I never expected to talk about RWBY again, but I saw this video talking about Ruby and I decided, “Why not?” Of all the characters on RWBY, Ruby Rose is my absolute favorite, I like her weapon, I like her Semblance, she has a great personality, Lindsay Jones does a great job voicing her, and I’d like to see Ruby be more awesome. I say that because I’m going to do my best to not turn this into a thing where I’m going to just say that she’s the greatest and shit like that. Because, that video I saw from Vexed Viewer made me realize the shortcomings Ruby received as a result of this show’s writing, and I feel I can talk about them.
The one thing that’s been hurting Ruby Rose as a character is that she lacks agency. Let’s talk about that. Starting from the first episode, they made her out to be the main character and talked about her motivation: she wants to be a Huntress since that’s what her parents did, Yang read her fairy tales talking about Huntsmen and their exploits, and she just wants to help people. And when she went to Beacon, things were going great. Volumes 1 and 2 helped to show how she needs to be a good team leader when in reality she goes off on her own every chance she gets, and during the dance Ozpin tells her about how she needs to take a moment to just enjoy being a teenager and not run off to kill Grimm every chance she gets. And in Volume 3, she’s unable to save two of her friends from dying, even with her Semblance. And in Volume 4 she starts to feel the losses of Penny and Pyrrha, even as she goes off on her own as part of the newly formed team RNJR.
We’re getting somewhere, we’ve set up what could be some flaws for her: she feels she needs to be the hero every chance she gets. She doesn’t take a minute to appreciate the little moments. She’s so selfless that she doesn’t do anything to fulfill a selfish desire (like Sayaka in Puella Magi Madoka Magica). Some have said that Ruby’s cheerful attitude is a facade, and while I haven’t seen evidence for that, that could work if we see evidence for that.
But then “A Much Needed Talk” happened and Ruby learned about the Maidens and the Relics.
Have I mentioned how I hate the Maidens? This is why. Following this, Ruby’s character isn’t anything relating to her such as her coming to terms with the reality of being a Huntress. It’s all about trying to stop Salem and defend the relics in the name of Ozpin. Ruby and all the now former Beacon students are now just pawns for Ozpin in his battle against Salem. And you wanna know something else that could make this worse? When Yang met Raven, Raven went on about how Ozpin isn’t a man to be trusted, and what happens when Ozpin tells of his conflict with Salem? Ruby completely buys in, content to follow Ozpin in Oscar’s head like a stray puppy that was taken into somebody’s house.
In the Battle for Haven, Ruby gives two impassioned pleas to join the side of good, first to Raven who just says, “You sound like your mother.” (Translation: Take your offer and shove it up your ass.), and then to Emerald saying that they don’t have to fight, only for Emerald to continue attacking her. This feels like a bad omen; Ruby doesn’t develop because her idealism makes her an easy soldier for Ozpin to use for his own ends (that sounds kind of wrong). The only logical conclusion I can see happening from this is that Ruby ends up being a part of Ozpin’s inner circle, or the Ozluminati as some fans are calling it. Why? Allusions of course! RWBY’s big thing is that a shitload of characters (if not all of them) are supposed to be allusions to specific characters in stories (with the exception of JNPR who are supposed to be historical figures that disguised as the opposite sex in their stories/legends):
- Ruby is Little Red Riding Hood
- Weiss is Snow white
- Blake is Beauty from Beauty and the Beast
- Yang is Goldilocks
- Cinder is Cinderella
And those are just some of the confirmed ones. I’m going to speculate about what the unconfirmed ones are because that’s not my way to enjoy a Saturday. Ozpin himself is supposed to be The Wizard from The Wizard of Oz. Among his inner circle:
- Qrow is the Scarecrow
- Ironwood is The Tin Man
- Lionheart was the Cowardly Lion
- Glynda is Glinda, The Good Witch of the South
And my prediction is that Ruby will be invited in and she’ll be the Dorothy of the group, and Zwei will be the Toto. If that happens, that’ll just be another thing you can file under “things that are predictable and obvious that RWBY as a show thinks are groundbreaking and game-changing and shocking.” This one will hurt because it’s so on the nose. And it’ll also cement Ruby as one of the worst written characters on the show because any of the interesting directions you could take her character will most likely never be taken.
