The latest volume of Rooster Teeth's hit animated series, RWBY is about to premiere and will continue the story of Ruby, Blake, Yang and Weiss as they try and save the world from the evil Salem.
RWBY is heading into its seventh season (or Volumes as Rooster Teeth calls them) as our heroes head to a new region of Remnant.
Volume 7 was teased at this year's New York Comic Con, and it features the Kingdom of Atlas - the homeland of Weiss and her family. But, as fans saw in the last episode of Volume 6, Atlas may not be all that it's cracked up to be.
Newsweek caught up with RWBY writer and directors Kerry Shawcross and Miles Luna to talk about Volume 6 and what to expect from Volume 7.
Note: This interview has been edited for clarity and length
In each Volume there seems to be an overarching theme, but in Volume 6, it wasn't clear early on. Trust issues were a big part of Volume 6, but...
Miles Luna: The thing we didn't want to give away in early talks was there was a lot of youth standing up for themselves despite the generation prior.
Kerry Shawcross: That's something going into it we were like "great." But as it went along we were like "oh, shoot." It didn't come about until the end of the season, so we didn't want to talk about it too much. It was a little different from previous seasons where we were like "this season is about this, and this season is about that."
ML: This year was more "you'll see it when you see it."
KS: And I think that it made sense for the kids that we wanted to talk about a little bit.
ML: Going into seven, we are going to that whole theme of trust in a deeper way. We're picking up Volume 7 where we left off in Volume 6, and we left off in an ominous space. There's a moment that should have been met with relief and joy, but instead we see the Kingdom of Atlas that maybe they are not used to, looks more aggressive than they are used to. And there's this uneasiness of "did we do the right thing by coming here?" And we're going to play around with that.
KS: A lot uncertainty, a lot of "uns"
ML: A lot of "who is on our side and why?"
You talk about the youth rising up against the generation before it, and I find that interesting considering it mirrors what's going on in real life now. I wonder if that was intentional.
ML: Intentional or not, a lot of times you take your feelings and they sort of make it into the art you're working on. I don't know if it was extremely intentional while writing it.
KS: I don't know. And I'm saying this with stuff that goes on in Volume 7 in mind. I don't know if we ever go out of our way to put this message in our show because there are some things going on right now that we want to comment on. It never intentionally happens that I can think of. Maybe some topical joke,s but nothing that is a thing. But it just sort of happens that when we look back that we notice, "oh this was getting talked about a lot." So it happens unintentionally. I think the most important thing for me is that it makes sense for the characters at the time, and it's not something we just jam in. It's a lot more hindsight.
ML: The subconscious comes out.
Ruby came into her own as the leader in Volume 6. Being the youngest, she really stepped up in that season. What was it like writing her character?
ML: I think Ruby was the perfect person to personify it. She was a perfect representation for all the kids at that moment. I think, again in hindsight, when we split up all the girls and tried for these multiple storylines, we were really ambitious and it proved to be a challenge. We knew it would be a challenge, and it was still far more challenging than we anticipated. We spent a lot of time with Blake and Weiss and Yang, and it felt like Ruby earned a lot of attention for Volume 6 as we, every year, try to improve character and story balance. It just felt right..
KS: There's a lot of times in shows where the main character is just around for the other characters to bounce off them. I don't think, and I don't want that to be the case for Ruby. There's something about her that naturally brings out different sides of other characters and people. I think part of her character is exploring that with them or guiding them and sometimes that means she gets left out a little bit.
ML: More often than not Ruby is the character that won't be making great strides or changes in ideology but is usually the catalyst for other characters to springboard off of.
KS: She's the type of person who needs someone to say "hey, focus on yourself a little bit."
ML: And I think in Volume 6 that character aspect was exactly what everyone needed. She's constantly that source of optimism from the first time she talked to Blake about fairy tales and righteousness and all that stuff. And it was a huge low point for our heroes in Volume 6. And it was up to her, that drive, that anime girl, Shonen hero drive, that got them out of a lot of situations, and it felt good and fun [to write].
There was a heavy plot point introduced revealing Ozpin and Salem's relationship. What was it like having this trusted figure lose that trust, and what was the decisions to lay it out in Volume 6?
