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RWBY Ice Queendom – 5 [Awaken in a Dream]

Welcome back everyone, to another week of RWBY: Ice Queendom! The story doesn’t progress much this week, but we do get a good look into how Weiss views a lot more of the characters. It feels like Queendom is really trying to set something up, but only time will tell if its any good. For now, lets jump in and talk about this weeks episode!

Starting off, I have something I need to get off my chest: Queendom’s editing is starting to get on my nerves. Not the rather boring shot composition or shot-reverse-shot dialogue, that’s disappointing but workable. No, I’m talking about the gallery style formatting where they place multiple shots within the same shot with only a thin black line separating them. Queendom occasionally did this in an intelligent way, like the time it used the edge of the fountain to separate the shots rather than a random black line. But most of the time it felt like I was watching a manga panel or something. It feels like an excuse to be lazy rather than storyboard out some interesting camera shots and block scenes properly. Maybe that’s just me being nitpicky, but it really has started to become noticeable.

As for the actual narrative content, Queendom is moving surprisingly fast. I wasn’t expecting to get this far into Weiss’s subconscious nearly this quickly. I thought that getting into the Schnee manor would be our endgame, sort of like assaulting the fortress. Instead we’ve already visited every major tier of this city and setup waypoints between them. Now I think it’s more likely that we will be jumping between these different tiers as they attempt to wake Weiss up. Helping her tackle her different issues and views in each respective tier, weakening the Nightmare, before they get to Weiss proper. It’s a pretty good idea if you ask me! The question now is just whether or not Queendom can pull it off effectively.

That said, while we visited a lot of locations I wouldn’t say the story itself progressed all that much. No character changed or really interacted with Weiss this episode. Instead Queendom decided to continue informing us of what Weiss thinks of everyone individually. Take Blake for instance. She’s the only Faunus so far that looks remotely human. And even then she’s been split, with 1 animal ear showing and the other hidden by a bow. It’s like Weiss is trying to reconcile her image of her friend, Blake, with how she was raised to view Faunus in general. And her attempts to purge Blake from the city are basically her trying to fit in with the “Schnee” expectations. I hope this becomes really important to waking Weiss up, as Blake is probably her only positive interaction with Faunus in a long time.

Sadly Yang hasn’t gotten near as much attention just yet. Queendom has done a decent job of showing her to be more forward thinking than the rest, sure. We see it in how she reminds everyone else to ration the coins and how she holds Ruby back from spending them willy nilly like she did last episode. But aside from knowing that Weiss views her as strong, and probably dependable, there isn’t as much to be gleaned here. I’m expecting that she will end up as an older-sister figure of sorts. That her relationship with Ruby will be used to reflect on Weiss’s relationship with her own sister, Winter. Effectively acting as a more familial influence on Weiss where her current family relationships are clearly terrible. For now though, who knows.

The big one of the episode for me though was clearly Pyrrha, she stole the show for a lot of reasons. The most obvious one is her song. For anyone unfamiliar with RWBY, Pyrrha was singing “Mirror Mirror”, a song that Weiss wrote in-universe and one of her primary musical motifs. It’s been reprised or followed up multiple times across the volumes and has been a huge part of her arc. And while the song wasn’t sung… incredibly, it’s hard to beat Casey Lee William’s original performance (I am looking forward to Pyrrha’s English dub, Jen Brown, attempt it though), it still means a lot to see Pyrrha sing it. Weiss is connecting with Pyrrha. She views her like she views herself, alone and alienated by her fame, well known and adored yet trapped in a gilded cage.

And this goes way beyond just the song! Take a look at what Pyrrha is wearing. That’s Weiss’s RWBY Volume 4 dress colored red instead of blue, complete with a necklace. Weiss is clearly projecting herself onto the only other person of fame and status around her. But then… why is team JNPR there if that’s the case? Doesn’t she view them as “Sillies”, idiots, people below her? They are “lesser” than her, but they are together and sticking with her even in jail. For all their similarities, Pyrrha has close friends while Weiss has… what? You and I already know the answer, it’s team RWBY and the power of friendship is going to see us through this. But what’s important is how Queendom is laying the groundwork for this repressed desire for comradery and Weiss’s clear fondness for her team, despite what the Nightmare is showing them.

Combine that with a few other small tidbits laid throughout the episode and I think there’s a fair amount going on here. The relics, a memory of when their team was created, clearly mean a lot to Weiss based on where they are placed. The glass case, ala Sleeping Beauty, which the Nightmare is trying to get Weiss to want to enter. Painting it up as something only a “proper” Schnee deserves, forcing Weiss to work towards it and drag herself deeper and deeper into the nightmare. The placement of the Relic inside of it, meaning she will have to let go of her final attachments to get in. I’ll be honest, I’m actually starting to really like the narrative Queendom is building. It’s decidedly not RWBY, but it’s not bad. Hopefully it can bring it home in the second half.

So yeah, all in all as I think about it I think this was a decent episode for Queendom. As a RWBY fan, I’m getting a look into the characters that I never would have from the main show. But I also think that’s Queendom’s main problem: I’m a RWBY fan, and I still only said the episode was “decent”. I would wager that most people unfamiliar with RWBY have either dropped Queendom by now, or are only barely hanging on. I’ve definitely had multiple friends tell me they dropped it after the first 3 episodes speedran Volume 1. It feels like the show is being made for people who already watched the original and wanted more, rather than to bring in a new audience. For me that’s fine, I’m having a decent time. I just imagine a lot of you might not be.

Let me know down below if that’s the case, otherwise I’ll see you next week!