I’m talking about Silver Eyes again because this shit’s important this time. I’ve said before about how this show should have focused this on the next big power instead of the Maidens. And I’ll concede the fact that it came out of nowhere to take out Cinder and advance the plot with zero foreshadowing. The reason I’m more forgiving than others is that the moment itself when it was unleashed was really cool and I think that there are ways you can expand that power and the lore of the show. The problem is that Nothing has come from it in two volumes since we first saw them. And that Vexed Viewer brings up that it’s on Ruby that she hasn’t brought them up, especially since Qrow pointed out that Ruby’s a prime target of Salem since the fall of Beacon. As it pains me to say, I have to say that he’s onto something. Ruby hasn’t asked one question about the Silver Eyes since Volume 3, let alone approached Qrow or Ozpin about harnessing their power. It hurts even more since during the Haven fight, she uses them again. I wouldn’t go as far to say that she’s a complete moron, but the longer she avoids this, the worse it really makes her look. In the novel Goldfinger there’s a line I think is amazing and can explain a lot of things, ““Once is happenstance. Twice is a coincidence. The third time it’s enemy action.”” We’re about to enter the third volume since Silver Eyes were introduced. If we don’t get anything out of Silver Eyes in Volume 6, I’ll be thinking a bit less of Ruby and the writing of this show, and it’s got some glaring flaws already that’s hurting it substantially.
If there’s one selfish thing I want from RWBY, it’s talking about Summer Rose, Ruby’s mother. All we know about her is that she was the leader of Team STRQ, and she was a great mom. The Red Trailer had Ruby at her mother’s grave before she fought Grimm, and Volume 3 had Ruby at her mom’s grave a few times.
Also, going by Red Like Roses, Part II, when Ruby learned her mom died…she didn’t take it very well. First off, if the only way we see that angle addressed is on the soundtrack…that’s fucking pathetic. If you tell people to listen to a soundtrack song to get away with not doing character development because “the songs are in their point of view”, that’s worse than telling and not showing, that’s worse than lazy writing, that’s just taking money from fans and expecting them to do your job for you. And I’m not going to stand for it.
Back on topic. Summer’s interesting because of what it could mean for Ruby. Maybe she knows how great a Huntress Summer was and she wants to be like her. Maybe she wants to specialize in saving families that are being attacked by Grimm because she doesn’t want a family to be torn apart like hers was before she could even realize what a torn family even meant. Maybe part of Ruby’s character development will be trying to be her own Huntress and not what her mother was. Maybe she could come face to face with the same situation that killed her mother.
Hell, Eren went through something similar in Attack on Titan when he came across the Titan that ate his mother, and it led to one of the biggest and most important moments of that entire manga.
I’m not sure if Ruby will go through something that intense, but the fact that Summer Rose was Ruby’s mother and a Silver Eyes could go a long way in developing Ruby and helping us to understand how she views the world. Raven said that Ruby sounds like her mother when she talks idealistically and optimistically, so the hints are there. The thing that these two share is that there’s potential for these characters to be realized. Whether or not that potential is realized or wasted lies solely on the competence of the writer, whether it’s a fanfiction writer or it’s Miles and Kerry writing the actual canon.
(Off topic, I know, but I still always have that feeling it’s unfair to say a fanfiction is better than canon even though sometimes it is and I find myself saying it’s sad that a fanfiction does X thing better than the actual show. I’ve only had that feeling with Ruby though I’m sure other shows have that sensation as well.)
Hand to Hand:
A lot has been said about Ruby being not very good at hand to hand combat and overly reliant on Crescent Rose. At face value, that’s not a bad thing. Although after Volume 5, I guess the problem I’m seeing is that the show wants us to think that she got over it after just one scene of training and giving one headbutt to Mercury. One. If the idea is to say she can hold her own…that’s fine, I guess? I think the problem lies in the fact made it a big deal that her hand to hand is lacking. As in, “If Ruby doesn’t have Crescent Rose, she’s fucked.” Maybe if her skills were, “needs work”, it’d get a pass. Was it built up as a major weakness, like how Raven’s power was so hyped that we get things like her being the Spring Maiden.
My headcanon was that her fighting style could still be scythe heavy, but when disarmed, she could hold her own, and her hand to hand fighting would be like a fight in hockey: sloppy and scrappy, but still able to deliver some pretty nasty blows. And apparently, the show wants us to think that with some offscreen training and one onscreen headbutt, her hand to hand skills are the fusion of Mike Tyson and Muhammad Ali. I don’t get what the show or the fans want when it comes to hand to hand for Ruby. Maybe if more time was dedicated to it (one person I follow on Tumblr said that the show needs to either add 10 more episodes to each volume or 10 minutes to each episode), there’d be something regarding actual answers to this hand to hand question.
As I said in the beginning, Ruby’s my favorite character and the way she’s been handled lately has got me going. A Reddit AMA Miles and Kerry did have the two of them on record saying that some of the feedback they considered when they started writing Volume 6 was that Ruby needs more attention and meaningful conflicts. Volume 6 is the all in proving ground. Either Ruby develops as an actual character and it’s her story, or she’s forever lost in the sea of confusing lore and inconsistent powers and abilities that this show is created, domed to just follow Ozpin and his inner circle in the bigger endgame that is defeating Salem. And that’d be probably the 4th or 5th worst thing this show’s writing has done. I don’t want the only way that I follow the show is by reading episode summaries on Wikipedia.