It’s always a sad day when a RWBY volume ends. It’s a pretty long wait til the next one but at least in the meantime we can keep watching this one over and over again. The volume had a bit of a slow start in terms of action so initially I was a bit concerned but the final few episodes made for a really epic climax. This ended up being one of the best volumes yet. The fight scenes have improved again to the point where they are finally back up to around volume 3 level.
This volume starts off with team RWBY finally making it into Atlas. It’s been a long journey for the team but now they can talk to Ironwood about stopping Salem. He has been quite busy since volume 4 and has amassed an impressive army to combat her including the AceOps, a group of powerful fighters who are known as the best of the best. The heroes train and get some upgrades while in Atlas, even meeting up with a rebuilt Penny. The peace doesn’t last for long though as Salem sends Watts and Tyrian over to create some general chaos in Atlas. Meanwhile Cinder and Neo are after the maiden and the artifact. If the heroes aren’t careful they may lose everything. Do they retreat or hold their ground? Ironwood, Robyn, and Mr. Schnee all have their own ideas on what to do next.
A lot happens here even if the experience will feel pretty short due to how much fun it is. I believe this was one of the longest seasons to date and Rooster Teeth has done a good job of getting the episodes to pretty consistent run times. I’d like to eventually see every episode be around 25 minutes, but one step at a time. There’s so much that the volume does right so it’s almost hard to know where to start. First, one big positive here is that the story moves along quite a bit. We get through a solid chunk of the Atlas arc here to the point where the next volume should end it. We get to wrap up Weiss’ plot as well as get to the heart of Ironwood’s character arc. The pacing is solid.
The animation is definitely top notch. As I mentioned earlier, these are the best that the fights have looked in quite a while. It’s not like RWBY ever got bad at that though. Volume 4 did have the Team vs Tyrian fight which is still one of the best fights in the series and Volume 5 of course had the big Raven vs Cinder match. Volume 6 had the Grim Reaper battle as well as the climax with Adam. I’d say that the main difference is that in volumes 4 and 5 it felt like the team only had time for one big fight so the rest of the fight scenes suffered a bit. Volume 6 got past that and then Volume 7 is really thriving. We’re back to fun team combos and good background effects that amp up the battle.s
Ironwood’s battle is a good example of this with gravity playing an effect in the confrontation. It really adds an extra dynamic to the whole thing. Then Team RWBY’s fight was excellent. While most of it isn’t a pure 4 vs 4 fight, you’ve still got a lot of people moving at the same time which is something the series was infamously unable to do in the Volume 5 climax. (I’d still like to see the team re-make that fight someday) It’s a good benchmark to see how the series has really grown since then.
Then we’ve also got an excellent soundtrack which should come as no surprise since the series always has great tunes. We get the excellent Hero theme that plays during Ironwood’s fight. I’ve listened to that one a very large number of times at this point. The song that plays during the RWBY fight was also really solid. Those are the 2 best themes for me, but the credits villain theme is also solid as well as the intro. I look forward to seeing the full soundtrack for this volume coming out so we can hear the full versions of these songs.
Now we’re going to enter the more detailed part of the review so these parts will have spoilers. If you need to know the score now then know that it is a perfect 10. RWBY never delivers anything short of perfection. RWBY is definitely still the best show out there and it’s also part of why I have to discuss it in such detail. I can’t leave a stone unturned and I’m always browsing the reddit to see what everyone else thinks of the big events. It’s a title where there will always be a good amount of discussion.
The first big topic for debate here is Ironwood’s decision of course. Ironwood himself is a pretty complex character. He’s been doing his best to fight Salem since Volume 3, but things never turn out so well for him. In Volume 3 things don’t go well because Ozpin stays tight lipped about everything and doesn’t let Ironwood in quick enough. By Volume 6 2 of the 4 Kingdoms have already been defeated (Haven is still around, but without a headmaster or a relic it can’t do much to help) and so Atlas seems like it may be the next target. Given this, Ironwood has been building up his army. He has everyone fully mobalized and even got the AceOps ready for action. He’s done a tremendous job of getting everyone in tip top shape. The army may still need a little work since team RWBY got in so easily but it’s still pretty solid as a whole.
