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April 17, 2017

Shower Thoughts with RWBY (Part 3)

It was pretty much a given, but RWBY Volume 5 is officially in the works.

The voice actors are (as far as I know) in the middle of recording their lines, and assuming that everything goes well?  We’ll be seeing the next chapter of the story sometime in the fall of 2017.  That’s not too far from now, as of this post -- less than half a year, if we assume that Rooster Teeth is shooting for an episode drop on the Autumnal Equinox.  They probably aren’t, but that’s still a pretty short amount of time.  So before you know it, we’ll know where the crew plans to take the story -- not just the plot, but the development, the setup, the payoff, and the authorial intent. 

It’ll be interesting to see what they do in response to the fans.  I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t have two fingers pressed deep into the pulse of the fandom, but I’d imagine that there are those who like Volume 4’s treatment, and those who resent it.  Whose voice will ring out louder?  Who will Rooster Teeth listen to?  Or will they ignore both camps so they can blaze their own trail?  Course correction is always a possibility, but even if they don’t go to that extreme, Volume 5 will 100% cement whatever style and direction the crew is going to head down.  So for that reason alone, I’m interested in seeing more.

Until then?  Let’s get back to the headcanon action.  I started with Yang and Blake last time, so let’s finish their story off and move on.

So to summarize where we are in my hypothetical version of Volume 4: Yang’s denial of her situation and foibles led to her sliding within inches of seizing a throne in the criminal underworld.  Blake ran away from her problems so hard that she became a hermit, but her hunger for justice made her flip-flop and become a spy.  Eventually, the latter found out about the strides the former made in essentially becoming one of the bad guys she was willing to beat down.  In the end?  It culminates in Blake tracking down Yang, and ready to beat her into compliance with the law.

It’s worth pausing for a moment so I can make a confession: I absolutely LOVE rival battles, whenever and wherever they may appear.  That’s part of the reason why, back in the day, I’d take a chunk out of every weekend to play Vergil Battle 1 in Devil May Cry 3.  I’d imagine that I love rival battles because I also love foils, but the actual fight makes those differences stand out even more.  Skills and wills alike collide so that heroes, villains, and everything in between can defend their ideals -- maybe even their very way of life.  That’s a pretty romantic concept.

If RWBY is doing its best to be an anime, then we have to have a rival battle.  So far, we haven’t really gotten that.  Most of the battles have been against Grimm, which aren’t exactly high-stakes.  There have been some clashes against main baddies -- Torchwick, Neo, Cinder, Adam -- but those have come and gone as fast as a gale-force wind.  I’d imagine that Team RWBY has dueled offscreen as part of their training/practice, but…I don’t think I need to stress “offscreen” very hard.  The closest we’ve gotten is the food fight between Team RWBY and Team JNPR.  And yeah, that’s a good-ass fight, but there’s still more that can be done.

That’s where my version of Volume 4 comes in.  A rival battle between Blake and Yang is just what they need to bring both their characters to a new plateau, especially after the arcs they’ve been on -- to say nothing of their natural personalities and grievances with one another (remember how Yang had to drag Blake out of her self-destructive justice hunt?  And how Blake was the first to declare that she didn’t fully trust Yang’s judgment following the leg-breaking incident at the tournament?).  There was always a fight brimming below the surface, and now they get to pound it out as literally as possible.  It’s not just choreography and special effects; it’s a chance for the story to reach one of the greatest highs possible.

It’s also a chance for some sick music, though.  I recommend a track like this.

So Blake and Yang fight it out, and the expectation is that it’s a no holds barred beatdown -- a “two men enter, one man leaves” situation.  On some level, it kind of is; the two of them refuse to hold back, which would mean that the fight choreography would have to reflect that.  Savage blows, severing slashes, genuine injuries and destruction, the works.  It would be a tempered battle, of course; at that point, Yang would still be wrought with wounds and only holding on because she’s cribbing too much on her K-Groove Semblance, while Blake’s mental blocks would keep her from fighting with full efficiency against her best friend.  As it should.

