Marvel and DC are struggling right now to get their gender dysfunctional heads out of their proverbial nether regions. They can't seem to figure out how to drag themselves out of the mid-fifties and give modern women some well developed female superheroes onscreen. Black Widow is the only entry in that category, and as much as Joss Whedon tried, he just couldn't develop her in Age of Ultron as much as the character deserved.
So where does that leave us, the young and the older, women of the world?
It's not just about making female superheroes, it's about having them be as bad ass, complex and well developed as the men. Instead of dressing them up like mannequins for a porn shop, how about showing us their flaws and their ferocity, on the battle field and off? How about setting up an equal balance in the superhero world and throwing away the stereotypes at last? It makes good sense and it makes for a much better story. Plus it's just about damn time.
Enter a little anime that could, and did, and hopefully, will continue to do so for a long time to come.
RWBY. This beautifully drawn, smartly written animated gem comes from Rooster Teeth (they of the Red Vs. Blue Halo Fame) specifically the late Monty Oum, who sadly passed away recently. RWBY was his passion and it showed. Rooster Teeth announced three months ago that they intended to carry on with his vision with a third season.(Yeah!)
RWBY doesn't look like any anime you've ever seen. It has an edgy paper cut style with primarily only the main characters inked in and background crowds in black. The women or rather girls, for they like most traditional animes they are of high school age are each unique and stylized from their outfits to their fighting styles.
White is for Weiss, the ice princess who fights with magic dust and a wicked rapier.
Black is for Blake who likes to dual wield and uses decoys to distract her enemy.
Yellow is for Yang who is just about as tough and brawny in shorts and a tank top as a girl can get.
Then there's Ruby. Three things you need know. Adorable Little girl. Massive Deadly Scythe. Whiplash Tornado speed. Need I say more? Oh, and she leaves rose petals in her wake too.
(The soundtrack to this is amazing and highly downloadable. Check it out above.)
There is so much to RWBY that makes it stand out and stand alone among the offerings of superheroes out there. Make no mistake, these four girls are superheroes, fighting a mysterious powerful villian intent on ruling the world of Vale, and dangerous creatures of the dark who are aptly named the Grimm.
Like massive Scythes that also turn into sniper rifle? How about almost anything they carry turns into a gun, or a an explosive device or something deadly to the extreme.
How about a female fighter that only gets stronger the more you beat on her? (Just don't call her female Hulk, I'm pretty sure she prefers Yang.)
There are insane battles that are gorgeously choregraphed with tight, gritty musical score, and underlying themes about racism and class order. Both are handled with finesse and a superb touch in the presentation and the writing.
But wait, I almost forgot, there's a purse that turns into this!
That's Coco. She's mad about something. You'll have to watch the series to find out what made her go Terminator in this scene.
Normally, I hate the supremely hysterical antics that are usually on display in anime. Not to mention the abundance of breasts pushed up and out in ridiculous costumes designed more to titillate overly hormonal teenage boys and sex deprived men. But this show manages to walk a well crafted and balanced line between keeping traditional anime style with more enlightened attitudes for both genders.
Yes, they wear skirts, two of them do anyway. But didn't you know, they are called combat skirts.
Weiss. Yang. Blake. Ruby. Four girls who don't need or desire to be assisted out of a bad situation by calling for help. Ruby and Team RWBY are the only show in town and that's they way it should be. Their companion team, Team JNPR (pronounced Juniper) has an equal assortment of strong females, plus the only two male characters that actually take a fair share of the beatings.
In many respects this still an anime. There's high school drama and unrequited love but those plot lines do not take center stage and only add to keep the characters authentic to their age. Amidst the humor and normal teenage emotional fumbling so vital for most animes, there are also poignant moments, the struggle for identity, and a sense of impending world crisis looming on the horizon.
But there's always time for an epic food fight.
This anime does for female superheroes what DC and Marvel are failing miserably to do. Maybe they will take note and follow suit, one can only hope. You can catch the entire first two volumes (Season One and Season Two) of RWBY on Netflix (each episode is only 12 minutes long so an entire volume makes up about an hour and a half). It's just over fifty days till Season Three airs on RoosterTeeth.com.