Blu-Ray Review: RWBY – Volume 4

Manga Entertainment UK brings us the fourth installment into the RWBY franchise and as such we take a closer look at what this Blu-Ray release has to offer. 

Synopsis:

It’s been several months since the Fall of Beacon, and the world of Remnant is still recovering. Tensions are high, lives have been lost, and the members of Team RWBY… are divided. Each of our heroines now faces a journey of her own.

While some must search inward if they ever hope to move on, others will venture out into the world in search of answers. Alongside the remaining members of Team JNPR, Ruby Rose has begun the long trek to the kingdom of Mistral, but the road ahead is full of surprises. New friends and enemies await, while the threat of an even larger catastrophe draws near.

Our View:

Defeated, emotionally scared and separated, members of Team RWBY and Team JNPR find themselves scattered across the world of Remnant as they search for salvation and truth behind their enemies motives. Unlike previously RWBY instalments this fourth venture is nothing but one long journey of self-discovery with some –seemingly random– fights thrown in to keep viewers entertained. It’s RWBY at its worst but at the same time at its best.

Following on from the events of the third volume, or if you prefer third season, which saw Beacon fall and its students utterly defeated, we find that members of Team RWBY and Team JNPR have gone their separate ways in hopes of looking for answers. Ruby, along with friends Nora, Jaune and Ren, form Team RNJR (which sparks its own interesting debate) as they venture towards Mistral. Blake, joined by Sun, travels to Blake’s hometown in hopes of learning more about the Wild Fang while Weiss also finds herself forced home and ordered to become invested within company affairs. Yang on the other hand, who lost her right arm during the previous volume, is also at home recovering from the battles.

That’s four independent stories all working in tandem with one another but at the same time remain individual. As a result of this the storyline will jump from character to character (usually in 40 minute / 2 episode intervals) and it allows us as viewers to become more aware of these characters personalities, feelings and the difficulties they must overcome. For Ruby it is about demonstrating her power to Qrow, who seemingly follows her on her journey, and not being captured by the enemy that desire her. For Yang, Weiss and Blade meanwhile it is about overcoming the burdens of past connections and potentially family issues. It’s a completely different side to RWBY that we’ve not seen before; and whether or not it works depends on the viewer and their interest with the characters.

Personally for me the emphasis on these characters ‘overcoming defeat’ in their own unique way was interesting; but in terms of length it did feel a bit too much. This feature is a three hour runtime, although it can be broken up into the original episodic format via the CHAPTERS option, and we see a lot of ground being covered in personality development; but at the same time we do not see enough ‘action’ from the enemy taking place. The only highlight was the back story on how Nora and Ren met as well as the connections that bind them together – something which we have rarely seen until now. Naturally this is a clam before the storm; and with ‘key players’ moving into the position it seems a fight will soon break out; but alas that will be saved for another day.

Extras:

Regardless of my thoughts of the story content found within RWBY – Volume 4 there is no denying that this Blu-Ray release does include a healthy selection of bonus materials; with items such as Production Diaries and Explanation into the world of Remnant being explained.

In terms of bonus features related to RWBY we have two items which further explore the world of RWBY and another two related to its production. Firstly the two features which explain the world in more detail are ‘A Grimm Introduction’ which introduces viewers to the Grimm and the different types that are available as well as ‘The World of Remnant’ which details the different regions and countries that exist. These provide a more detailed explanation of the RWBY universe and give viewers that extra slice of information that may not be fully explained within the story itself.

The remaining two bonus features meanwhile focus on the development of RWBY; in this case a “Production Diary” feature highlights the process of creating this particular season of RWBY. Whether it be creating the story, designing the new character outfits or integrating new effects for the scene –   all of it is discussed and mentioned within this particular feature. The final piece of bonus material is a ‘CRWBY PHOTOS’ which highlights members of the staff through various pictures.

To round out the ‘extras’ included with RWBY – Volume 4 we have a selection of trailers for other Rooster Teeth productions; including Camp Camp and Lazer Team. These are different to RWBY and do not offer that ‘anime style’ vibe; but if you enjoyed the humour found within RWBY then its worth checking out the trailers.

Another notable feature is that viewers can choose to watch all twelve episodes of RWBY – Volume 4 in a movie-like-marathon mode (clocking in at 3 hours) or as individual episodes like originally streamed online. Initially I missed this option; but selecting CHAPTERS will play each individual episode while PLAY ALL plays the episodes like a film. The SCENE option is used for the ‘film’ variation of RWBY – Volume 4. Initially this can be confusing; but once understood it makes watching this a lot easier.

Specs:

Media:  BD 50
Region: B
Running Time: 3:08:36
Video: MPEG-4 AVC
Audio: Dolby Digital TrueHD 5.1 (English)
Subtitles: English (White)
Resolution: 1920×1080 (1080p)
Aspect Ratio: 16:9
Frame Rate: 23.976 fps

Overall:

The calm before the storm is just one way of summarising the events within RWBY – Volume 4; as other than small amounts of plot development the focus is entirely on character development and understanding ones true purpose within this unique world. With Beacon Academy gone the students return to their homelands; but for Team RWBY and Team JNPR this is just the beginning; a beginning of self-discovery – of at least that’s the way I see it.

In this volume the four iconic members of Team RWBY, known as Ruby, Weiss, Blake and Yang, can be found each pursuing their own individual goal or objective. For Ruby it is about travelling to Mistral and helping those in need along the way, while for Blake it is about returning to her homeland and seeking closure from her parents. Yang and Weiss seemingly have the biggest obstacles to overcome with Weiss seeking her father’s blessing in being a huntress while Yang trying to recover from her arm being sliced away in a previous battle. Each character has ‘demons in the closest’ and throughout this three-hour-long feature they work to overcome the difficulties from the past.

Gluing all of these elements together is a side-story of sorts that see enemies in training  – and preparing for the next plan of attack – as well as someone once thought dead alive in a rather bizarre manner. A drawn out story indeed; but sit though this rather disappointing three sequence and you’ll find someone interesting battles and memories of the past brought to light. Personally for me the whole experience was boring; but the animation quality has greatly increased from the last volume and adds a new sense of depth to series.

In regards to this Blu-Ray release then Manga Entertainment UK has once again opted to use disc masters authored by the American counterparts and as such this disc remains identical to the North American release. This means we receive all of the same high quality presentation and audio aspects to the US release but more importantly we also receive the same amount of supplementary content; all of which should please RWBY fans.  Presentation and content wise RWBY – Volume 4 is a great release (especially with the improved animation quality); but from an ‘entertaining’ aspect it is boring and disappointing experiences for those who don’t know have an invested interest in the franchise.

Score: review-stars-3

RWBY – Volume 4 is now available on Blu-Ray and DVD via Manga Entertainment UK.

About Scott Emsen
Scott is the Founder and Executive Editor of AnimeBlurayUK but in the past he has worked at ZOMGPlay, Rice Digital and Funstock and was once a Community Moderator for the Nokia N-Gage forums. Based in the UK, he loves anything related to Games & Anime and in In his spare time you'll mostly find him playing on one of his many gaming consoles; namely the PS Vita, PS4 or Xbox One.

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