Studio: Rooster Teeth
Publisher: Hanabee Entertainment
Platforms: DVD / Blu-ray (reviewed)
Release Date: November 10, 2016
Price: DVD $24.99 AUD – Available Here / Blu-ray $29.99 AUD – Available Here (Region Free)
Vic has an anthology of stories to share. Some of these stories take place during Project Freelancer, some are set in Blood Gulch and some take place before the Blood Gulch Chronicles began. Such questions as: ‘How did Sarge become the leader of the Red Team?’, ‘What were Felix and Locus like before the events of the Chorus trilogy?’ and more are answered in this anthology of stories from different writers and directors.
The Reds and Blues have always been a part of something much bigger than their perpetual feud against each other, but we now see for the first time who was pulling the strings. Many of the stories come across as distinctly American, especially the introduction of Sarge and the people competing to become the leader of the Red Team. Even with many great bits of comedy thrown in, the story is serious and dramatic, bringing to mind the seemingly harmless fun of the Blood Gulch Chronicles that evolved into so much more. Somehow, the antics of the Reds and Blues never get old, so calling this series a breath of fresh air would be to say that it had grown stale in the first place. We learn more about Epsilon and the other AIs, although it feels as if there is still so much more that is left for us to learn about Blood Gulch and Project Freelancer.
Many minor characters are introduced; some of them are killed off, while others are dumped in an isolated corner of the universe. The season ends with the impression that there is enough material for there to be another anthology season. The two episodes featuring the crew of Funhaus, including Joel Rubin but lacking Spoole, are hilarious and fun to watch for Funhaus fans and anyone who laments the ‘death’ of Joel. One can only hope that James Willems returns to write another episode in the future; he has created roles that perfectly suit his colleagues and himself. A certain subgroup of Funhaus fans will certainly be amused by the reference to the Cult of Pe/\ke. Some interesting characters from Project Freelancer are introduced in another episode, resulting in an entertaining but thought-provoking story about the members of the project who do not have what it takes to be the incredible agent that Tex is. One can hope that the new characters return in future installments of Red vs Blue.
One of the most unique stories in this season by far is the three-part story about the mercenaries Felix and Locus, set before the events of the Chorus trilogy. They are presented here as good guys just trying to make a living. This story features a dramatic shift from the average episode of Red vs Blue, and it has a level of emotional depth that is not always present in the rest of the series. Miles has portrayed these characters in a surprisingly engaging way, so it would be a shame if they do not return in the future. The various live-action segments stand out as well; the fake RvB movie trailer is excellent and the special episode of Immersion is a very nice surprise. The most interesting live-action episode, however, is the final episode of the season: “Red vs Blue vs Rooster Teeth.” In it, the Reds and Blues find themselves at the Rooster Teeth office in Austin following a bizarre accident. Geoff seems to be a caricature of himself, which may be an intentional joke from episode writer Matt Hullum, but the story works well despite the risks that are associated with doing such a crossover episode. Furthermore, it is a testament to Matt Hullum’s writing ability that he is able to do something that utterly failed in Red Dwarf: Back to Earth. There is a lot to discover in this anthology, and it is all fantastic.
Many different visual styles are used throughout this season. Every iteration of the Halo series is used for the machinima portions of the show, and a video included in the extras goes into detail about the features of each of the Halo games that are relevant to the machinima process. Live-action footage, two styles of 2D animation, 3D animation similar to that used for RWBY and the 3D animation featured in previous seasons of RvB are all utilised to tell different stories, and every style is effective. In particular, the 3D animation used in the three-part mercenaries story stands out as unique and carefully designed. It is colourful yet dark, and the cel-shaded look of the characters gives it a distinct feel. This and RWBY make Rooster Teeth stand out as one of the most creative companies that produces animation in the west.
There is an unusual amount of variety in the styles of music used throughout this season, which is by no means a bad thing. The background music is nothing but an enhancement of the already great story and is never overused. In regards to the music, the standout episodes of this season are the musical episodes, which effectively capture the fun of the Blood Gulch Chronicles. This is just one of many examples of the many great things the writers can do with this series. The voice acting is spot on and hilarious as always; Joel Heyman and Matt Hullum have the most comedic and entertaining roles. The Funhaus team are great in their roles too; in many cases their characters sound distinct from their respective voice actors.
This release includes nearly 40 minutes of extras, including behind-the-scenes footage from the shooting of Freddie Wong’s fake RvB movie trailer and the shooting of the special episode of Immersion, a look at Joe Nicolosi and his work on the Lego-based episode “Brick Gulch Chronicles,” interviews with the crew and more. The video featuring Joe Nicolosi presents an interesting look at what it takes to produce a full episode using Lego, stop-motion animation and live-action footage. In another video, the crew explains what it was like for them to record machinima footage from different Halo games for episodes within the same season. Miles also gives an insight into the episode featuring the mercenaries Felix and Locus, which is one of the most outstanding episodes of the season. Anyone interested in the production of Red vs. Blue will find much to like in these 40 minutes of extras.
This season of Red vs Blue is unique, even for a Rooster Teeth production. Choosing to produce an anthology season comes with plenty of risks, and those risks absolutely paid off in this case. Few series can go through so many different styles of visual presentation and storytelling in such short succession and pull it off so well. Miles Luna, Matt Hullum and the guest writers and directors all tell their own interesting stories, and the anticipation of what the next episode will look like and what story it will feature is exciting. It goes from comedic to dramatic to emotional, but at the end of the day, it is all excellent RvB content that draws on the best elements of all of the previous seasons. Although there are references to previous seasons that will not make sense to those new to the series, this may be the best entrance point to it, aside from the very first season. Whether you are a new fan or a long-time fan of the show, this will provide some of the best entertainment produced for the internet. With a season as exciting and entertaining as this, one is left to wonder where Rooster Teeth will go with season 15.
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