RWBY Volume 9 might have faced delay after delay but there’s hype about the franchise once more. This is partly due to the release of more information about the much-anticipated volume, and partly due to the release of RWBY: Ice Queendom episodes. Aim is the original RWBY an anime or cartoon?
Is RWBY an Anime?
RWBY: Ice Queendom is most definitely an anime, created by the Japanese Studio Shaft. With the original, the case is more complicated, as it is anime-inspired but produced in the US with 3D animation.
The question of RWBY’s status as an anime is one you’ve likely encountered before with popular animated titles.
Many people have wondered if Avatar: The Last Airbender is an anime or cartoon and different people will likely provide different answers to this question.
Compared to books, films, and other media, there is relatively little academic scholarship about anime, although enjoying and even researching anime is becoming more widely accepted.
In The Anime Encyclopedia (2006) by Jonathan Clements and Helen McCarthy, a very short definition of anime is “anime refers to animation from Japan.”
This definition suggests that animated works from elsewhere cannot be considered anime.
RWBY looks a lot like an anime despite its 3D-style animation. The costumes, big-eyed characters, stylized fights, and many vaguely Asian-inspired locations practically scream anime.
As such, it is no surprise that RWBY got dubbed in Japanese and even inspired a literal anime.
Ultimately, though, “anime” doesn’t describe a genre, but an entire local-specific animation tradition, so two shows that look very much alike are not necessarily both anime.
Of course, in the Japanese language, you might hear any animated show referred to as an “anime” which definitely complicates matters!
Related: Is Anime Popular in America?
Is RWBY a Cartoon?
If we accept that RWBY is not exactly an anime, does this mean that it’s a cartoon? This is probably an accurate way to refer to the show, although some people don’t like this term as much.
Due to the wide range of genres and demographics, anime can, at times, be considered more mature than other animated works, with many anime series being only suitable for adults and having no tangible differences from other adult shows other than the fact that they’ re-animated.
In comparison, cartoons are sometimes, though not always, associated with much less realistic art styles, children’s works, or short, satirical works.
For all its monsters and fairytale elements, RWBY has rather realistic character designs and while it starts with many elements of a whimsical school anime it ends up dealing with serious themes such as grief, sacrifice, war, and trauma.
So, Is RWBY an Anime or a Cartoon?
RWBY has elements associated with both anime and cartoons, but, perhaps, “animation” or “animated series” is the safest way to go about it.
People tend to sometimes feel strongly about whether a work can belong to a certain category or not, so no definition will keep everyone happy.
To say that RWBY country homage to anime tradition is very true, but, for some, to call it an anime would mean disrespect to that tradition.
Ultimately, people should be able to watch what they enjoy without too much concern about what it is called or any negative attitudes towards it as a form of entertainment.