So first off, this recap’s gonna be huge. I missed the last recap because it was Thanksgiving weekend and I was spending time with my family. Oh boy, did I pick a week to vanish! Let’s dive in, shall we?
Chapter 4 starts with the fight that I’ve been anxious about since the end of chapter 3: Coco and Yatsuhashi versus Emerald and Mercury. We know that Team CFVY is awesome, a force to be reckoned with indeed. Last volume, they took out a good number of grimm without batting an eye, and Coco even stared one down to berate it before kicking its ass. So right away, things seem to be in their favor. But the bad guys need to win sometimes, and the fight doesn’t end in the first five seconds. Emerald vanishes, leaving Mercury to duke it out with both of the CFVY members. He holds his own, though, even managing to put them in a position where attacking would cause them to hurt the other partner. It not the first time we’ve seen Mercury show this cunning side, but it manages to start driving home the fact that all of the baddies are able to hold their own. The fight doesn’t get any better for team CFVY from there. In fact, Coco and Yatsuhashi get separated, with the girls having their tiff while the guys duke it out. Mercury easily gains the advantage over Yatsuhashi, knocking him into a vent. Meanwhile, Coco and Emerald duke it out in the forest section of the arena, with Emerald eventually slipping away and hiding in the trees. Had they been in open ground, perhaps things would have gone better. But instead, Emerald is able to sneak up on Coco and both she and Yatsuhashi end up knocked out. It’s a tense battle the entire time, and while I am slightly sad CFVY lost (I’m an absolute sucker for Coco, and the rest of the team grows on me as I see more of their personalities shine), it was inevitable that they wouldn’t make it to the final round.
From there, we get to see more of the Schnee sisters. Last recap, I mentioned how I felt the exposition was a tad heavy handed. This week, I must applaud the writers for doing something amazing: world building in a few sentences. As Winter and Weiss talk, we learn that they are unique in how their semblances work. They aren’t hereditary usually, and that’s what makes the Scnhee family different. In addition, we learn that the glyphs we see Weiss use aren’t even the things that make them special. No, that would be something she hasn’t quite learned how to do yet: use a glyph that allows her to summon. The wording makes it seem like it has to be a “fallen foe,” and there’s an extremely telling moment where Winter tells Weiss to imagine their father. It is enough to fill in some of the details about what the family situation is, and the picture it paints isn’t exactly pretty. Weiss attempts to summon, and “fails.” I put that in quotes because what we see (and what the characters miss) is a tiny sword that manages to get summoned. Is this a hint that we’ll see the knight from the White trailer? That would be awesome, so I sincerely hope so! I would also like to take the time to specifically point out the music that ends this scene, which also is a wonderful call back to the trailer. The lyrics are sung to the tune of Mirror, Mirror, but they are far more optimistic and reflect more on Weiss as she currently stands. More on Weiss’ character development later though, as she gets a great scene in the next chapter!
To counter the somewhat distant (yet still caring) relationship Winter and Weiss have, we see Qrow interacting with Ruby and Yang. The trio are playing video games, with Qrow easily beating both of his nieces even while he’s trying to tell a story. The story ends with Qrow making a pervy comment (perhaps a joke, perhaps not) and Yang being the sensible one and calling him out on it, getting visibly irritated. More on that at the end of the chapter recap though. We learn that Qrow was away on a mission, and the girls brag about their accomplishments (which are quite prolific for a group of basically freshmen). But on the heel of their pride comes the big drop: stopping Roman didn’t just slow crime down… It stopped it. While that sounds great at first, it means there’s big trouble brewing. The mood lightens just slightly when Qrow talks about his old team: STRQ (pronounced “Stark”). Yang, however, seems lost in thought, staring at the picture her uncle produces. It’s clear why she does; the mysterious woman from the train, the one who saved her from being killed by Neo (who we know to be Raven, the R in STRQ), was part of the same team that her father and uncle were on. Qrow leaves before Yang can ask anything, however. We also get another lovely tribute, this time in the form of Qrow’s words: “You two are gonna go far, but only if you keep learning. Never stop moving forward.”
Technically, the Schnee Sister scene was two parts, but for the sake of flow I stuck their entire bit together. Part of that was because I wanted to chat a bit about Winter, Qrow, and how they interact with their families. We’re not too far into the volume, and the two have already made a large impact both on the narrative and the fandom. They’re very clearly flawed characters, with Winter’s show of affection being less than stellar at times (“tough love” can be a mild way of putting it) and Qrow being a pervert alcoholic. Despite that, both do care about their families, with some of Winter’s first questions being about Weiss’ well being and Qrow being affectionate with at least Ruby, if not both the girls (we don’t see him interact with Yang too much on her own, which I’m sure will change as Yang searches for more information about Raven). Characters with obvious flaws can be great! But much like how Jaune can be a cool character and his actions and persistence with Weiss need to be addressed and not just laughed off, Winter and Qrow’s antics shouldn’t just be played for laughs. Winter’s relationship with Weiss is hard to read (for me at least), and Qrow should absolutely not be making short skirt jokes in front of his nieces. While I can hope that they address this in a more serious tone later, I do have my doubts. After all, we still haven’t seen Jaune actually learn that no means no, even if he does have a guitar.
