Story & Art by Bunta Kinami
Based on the Rooster Teeth series created by Monty Oum
Translated by Caleb Cook
Lettering by Evan Waldinger
Design by Shawn Carrico
Edited by David Brothers
It’s hard to find an animated series as beloved as RWBY. Since 2013, Rooster Teeth has consistently blown away viewers with the series’ compelling story, stellar action sequences, and wonderful characters. RWBY is also notable for its heavy anime influences, and this has led to the series branching out into other mediums like manga. Still, while there have been RWBY manga in the past such as RWBY: Official Manga Anthology and Shirow Miwa’s RWBY, none of them were direct adaptations of the original series. RWBY: The Official Manga finally brings the beloved story to manga readers, and even elevates its content in the process.
RWBY: The Official Manga’s first volume covers the early portions of the animated series, leading up to the formation of Team RWBY. It takes place in a world where monsters called Grimm roam free, and warriors called Huntsmen are tasked with defending society. When child prodigy Ruby Rose enlists in an elite training school, Beacon Academy, she starts on her path to become a Huntress herself. Alongside her friends Blake Belladonna, Weiss Schnee, and Yang Xiao Long, Ruby must face the challenges of her school school life and the Grimm threats that come alongside it.
One of the biggest appeals of RWBY is its four main heroines. Each of them feels incredibly distinct, and come from unique backgrounds. Ruby gives off the strongest impression, being an enthusiastic child prodigy, with a desire to learn more about the world. Meanwhile, her sister Yang is more laid-back and carefree, but is more than up for a fight when necessary. Their personalities serve as interesting contrasts to the other two heroines Blake and Weiss. Blake is reserved in this first volume, only participating in idle conversation. Meanwhile Weiss is incredibly outspoken, but has a harsh demeanor around other people. Having these wide ranges of personalities interact with each other is part of the fun of RWBY. This volume places a lot of focus on Ruby and Weiss in particular, showing their attempts to cooperate with each other. It’s through these moments that we see the characters open up and create a bond in spite of their differences. Seeing Ruby and Weiss go from bitter enemies to allies is a fantastic progression, and it’s the type of narrative progression that the series excels at. By the end of this volume, you will become attached to at least one of these girls, and that’s the first step to falling in love with the series.
While the early parts of the RWBY animated series have their charm, its visuals don’t hold up as well in retrospect. Bunta Kinami’s artwork has the advantage in this regard, crafting a timeless look for the manga. Coincidentally, Kinami cites Shirow Miwa as a major influence, and you can see a few parallels between their work as a result. Both artists specialize in minimalist backgrounds, providing their manga with a clear-cut appearance. In Kinami’s case, this works especially well, allowing the reader’s attention to easily shift to the characters and their movements. RWBY is also iconic for its action, and Kinami delivers sequences that rival their original moments. There is a constant sense of motion in the battles, and the manga does a fantastic job of emphasizing each strike’s impact. Kinami does this by smartly using two-page spreads during the manga’s climatic moments, fully conveying their significance. This manga is a visual spectacle that will please readers on every page.
RWBY: The Official Manga is a great adaptation that fully captures the appeal of the RWBY franchise. The cast has retained its wonderful charm, and the artwork elevates the material to new heights. Whether you’ve already experienced RWBY before or are looking for an easy entry point, this is definitely worth the read.