So we all know just how impressive the RWBY series is. It’s to the point where if someone asks you what the definition of peak fiction is….you’d show them an episode of the show. It’s that good and still reigns as the greatest show of all time. I figured it would be a good chance to try checking out every season premiere and rank them. I’ve thought about doing something like that for a long time but ultimately I just kept putting it off over and over again until now. I finally had the time to go in and watch all of these episodes. Below I’ll talk about each premiere and be they stack up against each other. Volume 3 may be my favorite season but it doesn’t necessarily mean it will win for the best premiere and that’s what makes everything pretty interesting here. So without further adieu, lets take a look at the rankings.
9. RWBY Volume 5
Volume 5 had less action than I remembered and by that I mean it had almost none. We get to see each member of Team RWBY in their various plots and the hype for this volume was that the group would finally be reunited. It had been a while after all so the build up had to be on point and the premiere does well with that. We see Weiss on her trip, Yang gathering intel, Blake preparing to make a stand, and Ruby getting to meet Lionheart.
Lionheart’s definitely not my favorite character to put it mildly so his scenes aren’t very interesting. The guy is nervous right out of the jump and the only time he talks tough is when he is trying to convince Qrow that everything is a bad idea. This premiere is really solid at the serious moments but can be a bit weaker than previous volumes on the humor side. Give me the bobble head RWBY scene over Yang bouncing the bandit across all the walls any time. It’s a solid premiere but not quite holding its own against any of the others.
8. RWBY Volume 7
Low ranking for volume 7 eh? Well, there’s not much action here either. We do get a brief skirmish with some Grimm and then the heroes are taken down by the AceOps. I was always a bit skeptical at how quickly they were taken out. Sure, it was a cheap shot but even taking that into account….I’m just a bit unsure about that. The humor also didn’t land quite as well as earlier volumes. I like Penny as a character quite a bit but her humor style doesn’t work as well.
Mostly this premiere was about seeing the tough state that Atlas was in and learning that maybe there is reason to doubt Ironwood. Granted, as a viewer I didn’t think so but you’re meant to be a bit wary at least. The place is under secure watch but given that the Grimm are around that makes sense. It’s an interesting premiere but for the first episode you usually want to start out with a bang and this one didn’t have that explosive impact.
7. RWBY Volume 4
Volume 4 is fairly low key on the action scenes as well. There is a fight as the heroes go up against a rock creature but the bulk of the episode is really about set up. We have the evil council meeting for the first time on screen so we get to see Salem’s cabal. That made for a pretty intense scene and of course it was a rough start for Cinder since she has lost her voice for a while by this point. Seeing her get picked on just feels so odd when usually she is the mastermind. Then you have the heroes having a little fun and stopping by a town.
It’s a very complete episode and fits in with the heavier focus on the story for the later volumes. That said, it still ends up being a weak premiere next to the other ones because it just isn’t as exciting. The rock fight just didn’t have the same energy or hype as the fights that came before it. I would say part of that is because as a rock giant it had no way to actually defend itself or fight back so the whole thing just didn’t feel very satisfying. Still nice to see the group work as a team of course and later on Volume 4 would go on to have one of the best team fights in the series against Tyrian.
6. RWBY Volume 8
Volume 8 has one of the more tense premieres but it’s also very light on action. There aren’t any big battles for the heroes as they’re starting to turn on each other and the pressures of protecting mantle are getting to them. The AceOps got whopped last time so they’re also still very sore about the whole thing. Clover only has himself to blame for being taken out but that’s just how it goes. The series decided to start making Ironwood more of an extreme villain in this episode by having him shoot someone which was also a bit on the weak side.
Still a very intense episode all around though. It has a lot of replay value that’s for sure. Ultimately for the heroes you’re rooting for them to save everyone but without a concrete plan to achieve this, it’s easy to see why a lot of the heroes were mixed on what to do. Salem really had the advantage here and her experience came in handy. If Ozpin had been more honest with the characters then things probably wouldn’t have gone this far.
5. RWBY Volume 2
Volume 2 brings in the famous food fight in the series. This one is talked about often and for good reason. It’s a really impressive group fight where everyone gets to have their moment to shine. It’s cool to see each character use their signature fighting style with the foods and they all have a moment to shine. Even though they are fighting for fun you can still gauge the power levels pretty well from this. For example, it’s clear that Yang and Pyrrha are a cut above the rest with how they handle themselves in this fight. Ruby probably gets the most surprising amount of hype given that she is able to effectively wipe out the whole team once she gets serious. To date it’s one of her most impressive feats.
