With anime being such a huge medium in Japan, it was only a matter of time before American studios tried tackling the subject matter. What started as a passion project by a group of animators has since spawned into a hit series known by many circles of the anime community. RWBY is a 3D American anime created by Monty Oum, along with production company Rooster Teeth, and has easily become their biggest property in the four years that it has been running. RWBY has become so renowned, in fact, that it has since gained a manga, an anthology series, and even a Japanese dub. For their first year at Anime Expo, Rooster Teeth decided to show off some of the Japanese dub, as well as give an exclusive first-look at the trailer for the brand new Volume 5, set to release on October 14th of 2017.
RWBY: The Beginning & Japanese Dub
The panel began with a first look at the first episode of RWBY: The Beginning. RWBY: The Beginning is a collection of the first three volumes of RWBY compiled to form a TV-length anime. The biggest selling point of RWBY: The Beginning is the fact that it is also a Japanese dub of the first three volumes, and that it will air on Japanese television and simulcast on Crunchyroll beginning this weekend. RWBY: The Beginning was distributed through Warner Bros. Japan, and includes voice actors such as Ami Koshimizu, Aya Suzaki, and Hiro Shimono. Along with RWBY: The Beginning, Volume 4 of the hit series will also receive a Japanese dub, as well as screening events which shall take place in various different Japanese movie theaters starting October 7th of this year. The difference in voices lead to certain moments having very different emotions from their original airings, so it'll be interesting to see if those same moments hit with as much feeling as they did the first time around. For any fans of RWBY that may not have enjoyed the voice acting for the first few seasons, or simply want a new take on the vocal direction, then this is sure to excite! This is also the perfect start for anyone who may be looking into the series, as you can watch it alongside the weekly schedule just like any other anime.
RWBY Volume 1-3: The Beginning PV
Following the episode shown, writers and directors of RWBY Miles Luna, Gray Haddock, and Kerry Shawcross arrived to the stage along with voice actress Barbara Dunkelman. As part of Rooster Teeth's partnership with Warner Bros. Japan, various figures and other types of merchandise have been and are slated to release for RWBY. The figures shown are of the two main characters, Ruby Rose and Weiss Schnee, by Medicos Entertainment. Two more figures from Medicos Entertainment are also planned for the characters Blake Belladonna and Yang Xiao Long. The other two figures shown are of a chibi Ruby, as well as a final Ruby figure by FURYU.
After revealing the various figures, it was announced that the official RWBY manga by Shirow Miwa, which had a run from November 2015 to February 2017, is getting an official English translation and will be released in the United States relatively soon. Two anthology comics will also be released, with two more being planned in order to cover each of the characters. Finally, there was a quick reveal of other merchandise, including a new hoodie, key chains, wallets, and more! Even more merchandise was teased later on in the Q&A segment, such as statues from SH Figuarts, as well as Figma, and potentially new merchandise based on the Volume 4 designs. If you're a RWBY fan, there is definitely plenty of merchandise to purchase in the near future to display your love for the series.
RWBY Fighting Game...?
Following the merchandise reveals, a few particularly interesting comments were made in reference to both a potential RWBY fighting game, as well as more being revealed at EVO 2017, taking place July 14th to July 16th. In the past, Arc System Works (ArcSys), the developers behind games such as BlazBlue, Guilty Gear, and the recently announced Dragon Ball Fighter Z, has expressed interest in developing a RWBY fighting game. Creator Monty Oum said in the past that he also wanted a fighting game, so the potential of an ArcSys RWBY game being revealed at EVO is both likely and exciting!
The Rooster Teeth crew began to take questions from the crowd, as well as brought out art director Patrick Rodriguez onto the stage to answer any questions relating to the art of RWBY. Many different questions were asked about both development of individual characters and writing styles, as well as inspirations for character designs. Perhaps the most interesting questions (which didn't contain spoilers) were those of both character and creature designs. When it comes to brand new character designs and fashion, they consult a particular artist to come up with several conceptual designs before putting together their favorite parts of each concept and make the character they initially envisioned. With a lot of the storyline planned out, they also make sure to look at what a character may be going through for that amount of time and the years to come. Thankfully, they also try to make the costumes as functional and realistic as possible - including several pouches and pockets to both make the costume more believable and give cosplayers places to store their items (which certainly doesn't go unappreciated). When it comes to designing the various creatures (Grimm), the art team make an effort to make the Grimm as scary as possible so that they feel like a legitimate threat to the world that's constantly looming. The creatures are also constantly expanded upon in terms of designs, with the team initially being unable to do much due to time constraints. With more time, they put more effort into making the creatures look more imposing. They also take clear inspiration from various different mythologies, with the most prominent being a Grimm directly inspired by the Scottish nuckelavee. There was also a brief mention of their spin-off series, RWBY Chibi, and how they enjoy using that series in particular to do certain gags and comedic skits that wouldn't fit into the main series. RWBY Chibi is for both the fans and the crew members to be able to unwind after the much more dramatic moments present in the main series. The Q&A segment ended rather elegantly, with a skit in which Luna is suddenly made to wear a Virgin Killer Sweater (for those who don't know, that's a very NSFW google search) by his colleagues in order to promote their own anime podcast. Overall, it was refreshing to get some clues as to how the art team decides on what they are doing when it comes to designing the people inhabiting the world of RWBY . It is always great to hear how creators approach their craft, and the RWBY Q&A panel was certainly no different.
Volume 5 White Trailer
Perhaps the most anticipated moment of the entire panel came at the end, when a preview of the brand new volume was shown exclusively to Anime Expo. In said trailer, we get a few glimpses of the brand new animation improvements made in the new volume, as well as a tease that the trailer doesn't have the usual Red protagonist as the main star. Rooster Teeth confirmed that the trailer was about Weiss Schnee, and that there will be two other trailers alongside the one shown to correspond with the other two main members of team RWBY in an attempt to call back to the original four reveal trailers and give some insight into what those characters are doing with their time between volumes. Unlike previous volumes, where the trailers are first teased at Rooster Teeth Expo (RTX) and then released months later, this trailer will actually be shown within a week of RTX! They mention having to fight to even show as much of the trailer as they did, which surely did not go unappreciated by the fans at Anime Expo.
For their first panel at AX, Rooster Teeth certainly did not disappoint with the amount of content they brought to the table. Many fans of RWBY urged them to both get a Japanese dub and bring it to the States, and the new teaser for Volume 5 did not disappoint either. Couple that with the soft-confirmation of a RWBY fighter game and all of the merchandise they showed off, and it is a wonderful time to be a fan.
It was also nice to get some more insight into both the artistic process of RWBY (particularly Volume 4, as this was their first panel post-Volume), and that virgin killer sweater moment was certainly something... RWBY Volume 5 will be releasing October 14th, and it'll certainly be a day to wait for! If you're a fan of RWBY who can't wait that long either, feel free to leave a comment discussing RWBY and any of the news revealed!