Damned if they don’t give it 110%, though.  The more Blake fights, the more she overcomes those mental blocks -- sort of “unlocking her limiters” so that she can fight like she used to…and eventually, even better than before.  As for Yang?  The fight reaches an even more feverish fever pitch once she truly snaps (maybe triggered once Blake carves out a chunk of her hair).  So instead of just using her Semblance, she gets devoured by it -- turns into a raging berserker that’s lucky to form a coherent thought.  But she does manage, though.  She manages to call Blake out both before and after going into Rage Mode.  Of course, Blake is doing the same.

The fight reaches its climax as the criminal HQ is in shambles -- crumbling all around them, and leaving them fully borne in the light of the broken moon.  Blake and Yang aren’t just talking with each other during their fight; by that point, they’re screaming at each other.  And just as things come within nanometers of the point of no return -- when Blake has Gambol Shroud a hair’s breadth away from Yang’s neck, and Yang is primed to blow Blake’s head off with one last punch to the face -- they both scream “I HATE YOU!” as loud as their throats will allow. 

And just like that, the fight stops. Yang breaks out of Rage mode.  Blake drops Gambol Shroud.  Neither one can bring themselves to hurt the other.  Not anymore.  Why?  Because in that moment, it all comes together.  Both of these young women -- friends and allies who’ve been through thick and thin -- have reached a point where they very nearly killed each other.  And why?  Not for justice.  Not for strength.  No, they were only doing it for solace -- some way to prove that they were A-OK, even when it was plainly obvious that they weren’t.

When they say “I hate you”, they aren’t talking to each other.  The ones they truly hate are themselves.

Yang is forced to confront the fact that she’s as bad as everyone said she was -- that despite her status as “the funny one”, she’s the one who’s the joke.  And not even a good one; she’s a rage-fueled monster who reached that point because there was nothing to support her -- nothing behind her actions or ideals besides “I want to be free” and “I want to have fun”.  She was a shell of a person just trying to fill in the void in her heart, the existence of which she was exposed to by losing an arm to Adam.  Going up against Blake made that problem even worse.  Blake has always been a person who fought for her ideals, even if she went overboard.  The fact that Yang didn’t -- that she couldn’t -- cemented her weakness a thousand times more than her strength.

But Blake isn’t a bastion of virtue here, either.  She tried to do the right thing, but only after running away from her problems again.  Overcompensation is her MO, to the point where she’s blind to everything else -- reason in particular, but compassion by extension.  The fact that she was willing to hurt people and sacrifice her well-being wasn’t done solely because it was “the right thing to do”; it was, and still is, because it’s as involuntary action as letting her heart beat.  She didn’t want to think.  She didn’t want to feel.  She didn’t want to acknowledge that she would forgo her will to enact her awkward justice -- because it would mean admitting that there was no will behind it to begin with.  As flawed as Yang might be, she at least lived according to her will.  It’s a contrast that drives Blake up a wall, because no matter how much she espouses justice, she knows it’s only a matter of time before she runs again because of one bad night.

As the wreckage smolders around them, the cops make their way toward the ruined HQ -- armed and ready to arrest anyone there.  Blake and Yang, despite their battered bodies, slip away before they can get thrown behind bars.  Once they have a chance to lick their wounds and recuperate from the battle, they both do what they should have done months ago: sit down and talk about their feelings instead of compress them deep within the corners of their minds. 

The conversation is awkward and clumsy, and not just because they’re forced to admit the weaknesses they’ve carried with them for years; remember, these are two people who JUST tried to kill each other -- and even before that climax, they vented every last grievance, and every last amount of dirty laundry they had on one another.  You can’t go back to Honky-Dory Town after that.

So they don’t.  The new wounds and scars they’ve suffered -- coupled with the pain they’ve now aired out -- drive Blake and Yang alike to tears in the midst of their confessions.  The former, despite her composed and reserved nature, lets them pour out as she wails into the night; the latter, despite her open and energetic nature, tries her best to hold onto whatever poise she has left.  In the end, neither one can spare any more words.  They just spend the night together, and even fall asleep with tears soaking their faces.

