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RWBY Chibi and Escaping into Fiction} ?> When I became a fan of the show RWBY, I couldn’t get enough of the characters, their hilarious one-liners, and their epic fight sequences. So, like other RWBY fans, I was delighted last year when a spin-off series, RWBY Chibi, hit the web. Full of goofy scenarios, lots of laughs, and more screen time for the characters I love, RWBY Chibi became a favourite of mine and I eagerly awaited its new season this summer.
One of the best parts of the spin-off is that it reverses some of the heartbreak that occurs in the original show. In Chibi, the characters are still attending school at Beacon (which remains standing), the few enemies that appear are easily and comically thwarted, and even characters that perished in RWBY reappear in Chibi.
The episode “The Vacuum” includes my favourite example of “character resurrection.” The JNPR team reintroduces Pyrrha, their fallen comrade, whose tragic end in Volume Three of RWBY caused a lot of trauma for fans. When Pyrrha walks onto the scene in this episode, the members of Team RWBY are shocked and start to question her presence. But Nora, a member of JNPR, shouts down any insinuations about Pyrrha’s death, emphatically stating, “NOPE! Never happened! . . . Everything’s fine. Pyrrha is fine. Nothing bad ever happened. EVER.”
While the reappearance of Pyrrha and other departed characters is a wonderful element of Chibi, I find myself wishing these unrealistic resolutions occurred in the regular RWBY show, too. Although good stories can’t occur without conflict, I’m the type of fan who wants everything to turn out perfectly at the end. I want the rosy, Disney-princess kind of ending where the villain is gone, the hero has succeeded, and all the good guys are alive and well to celebrate their victory.
But what kind of story would RWBY be if characters popped back into existence and conflicts magically resolved themselves? It might feel good, but eventually, even fans like me would get bored. One of RWBY’s best attributes is the character growth that occurs through conflict, pain, and even loss. This growth would disappear if RWBY mirrored RWBY Chibi.
The differences between the two shows are perhaps best revealed through their theme songs. RWBY Chibi’s end-credits jingle says, “This is the way we want to spend every day, laughing with our friends and keeping sadness away,” but RWBY’s Volume Four theme proposes, “Let’s just live, day by day, and not be conquered by our sorrows.” RWBY Chibi’s lighter-hearted themes have their place, but at the end of the day, it’s RWBY’s message that helps me handle the real conflict in my life.
The importance of conflict holds true for other fandoms, as well. I’m sure most fans wish that Boromir in The Lord of the Rings had been given a second chance at life, or that Fred in the Harry Potter series had been able to stay with his brother. As a teen, I read many of the novels in the Redwall series, and it seemed like every story included one major character death. This always saddened me as a young reader, but the deaths were necessary to the storyline. Not only did they show the importance of the war being fought, but they emphasized the preciousness of life and the value of what was being fought for.
It’s easy to say that conflict has a purpose in fandom, but much harder to admit the same about real life. If I struggle with accepting pain in my fandoms, you can imagine how much less I want it in my reality. I became a fangirl because I love characters and stories, but also because I wanted the escape. As a child, usually I was just escaping the monotony of school days, but as I progress further in my adult years, I find myself trying to escape more painful problems.
I don’t believe there is anything inherently wrong with escaping into a good story; on the contrary, storytelling reflects part of God’s personality as the Master Storyteller of the universe. My tendency to enjoy stories and my passion for creating them is part of who He designed me to be. However, like any good thing, too much of it becomes dangerous. I’m often tempted to remain in a fantasy world and never return to grapple with my own life. But if I don’t invest in my reality, I’ll become a shell of the person I’m meant to be. Losing myself doesn’t eliminate my problems; it just eliminates a part of me.
If I allow myself to become addicted to escapism, I miss all the beauty and adventure that real life has to offer. The true marvel of fiction is not its ability to rob us of life, but to enhance it. RWBY Chibi gives me some laughter medication and the original RWBY teaches me more vital truths through the actions of its characters. Weiss reminds me to be brave even when life takes me somewhere I never expected. Ruby shows me how to stay strong for those I love—even the ones who are no longer with me. And departed heroes like Pyrrha challenge me to dare to love even in an unfair world.
By taking the lessons I learn from fantasy and applying them to my real life, I give the stories purpose and bring them to completion. Stories are not meant to remain as static pieces of fiction, but reach their full potential when they are incorporated into reality. When that happens, they become part of the grandest story of all, the story that God is writing with every day of our lives.