Unfortunately intruders are still getting into Atlas and Salem threatens to make an appearance as well. There is no time for Ironwood to achieve his goal of getting the communication tower up in time and the heroes could barely fend off the first wave of Grimm so the whole army would dominate them. Ironwood then makes the controversial decision to jettison Atlas into space to avoid the Grimm and in theory Salem won’t be able to chase him there. At the very least it’ll take some time for her to get up there so he can smoke out the intruders and think up a plan. Team RWBY disagrees which leads to their big fight with the AceOps.
Ruby does have the moral high ground here since abandoning a whole half of the country to die is not heroic no matter how you slice it. On a practical level Ironwood is right that they’ll all die down there given how powerful the Grimm are. It’s a matter of do you let everyone die or half of them? It’s not the heroic move, but Ironwood’s decision is the most rational. I think a good compromise team RWBY could have gone for would be to quickly gather everyone who wasn’t already evacuated into Atlas. They already got some of them over, just not everyone. This would also seal the deal for the rest of the survivors though so in effect helping Ironwood would also go against RWBY’s goals here. It’s easy to see why this would lead to a fight.
I hope the series keeps Ironwood as an anti-hero who is doing what he can, but finds himself on the wrong moral side each time rather than becoming a full villain. He’s getting dangerously close to that with how he shot Oscar. The line he used for that was pretty awesome though and one of the best lines in RWBY. This volume helped Ironwood rise up from just another character to being in my top 5 now. I may need to make a new top 10 RWBY characters editorial soon since it’s been shaken up so much. At the moment my top 10 would be 1. Adam 2. Ironwood 3. Cinder 4. Yang 5. Raven 6. Neo 7. Torchwick 8.Weiss 9.Mercury 10. Ruby but it’s definitely a list that tends to change quite a bit. Ironwood’s just made for a great character and now that he is officially becoming a third party to contend with it makes him that much more interesting. I really hope he doesn’t die in the next volume although it’s looking likely. Realistically he won’t be defeating Salem or Cinder but hopefully he can bump off at least one more side villain like Mercury or Hazel.
The whole Atlas debate was a pretty big part of the volume. Meanwhile we had the Atlas election which was the setup for all of this. The Weiss family drama was less interesting, but still a necessary part in all of this since we had been waiting so long for some closure. I’m still not a big fan of Weiss’ Mom. At least Whitley is a little interesting with where his character may go. There are a lot of options for him for sure. Then Weiss’ father gets his end. He had a pretty good run and he’s a fun guy to have around. I’d have liked him to manipulate the others a little more instead of getting manipulated but I suppose that’s how it goes some times.
Winter is a character who hadn’t appeared in a long while so it was good to see her return. She’s still a little too fixated on following the law though to the point where she isn’t choosing to step up and help Weiss. For characters like her I always like to see them ultimately betray the law to help their family out. Those who do not end up suffering a big fall and it’s hard to rise back up as a character. Byakuya from Bleach pulled it off so Winter could as well, but this was not her best volume. I’m fine with her getting wrecked by Cinder since I don’t consider them to be in the same league, but I’d have liked her to have been more supportive of Weiss. I do like to think that maybe she would have helped if Weiss was actually brought in although I have my doubts.
Penny’s return was another controversial part of the volume. Especially since it was confirmed that she wouldn’t be coming back several years ago after her death. Plans change so you should never put too much stock into interviews and such outside of the show though. In-universe she is a robot so it makes sense that she could come back. Personally I would have rathered she did not. In general not bringing a character back is the right move, but it can all work out if the character has great scenes. Take Cinder for example. I’m glad she was brought back since she has had several great fights since then. At the time I’d have preferred she stayed dead, but what’s done is done. So going forward in volume 8 it’s not like I’ll still be dwelling on it. She’s here so now I’m looking forward to her getting some big fights. She’s going to be a real powerhouse now so hopefully Ironwood is unable to take control of her or the heroes are going to be in some major trouble.
