By Shirow Miwa, Rooster Teeth, Monty Oum
RWBY’s manga adaptation assumes familiarity with the animated series, yet it feels disconnected from the show. A slick action scene consumes much of the page count in the first chapter. It is honestly well done but Shirow Miwa has one particular shortcoming as a creator: as stylish as his work is he has difficulty with characters. Only five pages this chapter involve the characters actually interacting with one another, even then the conversations feel awkward. This poses a major problem, as the RWBY animated series’ strongest point is the character interactions.
The only time the characters have an actual conversation this chapter is too provide the reader with clunky exposition about the world’s difficult to understand mythology. The RWBY manga describes Dust as an energy source used for basically everything from around the home to being used to hunt the Grimm. The Grimm themselves are monsters which are a threat to humanity in their world, Remnant. Yet the chapter never really makes it clear what Dust itself is, or what it looks like it just lists Dust’s applications in their world. Despite this, we know even less about Ruby, Weiss, Blake, and Yang, because the manga assumes familiarity with the universe and characters.
Jaune is barely given a cameo this chapter despite being a huge part of the animated series early on. Again, the series expects readers to know who Jaune is, despite his only action in the manga thus far being thrown on to a table. Ruby’s action scene is given the bulk of the focus, and it actually does a good job of selling the series on its own. If you can ignore the walls of text in the last few pages, the fighting scene has dynamic visuals and imagery. Until the characters actually started talking, I was completely on board with this adaptation. It still is not clear what is actually going on in the action scene, despite the horribly written exposition, but the action and paneling on their own is impressive.
The panel layout is dynamic and creatively done while still being readable. The panels are at different angles. It really is clear that this is not Miwa’s first series. A gorgeous double splash page is the highlight of this chapter with effective use of blank space as the demons shatter. Ruby looks sharp and cool, her hood over her head deliberately concealing her face.
The series really could go either way at this point; it has potential to be a slick action series. That being said, it has some major issues to iron out with dialogue, as it is clunky, and hugely detracts from the reading experience. It will be interesting to see how the manga develops, and whether we actually learn more about the world and characters. As it stands it is difficult to recommend this series based on its first chapter to anyone, apart from fans of the animated series, who want to consume every piece of RWBY related media.