Want to see some of the most amazing, well-choreographed fights animation has to offer? Then RWBY season two is the place for you.
Note: As this is a review of the second season of RWBY, there will be spoilers in this review. For a non-spoiler look, check out our review of the first season here.
Good -- Food Fight!
As with the first season of RWBY, the fight scenes are the bread and butter of this series. And while not quite as epic in scale as the first season's fight in the ruins, the fights in the second season are more numerous and just as well-choreographed.
Oddly, the highlight battle comes not at the climax of the season (though that fight is a fun watch in its own right) but rather in the first episode. In it we see teams RWBY and JNPR face off in a food fight melee where bread is wielded as swords and soda cans as grenades. It is one of the most entertaining action sequences I have seen in years, and it brings a smile to my face every time I watch it.
Good -- Free From TV Restrictions
One of the best things about RWBY is that it is a net animation instead of one designed for TV. This means its episodes are free from many of the constrictions of that medium. They don't need to have mid-episode stopping points for commercials, nor do they need to worry about the content and avoiding network censorship (not that that would be a problem for RWBY, anyway).
But the best thing about being a net animation is there is no set runtime for the show. While the average anime clocks in at about 22 minutes (with eight minutes for commercials), RWBY's second season runs anywhere from 12 to 18 minutes per episode. This means each episode is able to run for exactly as long as it needs to tell the portion of the story it is set up to tell. There is no need for useless padding to fill out an episode nor is there a need for cuts should the episode run over. Thus, the episode-by-episode pacing is great and the story flows quite nicely.
Good -- Joan of Arc
Jaune is easily the most developed character in RWBY -- more than any of the four main leads. This is because his is a story focused on personal growth, not about foiling a dire threat. While team RWBY is busy fighting hordes of enemies or investigating the season's mystery, Jaune is dealing with normal life -- trying to win the heart of the girl he likes and trying to improve his abilities as a fighter.
Though Jaune is largely treated as comic relief, he always comes through as a thoroughly likable and sympathetic character. Thus it's hard not to find yourself rooting for him. Over the course of the second season, Jaune has two major character-defining victories. The first is a physical one -- seeing him standing on his own in the season's climactic battle. However, the emotional (and far more meaningful) one comes midway through the season where, at the RWBY equivalent of prom, Jaune proves that he is selfless in the extreme -- willing to face heartbreak and humiliation if it helps those he cares about. And, as a viewer, it's great to see him subsequently rewarded for that.
Honestly, at this point, I'm so invested in Jaune, I'd rather watch him and his team of gender-swapped-legendary-heroes-with-a-history-of-cross-dressing than Ruby and the other girls.
Mixed -- Character Depth
One of my main complaints with the first season of RWBY was that very few characters gained little more than the most basic of character development aside from Ruby, Blake, and Jaune. In season two, Jaune and Blake remain as the most fleshed-out characters (and the two continue to evolve), while Ruby has become somewhat static. And even though much of the cast is still underdeveloped, Weiss, Yang and Pyrrha have grown a fair bit this season -- the former two through an episode where they blatantly state their character motivations to each other and the latter through a heart-to-heart with Jaune. It's a good first step toward improving the depth of the characters in the show, but there's still a ways to go.
Bad -- A Plan That Goes Nowhere
All season in RWBY we watch the girls struggle to uncover the mystery of an impending attack being planned by a terrorist group. It is treated as if it were a plan capable of bringing utter destruction to the city. However, when the plan is set in motion, it proves to be relatively minor. The villains let a small group of monsters into the city; and it takes no more than 12 students, three teachers, and a squad of soldiers to eliminate the threat. Hell, it's even shown that Glynda Goodwitch alone could have handled the crisis by the effortless way in which she defeats the monsters and plugs the breach. Moreover, we see no civilian nor hero deaths; and with Glynda's ability to repair any and all damage with the wave of her wand, there was likely no permanent property damage either.
Now it's heavily implied that this was just one aspect of a large attack -- and one that was activated prematurely because of RWBY's interference. But by never learning anything about what the grander plan entails, we are left with an anticlimax to the season that makes the villains seem exceedingly weak and more than a little stupid. After all, a plan so easily thwarted makes it seem like it never had a chance of succeeding anyway.
Bad -- Poor Animation Looks Even Worse in Contrast
As with the last season, there are more than a few scenes where people look like they are walking on slippery glass instead of on land -- i.e., the length and speed of their strides does not match the distance they are covering. Other movement-related motions outside of combat sometimes look off as well. These moments always stand out because of how great everything else looks by comparison -- especially when it comes to the combat. This proves to be the single glaring flaw of the series visually, and it distracts greatly from the story being told. Frankly, it's an eyesore that should have already been addressed.
RWBY season two is a decent second outing for the series. While there are still problems with the animation quality and certain plot points, the series continues to deliver on its promise of epically choreographed battles and quirky humour. Several of the characters make meaningful strides in their development and the story in general provides an entertaining ride from beginning to end. In other words, if you liked RWBY season one, you'll likely enjoy the second season as well.