As RWBY continue to navigate through the Ever After, Volume 9 continues to vary in quality. RWBY as a show has been very dialogue heavy in recent years, and out of all the episodes in this current iteration, ‘A Cat Most Curious’ is a real talkie. While some of it is weak, some bits of gold shine through the murk.
‘A Cat Most Curious’ opens with RWBY trying to keep the Curious Cat’s attention long enough to help them get to the tree. The Cat continues to be an interesting character, and there is some interesting dialogue between them and RWBY – and I’m including the pun where the Cat splits themself in half and then says, “I sense a but approaching.”
Then there’s the Cat’s monologue after RWBY have shared information about Remnant and the events leading them up to their current situation. The Cat’s replies touch on Ozpin and Oscar sharing a body having “uncomfortable implications,” previous characters who haven’t shown up in years, and the voice acting in the past being “uninspired.”
Humour is subjective, and meta-comedy/dialogue can be effective when used in the right way – another online animated series that does this well is Helluva Boss. However, Rooster Teeth literally acknowledging their previous creative mistakes in the form of a meta-joke? It falls a bit flat and is more like a slap from behind the fourth wall.
The journey continues into the next acre of the Ever After, and the Cat assures them that he’ll be able to grow Weiss, Blake and Yang back to their normal size soon, though simultaneously warning them not to go talking to anyone without him there.
So, what does RWBY do?
They lose the Cat and meet a new character, a giant anthropomorphic caterpillar called the Herbalist (voiced by Christopher Guerrero). However, this is caused by the Cat absent-mindedly asking how they are supposed to defeat Salem with Atlas destroyed. This distracts Ruby and acts as a good transition to a decent character moment thematically.
What follows is the high point of ‘A Cat Most Curious.’ The Herbalist burns some leaves that put all of team RWBY in a trance, and they are forced to face their inner selves. The smoke effects in this scene are a huge improvement animation-wise, and having the characters literally facing their younger selves is a nice design choice, but the self-reflective dialogue itself isn’t so effective. Yang’s, in particular, needs a little work.
A character literally saying they have flaws but can develop isn’t particularly good writing. Blake and Weiss’ feel much better by comparison, with Blake refusing to give up her personal struggles for a simple life, while Weiss’ monologue is the strongest out of the four.
With this volume focusing on Ruby’s self-questioning, her trance leaves her doubting herself more while her teammates are increasingly determined. This could’ve been a great moment for Ruby’s character, but considering her game with the prince in ‘Rude, Red and Royal’ it loses some of that significance. ‘A Cat Most Curious’ concludes with the Cat snapping the girls from their trance and the Herbalist disappearing through the floor.
RWBY was initially about girls fighting monsters, and a trend throughout the series is that the action has been stronger than the writing. That said, ‘A Cat Most Curious’ is fascinating because it has examples of writing that are not great, like the meta-commentary on the show’s past, but also has instances where it has significantly improved, like Weiss’ character reflection. If the writing continues to improve, like with the better character self-reflections, instead of having meta-jokes about RWBY’s previous criticisms, Volume 9 has the potential to be a great addition to the overall story.
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As with previous episodes, ‘A Cat Most Curious’ does have its fair share of flaws but is just good enough to keep the audience invested.
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