Manga Review: RWBY – Red Like Roses – Official Manga Anthology (VOL. 1)

Rooster Teeth Production’s RWBY (read as Ruby) isn’t technically an anime by definition, but its 3D animation and art-style definitely draws inspiration from it.

With its increasingly large popularity as an online 3D animated web series with currently six seasons, the RWBY franchise spawned a video game, RWBY: Grimm Eclipse and a spin-off shorts series titled RWBY Chibi (having three seasons of its own) in 2016. RWBY gained a Japanese dub and a manga adaptation, followed by official manga anthologies printed in 2018 by Viz Media.

Imagine… Talking about RWBY in my animu bloggu desu.

Which is why RWBY was able to make its way onto my blog.

For those who haven’t seen RWBY, it’s a story about four females training to become Huntresses, warriors who are hired to protect the world against dark creatures called Grimm.

RWBY – Red Like Roses – Official Manga Anthology Volume 1 is the first of four books created by fan artists and artists who’ve collaborated with Rooster Teeth on RWBY Chibi‘s concept art, for example. The anthology contains 20 stories focusing on one of the protagonists, Ruby Rose, and her growth as both a team leader (of her squad RWBY) and as an individual. Its stories showcase her interactions and relationship with her teammates, especially Weiss Schnee, and other secondary characters.

As a RWBY fan, I admit that I have never gone onto reading fan works from the fandom. Even so, I actively participate in other fandoms by reading fanfiction, sharing memes and admiring fanart. It’s always interesting to see fan portrayals of characters via their unique art style and how much love they put into creating something original with the characters.

The stories found in the anthology aren’t in any chronological order because they act as standalone side stories that can fit into the original series’ timeline, ranging from the first season to the fourth season. The majority of these stories are original scenarios that take on two tones: light-hearted humour or any other genre with a dash of humour.

I think the stories nicely reflect what fans believe Ruby Rose is. A passionate cheerful teenage girl who is learning a lot about herself and the world around her. Ruby can be impulsive, which gets her into trouble, but she always means well.

ᕕ[ ˵ ☯ ڡ ☯ ˵ ]┐ (Chocolate Chip Cookies by Amaya, page 71.)

In the original series, I don’t recall ever seeing Ruby revealing her vulnerability in a dramatic way compared to the other members of her team. However, some stories in the anthology remind us of Ruby’s relationship with her mother who passed away when she was young. Ruby drew upon her mother as a role model to become a huntress and in the comic, “Chocolate Chip Cookies” by Amaya, the reader learns that Ruby is reminded of her mother via baking cookies. In the original series and in RWBY Chibi, Ruby is shown to love cookies. This fan comic adds more meaning to this little detail which makes Ruby more endearing to me.

Yeah Weiss, you tell Mercury off! #ConsentFTW (Partner by Mikanuji, page 83.)

A prominent relationship in Ruby’s anthology is her relationship with Weiss.

Not only is Weiss a driving force in Ruby’s development as a huntress in the early part of their friendship as well as her teammate, she is also paired up with Ruby romantically by fans due to their chemistry in the series. Weiss is tough on Ruby and is always ready to give some hard-love criticism or tsundere heart to heart conversations to help make Ruby into a better person (or at least, you know, she tries). Ruby grows to depend on Weiss or rather, tries to break down her defenses so they become better friends.

I love Weiss’s sincerity here. No wonder fans like White Rose (a.k.a Ruby x Weiss)!! °(ಗдಗ。)°. (Ruby’s Diary by Uri, page 63.)

“Ruby’s Diary” by Uri is written in Weiss’s POV and best illustrates this dynamic. It introduces us to Ruby’s diary, in which she writes about her aspirations that have come true to Weiss’ chagrin, and the development of Weiss’ impressions of Ruby. Compared to the other funny  romantic jabs at the White Rose pairing, this comic is sincere. It’s a story about how someone grows to love their friend, is willing to be their support and desires to become strong in order to do so.

When you’re having a bad hair day and you don’t even realize it until your homies say otherwise. #IAMMEDUSA (Hair, Youth and Ruby by Sorappane, page 155.)

I was surprised that Ruby didn’t have a comic with a lot of interaction with her sister Yang Xiao Long nor with Blake Belladonna (who are the other two members of Team RWBY), but these two relationships are shown in comics where the focus is on Ruby experiencing a dilemma and her teammates help her out.

I honestly enjoyed the fact that Ozpin was analyzing Ruby’s semblance and she’s just chilling, eating cookies. (Name of the Rose by Sora, page 66.)

The comic I found that was the most interesting in the anthology was “Name of the Rose” by Sora. It focused on Ruby’s semblance (or special ability) in her conversation with Professor Ozpin (who is the principal of her school, Beacon Academy). I always find it fascinating when characters discuss the logic and potential of their abilities, or in this case, why rose petals form when Ruby moves in super speed. The use of the rose petals allows for others to find her easily, considering how Ruby can travel at great speeds.

I don’t even…? (RWBY No Doubt: Ruby by Umiya, page 178.)

The award for the fan comic with the most zaniest humour in the anthology goes to the 4-koma work of Umiya titled “RWBY No Doubt: Ruby.” It rivals the cute humour of RWBY Chibi but is a bit stranger in nature by heavily exaggerating Ruby’s personality. In this strip, for example, Umiya emphasizes how Ruby is prone to expressing strong emotional reactions, in other words, she panics when she’s in a tight spot. However, she doesn’t simply spazz about the things that worry her. She unleashes a loud cry of “Gah!” instead.

I have read other reviews about the anthology and one concern was the inconsistent art style due to having various artists in the project. However, I didn’t see that as a weakness. I think the different art work and different comic formats made the manga, as a whole, interesting in a visual sense.

I would say instead that, fans of RWBY will enjoy this collection and the subsequent books because it is a work by fans for fans. With that being said, it makes it difficult for someone who is completely new to the series to jump right into the manga and enjoy the fan comics for what they are. The anthology doesn’t provide the reader with background context about the identities of other secondary characters and their roles in RWBY.

Yay for giving and receiving support from a great series!!

The idea of a production team like Rooster Teeth bringing together fan artists to create new content for one of their projects and have it be published is amazing. I’ve seen doujinshi and fan-made anthologies online which are all passion projects that take a whole lot of organization and coordination to make it possible. It’s giving back to the fans for their love for the series and giving them the opportunity to showcase their skill in doing what they enjoy doing.

Are you a fan of RWBY? Have you read all of the official manga anthologies? Let me know down below!

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