Updated: Feb 4
Not too long ago, good ol’ Harrington Splimby released a MONSTER of a video that dissects everything wrong with RWBY. It was so thorough & precise examining all the facets that has caused the show to become such an incoherent mess, that a lot of people have begun using it as a roadmap to discuss changes they would make to the show to rectify it’s problems…
Except they haven't. I seriously don't know how it's been half a year and yet I'm the first doing so.
For those who are out of the loop, here's Hbomber Guy's video that we're talking about. It's 2hrs long so please don't forget to came back here :,[
But lets face it, I’m no more qualified than any of you to claim that I know how to take a large scale production in a better direction… HOWEVER!
I like to believe I put my money where my mouth is since I am an active writer. I have a novel that’s published, & I self publish my own web comic series.
Now whether or not I actually succeed as a good writer, I dunno cuz no one will bother to look at my stuff & tell me otherwise.
But hey, YOU COULD BE THE FIRST!
Click on the robot heads below to check out my Sci-Fi shonen-esque series,
Anyways, back to criticizing people who are far more successful than me to make my own hollow life feel better!
PART 1: THE SETTING
Ok so lets start with the foundation, since problem #1 was that the show had none.
In the first 3rd of Harry’s video, a lot of time was spent explaining how poorly the show explained it’s setting & rules, and how this has made the show increasingly frustrating to follow. It got so bad, that they had to make an entirely separate show that’s nothing but exposition because the writers had no clue where to put it in their actual story!
But it’s hard to blame these guys. The challenges that come with trying to introduce an exotic world is the exact reason why writing speculative fiction is one of the hardest type of writing you can thrust upon anyone, even on the most experienced writers. And these guys are self admitted amateurs.
I feel kinda bad for them actually. Anytime you try to do something for the very first time it’s never going to be good. And yet these guys have the terrible luck of their crappy first attempt scrutinized by the entire internet for all to see! That’s like having your terrible fanfic from when you where 13 suddenly publicized on the front pages of the New York Times!
With all that said, there are 3 tricks you can do to reduce the difficulty of writing exposition:
#1 Reduce the number of rules,
#2 simplify them so audiences can SEE them in action, and immediately get it,
#3 Focus on what's RELEVANT to your story.
RWBY wouldn’t have to awkwardly shoe-horn in all this exposition, and then proceed to do it badly, if it stuck to these principles.
At this point it’s probably gonna become a meme in RWBY’s fan community, but lets compare this to Avatar, since it invited the comparison anyways.
When it comes to bending there’s only 2 rules: it requires motion, & the appropriate element has to be present in order to work. Audiences can immediately understand these 2 rules from the intro alone, and even if they don’t immediately piece it together they can eventually understand it just by watching the show. These 2 rules also gives writers a lot of creative freedom and allows them to have variants such as sand bending, blood bending, metal bending, lava bending, and all of it is easy to understand & makes intuitive sense.
Fire-bending is the only element that’s an exception, which is why it’s the only element that gets a couple lines of exposition. However the show is smart to introduce this in the very first episode because it’s immediately relevant.
Be careful with this last one, because relevancy is not the same as happening the very first moment like RWBY tends to do. Notice how in Avatar it introduces the super powerful Avatar state within it’s first episodes, but the show doesn’t immediately explain what the Avatar state is, how it works or why it works the way it does. It doesn’t do this because they already had to front load a lot of other information that’s FAR more important. In the first few episodes the show explained who the avatar is, a very GENERAL state of the world, and why this guy is after the Avatar. Sort of.
Knowing about the Avatar state is not important, so it can wait.
Knowing about the state of the earth kingdom is not important.
Knowing why Zuko was banished & tasked to find the Avatar is not important.
Knowing exactly how Aang fell in the iceberg is not important.
I know a lot of amateur writers are just really excited to share all the details of the world they spent a lot of time & effort on but- NO!
Restrain yourself! Ask yourself what’s ACTUALLY important to your story. Then ask someone else to look it over because you’re too close to your baby to make reliable judgement calls.
Then figure out how to sprinkle all your information out over time instead of forcing your characters to monologue about it all at once.
So, what does ALL of that mean for the setting of our RWBY Reboot?
It means we got A LOT of fat to trim.
Semblances, GONE! Silver Eyes, GONE, Magic isn’t real, GONE! Aura’s, GONE!