Watts gets his first big role of the series and looks pretty good. His battle with Ironwood is handled really well and they both got a good amount of hype there. Watts’ motivations may be weaker than some of the other villains, but it’s still one you can understand. He feels like he should have gotten the headmaster position at Haven. I think he would have done a way better job than Lionheart, but I’m sure Ironwood had his reasons for doing that. It’s still no excuse for being evil. I’m surprised that Ironwood let him live, but Watts could end up being pretty useful going forward.
Then we have the AceOps who all become pretty big characters by the end. Clover gets the biggest role for sure. He’s a solid commander who seems to be going for a bit of a Captain America vibe. Unfortunately he makes one of the worst decisions I’ve ever seen as he decides to prioritize going after Qrow instead of Tyrian. Qrow even points out that this is crazy but Clover won’t listen to reason and gets murdered over that decision. It was hard to feel bad for him there because the entire thing was completely his fault. Qrow did his best to go after Tyrian, but Clover made that impossible.
The rest of the AceOps come across as more reasonable. While they are trying to take out Team RWBY, it’s because they see their orders as being the right ones. Harriet is the main fighter of the group and she has the right idea of going all out from the start. Marrow mentions that he doesn’t want to destroy the heroes, but ironically Weiss tries to slice off their heads at the exact point he says that. Team RWBY isn’t holding back so they can’t either. Besides, you aren’t able to destroy someone if they still have Aura unless your attack is that much stronger like Adam’s famous slash which took off Yang’s arm. Either way holding back will only get you injured. Harriet was determined and even after being tied up gave Ruby a good fight.
Marrow comes across as the most reasonable of the members. He doesn’t fall for Robyn’s mind games which was impressive since everyone always falls for that. His power to stop time of either one person at a time or everyone in his line of sight is a really good ability. He’s nigh unstoppable in a 1 on 1 fight but Weiss ended up being a bad match up for him. Elm and Vine get the smallest roles of the group. Vine is the most emotionless of the group and doesn’t find any of this personal. He’s just following orders and doing what he’s got to do in order to claim victory here. Elm takes this very personally as she is quite eager and willing to put team RWBY down for good.
One thing I greatly appreciated here was the fact that Team RWBY beat AceOps fair and square. I was worried that the fight would get broken up or they would get saved, but fortunately that does not happen. RWBY just shuts them down systematically and it was quite satisfying. I also liked Ruby’s confidence there as she doesn’t always show that lately. Flat out telling AceOps that RWBY is more talented was really great. This is the kind of development I like to see from her as team leader.
Meanwhile we had one more big new character in the form of Robyn. Unfortunately I was really not impressed with her. For starters her fighting abilities are really just now impressive. She has a crossbow as her weapon which is a questionable choice at best because there just isn’t anything you can really do with that. All of the characters fighting at this level can move fast enough to catch or dodge any such arrows. It leaves her with no real room to grow. She goes down quite quickly in each match. I was hoping she would have been more of a serious third party character to worry about, but in the end Ironwood ended up taking that role so there was nothing really left for her to do. A shame of course, but I suppose it couldn’t be helped. I hope she is able to make a comeback in the next volume. She talks really tough every time so that makes me think there is still hope for her to make a comeback if she can just get a little stronger.
I can’t say that I really have any formal negatives with the volume. Even the weakest aspects of RWBY are quite solid. If there’s a plot we could remove, I wouldn’t mind losing the Ren and Nora one. Their romance hasn’t really worked since day 1 and they were better off as close friends. It is also quite telling that the instant Nora distracted Ren was when the villains attacked so he was unable to help out. It ended up costing quite a few lives. Maybe the show will use that to end this sub plot. Ren’s also been panicking a lot so if one member of the team gets bumped off I could see it being him. Team Jaune in general spent the volume not doing much and getting wrecked along the way. They haven’t really kept up with Team RWBY in terms of power although I wouldn’t expect them to. The main characters should always be in a different level compared to the supporting ones. That’s just how these things go.
