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A House DVD'd

Criterion and Rooster Teeth give you something worth wishing for

By Richard Whittaker, December 20, 2013, Screens

RWBY Volume 1

New Video Group, $24.95 (Blu-ray)

How strong is the cult of local machinima geniuses Rooster Teeth? Their latest creation, Americanized anime RWBY, was already inspiring fan art and cosplay when just the trailers were released. It's a simple story, inspired by fairy tales, of four girls training with distinctive hybrid weapons to be monster hunters: Cheerful newcomer Ruby Rose (Lindsay Tuggey) wields her gun-scythe; prissy Weiss Schnee (Kara Eberle) has her mystical rapier; goth Blake Belladonna (Arryn Zech) sports a katana/pistol combo; and boisterous but furious Yang Xiao Long (Barbara Dunkelman) has her gun gauntlets. With Naruto's high-energy vibe and character designs clearly inspired by the Japanese Gothic Lolita fixation, RWBY also pretty shamelessly plunders the Harry Potter franchise for the Hogwarts-esque Beacon Academy, with the occasional nod to the greatest American anime, Avatar: The Last Airbender. But series creator Monty Oum works some hyperkinetic magic and conjures up that rarest of beasts: a Web series that deserves a home video release. A few visual corners are boldly cut (only name characters get rendered, so the background cast is silhouettes), but Oum and company keep it goofy and thrilling enough – and expand the universe fast enough – to make you crave Volume 2.

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