(It's ANIME! Do we REALLY need an explanation as to why our characters are super durable?)
As far as I’m concerned, there’s only magic & dust. Magic is going to be blatantly a thing in this world, and it’s a thing that everyone can do. Everyone can still have a unique gimmick because everyone has their own distinct way of utilizing magic, like an artist discovering & refining their own visual style.
This is going to be a soft magic system in order to give writers a lot of creative freedom. It also saves us the trouble of having to explicitly explain how & why magic works. I understand that this kind of stuff is important to SOME viewers out there & I'm not trying to discredit those people or how they enjoy a franchise, the fact remains that these things aren't what draws people in & it only keeps SOME people around while boring everyone else.
When talking to people that are still fans of the show, I ask them what initially got them hooked on the franchise & what keeps them in it. The answer is usually identical though phrased differently from person to person:
The characters, fight scenes & world initially pulled them in, & they stuck around to see were the story goes since the current problems with it's narrative or presentation don't bother them nearly as much as it does to everyone else. But this proves my point in that lore isn't as important as people think it is. An extensive Lore & ruleset is rewarding for long time fans & people, but very few people actually gets into a series because of it's lore. If that was the case then we'd have ALOT more history nerds in the world! The reason why we don't is because reading history books isn't inherently fun or interesting unless you're already interested in the topic.
Likewise, reading wikis is not inherently fun unless you're already invested in the story & characters. After all, most people just came here for the fights! No one is asking about how these characters do these amazing things they just wanna watch a spectacle!
We don’t NEED to know the intricacies of magic in this world because it’s ultimately NOT IMPORTANT or RELEVANT. The only thing we NEED to know are it’s limits, and that’s where Dust comes in.
Dust crystals are stones that enhance ones magical abilities. So even if you’re a talentless schmuck when comes to magic, all ya gotta do is crack one open, sniff it, snort it, shove it up yo butt, I DUNNO but BAM! You’re now throwing lighting bolts like Zues! But the effects of dust aren’t infinite, eventually each stone’s power runs out which means that our characters will always have a hard limit on how much they can do. This gives writers a lot of opportunity to make tension & interesting problems for fight scenes & stories.
All we have to do is demonstrate this ONCE, and audiences will go: “Oh, I get it! Those glowing rocks = magic!”
This allows us to take the concept even further by showing that Dust stones are also a source of power in this world. This is visually established by the fact that vehicles have giant crystals jutting out of them and are activated by crystal shaped keys, kinda like in Atlantis Lost Empire.
Buildings are atop these giant crystal columns with energy surging through them, and weapons have crystals replacing the magazine cartridge of guns. Hunters in general have their clothing or battle armor adorned with crystals which further inform what their powers & abilities are at a glance. & I know it’s a cool visual to have bullet casings flying out of the guns of our characters weapons, but we can still have that by having their bullets be black crystals in these shell casings, which serve as a visual shorthand to audiences that blackened dust stones are depleted of their energy.
See what I mean by how much wiggle room we’ve given ourselves, how much more distinct we made our world and made it felt lived in yet logical to it’s own rules, all without having to spout a single line of exposition about it so far?
I guess before we move on I should address the OTHER elephant sized feature of this world that needs to be addressed...
Yes, we’re keeping the faunas.
& No I'm not misspelling that, I'm doing a thing-
just stick with me!
Originally I considered cutting the faunas out entirely, but I do think there is some potential if correctly executed. And to give myself some credit for once: I’m half black, half Mexican, & I’m getting married to a gal whose a certified hood bitch. I’m a fuck load more qualified to tackle this subject matter than two white chuckle fucks!
The more I thought more about this world I’m building in which crystals that are the physical manifestations of intense emotions, and are used as an energy source in the world, I started to realize that there’s some very INTERESTING story possibilities exploring the nature systemic oppression. Some of you smart cookies might have already guessed what that might be based on that description alone.
Now you may have noticed that I have been spelling it as faunas intentionally. What are they plant people now??
The Faunas are being altered to be a species of fairy-esque plant people. Why? Because if you're going to have a race-allegory in your world then it's PROBABLY not a good idea to MAKE YOUR MINORITY GROUP LITERAL FUCKING ANIMALS!!
