With the current buzz surrounding Roster Teeth’s widely-acclaimed animated series RWBY I felt it was the perfect time to question its legitimacy as an anime. The community regards the series with a mixture of love and disdain due to the fact that it was produced by a team in the United States while blatantly employing stylistic and cultural tropes found in anime. To understand why the anime fandom is so split on the issue one must understand the difference between traditional anime and anime as a style. Once those guidelines are established I will explain how RWBY corresponds to the stylistic guidelines of modern anime. Finally, I will give my thoughts on RWBY as an animated property.
RWBY‘s Stylistic Showings
As discussed in my Anime 101 article , What is Anime Anime is the animation style that is localized to Japan. This means that, traditionally, anime is exclusively Japanese. As such Rwby would not be an considered a traditional anime. However, when one considers that it is an anime-inspired series the facsimile anime feel gets close to the tradition. While it was produced in America It feels like something produced by Gonzo or Madhouse. From a viewer’s stance it feels like a piece from the 2000s.
Stylistically speaking, RWBY really shines as an example of great quality animation and storytelling. The story of RWBY takes in a world besieged by aspects of darkness called the Creatures of Grimm . Four kingdoms rose with the help of the magical material known as dust and monster hunters known simply as huntsmen and huntresses. The series proper fallows the titular Team RWBY as they train to become huntresses. It is from this setting the show draws both its main cast and main villains. Like most anime, we are first introduced to these main concepts but there is more depth than we know.
As it progressed, RWBY grew darker taking on undertones of political and racial tensions that converged in its third season. With each season, the animation and thus the fight scenes have improved greatly which made for a grand representation of character growth and combat education. Below I have posted RWBY Red Trailer and volume four’s character short to compare this growth.
RWBY Red Trailer
RWBY Volume 4 Character Short
These accurately portray the evolution of the main character. Given that she evolves in appearance and personality we can see how she has progressed. This is noticeable in a lot of anime with teens becoming ace pilots or warriors gaining powers. Darker story-line and deep character growth are a hallmark of anime. Ergo, it has the tags of of an anime in a stylistic since.
So is it an anime? Traditionally no, RWBY would not fall into that category. Stylistically, it hits the mark for story and design. In my my view it is an anime that evolves every year. Even Cronchyroll notes it among its stable. Therefore, stylistically it is an anime.
Season four has premiered as of this post. I invite you to watch it when it is available. It is available of Crunchyroll. Also Rooster Teeth offers early viewing now for First members. Either way you watch it I hope you enjoy it.