A lot of great action and world building occurs but slower character development is shown than in previous seasons.
After the devastating events of season 3, fans were left speculating about the fate of team RWBY. The team had broken up. Ruby decided to set out with what remained of team JNPR, Weiss returned home, Blake couldn’t face anyone, and Yang was left crippled after a battle with White Fang member Adam Taurus. The group was at a low point and it would take a lot to help them to rebuild themselves, Does this season help them to come back together?
No, not really. Instead, the entire season seems more focused on building the world around them more than it does on evolving the the main characters. There is development in these characters and they do change and grow. Still, this seems to take a back seat in order to expand the world and other events happening in the world of Remnant.
As stated previously, the team is divided and are on their own missions. Ruby wants to make it to Mistral, hoping to find a way to warn against those who manipulated the conspiracy which brought down Beacon Academy. Her view hopes to showcase the damage the creatures of Grimm inflict on remote villages who didn’t have strong hunters to protect the residents. She also eventually runs into her uncle Qrow and the history of the Maidens is finally explained to them. Otherwise, not much actual growth other than Ruby simply being Ruby.
Fearing for her safety, Weiss’ family insists she returns home. There she serves more to help illustrate the ignorance of the the rich and powerful of Atlas. She fought at The Fall of Beacon and knows the pain and suffering everyone went through. She’s noticeable angry others don’t understand or even seem to care about the plight of others. This of course leads to a rift between her and her family. This doesn’t really come as a surprise though. Her father cut her off from the family fortune in the previous season and doesn’t little to give her a warm welcome back home. Its empowering to see the choices she makes in reaction to the ignorance of others but it was fairly obvious this was the course she would take.
Blake, overridden by guilt from Yang getting mortally injured protecting her returns home to the island nation of Menagerie. There she meets her mother and father as Sun Wukong tags along. Though there is a bit of character insight with watching her reconnect with her family and apologize for leaving, the main function of her story line is to focus on the White Fang and how they are viewed in the Faunus community. Again, she’s less a character and more serving as a way to explore the world.
The only character who truly gets the proper attention to character development from the main four is Yang. Given where she was left after the events of the third season she didn’t really have many options except making her story about growing. Left traumatized after the battle with Taurus, she spends the season growing stronger as a character and finding a new path. It is interesting to watch recover from such an intense battle but it took most of the season for her to recover her former skills.
The entire production seemed to have gotten an upgrade this season. Whether it is from different creation software or simply taking more time to improve details, the proof is in the pudding. Small attributes like the hair on characters heads, objects in the background, and the scenery in general seem more appealing than they did in previous seasons. On top of this all the main characters get new outfits in an effort to illustrate things are much different than they were previously. All of these alterations come off as improvements and help to make the season more visually appealing.
The music of the season is just as moving as ever. The opening theme, “Let’s Just Live” seems to recap the events of the previous season and how things are not as simple as good guys win and bad guys lose. Also, it helps to echo the message everyone needs to carry on despite their hardships and work towards surviving and growing stronger. Even if it only is one day at a time. A good lesson for not only this season but life in general.
It seems like a lot of harsh criticism is being weighed against this season but it should be noted it was a very entertaining installment to the RWBY series. The different side characters of the show including Jaune, Nora, and Ren all have a chance to shine and more about who they are and where they came from is explored. It’s just incredibly obvious how the shift this season was from the main team to working towards opening up the world they living in. Still, shift in tone aside, this series was worth following week after week and leaves off with a less brutal cliffhanger than the previous season did.