'RWBY' Volume 6: Kerry Shawcross and Lindsay Jones Talk Themes, Ruby's Role and Getting the Team Back Together

After a couple of seasons of putting the RWBY team through the ringer, Volume 5 ended with our heroes on top (for once).

But fans of Rooster Teeth's hit animated series know happy times are not built to last in this world of hunters, monsters and magic. With Volume 6 about to premiere on Oct. 27, Newsweek caught up with RWBY writer/director Kerry Shawcross and Lindsay Jones, the voice of Ruby Rose, to talk about the upcoming season.

Note: This interview has been lightly edited for clarity and length

rwby volume 6 promo art
'RWBY' Volume 6 premieres Oct. 27 Rooster Teeth

Volume 5 ended on a happy note, I think. The team is back together and the day was saved but there's still a looming threat.

Kerry Shawcross: We wanted to end on a happy note, but with a question mark. That's what we were getting at. Volume 3 was such a downer. Building from that with Volume 5 we wanted to feel like they won, but damn was it hard for them. Plot-wise? Yes, they did the thing, stopped the bad guy, but it took a lot out of them. It was very intentional. Whether that's for things to keep going up or go down you'll have to watch. I'm glad you felt that way.

Lindsay Jones: It was a positive note, but post-Volume 3 there's no way for the characters to return to where they were before. They were forced to mature due to loss and struggle and trust issues. That's very poetic and mirrors life itself; things are going to happen in your life that will change you and you can't return to the state you were before. But there's that strength inside of yourself, from Ruby's standpoint, through your friends or those in your life that lead you and push you to persevere and I think you'll see that in the next volume.

Now that the team is together again how good is it to have that dynamic back?

KS: It's so great to have RWBY back together again. It felt good for all of us since they were separate for so long, which was important for their growth but now that they are back together they can continue through Volume 6 and find out what it's like to be together again. So it's been very great. We've said this before, that having Team RWBY separated was a challenge that we knew would be there but was harder than we thought. That's why we feel good having them back together again.

LJ: From the history of the show, even though we don't record together the girls and I travel together for conventions or events and we've established a 'sisterly bond.' We get to hang out pretty frequently. But with these characters we've developed an intimate relationship with them as well where we say that whenever we return to the booth to record RWBY it's like hanging out with a friend again. Going into the next volume it's like "oh hey our friends are back."

The character of Ruby reminds me of Goku in some ways. No matter what's going on, they feel they can overcome it. How does it feel to embody such a character?

LJ: Incredible for me. Playing a character like Ruby who is positive and persevering who feels she has to push forward, not just for herself but for everyone, motivates me to do the same. As you get older you become more jaded and cynical, especially with current events. Ruby reminds me, especially speaking as a mother, you have other people to worry about now. She motivates me.

KS: She's the Shonen in all of us.

How is it to write the character?

KS: She's the most fun to write for because we all need that positivity. Sometimes it's good to be forced to dig down and find it. I think Goku, Gon from Hunter x Hunter , and more recently Deku from My Hero Academia . That's one of my favorite things from Shonen is that they all fall in that same boat. Escapism is a big thing for people and this isn't just a fun, silly show but that we can motivate you. I'm not a big fan of show that's a drag and depressing all the time. I think it's important to have those moments so the highlights can feel even better. There's a bit of cartharcism to write these types of characters.

In Volume 5 Ruby took a backseat to other characters. Was that intentional? Or did the story just become that way and we'll eventually get back to her.

KS: A little bit of both. Volumes 4 and 5 was a definite challenge for us in terms of runtime and making sure we cover as many characters as possible.

A lot of Ruby's character is understood and we wanted to take this opportunity while everyone was separated to learn a little more about the other characters. Although a lot wasn't focused on Ruby, the way she handled things with RNGR and Qrow and Oscar, it says a lot about her even though it wasn't Ruby-centric. There's always a thing about main characters, are they the focus or are they there to help steer the story for others? This last little bit, Ruby as the leader, has been taking a backseat to give time for other characters to grow. But that doesn't mean she's done growing.

LJ: My interpretation of the script is that the team is broken up, Ruby's dealing with that too and even though we have this reformation of teams in RNGR, it's not the same. I'm not sure she has that same mentality of "I'm team leader." Yes, she talks to people about moving forward but the dynamic is completely different. And bringing in uncle Qrow, he's been an authority figure in her life and has been training her as well. So it makes sense for her to take a backseat for his direction and jurisdiction because he's more experienced. I'm going to let them take the lead and do whatever needs to be done to make sure good preservers over evil.

KS: And now that they're back together we'll see if things go back to normal and whether they stay on that path.

Miles Luna said the theme of Volume 5 was "getting stronger," what's the theme of Volume 6?

KS: This one's a little bit harder. I think the theme and the overall tone is going to be more focused toward the end of the season. A lot of things are going to be explored this year with everybody being back together. Not just as teammates, but as friends. Now that everyone is back together there's still more to unshake and come down from the last couple of years. That coupled with the world-ending stuff going on around them, I think their use of each other in terms of moral support or physical support in battle is going to be an important thing.

LJ: For me thinking of it as an actor, is that trust is a very big theme. RWBY as a team are dealing with familiar ties and other worldly ties and ties to the school etc. ... that's changed. They are trying to figure out who they can rely on, including themselves.

KS: Having Blake leave in the middle of everything is a hit to the trust there. Will they patch things up? How long will it take? There are multiple levels from a personal and a plot standpoint.

Was there a different mindset going into this season to record for Ruby?

LJ: It's definitely different. It felt different from Volume 3 onward. There are moments where it's back to usual Ruby, but Volume 6 is the first time that we get to experience a very big tone shift for obvious reasons that will make themselves apparent. It's been rewarding as an actor to get, not necessarily in this tone of voice, because it's still Ruby, but the tone behind the performance and the mentality of the moment has been phenomenal and it's something we haven't explored much in-depth before. And I was honored by Kerry and Miles telling me that I nailed the tone and I'm excited to take Ruby into this new area.

What you want to fans to get out of Volume 6?

LJ: I had this reaction reading parts of the script, like "oh shit." There are so many times that happened in the script that were totally unexpected and not just shoehorned int there. It completely made sense narratively, but I didn't expect it.

KS: Like every season I hope people enjoy it and get something out of it whether its some aspect lined up with something going on in their life, or that it gave them the enjoyment they needed. This season in particular, these characters have gone through a lot. The story isn't done but where you find that motivation to do what you need to do is important for everybody. And finding that thing that keeps you going can be hard and that's something we'll explore this year I hope can help anyone in any way.