So with chapter 4 out of the way, we move on to this week’s episode! More fighting! More action! Even more secret plot stuff! This week was possibly one of my favorite episodes to date (and I know I’ve at least thought that about all of them but really… It’s been a damn good volume). It starts with the lovable robot girl and her partner! That’s right, we get to see Penny and her partner, Ciel Soleil. After watching her single-handedly beat down two of the members of team CRDL, we learn that, theoretically, no one knows that Penny isn’t a “real girl,” including Ciel. She has a full team, and none of them know, which is interesting. Instead of elaborating, though, the scene moves on, with Penny saying she wants to talk to Ruby more later as she’s rushed off by her teammate.
Port makes an announcement that the next match is about to start, and thus begins the meat of the episode: Yang and Weiss versus two faces we’ve never seen before. At RTX, we heard about a team called FNKI (pronounced “Funky”), and we got to see two of their members. That’s right, Flynt Coal and Neon Katt. For the record, I have dubbed FNKI “Team Dank Memes”, as Flynt is an Achievement Hunter Meme (and his weapon is a lovely call back to Trumpet Skull) while Neon Katt is overflowing with Nyancat rainbows and a love of speed. It’s clear to see why they were brought up as being fun to work on: they’re colorful, vivid, and once they start talking, it’s nothing but trash talk. From the get go, Flynt makes it clear he’s not at all amused with Weiss’ name and family ties, while Neon seems to make it her goal to make Yang go into a full rage. Unlike the other Atlas teams we’ve seen, FNKI seems to throw aside the strict, prim, proper front and decides the best offense is to piss off the opponent. If they were a weaker team, it wouldn’t work, but right from the start of the fight, it’s extremely clear that the two partners work well together. Flynt’s trumpet manages to catch Yang and Weiss off guard, and Neon continues to goad Yang into coming after her. The two are forcibly split up as Flynt’s trumpet blast knocks Yang away, leaving only Weiss to deal with him. The fight is interesting, since this is the first time we’ve seen a musical instrument weapon. He utilizes dust and his semblance (splitting into three other clones) to give Weiss a beat down. She puts up a good fight to be sure, but Flynt is clearly extremely skilled, and is able to hold off a good amount of her attacks. She does get some solid hits in, though, utilizing her ice glyphs even when the terrain has heat vents. Meanwhile, Neon just moves too fast for Yang, using her roller blades to swoop in, get a few strikes with her nun chucks, and then be out of range of Yang’s blasts before Yang really even has time to react. The whole time, she continues goading, and we see Yang lose it (breaking down a wall in the ruin section of the arena as she scowls at her opponent). Her eyes go red, a sure sign that she’s angry, and she continues to go after Neon. However, with her attention on Neon, she leaves herself wide open to an attack from Flynt. Before he can deliver a finishing blow, Weiss does something that had me cheering: she sacrifices herself and pushes Flynt onto a heat vent. It takes her aura to zero, knocking her out of the fight, but it doesn’t quite get Flynt low enough to take him with her. They seem to underestimate Yang, though. Professor Port puts it best after Weiss gets knocked out: “Yang’s angry, and you wouldn’t like her when she’s…. upset.” And it’s here we start to see more of the Angry Yang fighting style we saw earlier. She breaks up the field a bit, making it harder for Neon to skate around, uses the shotgun blasts to propel herself forward through the trumpet blast, and manages to finish off Flynt and Neon both. Yang and Weiss have a touching moment, and the Team FNKI members seem to warm up to the idea of being friends with the RWBY girls (or at least party with them, if Neon is to be believed).
Things quickly take a turn for the sinister, however. As we cut to the big bads, we clearly see Cinder pulling up a diagram of P.E.N.N.Y on her scroll. It’s enough to cause concern, since she now has access to pretty much anything Ozpin and Ironwood do. Does this mean that Penny’s going to get hacked? Or maybe Cinder will just cut her free of her strings. On the flip side of that, Qrow meets with Ozpin, asking if he’s picked his Guardian. Ozpin continues to be cryptic and elusive, never stating the name of his choice, and so it’s not until the camera cuts away that we see who it is. As he talks about his Guardian pick, we see Pyrrha enter the elevator, as if to go up to his office. It’s an interesting choice, one that would seem to be a given seeing Pyrrha’s personality, fighting ability, and general overall skill make her a natural fit. It brings back memories of last volume, where Mercury gathered intel specifically on her.
There are three things I want to talk about briefly to wrap up this recap: Weiss, Guardians, and a game. In a single moment, we got to see just how far Weiss has come as a teammate. In the first volume, Weiss was a perfectionist, all about the proper form and making sure everything was perfect. Come the fight in chapter 5 and we see her abandon that. Yang even comments on it. That’s a lovely bit of development on her end (and to some extent, on Yang’s end, although her more nurturing side has been shown a couple times). When it comes to Guardians, the word has popped up more than a few times. It’s been a while, but the opening monologue of the show used it at least twice in very deliberate ways. While there’s still much more information to be gleaned, it’s very possible (and I’d even say probable) that the opening of the series wasn’t referring just to Huntsmen and Huntresses, but to the Guardians that were introduced this volume. Finally, RWBY has a game! I will be posting a full review of it relatively soon hopefully. It’s in early access, so when it’s finished I’ll do a secondary review, but I want people to know what they’re getting into if they decide to get the early access version. I had the opportunity to play a bit before this (going to RTX has its perks other than just being able to help out and meet wonderful people), and I’ve been really enjoying it. If you love the show and like beat ‘em up style games, it’s worth at least considering checking it out! I’d love to see more people on the servers.