Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Google+ Share on Reddit Share on Pinterest Share on Linkedin Share on Tumblr Rooster Teeth’s hit 3D web animation series, RWBY, features four strong female protagonists who comprise the main team of the same title name. They are Ruby Rose, Weiss Schnee, Blake Belladonna, and Yang Xiao Long. The four of them train at Beacon Academy to become Huntresses. Their main goal is to someday protect mankind from the perils of the Grimm. At first glance, I didn’t quite know how to take in RWBY after watching the trailers. I expected the show to be something of an action-adventure thriller, not an anime-esque (RWBY isn’t really considered anime) high school drama. I do like the HARRY POTTER feel RWBY offers in its first few seasons. Anyhow, it became more than the action thriller I expected. Team RWBY in their volume 4 and 5 outfits. Like a slice of life anime or coming of age comic, RWBY was about its characters and their struggles to find themselves — more so the main team. Each girl had their own demons to face. Ruby is the socially awkward fangirl who had trouble making friends. Weiss had family problems to overcome. Blake needed to somehow accept her troubled past. Yang needed to search and learn why her mother left. These realistic and emotional aspects were what made RWBY worth watching let alone the amazing fights in the show. Eventually, it was inevitable that I’d fall in love with how strong these characters were. BLAZBLUE CROSS TAG BATTLE: Why RWBY Fits Into The Crossover So, as my last article for ComicsVerse and in honor of Women’s History Month, I’d like to talk about just how strong my favorite emo ninja Neko (cat in Japanese) girl of RWBY is. I present to you Blake Belladonna and her quest of self-discovery not only in herself but for the people she cares about. From Shadows “We’ll descend upon the world, take back what you stole … from shadows, we’ll reclaim our destiny, set our future free … and we’ll rise, and we’ll rise.” – Main Theme of Blake Belladonna As previously mentioned, Blake is part cat. She specifically has traits of a cat — namely her golden eyes. However, she’s more distinguishable by her cat ears hidden by her bow, which evidently doesn’t do much hiding if you’re attentive enough. But why hide them? Blake’s kitty ears. Aren’t they adorable? It’s because Blake doesn’t want to draw any unnecessary conflict such as bullying (she’d most likely win anyway) regarding her species. Specifically speaking, she is a Faunus, or individuals with animal traits or parts. The Faunus and the humans have had a long-standing racial political feud since the dawn of time in RWBY. This isn’t so different from how people of color are mistreated and marginalized in U.S. history. The Faunus undergo similar treatment. Aside from unwanted conflict, Blake also wears her bow so that she can be seen for “who she is” or so she desires to be. Of course, this means she hasn’t fully accepted herself for who she really is: a Faunus. This complicates how Blake could truly possibly be a strong character. She, no doubt, can fight given that she has catlike reflexes and agility, but emotional strength goes a long way. So to better understand why she becomes strong, we must explore a crucial part of her past — one that involves a group she was once affiliated with as well as her a*****e ex-boyfriend. Fighting For Faunist Rights “We were being treated like equals, but not of respect. Out of fear. So, I left. Instead, I would dedicate my life to becoming a Huntress.” – Blake Belladonna, telling Sun Wukong why she left her group The White Fang is a peacekeeping activist group born from the ashes of the Faunus War. It has never been specified who founded the White Fang, but the Belladonna family has close ties to the organization. Blake Belladonna’s father, Ghira Belladonna, served as the White Fang leader during its early years. Blake, as stated by herself in season one’s final episode, was practically born into the organization. “All we wanted was a chance to live our lives!” Despite trying to procure unity and equality for the Faunus, the White Fang’s boycotts proved fruitless in persuading the humans. Eventually, Ghira stepped down and a new High Leader was appointed five years prior to RWBY. It was around this time that Blake met Adam Taurus, her then-boyfriend, and everything changed. Under the guidance of Sienna Khan, the White Fang adopted more radical measures such as hijacking cargo from companies that used Faunus for slave labor and bombing rallies where Faunus protests took place. These fearful methods proved effective in garnering equality and unity but didn’t mitigate the racial prejudice the Faunus still faced. Adam, however, had a much more radical goal: create a world where the Faunus would rule over humanity as the dominant species. Fairy Tales, Folk Tales, Mythology, Oh My! Is the Symbolism in RWBY Overkill? Beauty and the ‘Monstrous’ Beast “At first I thought Adam was the embodiment of ‘justice’, then I thought he was ‘passion’. But over time, I realized… he was ‘spite’…” – Blake Belladonna, explaining Adam to Sun If Blake Belladonna is RWBY’s version of Belle, then Adam Taurus is inspired by the Beast of the same name, except he’s no prince charming. Unlike his famous romantic fantasy counterpart, Adam is much more of an actual beast. Compared to Blake’s goal in uniting the Faunus as human equals through peaceful means, Adam’s one is the hegemony of the Faunus over humans. He will strike anyone down, be it Faunus or human, to ensure the Faunus are the superior race. For him, this is “justice” for the pain and discrimination he endured as a Faunus. It is possible that Adam once believed there could be peace when he met Blake through the White Fang. However, we’ll never know as RWBY never touched much upon Adam’s past. All we know is that Blake believed in his “justice” during her time with the White Fang. She possibly saw that he had similar goals and possibly because of this, they fell in love. However, with little regard to innocent lives, Adam started to show his true colors. That’s when Blake saw him for who he really was: a spiteful beast. Adam only wanted to hurt and torment others, so Blake left him and the White Fang as seen at the end of the RWBY Black trailer. While Blake ran away (like a cat) to pursue her own righteous goals with the RWBY gang, Adam chose to cling to his so-called “justice” (more like vengeance). Blake’s desertion and the breakup would cause him to become more unhinged as he vowed to destroy everything she hoped for — told you he was an a*****e. It’s Always Easier To Run “I was born with the ability to leave behind a shadow of myself – an empty copy that takes the