Now I know there's going to be someone out there saying that making our minority group plants isn't any better, but that's why we're adding the fairy angle: Fairies all over the world have always had a intimate connection with nature therefore it's not a stretch to have a race of fairies be a species of sentient plants, it fits perfectly in our fairy tale aesthetic, &-
FAIRES ARE NICE!
Everyone loves fairies! (except super insecure bro-dudes) Fairies are attractive, magically powerful, and according to Pokemon they SLAY DRAGONS! (Thats metal as fuck!)
Fairies are an inherently positive image & have never been used as a metaphor to deprecate another race at any point in history.
Because that's the biggest trap that so many 'UNQUALIFIED' writers fall into. When attempting to write a race allegory, what they end up doing is writing their fictional races in a way that confirms racist ideology and makes the discrimination in their worlds justified.
In Bright (& in a lot of Tolkien inspired fantasy) the orcs made a pact with an OBJECTIVLY EVIL ENTITY & thus deserve to be treated with hostility & suspicion.
In Harry Potter the muggles are OBJECTIVLY inferior to wizards.
In Detroit: Become Human the androids are DESIGNED to be subservient.
I know Zootopia tries to avoid all these issues but… I feel like explaining how they could’ve done it better requires a whole separate article.
But RWBY, Oh boy RWBY! By making your minority group animals you not only confirmed the previous 3 ideas, but you ALSO MADE THEM THE MAIN ANTAGONISTS OF THE FREACKING SHOW! (I suppose it’s worth mentioning that the White Fang are not coming back in my reboot.)
In our version, the faunas may be plant people, but otherwise there’s no actual advantage/disadvantage to them compared to humans. Any claims that says otherwise will be blatantly pointed out as false information or propaganda.
I suppose we can make them magically more powerful than humans, which means that the discrimination in this world is a means to keep a population in check as they don’t overthrow the corrupted powers that benefit from their servitude, but I’d have to do further consultation on that. For now I’ll explain how this change may affect our story later cuz this section is already getting lengthy, so lets talk about the thing that’s arguably more important than our setting- the characters.
PART II: CHARACTER CHANGES
Yes we have to alter the characterization of our main cast because of the fact that the current show has done it… poorly.
The first and most important change we’re making to the entire cast is that we’re-
AGING THEM UP!
I’m not about to sit here and explain to you why having your 15 YEAR OLD GIRL printed on a fucking body pillow, is a BAD IDEA. Because you SHOULD know better! But the fact that we’re having this conversation at all shows that someone GOT NO SENSE!
Look, the long and short of it is that you avoid A LOT of problems, and get to change NOTHING just by changing 2 simple digits. You still get to make your girls all sexy, you’re still able to dote all over them, your community can still enjoy the abundant “FANART” that’s out there, and iz all gewd.
Of course with this change it means we’ll have to alter the Hunters Academy as well. But even in the original series there was no reason why this couldn’t be anime college instead of anime high school.
But regardless, in our version it’s more like an Anime Police Academy. Because that’s what Hunters basically are, protectors of the peace. Except instead of fighting people, they fight monsters and keep the Grimm population outside the city walls in check.
Now as for the LADIES individually, we’re not going to change things up TOO much. They’re at least going to retain their core personality traits. Yang is still the bubbly punch gal, Blake is still reserved & serious, Weiss is still a bitch-
It’s actually going to be Ruby herself that’s going to have the most drastic changes. But it’s not because I didn’t like her personality in the original series. In fact when she’s actually allowed to have a personality instead of being a milk toast anime protagonist, she’s actually very charming. She’s an absolute dork, and adorably awkward in a way that’s relatable… almost to the point where I feel like I’m getting called out.
These little bits shine the most because there’s a lot of people out there who are genuinely like this, and most of them probably still watch this show. But unfortunately, the incompetent writing severely kneecaps her overall character, because of 1 critical writing error:
The show is very rarely about her.
Despite the show being her namesake the story almost never makes her the actual focus of the narrative. The focus ends up on Jaun, or Pyra or the faunas conflict, and all of the most interesting parts happens to EVERY OTHER CHARACTER except Ruby herself! Because of this Ruby never actually changes or evolves as a person and feels like a bystander to her own story.
Ruby was written as a VIDEOGAME PLAYER CHARACTER, not as a lead character to a long running Episodic web series.
