To start off let me say I’ve been a fan of RWBY since not long after the first red trailer dropped almost six years ago. This show has been with me since I was a freshmen in highschool and I’ve enjoyed it, that is up until volume five. From what I’ve seen in reviews, this volume is widely panned as the worst volume in the shows history and I have to agree. However I began to think why is this the case? What happened between volumes four and volume five? Now I thought volume four was well down with the only downside being more personal preference as I prefer a slower paced story. I also thought all previous volumes were well done, volume three was especially good.
I pondered this and came to many possible conclusions. However, they all seemed to not fully define the problem. While the loss of Monty Oum certainly hurt the shows fight quality the story seem largely unaffected. The show for the most part had been written by Miles Luna and Kerry Shawcross since day one and that hasn’t changed. Also Miles has been shown to be a very good writer with his work in Red vs Blue season 10-14, which I thought was some of the series best seasons. While I don’t know much of Kerry’s work before RWBY, volume 5 seems to be the only truly bad one of the series. This only served to puzzle me more. It was certainly possible for good writers to screw up every now and again, it’s rarely this sudden of a drop in quality.
Thinking this not to be the answer I looked to myself before seeing people's review of the volume. I thought I’d just become more critical given the more serious tone and the maturing of my tastes in entertainment. However this seemed like a poor explanation. Volume four had a more serious tone and volume three became more serious as it went on and I still enjoy them.
I then looked at others reviews and what they had to say. Some pointed out the lack of an emotional core for most plot threads, others noted the lack of consistent pacing. Some pointed to the exposition dumps and poor directing choices. Another pointed out that all the plot threads to handle are the problem. These and many more criticisms leveled at the volume have their merit and many are certainly true but it still doesn’t explain why all these problem suddenly became glaring now. It’s not as if the previous volumes didn’t have some of these problems.
As I continued to ponder this I saw a clip of Jordan Peterson explaining why ‘Frozen’ would not be remembered like ‘Beauty and the Beast’, ‘Pinocchio’, and many other disney classic. Simply put, he stated that Frozen had a goal and that it was not simply trying to tell a story. While this is not perfectly applicable as to why RWBY volume five was bad it helped me realized something. What I believe to be the real reason this volume was as poorly done as it was. They put the fans before the story.
They’ve been on camera stating the always think of the fans when writing. While this isn’t necessarily bad, in fact it can be great motivation to do the best one can, it can cause a problem. This problem is that they are now trying to please the fans instead of making the story as good as it can be. They’re trying to shove in all the stuff fans want while writing the story. The problem this causes is that many times what fans want is not what the story needs. The story should always come first in any work of literature meant to tell one, no exceptions. I believe this to be the root cause of most of the problems in the volume.
I know there are obviously other problems with the volume that you can’t simple blame on the writers try to give the fans all they want. However, I think it can sum up what either directly or indirectly caused the major problems in the volume. I hope that in the future the writers can level the fanservice to the wayside and get back to telling a good and interesting story.