Though the release of Ice Queendom helped scratch the RWBY itch that Volume 8 left, fans of Rooster Teeth’s anime-inspired series have eagerly anticipated the latest instalment of the team’s adventures RWBY, especially after being left on such a dramatic note. Atlas has been left in ruins, and the girls are quite literally thrown into a new fairy tale world called the Ever After.
While previous seasons of RWBY had been shown both on Rooster Teeth’s website and Crunchyroll, new episodes of RWBY will be airing exclusively on Crunchyroll. This decision was made to accommodate RWBY’s growth in popularity. It used to be that if you wanted to watch new episodes of RWBY as soon as they aired, you had to sign up for the Rooster Teeth first service, and the move to Crunchyroll has caused some fans to cancel this subscription altogether.
A Place of Particular Concern opens with a brief recap of the events of the Volume 8 finale from Ruby’s point-of-view, eventually leading up to her having an aerial fight with Neo before passing out. When she gains consciousness, she starts exploring the Ever After, looking for her team. Along the way, she finds a talking mouse who she names Little (voiced by Luci Christian.) So out of the vast amounts of characters in the cast with unique names, they could only settle for Little? RWBY is well known for taking inspiration from fairy tales, so why not go for something more fitting with the theme? If they’re going for an Alice in Wonderland aesthetic, maybe something akin to Mallymkum from the Tim Burton Wonderland adaptation.
Elsewhere, Weiss and Blake are investigating their surroundings, trying to recover Blake’s missing weapon, only to be trapped by a tribe of talking mice. Now, throughout the start of this episode, though there is an air of confusion amongst the main cast, the tone overall is much more comedic than anything else. It’s not the first time this has happened in RWBY: Volume 4’s opening episode went for a similar approach after Volume 3’s depressing finale.
While this may be a way to break the audience back into the story after such a long time, it still feels a bit tonally misplaced. The girls have faced their greatest challenge yet, they watched one of their friends die, and then they got thrown into an unknown world, separated from the rest of their companions, some of them without their weapons. They’d probably be a bit more emotionally stirred up.
However, Ruby is reunited with Blake and Weiss after the pair are freed by the mouse tribe. With no sign of Yang, the group venture to higher ground, where they run into an aggressive creature called the Jabberwalker (voiced by Richard Norman). The design of this creature is interesting; it’s not a form of Grimm, instead looking like a demon monkey with a stone mask and moving with a constant jitter.
After a short encounter, they run into Yang, who is exhausted and missing her mechanical arm. After the group reunite, they recount what happened for them to get where they are, considering that this might even be an afterlife, with Blake concluding the episode by saying:
“I know how this sounds, but… I think we’re in a fairy tale.”
Judging by the opening – which is accompanied by a banging tune from the ever-talented Casey Lee Williams – it appears that this volume will focus exclusively on team RWBY, contrary to fan theories that the volume will switch between RWBY in the Ever After and the rest of the team in Remnant. Narratively, this could provide interesting future developments, like having a time skip in the world of Remnant.
It’ll be intriguing to see where this volume goes, as unlike Volume 8, which ran for 14 episodes, Volume 9 is running only for 10. A previous criticism I have made about RWBY is that it can occasionally feel like the volumes are made too quickly with a lack of focus, so hopefully, with more time between the volumes and fewer episodes, the quality of this instalment will be greater. Plus, there’s an additional element of potential as RWBY, and the audience (at least so far) have no idea what’s happening in the world of Remnant.
But how does ‘A place of Particular Concern’ stand as an episode? It’s ok. Obviously, the characters are in a new world that needs to be established, and there is enough here to pique the audience’s curiosity – visually, it’s quite unlike anything in the RWBY universe and though the audience doesn’t get much information, there are still some clues about how the Volume may progress. Still, there could’ve been a bit more – it would’ve been nice to maybe see a fight scene between Weiss, Ruby and Blake versus the Jabberwalker, with Ruby having to rely on hand-to-hand combat since she lost Crescent Rose in the fall. Also, using Weiss for visual comedy isn’t really in keeping with her character.
Additionally, while RWBY is known for taking inspiration from fairy tales, it’s an interesting creative choice to fully lean into that aspect, like Jabberwalker instead of the Jabberwocky in Alice in Wonderland, Blake outright believing they’re in a fairy tale etc. We’ll just have to wait and see what the volume does with it.
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‘A Place of Particular Concern’ is a soft open for Volume 9, providing just enough intrigue to continue following the rest of the story.
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