hit while I run away!” – Blake Belladonna, to Yang Xiao Long I admit Blake may not be the most interesting or endearing RWBY girl since she tends to run away. It’s not only her past, but she also does so to her friends. As such, there’s little character development for her early on besides finding out about her heritage and her past. I’ll be honest, I mainly liked her solely for aesthetics (who wouldn’t like a ninja cat girl) and her air of maturity, which lent a kind of strength to how righteous she is. Furthermore, her shadow clone Semblance (RWBY ability) and the weapon she uses are pretty cool. “It’s easier to run, than face all this pain here alone!” The main problem is obviously her past has negatively influenced her to run away. Rather than face the years of hate, she chooses to run — from her past, her family, and her team. In a way, it’s in her nature as a cat and her shadow ability further exemplifies this aspect of her life. Running away from problems is great (not really) and easy, but eventually it’ll catch up to you. It’ll only be much harder later if you don’t overcome them. Despite Blake’s maturity and righteousness, her past is something she needs to face — but not alone of course. Like Morning Follows Night “Go where you need to. Know I won’t leave you. I’ll follow you like morning follows night.” – Theme of Blake and Sun As mentioned, Blake Belladonna’s past is hindering her growth to become a stronger character. She needs to learn to forgive herself, live in the present, and move forward. Thanks to her teammate and possible life partner Yang and more so, Sun Wukong, she eventually learns to accept her past. It’s grueling but you finally see her character develop in season four and five thanks to Sun. Blake’s possible dorky love interest finally made her realize how wrong she’s been seeing things thanks to her past. Just look at this lovable dork. All this time, Blake thought she was being selfless for her friends when in truth she failed to realize that she was selfish that she could tackle her past on her own. This was something that Yang had also attempted to make her realize in season two. Blake then had almost overworked herself with her investigation into why the White Fang was siding with a human. To sum it all up, Blake ran because she didn’t want to see her friends suffer at the hands of her past. But she failed to see clearly that Sun and Yang, as well as Ruby and Weiss, were merely trying to protect her. Ultimately, that responsibility falls upon them because they chose to enact it and not Blake’s. Now let’s get to the good part as this ninja Neko girl is ready to take back her rightful past. RWBY Volume 5: Friendship, Trauma, and Morality Blake Belladonna’s Choice “We’re not going to destroy the White Fang. We’re going to take it back.” – Blake Belladonna, to Sun and her parents As I have stated, the White Fang has been an integral part of Blake’s family history since she was born. After returning home to Menagerie and listening to Sun’s words, Blake decides it’s time to take back the White Fang name from Adam. According to her suspicions, Adam is planning to overthrow the leader and stage an attack on Haven Academy similar to how Beacon (where the girls attended) fell. Only this time, Blake isn’t going to let Adam endanger anymore Faunus or human lives. The only problem: Ilia Amitola, a chameleon Faunus who is a close friend of Blake’s from the White Fang days. She harbors the same hatred for humanity’s discrimination against the Faunus as Adam does but to the extent of those Faunus who sit idly by and do nothing. “Good to have you back!” During their encounters in Menagerie, Ilia reluctantly attacks Blake and at one point injures Sun (this leads to that talk in the previous section). She and various other White Fang members are tasked by Adam to capture Blake and slaughter her family. Eventually, Blake helps Ilia see that violence is not the answer and vows to help her like Sun did. As Blake’s dad would describe it, “strength in forgiveness.” Ilia will then join Blake’s cause in stopping Adam from taking Haven. Furthermore, Blake and Ilia’s skirmish sheds light for the Faunus of Menagerie. What Adam does will only destroy the peace that these people have. Blake’s persuasion and recruitment of her old friend show that she’s beginning to grow stronger. Also, during their final fight, Blake tells Ilia she’s done running. Now that is definitely growth. This Time “This time, the ways of the past we’ll get over. We’ll climb, enlighten a new state of mind. Rise up from shadows and into the light. We’ll stand undivided, our futures aligned. A new brotherhood. This time!” -From Shadows Part II Blake Belladonna isn’t running away this time. She’s got the support of her family, Sun, Ilia, and the Faunus of Menagerie during the battle of Haven Academy. Blake also confronts Adam once again (their previous fight at Beacon didn’t end well), this time without fear, stating that his goals are over. The support she’s garnered from her friends and family has shown that Faunus unity through peace is possible again. “It’s over Adam!” Outmatched, outclassed, and seemingly bitter, this time Adam runs away as authorities appear and apprehend the remaining White Fang members. This time, the terrorist organization known as the fearful White Fang will be but a distant memory as a new one will surely arise. Of course, it’s a possibility that there may still be rogue terrorist White Fang members roaming about. However, as Ilia states, Adam has shown how volatile and unfit he is to be a leader of what is supposed to be a peaceful group. As a result, Blake not only grew stronger as she has finally reached the voices of her people (the minorities), but she’s also back to protecting innocent lives with the main team again. This time, she’s definitely not running! Afterword — Moving Forward In some ways, I’m just like Blake. I ran away from my problems rather than face them in the past. Comparing myself to a fictional character I love may sound silly since my past most definitely isn’t as tragic. However, it is no less painful. In our lives, we probably will or have built relationships with toxic people like Adam, who don’t really want to change for the better. Since individuals like him won’t change, we can as we have our own choices. Just like Blake learned from Sun or any of her friends, we make our own choices not for others but for ourselves. That is true selflessness and strength. As so, we must continue to build upon ourselves by not running away, but by uniting with the people we love and care about when the times are going tough. Thank you, Blake, and thank you ComicsVerse for having me despite all my troubles. It’s been a great pleasure!