Review: RWBY Official Manga Anthology “I Burn”

This girl is on fire!

We’re a month out from the end of RWBY’s sixth season, so what better way to quench your thirst with the final volume of the fan-written anthology series, this time starring the “Y” in RWBY, the fiery brawler who’s alright even with just her left, Yang Xiao Long. Yang’s “Yellow Trailer” was the last released before the show officially premiered in 2013. But besides yet another heart-pumping fight scene from the late great Monty Oum introducing her as a character, there wasn’t a ton to one-up the hype from the previous short about Blake…until the last scene, where it is revealed that Yang was Ruby’s sister. This detail would be the first glimpse into the familial bond the two would share throughout the series.

Like the previous anthologies, this last one also focuses on the core aspects of Yang’s character…that the show either forgot about or barely uses. Some stories have her acting as the outgoing and encouraging older sister to her teammates, trying to get Weiss to be direct with her feelings or helping Blake open up or at least not be so down. Though more than a few stories focus on her bond with Ruby, with all the complicated feelings Yang has about fought in a team alongside her little sister. Some shed light on their childhood reading stories or dealing with their absent or dead mothers and emotionally distant father. Then there are the ones in the present where the two occasionally end up getting into fights over minor things (as siblings do), but showing that, in the end, despite thinking Ruby’s growing up too fast, Yang is proud of her.

Other stories show Yang’s tendency to get into fights, including a rematch against the Malachite twins from her trailer, as well as working on fighting combos with her team. Some even go completely off the walls and have her facing giant monsters or a giant meteor (which…kills her?). There are also some that highlight her comedic side, running with her usual bad puns and making one segment about trying to get a good comedy routine going. This volume is also definitely the more meta of the four, making tongue-in-cheek jabs at how much punishment she gets in the third season.

Which reminds me of how much of a stark contrast Beacon Yang (or at least this interpretation of Beacon Yang who is a MUCH more fleshed out character than her main series version) is from her in the last three seasons. As amputee myself, I’ve never been a fan of how they’ve covered her recovery, but even putting that aside, there really hasn’t been that many chances to revisit the non-fighting related characteristics of Yang’s personality, what with the recovery itself, meeting and fighting her mom, her developing feelings for Blake, and all the other plot stuff going on. The rest of RWBY of maintained aspects of their key quirks but Yang seems to be the one who were either not brought back or may just have never been there in the first place.

What’s been the most fun about these anthologies for me is that they’ve been able to make great use of the most human aspects of these main four and make them into heartfelt love letters to this team and the show…at least, the first three seasons before it become a totally different show. But those first three seasons, while not goldmines of good writing a lot of the time, did provide many moments that the fandom used as the cornerstone for all the shipping, speculation, and hype that would keep the passion in its development long after the tragic passing of its creator. So, while I have to admit I prefer this series’ version of the characters to the ones in the source material, I have to give credit to that source material for allowing the creation of these versions, as well as the hope that other fans can be inspired by it to do even better.

Though while this anthology series draws to a close, the RWBY franchise is not done with going right-to-left just yet. As of this writing, a new adaptation of the first two seasons is currently running in Weekly Shonen Jump, the first three chapters having been released and available to read for free on its website. Having read them, I can say they’re already providing what I enjoyed about these anthologies, so I look forward to seeing how it enhances the show’s first few seasons. Hopefully we’ll cover a review of that if that gets a state release, but for now, this is where we sign off. In the words of Monty Oum, keep moving forward.

Score
8/10

David Kaldor

Green Lynx (David Kaldor): Aimless 20-something given a paid outlet for his thoughts on cartoons. Fears being boring slightly more than being outright disliked.

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