And this is why she requires a serious re-tooling compared to the rest of the cast. And we can actually find inspiration at the very beginning.
The Original 'RWBY Red' Trailer
So, I want everyone to write in the comments (Once I figure out how to install them on my blog) what your first impression of RWBY’s character was in the Red trailer. I wanna see if it’s just me, but I feel like the character in that trailer is an entirely different entity than what we got in the final show.
When Ruby fights in the show, she’s bubbly, energetic & seems to have a good time fighting monsters. But in the Red trailer this is not the case. She shows almost no emotion at all when she’s fighting these proto-grimm. The only glimpse of a personality we see is in this one second were she has this tiny smile, almost as if she’s either sheepish or overly humble, before immediately going back to being deadly serious. There are the only 3 expressions she makes throughout the entire trailer, and the majority of it she’s making these two.
The appearance of this naive, gentle girl is clashing loudly against her actions in which she eviscerates hordes of monsters with surgical precision, and the grace of someone who has done this thousands of times like it was her job! All the while having an absolute cold indifference during the whole affair as if this task has an emotional burden on her that she’s hiding from the world.
Who was this silent badass girl of ambiguous age?
Why is she fighting all these monsters?
How long has she been doing this?
Why does the atmosphere feel so somber?
These where the questions that many of who where enamored with the trailer asked, and why we where immediately drawn into the show to find out more about these questions… and where ultimately disappointed.
I want to bring this interpretation of Ruby back, but we’re also not completely tossing out her classic persona either. I think I know a way we can keep both, but we’ll get into more detail about that soon. But before I do I just want to quickly address some changes to a few more characters, or rather, explain a lack of them.
Yes, we’re cutting characters. And we’re cutting A LOT OF THEM.
Ok fine, maybe we don’t have to straight up DELETE them but RWBY has a focus problem and one of the things that’s contributing to that problem is that it has more characters than it knows how to manage.
Clearly it’s trying to emulate many other shonen anime which have these large sprawling ensemble casts. The thing it completely misses is the fact that most of these shows didn’t start off with a massive roster. The cast GREW over TIME! Every single new character was given time and space to introduce themselves and let the audience become familiar with them. Sometimes entire arcs where focused on these new additions.
But RWBY decides to open up with EIGHT main characters! EIGHT!
They barely gave us time to focus on the first four!
We can at least keep team JNPR since the fandome is so attatched to them, but they are still going to be severely sidelined. For our first season, we are focusing exclusively on team RWBY, and how every character relates to Ruby Rose specifically, because again, SHE’S SUPPOSE TO BE THE MAIN CHARACTER! The rest of the classic characters can be cameos or background extras, and maybe over time be slowly integrated as side characters, but the fact has to remain that-
THIS SHOW IS CALLED RWBY!
THEREFORE THE SHOW SHOULD BE ABOUT TEAM RWBY!!
I don't know how to segway into the next part.
PART III: THE STORY
Ok I think it’s finally time I explain what our actual story is. Because among the shows myriad of problems, another major factor was the fact that it didn’t actually have anything to say. Yet at the same time, it tried so hard to APPEAR like it said something.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen another show that tried so hard,
to say absolutely nothing!
So lets give it something that’s worth talking about.
My reboot is going to have a story that’s initially going to span 4 seasons, and in each season 1 member of team RWBY is going to be the central focus, going in the order of their team name. This video is only talking about season 1 in detail which is about Ruby Rose herself. Connecting all these seasons is an underlying theme of FEAR.
Why fear? Mostly to fit in with the fairy tale aesthetic that the show had going for it. (until they gave up on it) Grimm fairy tales used fear as a mechanism to teach children on how to navigate through the cruelties & uncertainties of the world, so RWBY is going to continue that tradition, cuz otherwise what's the point of using fairy tales as your core aesthetic?
The Grimm monsters are only as strong as your greatest fears, and each of our characters has a different relationship & reaction to fear. And just like the fairy tales of it’s inspiration, our series is going to educate it’s audiences ways to identify, cope, & overcome various types of fears that they may have in there lives. This is accomplished by giving each of our 4 ladies a unique relationship to fear that allows us to focus in on them & fully explore it in their appropriate season.
Ruby runs away from her fears,
Weiss tries to ignore them,
Blake lets her fears control her,
& Yang just like in the original has attachment issues
& is afraid to let go of those close in her life.