ML: Ozpin, like the great and powerful Oz in the original Wizard of Oz, was not all that, and this was the point where the curtain was pulled back and that other foot dropped. We introduced this all-knowing, Dumbledore-esque guy who seems to have everything in order where you might not understand it, but he has it all figured out. This is the moment where we revealed to the audience that no he is just a guy. Albeit a guy who happened to live over and over again, but he's just a guy doing his best, and people are inherently flawed, even the great and powerful Oz.
KS: In terms of how we dropped it, it's a story we had from the very beginning. We were excited to talk about it, but wanted to balance both when our characters in the show learned about this versus, and when we will have enough time in a season. When is it going to be the right moment? And Volume 6 felt right. We thought, "hey people waited for so long, and try to knock their socks off with it with this big episode. And really try to go above and beyond and say. You've waited long enough, here's your dessert." That was definitely an episode I was nervous about the reactions. It's obviously a lot going on and important to the story, but it's so different.
ML: It's an incredibly important piece of backstory of our entire world. And there's a thought that if people don't like this piece, it breaks everything. It was very scary.
Cinder's sidestory was an entertaining part of Volume 6. What was it like balancing the side characters with our main heroes this season?
ML: One thing with Cinder's side story in Volume 6 is showing her relentlessness in pursuit of this power that she feels is owed to her, this promise by Salem that she can have the powers of the maidens and be a god-level badass. And that is something that really, really resonates with her and with what she wants. And it's something we're going to explore in future Volumes and learn why. We wanted a cool, interesting sidestory. Of course we had to talk about how Cinder is going to deal with the fact that she got whooped in Volume 5. But a part of it was connecting a few characters, getting Cinder and Neo in touch with one another and giving them a target to go after, in this case Ruby Rose. And then showing this woman will not be stopped, and it's weird. I don't want to say you feel sympathy for her in Volume 6, but you see what she's going through.
KS: I think it's a bit more of an understanding. But character balance is the hardest part about writing every season. It's a big mix of here's what narratively needs to happen and what we feel needs to happen on a character standpoint, versus here's what we have time and money for. It's something we've always improved and gotten better at. It's something cool about the show that there are so many characters that people like. It's not the case that Ruby Rose is everyone's favorite character. They love everybody, so we are not always going to get their favorite character on screen as much as they want, and it's not as much as we want either. It's something that's always on the forefront of our mind. For me it's not about how we can give everyone the most screen time. It's about making the screen time they have is as valuable and as good.
I was a bit surprised that Adam's story concluded in this Volume. What was the decision behind that?
ML: Both Blake and Yang's conflicts lie in their pasts. One of Blake's internal conflicts is having to accept a past she's not proud of, and that has plagued her since we met her in Volume 1. Yang has this great trauma in her past that was brought on her by Adam Taurus, and she struggled in past Volumes and will continue to struggle with [it.] We know we wanted Blake and Yang to have a reconciliation. We start the volume on amicable terms, but they are nowhere near as close as they were at the start, and we wanted to slowly build back up their relationship. Get them back to the buds we saw in Volume 3, getting ramen and stuff. And so Adam Taurus personified the past that they needed to overcome, that they needed to get over before they can start working on each other as individuals and as friends and teammates. And it was tough. There were lots of talks about how to deal with Adam and again, a lot of it was trying to deal with pacing. I think in one draft Adam met his end at the Battle of Haven, but there were too many moving pieces. There were already so many other characters there that didn't quite get as much attention as everyone else, so we didn't want to add Adam to that list. Then we had to get a little flexible and move some things around, but I like and am happy with [our solution].
What can you tell me about Volume 7?
KS: It would not make sense to go to Atlas and not have the Schnee's be a big part. The whole season doesn't focus on Weiss specifically, but she has a lot of feelings and thoughts about Atlas, about the kingdom and the city, and there's a lot of interesting things going on.
ML: Atlas is a place where it's a huge city. Though it's the smallest geographically, it's the most dense in regards to population with a wide variety of characters that some our audience will know and others that are brand-spankin' new. And I hope the audience will embrace them as they have embraced the rest of the cast.
RWBY Volume 7 premieres on Rooster Teeth First November 2.