Many of you know of Monty Oum’s creation, RWBY, from the animated series published by Rooster Teeth. As of this writing, RWBY is currently on RWBY: Volume 5, the fifth season in the series.
As a warning, I was reading this manga, RWBY Official Manga Anthology Vol. 1, “Red Like Roses” and it is very apparent that this is for fans of the animated series. This is not a re-telling of the story in manga form, and you will not be introduced to characters you may not already know (such as Glenda Goodwitch in the second story, “As a Hunter” by Ritsu Hayami). Beyond this, do not expect continuity, as this is an anthology series focused upon short stories from different authors over Ruby Rose’s — team leader of RWBY — journey to become the Huntress she always dreamed she could be.
RWBY Official Manga Anthology Vol. 1, “Red Like Roses” is a collection of short stories from various upcoming manga artists. The book itself is 184 pages long which include 20 different short stories (the very first one at the beginning of the book in full color), 4 color illustrations, 1 manga style illustration, author commentary, messages from the mangaka who contributed, and words from both Ein Lee and Lindsay Jones.
RWBY Official Manga Anthology Vol. 1, “Red Like Roses” is published by VIZ Media, and retails for $12.99 ($8.99 Digital from VIZ’s website) in the US, $17.99 in Canada, and €8.99 for the UK.
Unlike “Time Killers Vol. 1” which is a collection of short stories by Kazue Kato, one of which eventually became the popular series “Blue Exorcist“, this collection is done by multiple authors with multiple art styles and varying takes on the personalities of the characters present in RWBY; this is both a good and a bad thing.
The good comes in the form of alternate personalities and thought processes coming together to envision what they think Ruby’s journey would be like. Despite her antics and her optimism, Ruby is very much serious when it comes to saving people and living up to her potential of becoming a renowned Huntress; this is displayed multiple times throughout the series and many of these manga anthology stories show the strength of her character. “Beacon’s Midnight Ghost Story” by Mate does an excellent job of highlighting how comical Team RWBY can be, but shows the deadly might of Ruby’s resolve as she dives in front of everyone when she thinks they are in danger. Another one to back up my point is Don’t Forget to Study for the Test!” by Rujino Kio demonstrates how Ruby is willing to listen to her teammates and spend all night studying to pass a test she did not originally think was important.
Unfortunately, the bad also comes in the form of alternate personalities and thought processes coming together to envision what they think Ruby’s journey will be like. Sometimes her personality just seems like it is “off” in some of these mangas, as you could not possibly imagine Ruby acting in the way some of these stories convey her in based upon the animated show. “As a Hunter” by Ritsu Hayami does not balance her goofiness with her more focused side, almost making Ruby entirely determined to succeed without the carefree comic relief her character seems to radiate. Furthermore, “Little Red Riding Hood Seeks the Fruit of Love” by Kaogeimoai illustrates Ruby’s more comical side, but takes it too far by having her looking for a potential boyfriend and even teases Weiss a bit. While I do find this story could have the potential of happening to a degree, it is widely outside of what I feel Ruby would be able to do considering I see her as shy in one aspect and more brazen in others.
As you can see, we have a clash here of both good and bad and you cannot pin it on any particular person or art style as there are as many as I adore as I genuinely do not like. The tone for the book is simple, and I believe it does get its point across. Some stories were generally enjoyable, and some of the ones that were not my style still seemed to suit the overall theme well and fit with the set tone despite my personal opinion.
Varying Art Styles
Art is subjective, it is opinionated. I cannot make a definitive argument for or against the entirety of the back simply because so many manga authors exist within it; 20 different stories from 20 different mangaka. I myself tend to favor a few styles; such as Ritsu Hayami, monorobu, Siguma Koko, and Kaogeimoai. However, I also do not like some of the art styles presented like Xily, Sorappane, Amaya, and Sun Hiura.
I see elements of both Shounen and Shoujo manga, as varying artists are practicing different art styles; probably preparing for their own upcoming manga sometime in the future in their designated genre. These mixtures give different feelings to the overall atmosphere, as visual storytelling is just as important as what is being said and the mangaka is the God who shines light into that world.
STRENGTHS — Different talented artists, wide-range of perspective on Team RWBY’s antics, Content index and manga arrangement is nice.
WEAKNESSES — Dislike some stories and mangaka art styles, No explanations for those who do not already know what RWBY is.
Overall, I feel like many of these stories could have happened; though, I believe these are canon to the series (I will have to find out). Seeing the team in a variety of situations give a brand new perspective on what our girls in Team RWBY experience during their days at Beacon Academy. Fans who are looking for more are sure to be enthralled by this collection; while I do not believe all of the stories give unknown insight into Team RWBY’s lives, I feel those who really do want more than the animated series can offer will find themselves in love with this manga since they get to see varying sides of the cast members.
As far as recommending it goes, casual fans may not really enjoy it because it is not a traditional manga; they will not learn anything significantly new than what the animated series tell them and will just see more of the day-to-day shenanigans from Team RWBY and Ruby Rose. Hardcore fans of the series will love that they get to see more of what they already adore, this will be something that you dedicated RWBY enthusiasts will want to keep in your collection.