When they wake up, they’ve both calmed down significantly.  They’re still incredibly distant with one another, as if they’re middle schoolers at their first dance.  Yang tries to make jokes, but can’t even finish the setup, let alone the punchline or even a pun.  Blake basically goes back to her natural state -- muted and huddled away from anyone, and everything.  But while the awkward silence does carry on, Blake does manage to break it eventually.  She asks an important question:  “What happens now?”

It’s a legitimate question, of course.  Blake at that point is still technically a spy for a hidden cabal, with no shortage of operations left to run in the name of justice.  Yang stopped within paces of ruling the criminal underworld, destabilizing it every step of the way.  So on one hand, leaving both groups to their devices is a dangerous move.  On the other hand, both of them are leading toward finish lines wrought with despair and bloodshed -- to say nothing of what they’ll do to our heroines.  Knowing full well what the world expects of Huntresses, the two of them suspect -- if not believe -- that neither of the paths they’ve walked for months are the right ones.   

So they choose neither path.  They decide to walk down a third.  Together.

Yang realizes that she’s been a mindless beast.  Blake realizes that she’s been a defective automaton.  Both of them realize that they’re fundamentally broken and flawed, with very little chance of actually figuring out how to fix their issues on their own.  But they do have plenty more in common besides their foibles, and it’s because of it that they realize what they need to do. 

As members of Team RWBY, they remember the strides they made; they laughed, they thought, the questioned, they smiled, they stood strong, they fought together, and more.  The time they spent in Beacon may have been coddling and non-indicative of the harshness the outside world could force upon them, but it still meant something.  The team itself meant something.  And even if it’s a selfish whim, they realize that they need that team back in their lives.

So they decide on their path -- their future -- once and for all.  They want to build that new, brighter future, the one ushered in by the cooperation between four bizarre female fighters.  The mere prospect of it leaves Blake and Yang content, with smiles on their faces as they watch the sun rise.  They have no idea where their adventures will lead, or if they can ever be a full team again.  But they do know one thing for sure: they’re not wandering through the world, lost and alone.  Not anymore.  Now, without question, they have each other.

…Congratulations.  You just finished reading an outline of my RWBY yuri fanfic.

I joke, but only a little bit.  Bumblebee (or Blake X Yang, or whatever) may not be canon right now, but I’m legitimately hoping that it does happen.  It just makes so much sense; these two have their share of parallels, their arcs sync up, their interactions are interesting -- partly because of the clash of their different personalities -- and they complement each other better than nearly any other pairing in the show.  It’s not just about seeing two cute anime girls hug and kiss each other (not that I’d reject that if it happened); it’s about forming connections that deserve to be formed, and developing from there.

True, RWBY has been painting Sun as Blake’s romantic interest for a good while now.  And yeah, that’s a path that the actual crew can push to their hearts’ content.  But you know what?  A genuine romantic relationship between Blake and Yang is, in my opinion, a damn sight more interesting.  How would impact the team dynamic?  How would it alter their character arcs?  How would they function as human beings (relatively speaking in Blake’s case) with the knowledge that they’re fighting alongside their lover?  I want to see that more than anything else.

But setting aside all of the authorial, storytelling factors involved?  I want to see a canon relationship between these two simply because I want to see a canon relationship between these two.  It’d be nice, it’d be cool, it’d be fun, and…yeah, a little positive representation for any given members of our society can only be a good thing.  No doubt about that.

Well, that post took more words than I expected.  But oh well.  It was worth it, if only because I genuinely had fun coming up with this scenario.  I hope you had fun, too.  I really do, because -- as a wise man once said -- I ain’t done yet.  I’ve only gone through two of the four heroines, which by my last count means I’ve still got two more to go.

What happens next?  Well, I’ll leave off with this: once Bumblebee realizes how important it is to reform Team RWBY, the question still remains: how are they going to band together if they’re split up?  Yang confesses immediately that she has no idea where to go, or even start looking.  Fortunately, Blake does.  Thanks to her information network, she’s been able to keep up with the news.  By extension, it means she’s managed to keep track of certain characters’ movements.  One in particular stuck out to her…precisely because that character hasn’t moved in months.  So Blake reveals, almost offhandedly, that she knows where the Schnee heiress has been.

Except she hasn’t been anywhere.  Weiss is in jail.

See you next time.

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