By Monty Oum, Rooster Teeth, Shirow Miwa
The previous chapter did little to inspire confidence the manga adaptation of RWBY would be able to stand on its own two feet, independently from the animated series. While that worry has not entirely vanished with chapter two, RWBY seems to have found its footing. Chapter two resumes immediately where the first chapter ends. It quickly becomes apparent that Jaune is a victim of bullying, while Ruby and her friends are immediately swept into the situation. Cardin targets Ruby, through some faulty reasoning that proves difficult to follow, and Ruby finds herself in an actual duel.
The duel itself exhibits more of the amazing visuals from the first chapter’s fight scene, although they are not quite as eye-catching. The scythe Ruby fights with has a slick design. The panel layout becomes more dynamic as the fight moves along, although it too has been downgraded since the first chapter, with few angles and similar sizes apart from a few pages. The actual visuals in the panels feel much more like a Shirow Miwa manga this chapter. A great amount of attention is paid in the artwork when RWBY does not feel a need to mimic the animated original, that is my biggest frustration with this really.
It would be nice to see the RWBY manga develop more into its own thing. This chapter does feel like a significant step in the right direction, and RWBY and its characters are all infectiously charming. A good example of this is Ruby’s determination to fight while her fear of the audience overwhelms her. The situation is framed as a quirk, rather than for laughs at her expense, or as something harrowing. Ruby shirks off her anxiety and proves herself an excellent fighter. This aspect of Ruby catches the attention of her professor and it is clear this will come into play down the road.
It still is not entirely clear where the RWBY manga fits in with the animated series as events seem mixed around. The chapter’s ending, in which it seems the characters have only started their journey, confuses matters further. Rooster Teeth is involved with this adaptation, although it is not quite apparent to what degree Shirow Miwa is allowed to play with the universe as of now.
The writing tackles an elaborate world and grim foreshadowing with quick wit and charm for the most part and that is part of the franchise’s appeal. The most endearing part of this manga so far is, regardless of gender, the characters are treated the same. That the first two chapters have had a balanced cast does not hurt it either.
RWBY’s manga will likely never be even the most compelling series running in Weekly Shonen Jump in English, but it still is a fun, slick reading experience. I sincerely hope it continues for some time to come as RWBY is a pleasant read with cool characters. It has some room to grow but it is hard not to be sucked into its infectious upbeat world.