Earlier this week, I had the pleasure of watching and enjoying Arcane, an animated series loosely connected to Riot Games video game franchise, League of Legends. While I didn’t think much of the first three episodes, I assumed it would be poor plot development because of the over-emphasis on the origin story of the two sisters. Yet, I was delightfully proven wrong. The first three episodes were an amazing set-up for a thrilling story that had me gripped from the start of episode four until the end of the season.
After finishing the series, I couldn’t help but compare it to RWBY due to being a computer animated series and for the many broad but noticeable similarities. Two sisters as main characters, an LGBT coupling that includes one of the main characters, and a blending of magic and futuristic technology. Yet, whereas RWBY fails to really grasp an aesthetic or have a clear sense of worldbuilding, Arcane is firmly entrenched in a futuristic steampunk setting. Whereas RWBY tries and flops with broadening the horizons of its world, Arcane takes the time to deepen the development of the two major locations and their political aims while only teasing the rest of the world. Even if the world doesn’t expand, and honestly it doesn’t need to, Arcane’s setting is already enthralling enough due to the conflict. Honestly, any criticism that I have of Arcane is borne more from it being a wonderful story and the impact of its cultural osmosis than any actual plot failure like with RWBY. The battles in Arcane are designed with high-quality production and riveting from start to finish, telling a story with a wonderfully choreographed fight scene; there was no time where the action sequences took me out of the show like with Season 4 and onward of RWBY. To my utter fascination, Arcane’s characters are all well-developed and – shockingly – utterly self-aware about the consequences of their actions. Whereas RWBY has problems like the great hivemind where it doesn’t make sense for characters to know specific things or they even have flashbacks to events that they weren’t there for and stupidity for the sake of the plot.
Whereas RWBY has some of the most awful and poorly thought out “critiques” and LGBT representation forced in due to fan demand; Arcane begins as a story between the Haves and Have-nots firmly established, the technological superiority of the Haves worsening the poverty of the Have-nots, and an LGBT couple (one of whom is the main character) from two different walks of life having arguments on the best solutions forward between the two locations. I say locations because there is intense debate and arguments within these respective civilizations on whether the Have-nots are a rebellious territory that need a firm hand to root out crime or that they should break away to establish their own country and the “crime” is a fight for their independence. The fact you can have so many diverse and different views on just that plot point in Arcane alone and the fact you can’t find anything debate worthy about RWBY outside of how to avoid bad writing may just say it all. To be fair, Arcane’s LGBT relationship doesn’t seem especially fleshed out, but you can at least understand why the two Lesbian characters are growing closer. There is so much depth to all of Arcane’s characters, especially Vander’s character growth. Compare his growth to Cinder or Salem’s backstory and the answer is obvious. Even a small scene between Ekko and Jinx, whereby Ekko remembers his childhood playfighting when Jinx still called herself Powder, had more depth than anything RWBY has done after Volume 3 and yet all RWBY can do now is milk Pyrrha’s death for unexplained “mysteries” that go nowhere just so the real main character, Jaune (voice acted by Miles Luna, one of the two main writers) can have an angst moment.
Perhaps the laughably stupid part of all this is that RoosterTeeth may have hastened the demise of RWBY. By removing it from being freely available on Youtube and placing it only on Streaming service websites and their own website, they now have to compete with Arcane on Netflix and are worse off for it. Without them being freely available on Youtube, the only advantage RWBY had from a marketing standpoint is gone. Even granting that Arcane is solely limited to Netflix, RoosterTeeth made it harder on themselves to compete against it. The fact Riot Games has swept away the attention so instantly without anyone even thinking of or comparing it to RWBY despite the obvious surface similarities is possibly a deathblow against RWBY. Usually, when something is still popular, there’s harebrained comparisons between two popular franchises and yet there is no comparison between the two despite the shows having slightly surface level similarities. If the fact people don’t even care to make comparisons between the two computer-animated series doesn’t show that RWBY is finished, then what does? When something is popular, there’s usually harebrained comparisons galore, but nothing has transpired. Could this, in and of itself, signal the death of the RWBY series?