RWBY: Official Manga Anthology, Vol. 1: Red like Roses and Vol. 2: Mirror, Mirror are the first two short story companions to the RWBY anime series. The series, created by Monty Oum for Rooster Teeth, is set in a fantasy world where Huntresses are trained to fight monsters called Grimms. The four main characters are Huntresses named Ruby, Weiss, Blake, and Yang. The RWBY: Official Manga Anthology Vol. 1: Red like Roses features stories about the Team RWBY character Ruby Rose, and Vol. 2: Mirror, Mirror focuses on the character Weiss Schnee.
Both anthologies follow the same format of short character-driven stories that do not follow a linear plot. The purpose of the stories is to shed light on the character they focus on, and many of the stories are mainly interactions between Team RWBY characters, with some action scenes throughout. For example, in Red like Roses, Ruby wants to find a boyfriend, and her friends are surprised that shy, reserved Ruby is willing to embark on such a daring adventure as going in search of one.
Mirror, Mirror features stories about Weiss Schnee, who grew up as a pampered princess and resented being coddled. The stories explore her friendship with other RWBY girls, including how they became friends. The stories are chronologically non-linear, jumping back and forth in time to Weiss’s childhood and her time at the Beacon Academy.
The anthologies might be a good addition for fans of the RWBY anime series, but they would be confusing to those who are new to the series. The stories do not provide much background and explanation about the RWBY world, and much of the intricacies of character interactions would be lost to those unfamiliar with the characters. It is also difficult to get more information about the overall RWBY story from these anthologies, and I had to do a bit of research before I could understand who the characters were. As such, the RWBY anthologies would not be a good place to start for those interested in RWBY, and would only appeal to those who are already familiar with the characters.
The lack of explanation in the story was a major flaw in this series for me, but even after doing research and learning more about the world, I did not enjoy the stories very much. Despite the fact that they all feature the same characters and focus on one of them in particular, the books lacked a unifying factor. The stories jump back and forth in time and might confuse even those familiar with the series. The interactions between the characters were uninteresting and trite, except for a few that were almost chuckle-worthy, like one from Mirror, Mirror in which Weiss makes cookies so tough that the team decides to use them as weapons against the enemy, who confuses them for ninja stars.
Another factor contributing to the scattered feel of the anthologies is the number of artists. Each story has a different artist, with variations in the way the characters are drawn. This results in inconsistent layout and art, with characters looking very different in each story. Some of the stories in both volumes are visually pleasing, and others look half-finished, with too much blank space to adequately convey the story. However, the stories and art do not contain graphic violence or nudity, and would be appropriate for teen audiences.
RWBY: Official Manga Anthology, vols. 1-2
By Monty Oum
Art by Balayan
vol 1 ISBN: 9781974701575
vol 2 ISBN: 9781974701582
Viz Signature, 2018