Welcome back everyone, to another episode of RWBY: Ice Queendom! This week is actually a good step up from the last, in basically every respect. It’s not perfect of course. But there’s a lot I liked about it, so lets jump right in and talk about it.
Starting off, the animation. Let’s not beat around the bush, Queendom has been suffering here for a while and this week isn’t any different. The CGI continues to stick out like a sore thumb and there are some scenes I can count the frames on one hand in. To say Queendom looks janky at times would be a compliment. But, and this is a big but, this week actually had some fun stuff as well. From small parts of the train fight, stuff like Jaune’s landing and Yang’s short combination, to all the tiny Weiss’s running around. It’s the most interesting and engaging animation that we’ve had since the opening 3 episodes dropped. Does that make it incredible? No, not really. But a drowning man at sea doesn’t complain when he finds a half-full water bottle floating by.
As for the narrative portion, this continues to be rather positive. I really enjoy how Queendom is basically one big character piece about Weiss. Every single bit of this world and its inhabitants reflect her in some way. Nothing was placed without purpose. Even the dummy jail, which we previously thought housed just team JNPR, has a secondary purpose: To lock up all of her childlike emotions and feelings. The childhood that she no doubt never really got with this messed up family of hers. The desire to run around and have fun, be pampered, to actually enjoy herself. It’s actually all really sad, in a… tiny, cute sort of way. And the fact that Weiss not only has them locked up, but locked with JNPR tells us a lot. Both about how she views those feelings and how precious both them and JNPR really are to her.
We also get confirmation that the jail really was to protect them, at least in part. Not long after being set free, all of these positive emotions begin to be corrupted by the Nightmare. They become more and more negative. The childlike wonder and exploration turning into destruction. Her desire to be pampered and get new toys turning into entitlement and being a snotty little brat. And we see the same thing happen to Ren and Nora’s dream-selves as well! Making them turn on Jaune and Pyrrha, though I expect Dream Pyrrha to be corrupted to eventually. It’s proof that the Nightmare really is changing and affecting her, not that we really needed it. As a RWBY fan though, it is nice to get confirmation on these things and to see just how much thought was put into the characters portrayal.
The other big part of the episode, and another narrative win if you ask me, was Jaune! Now I know a lot of people hate Jaune. They dislike how important he has become in the main RWBY canon and feel he is taking away from the girls story. And you know what? I don’t really disagree. I like him myself, I find his arc, heh, interesting, but he needs to separate from them and do his own thing. That said though… I think Queendom is doing something good with him. Jaune doesn’t have this super important job, he isn’t the one diving into Weiss’s heart to personally save her. He’s more acting as a stand in for JNPR as a whole. He enables team RWBY to do their job, rather than doing it for them. And he’s not even that competent at it, as Queendom shows.
Just like Ruby, Yang and Blake, Jaune having his most obvious traits amplified by Weiss’s perception. She seems him as bearing a heavy responsibility, shown by the big fancy sword on his back, and not being good enough to carry it. He’s someone that succeeds through luck rather than his own inherent skill, as we saw with his cape defeating more Fang on the train than he did. Yet Weiss also clearly see’s him as not without promise. As he did have that one big attack on the train and there was a lot of thought put into his sword. Almost like she thinks he has the potential to grow into it. In all, I think it’s a rather good take and role for his character and I look forward to what Queendom does with him. Plus I just want more Arkos moments, but that may just be me.
Finally I want to take a moment to talk about Weiss and change. For the first time since going into the dream, we have confirmation that Ruby and co can in fact affect things. From the tree to the train, we are already off the track of the last two runs. What I really liked about it though was that it wasn’t just a one-sided event. Rather, Weiss had to choose to accept the change. She could have denied it, locking them out and letting them run into the wall. But by giving her the choice and showing us that she isn’t to far gone, Queendom gives her agency that I honestly wasn’t expecting since she’s laid out asleep on some nets. It makes me wonder if Weiss is going get to fight back against the Nightmare herself before this is all over. I hope so!
So yeah, all in all I think this was a pretty good episode for Queendom. While the animation still wasn’t that great, it was a step up from last weeks. Meanwhile the narrative is starting to do some really cool stuff. I imagine it’s not that great to people who aren’t already RWBY fans. But as someone who is, this kind of character exploration is something I’ve been hoping to get in the main show for awhile. If Queendom can manage to keep this up and close the story out in a satisfactory way, it could end up being better than originally anticipated. It’s a bit of a long shot, sure. But I’m allowed to dream of a future where RWBY get’s a decent anime. However far flung that is.