the familiar faces for fans of the anime while formally introducing them and the world of Remnant to newcomers. The black and white artwork brings the story to life in a new perspective from the anime’s colorful style. As I understand, the soundtrack is an especially beloved feature of the anime, which is obviously absent in the manga. However, it packs enough charm, character development, and action into its five chapters to treat readers to a similarly fun and heartwarming experience. I look forward to reading upcoming chapters and joining Team RWBY’s adventures. Hopefully after the third volume I can jump in discussions with the seasoned RWBY veterans at AAOG.