(This is Part 4 of a four-part post.)
The Power of Stories: Why is RWBY a Powerful Tale?
RWBY is a powerful story. It affects people, it entertains them, it gives them questions to ponder. Few people who’ve seen it are left unaffected. I personally believe the reason for this is because RWBY has something for everyone, something with which everyone can identify. The characters feel real. Every RWBY fan I know can point to a character and say “he/she reminds me of my sibling/friend/parent/etc.” And it’s not just the characters either. Few stories so blatantly (and effectively) combine numerous genres and storytelling formats. RWBY can be comfortably described as an anime, web series, and film series, and appeals even to the video game playing crowd because it incorporates so many hallmark concepts from the gaming community. In a similar way, RWBY is difficult to categorize by genre as well, at times seeming like science fiction, at others high fantasy, cyberpunk, dark fantasy, steampunk, drama, tragedy, comedy, and action-adventure. Do you like stories with loads of eye-popping action? RWBY’s your tale. Prefer witty dialogue between characters who play off each other well? Sit down for some RWBY. Maybe quirky humor is your thing? Roosterteeth has you covered with RWBY. How about intense drama? You know the answer. Need a high fantasy-type quest? RWBY.
I could go on and on, but I think you get the picture. RWBY is not only diverse in genre and format, not only diverse amongst its character cast, it’s also diverse in plot type and theme and settings, etc., etc., etc. RWBY has something for everyone, and this range is a huge part of its success.
RWBY is also a Coming-of-Age tale, which is traditionally a popular type of story to tell. Why? Because all of us have personally experienced growing up. Many of the most popular stories in the world are Coming-of-Age stories (think Harry Potter). RWBY is no different. We recognize our own journey in these kinds of tales, even if they don’t remotely resemble our personal coming-of-age on the surface. But it’s not the surface that matters, it’s the inner experience, the internal struggle. It’s the identification we feel with the protagonists as they go through a journey that is, at its core, the same for everyone. After all, the loss of innocence and the shedding of youth is a singular experience, and it leaves a deep impression on all of us.
Last but not least, a large part of RWBY’s power comes from its themes. While the show is diverse, the themes are foundational. They are timeless. They are the most powerful kind of themes, because they are about universal principles. Courage, self-sacrifice for the greater good, friendship, loyalty, serving others – these are just a few of the principles on which RWBY is based. They span country, culture, and societal boundaries. Everyone knows these principles, and everyone needs to be reminded of them from time to time. Universal principles lie at the heart of RWBY, and this, more than anything, is what gives it such influence with its audience. It reminds them of truths they know, but often forget. And the best part? RWBY does this not by cramming a message down people’s throats, but through example. The characters espouse these ideals with their actions, and, as with any good epic, we are inspired by what we see and hear. RWBY, ultimately, is powerful because it reminds of us of the best parts of us, the good of which we are capable when we embrace the principles we all know, but often forget in our struggle through life. Ruby says it very well, in a mirror expression of what the show helps the audience to realize: “I wanted to be just like the heroes in the books, someone who fought for what was right and protected people who couldn’t protect themselves.”
I hope you enjoyed my analysis of Volume 4 and RWBY as a whole. Did you agree or disagree with any of my assessments? There’s nothing I love more than a lengthy discussion of a good story with other fans, so be sure to let me know your thoughts in the comments!