Normally, it’s good news/bad news that comes as a pairing. The latest word about RWBY, the anime-influenced cult success from Austin’s Rooster Teeth, is more good news/odd news.
The good news is that the long-awaited volume 9 (which got a sneak peek preview last summer at the RTX convention) heads to screens on February 18.
The weird part? It won’t be on Rooster Teeth First, the streamer’s own platform. Instead, it will be available via anime streamer Crunchyroll as a one-year exclusive.
That’s a dramatic shift: the series began by being hosted at Roosterteeth.com and since volume 5 new episodes have premiered on Rooster Teeth FIRST, the company’s subscription service. However, under the new deal, volume 9 will not be available on FIRST until 2024.
Launched in 2013, RWBY follows a team of four young women charged with protecting a fantastical realm from mounting menaces. Over the last eight seasons it has become Rooster Teeth’s flagship property, launching several spin-offs including RWBY Chibi and RWBY: Fairy Tales, novels, comics, a merchandise line, video and tabletop games, and even a Japanese remake, RWBY: Ice Queendom. It’s also become a valuable part of parent company Warner Bros. Discovery’s intellectual property portfolio: In a sign of confidence, the characters are getting their first onscreen crossover with DC’s biggest names with the upcoming animated feature, Justice League x RWBY: Super Heroes and Huntsmen, Part One (and that “part one” implies at least one sequel is in the works).
Rooster Teeth and Crunchyroll have an ongoing relationship: both were formerly part of Otter Media, which was acquired by WarnerMedia. Even though Crunchyroll was sold to Sony Pictures Entertainment in 2021, last year it shared the premiere of RWBY: Ice Queendom with FIRST.
In a Tweet announcing the change via the official Rooster Teeth account, it was explained that, “as the audience grows, we need the optimal platform to help continue that growth, and Crunchyroll is the best home to take RWBY to the next level.”
The statement continued that “this was a choice that we made for the future of RWBY,” but the question raised is what this might mean for Rooster Teeth. RWBY has been a driver for paid FIRST subscriptions, and it’s hard to imagine that this deal will not impact that subscriber base. There’s also the bigger question of the future of Rooster Teeth as a wholly-owned subsidiary of the newly-merged Warner Bros. Discovery, which has been on a cost-cutting rampage and radical restructuring.
However, this can’t overshadow that fans finally get to see the new season, and RT has released both trailer and a plot synopsis:
After the harrowing events of Volume 8, our heroines are thrust into an unknown world – the Ever After! However, once Team RWBY explores this strange and mysterious realm, they quickly discover it might not be quite as unknown as they first assumed. As they journey to find a way back home, they’ll have to overcome some of their toughest challenges yet–the struggle of their own identities, and whether or not they’re equipped to stop Salem.
The trailer seems to tease a world that’s very influenced by classic childhood imagery and stories, including Candyland and Alice in Wonderland, and a lot of Little Mouse, who was the breakout character during the volume 9 tease last summer.