ICYMI: Fighting Monsters Is Great Team Building In ‘RWBY The Official Manga’ Volume 1

by James Ferguson

Overview

Sure, you could do some cheesy team-building exercise in an office…or you could fight monsters together in the wilderness. RWBY introduces us to its intriguing characters and world in its opening volume with a good message.

Overall
7/10
7/10

Ruby Rose is part of the new class at Beacon Academy, learning how to use her powers to fight the Grimm and protecting the land. While she’s eager on the battlefield, she’s still a little shy when it comes to meeting the other students. She soon doesn’t have a choice as she’s thrown into a field test with the others where they’ll have to work together not only to survive, but to begin their first steps on the quest to becoming Huntresses.

I jumped into RWBY as part of my quest to increase my manga knowledge base. The only thing I knew of it was its name and some kind of association with Rooster Teeth. Writer / artist Bunta Kinami makes it very easy to dive right into this story. Since this is the first volume, most of the time is spent introducing the characters and establishes the rules and boundaries of this world. It is very much an origin story.

This can get a little dry at times as we meet each of the major players and get a quick understanding of their personalities, but Kinami keeps this moving at a brisk pace so it never feels like it’s dragging on. Ruby is front and center in all this, but the other people who round out the core team get a fair amount of time in the spotlight.

Kinami brings out the core essence of each character in their design. Ruby is nervous in life, but confident in battle and that comes out in how she carries herself in each setting. Meanwhile, Weiss Schnee, a rich heiress is cold and calculating, shown by her straight stance and upturned nose. This clash of personalities is key as these two are thrown together in a big way.

The Grimm are varied in size and shape, mostly taking the form of giant versions of animals. This volume features a big scorpion and a bird, which might not sound all that scary, but Kinami gives them a more monstrous vibe. The action picks up considerably when they hit the scene, yet each character rises to the occasion in impressive fashion.

There are times when Kinami’s artwork is almost too light on details, which made some of the action scenes a little difficult to follow. However, the basic idea of each sequence comes through without a problem. Letterer Evan Waldinger helps here with some clear, concise dialogue work that focuses our attention on key areas.

I will admit that I’m not necessarily the target audience for a book like RWBY. It’s more of a young adult title. That isn’t to say I didn’t enjoy the book. This is a fun, intriguing premise following a group of students from different backgrounds learning how to work together and presumably to become friends in the end. I know that sounds a little cheesy, but it’s a great vibe and it shines through in this volume without having to be super overt about its message.

RWBY The Official Manga – Volume 1: The Beacon Arc from VIZ Media is currently available at your local comic shop, bookstore, and Amazon and digitally through ComiXology and Amazon Kindle.

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