Cinder and Neo still make for a pretty dangerous team. Cinder needs to watch her back since a betrayal could happen at any point. It’s a little hard for me to believe that Cinder was unable to get past the other Maiden’s ice abilities though. Cinder is a maiden herself and I can understand losing to Raven since Raven had years of experience, but an old maiden who’s getting ready to die? I’m not sure I can buy into that one. For Neo it was great to see her take down the heroes. I’ve always seen her as a top tier fighter close to Maiden level so it’ll be interesting to see who is actually able to stop her. The longer she goes undefeated the more she will stay in her mythical status of being seen as basically untouchable.
As for Team RWBY, they all look good. Blake doesn’t do too well in the big fight at the end as she has to get saved twice, but she still does contribute in the fight. Yang looks great throughout here as she helps the team make their decisions and also has the power to get things done when it counts. She is still using a lot of strategy in her fights which is good to see. Ruby looks great in the volume as she takes charge and gives orders with one exception. She only didn’t look very good in Salem’s big scene where Ruby bursts into tears right away. I thought she fell to tears way too quickly if you ask me and it just wasn’t very deserved at the time. It also made Ironwood’s decision that much easier since if the leader of the heroes bursts into tears when the villain shows up then they really don’t have much of a chance. Hopefully Ruby can keep it together when they actually fight Salem.
For Weiss this was an especially big volume. At long last she won her first true 1 on 1 fight which was awesome. It’s about time since she has trained a whole lot over the years. She earned this victory and also helps the team out quite a lot. Her summoning is only going to get better from here on out and that’ll make her a true threat in combat. Then we have Qrow who looks pretty good here. He still has some trouble with his bad luck like nearly tripping once, but as least he doesn’t spend the volume looking super nerfed or feeling sorry for himself this time. He looks pretty decent as he keeps up with Clover and Tyrian. It’ll also be interesting to see if he does try to assassinate Ironwood in the next volume. I’m surprised he let himself be captured though because that’s always a very dangerous risk.
Finally we’ve got Oscar who is doing his best to fit in with the crew. He still feels way weaker than the others, but always does his best to give good advice and talk to the various characters. Ozpin misses most of the volume so this is really just good ole Oscar. I’m not his biggest fan, but he’s not bad. There’s no way he should have actually landed that punch on Neo though. I don’t think anyone was buying that. She’s way too nimble and if she meant to knock him out then Oscar should not be waking up anytime soon.
So in the end I thought about it quite a bit and I would actually put this as the second best volume in the series. Right now I’m going to put the volumes as 3>7>6>2>5>1>4. 2 and 5 are pretty close but the train fights are still just too amazing to pass up. If the trend continues then Volume 8 could finally be the one to pass 3. It’ll be tough but with how many cool things are set up to happen we could reach that level. I’m ready for Salem to finally step in the ring herself. Sadly there is no after credits scene in this volume but I’d recommend sticking through the credits just for the song.
Overall, RWBY Volume 7 is a really great volume. We got to see more of Cinder and Neo which is always great as well as some excellent action scenes with RWBY and Ironwood to close things off. The first 9-10 episodes are a little slow, but the final few really help to give us the action we needed. It’ll work well in movie format since you can see all of that as set up for the big fights in the end. The ending is always super important and RWBY always delivers there. If you haven’t watched RWBY before then you need to do yourself a favor and check it out. You can watch this volume from the start and get what is happening since the volume is made in a clear way so you can watch it as a stand alone title, but you’d be missing out on so many hype scenes from the earlier days. I’d advise you to start from scratch.