RWBY Volume 9 finally aired on February 18, 2023, and concluded on April 22. After a hiatus of nearly two years, fans were eager to see where Team RWBY will go, especially since Volume 8 ended on a major cliffhanger. We mean “cliffhanger” literally, too: our heroes actually fell into a new world.
The announcement came via a new trailer on January 24. RWBY Volume 9 promises an Alice in Wonderland setting, psychological intrigue, and challenges our heroes truly have never faced before. After all, they’re in a whole new world.
The long hiatus left fans parched for content, but the CRWBY (pronounced “crew-by,” an affectionate nickname from fans for the creators of the show) did their best to give tidbits along the way. RWBY has been the little show that could, chugging along from YouTube and Rooster Teeth origins to Crunchyroll, Japan, and DC Comics.
Let’s take a look at the history of this historic show. Also, no spoilers are included, so read on even if you haven’t caught up!
From Trailers to RWBY Volume 9Animator Monty Oum was working for Rooster Teeth on the show Red vs. Blue when he had a dream about four girls characterized by color. (The colors seem to have led Oum to alchemy as a basis for the story.)
He told his friend Kerry Shawcross about it, and RWBY began its journey. Oum named each character after a color, and then matched each character to a fairy tale or legend as well.
The first RWBY trailer, “Red,” premiered in late 2012. It starred heroine Ruby Rose, or Little Red Riding Hood. Three more followed: “White” (starring deuteragonist Weiss Schnee, who references Snow White), “Black” (starring actual catwoman Blake Belladonna, who is both Beauty and Beast), and “Yellow” (starring Ruby’s sister, Yang Xiao Long, or Goldilocks).
Volume 1 premiered to much critical success. It won several awards. Shawcross and another friend, Miles Luna, are still involved in drafting RWBY Volume 9 today.
However, while Volume 3 was in production, Oum went to the hospital for a simple medical procedure. He then had a severe allergic reaction, and Oum passed away in 2015, at the age of 33.
RWBY: A Passion ProjectIn 2012, Oum wrote a blog post about losing his mother. In it, he noted:
I believe that the human spirit is indomitable. If you endeavor to achieve, it will happen given enough resolve. It may not be immediate, and often your greater dreams is something you will not achieve within your own lifetime. The effort you put forth to anything transcends yourself, for there is no futility even in death.
After Oum’s passing, his friends have clearly taken this to heart. Completing RWBY according to Oum’s vision seems to be a way to transcend death.
The creators have since spoken about how it was “scary” to create RWBY after Oum’s passing. Oum left behind enough plans and visions for his friends to use to guide them. His brother, Neath Oum, now voices Lie Ren, the character Monty Oum previously voiced.
It’s also quite clear that the writers see the show as a way to honor their friend’s legacy. The president of Rooster Teeth, Gray G. Haddock, said in 2017 that the company’s goal was:
to make sure the vision of the show would be maintained as closely as possible with what Monty had in mind.
RWBY Volume 9: New Road, Same PathVolume 4, the first volume fully made after Oum’s death, is definitely the weakest of RWBY‘s volumes. Of course, given the circumstances, it’s not exactly unexpected. Even so, the volume’s premise—the scattered teams coming to terms with incomprehensible loss following a massacre at their school—holds special poignance considering the happenings behind-the-scenes.
Volume 5 completed righted the ship, so to speak, though. Each volume afterwards has gotten better and better, steamrolling towards satisfying climaxes and offering deep analyses of characters and new spins on old fairy tales.
RWBY Volume 9, despite its new setting for the story, is clearly a part of this vision. The volume is thematically solid, offering a fascinating internal dive into its characters with some cool worldbuilding to boot.
RWBY SpinoffsRWBY‘s success over the years has been unprecedented, and that’s not an exaggeration in the slightest. In 2022, RWBY became the first American animated property to get a Japanese anime spin-off.
RWBY‘s also spawned Arrowfell, a Nintendo-based video game that hit shelves in November 2022. Award-winning science fiction writer E.C. Myers penned three spin-off novels: Before the Dawn, After the Fall, and the excellent Roman Holiday. There’s even a set of comics featuring RWBY and DC Universe crossovers.
In fact, that particular crossover apparently will feature in an upcoming movie. Justice League x RWBY: Super Heroes and Huntsmen is set to come out in spring 2023. Speaking of, the timing likely indicates that the movie played a role in RWBY Volume 9’s delay, but we’ll forgive it.
Rooster Teeth & Changes To RWBY Volume 9Alas, Rooster Teeth itself has been caught up in some controversies as of late 2022. Some of these stem from the general chaos of Warner Bros. Discovery. Others seem to be issues that are extremely common in the animation industry both in the U.S. and in Japan: low pay and unreasonable expectations for animators and voice actors.
Of course, just because something is common doesn’t make it excusable. People should be paid for their hard work, and be treated with respect. It’s also worth noting that even voice actors and animators speaking up about their issues have praised the RWBY writers. Hopefully, Rooster Teeth will get itself together on this aspect.
RWBY Volume 9 debuted on Crunchyroll, an American site that hosts a lot of Japanese anime. This marks a change for the show. In the past, RWBY debuted directly on Rooster Teeth. This begs the question of whether Rooster Teeth might outsource the animation to a larger studio for future volumes.
RWBY Volume 9: What We KnowRWBY Volume 9 has been a wild ride. The story took place in a new world, after Team RWBY and their friend Jaune Arc fell into the void between worlds in the climax of Volume 8. As the trailer told fans, the goal is to return home. Before that, the characters will have to answer one primary question:
What… are you?
Hence, RWBY Volume 9 has been a deep-dive into the mindset of the main characters. Especially after the traumatic end to Volume 8, they had a lot to process. Jaune had to kill fan-favorite character Penny Polendina, and his sword, a symbol of his identity, broke as a result. Ruby lost her dear friend Penny again. Weiss lost her father and her homeland. Her country collapsed on itself, literally collapsed.
In keeping with the fairy tale motif, RWBY Volume 9 employs Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass imagery. A neon cheshire cat drawls puns. Ruby faces a chess game with her team as pawns. It also drew heavily on Ruby’s allusion to Little Red Riding Hood, with a twist wolf character.
RWBY Volume 9 didn’t quite touch on the heroes who didn’t fall into the void, though. Oscar, Nora, Ren, Winter, and new ally Emerald Sustrai are in a new kingdom of their world. Fans will have to wait until Volume 10 to see their beloved characters again.
The Future After RWBY Volume 9RWBY Volume 9 will have ten episodes, which makes it a shorter volume than others. That’s fine, although with the hiatus, fans may be left begging for more. However, as long as the storytelling quality stays high (and it did), it’s better not to drag it out.
Announcing Volume 10 and avoiding that same hiatus between volumes could help, too. The showrunners confirmed Volume 10 is in the works, but are waiting for it to be greenlit. Hopefully Warner Bros. Discovery doesn’t go all Warner Bros. Discovery on it.
In the official guidebook (The World of RWBY), Shawcross stated:
We have a roadmap for the entire show… every year we look at that to decide how far we’re going to get this year. We want to make sure we’re telling a complete story with RWBY. And a complete story has to end.
Fingers crossed that the writers are able to deliver on this powerful story that they’ve been crafting in honor of their friend.