Qrow: “Look, it’s a review. It’s got spoilers. You know the deal.”
We learn that Mary Calavera was once a legendary hunter known as the Grim Reaper and rightfully so. Armed with dual scythes, she was an incredible fighter and took down a giant bird type Grimm on her own, using her silver eyes to petrify it the same say Ruby did to the dragon Grimm at the end of Volume 3. Young Maria’s animation during her fight with a group of bounty hunters is beautifully crafted with amazing fluidity that is on par with hand animation. Ruby is excited to learn about Maria’s past and wants her to train her on how to use her power. Qrow has heard about the Grim Reaper and tried to emulate her through the fighting style he and Ruby uses, and the weapons they use as well. Maria’s cane is most likely one of her weapons that she has discontinued long ago. Just as both her last and hunter names suggests, her design in her younger years is inspired by Día de Muertos, the Mexican Day of the Dead celebration along with the mask she wore and her last name “Calavera” is a representation of La Calavera Catrina (“The Elegant Skull”) created by Mexican illustrator José Guadalupe Posada. The same calavera design can also be seen in Maria’s weapons and cane.
The animators and designers for RWBY seem to step up their game with each volume, utilizing better animation tools and programs to improve upon their work. The city of Argus is so far the most detailed and beautifully crafted city in the series. Every detail pops, from the building deigns to the trees lining the sidewalks to the cobblestone street. This shows impressive growth among the animators who have improved upon their craft from the early structure designs that appeared flat and less vibrant to showing a city with incredible depth. The placement of the snow on the buildings and other structures is near true to life.
Ruby and the her reunite with Jaune, Ren and Nora who have been staying with Jaune’s sister Saphron (likely named after the color) in Argus. While the reunion is a delight to see, one thing I’d like to point out is Saphron Arc being introduced as a lesbian who is married to her wife Terikata. I like the diversity that is being represented in the episode. Usually, there is an awkward build up in these situations but RWBY just lays out so casually and what’s more is that no one seems affected by it. They accept the couple without any issues. While this may not break down the barrier of some long-time fans, it at the very least nudges it really hard.
Cinder is still up to her games as she recruits Neo so she can go after Ruby and claim the Relic of Knowledge in order to get back into good graces with Salem. However, Cinder has been instructed to not kill Ruby by Salem. Just she has done with Roman, Cinder will work with Neo so long as she proves useful. Unlike Roman, Neo is not to be taken lightly.
I like how the story is being told and building up in preparation for what ever Salem has planned.