The fight takes up most of the episode but we also have some fun humor moments here. Ruby trying to make things fun for the team as leader goes a long way and they all have some fun banter throughout. It keeps up that blend of humor and action that the series is so well known for. I’d also say the series was at its funniest during these opening volumes so this was really a solid premiere that could get anyone on board the RWBY train. Then there’s also the opening scene where Mercury and Emerald assassinate a bookstore owner for trying to leave Vale. It’s a fairly ominous moment all things considered and showed that the villains weren’t playing around. Bumping someone off in the opening episode already set the tone that things were going to be more dangerous in season 2.
4. RWBY Volume 6
Volume 6 really started off with a bang as it feels nice to have the full RWBY squad together again. They get to take on a bunch of Grimm to protect the train and it felt like the show was proving that the fight scenes were back on track. It definitely succeeded with this and that would continue to be the case as the fights in volume 6 were incredible. The enemies may have had no shot here but it was nice to see all of the teamwork and combos that we hadn’t gotten to see in a while.
This really ended up being one of the stronger premieres as a result and was an ideal way to start the season off. The song that plays during the fight (Miracle) was a blast and of course the opening was really good but that’s no surprise in the slightest. Volume 7 would have to work hard to surpass this one and it ultimately wasn’t up to the task.
3. RWBY Volume 1
RWBY’s first volume really starts off on a nostalgic note. I’ve seen Ruby take out those thugs many times in the past and the episode is a good way of introducing her character. She is clearly tough as she was able to take out the whole gang right off the bat and she even kept her composure enough to try and take some shots at Cinder and the ship in the end. The way the episode used the theme song as something Ruby was listening to was great as well.
The narration at the beginning gives the episode a very ominous feeling and the whole city seems rather shady as well. I’d say one of the advantages to the old animation style was that everything felt rather sinister so it was hard to know what was going to happen next. The fights are excellent here and the episode manages to cover a lot of ground in a short amount of time so I really don’t have many issues here. This will always hold up as one of the most important episodes for obvious reasons but also one that has a lot of replay value.
2. RWBY Ice Queendom
I thought about it for a while and figured I should add Ice Queendom into the mix. No, I’m not adding RWBY Chibi but this one works like a volume so it makes sense. It’s also so high quality that it more than holds its own against the numbered volumes. The visuals were fantastic and it definitely moves through a good amount of material by knocking out 2 of the specials and the first episode plus some material from a volume 4 special.
The fights look great as Ruby takes down some goons and Blake destroys a bunch of mechs. A lot of effort went into this one and at least at this point and time you can really feel the high budget effort behind this. I would also say it does work well as someone’s introduction to the series. You quickly get the plot and learn about the characters so that’s a win/win. I was quite satisfied here. If I am recommending someone to the series I would actually show them this episode first and then transition over to volume 1 from where this one left off. If episode 2 is as strong then I may do the same for that one.
1. RWBY Volume 3
Volume 3 will always be known as one of the all time RWBY greats because of how much action was in each episode and how memorable the whole thing was. There were high stakes and it felt like the story really began here. The lore started to kick in and we even learned the end game boss. That said, would the premiere already be starting things in the fast track? I would say yes. Starting off with the tournament underway is a great way to start a season. It’s also one of the very few times in the series where we actually get to see the team…fight as a team. Usually it’s just 2 of them or something like that so having a 4 on 4 fight was a lot of fun.
The animation is top tier of course and the music is really energetic so you can get right into the mix of things. We get the instructions breakdown from the announcers on how this will work out and we also get some more foreshadowing that Mercury and Emerald are going to be making a move soon. The heroes are really unaware of what’s going to go down and could say that the villains have a pretty big lead right now on the information side. So I guess volume 3 did end up winning after all.
The original volumes mainly seemed to be higher ranked here as they always started out with big fight scenes. Volumes 1-3 all had big fights, 4 had a brief one, 5 had none, 6 had a lot of action, then 7 had a quick fight and 8 went on empty. Ice Queendom had a ton of action which is a benefit of being so fast paced. It was pretty fun to revisit each of the opening episodes for the series. RWBY is always peak fiction after all and you can really see the animation, story, and tone change throughout the volumes.
After all, the list is fairly relative as I enjoyed all of the episodes but there are definitely ones that are clearly stronger or weaker. So what are your thoughts on each of the premieres? Leave them below and I’ll see you in the next rankings.