After finishing the good, but not great, Volume 1, I can say that Volume 2 did improve. It may not be my favorite show ever, but I do appreciate the improvements made this Volume.
Story: 3.5/5: The first half doesn't have a solid story, like the first volume, it's mainly character driven stories, mainly focusing on the main four's relationships with each other and the relationship between two members of team JNPR (Juniper), and Pyrrha. It also implied that the antagonists are up to something (aren't they always?). It also includes revelations about Penny, the energetic but mysterious girl that team RWBY met at the end of volume 1.
By the middle of the season, the plot starts to get moving again, focusing on Blake's obsession with the White Fang (an extremist group where Faunus, beings with primarily human features but some animalistic features, fight against discrimination violently), the group she belonged to at one point, chaos at the Beacon Dance that could be deadly, and a school assignment that calls for the teams to shadow a Hunter or Huntress.
Like the first volume, the characters were the highlight, even if there were some complaints.
As much as I love Ruby as a protagonist, she isn't having a ton of development. We learn about her and Yang being half sisters and about her mother disappearing, but for the most part, she's still the same happy, enthusiastic girl as she was in Volume 1. However, her kindness and acceptance is shown even more, especially with her interactions with Penny. Although their friendship isn't shown much, it's definitely a true one.
Weiss has proven to have a lot of development. While she still may be elegant and a little snobby and stiff, it's nowhere near as bad as it used to be. She's much more trusting towards her teammates, and isn't as overconfident as she used to be. Her reasons for wanting to become a Huntress are revealed; she is aware of the morel ambiguous parts of her family's Dust company, and wants to change that for the better.
Blake is also given a lot of development, and not all of it is 'good' (for the character, not that it's poorly written). Her reasons for being a part of The White Fang are revealed just as her obsession with figuring out what they're doing next reaches an unhealthy level, impacting her health in a way many can likely relate. She wants to become a Huntress to change the world for the better, but is scared and doesn't know how.
Last season, Yang felt like the least developed of them all, but that changes. She reveals her and Ruby's story; they're actually half sisters (that clears up SO MUCH), and that her own mother disappeared, though it's weirder than with Ruby's. When she was younger, she became obsessed with finding her mom, which almost ended in her and Ruby dying. Yang mainly wants to become a Huntress for the adventure.
JNPR gets a god amount of development, especially Jaune and Pyrrha. I want the other two members (Nora and Ren) to get some development; as much as I like them and their relationship, they just feel there to fill out the team. I want them to play more of a part in the story.
The villains are my other complaint. They don't seem to have much of a role except to cause as much chaos as possible, which bugs me. Torchwick is a fun villain, but I want to know more about his motives for why he does what he does. Same with Cinder; we know nothing about her or her motives, and unlike Torchwick, she isn't a particularly colorful character, making her less fun to watch. Mercury and Emerald are okay, but they seem just like the henchmen kind of characters. Neapolitan is another new villain I was hoping to see more of; she has a fun character design, she's powerful, and she's mute, which I find interesting.
The animation is a little tricky to grade this time around. While it improved a lot since volume 1, animation wise and style wise, there were still awkward, clunky moments, mainly when the characters were meant to be still and not fighting. But the fighting is still one of the best parts, and has improved too. Mainly, the animation is still not the best, but both it and the art style improved a lot since last season.
Oh, and I always forget to mention…the character design. I love it! The characters all look interesting, and the costuming is really cool too.
Sound: 3.5/5: The soundtrack is still good. It's action packed, yet whimsical and has its softer, more atmospheric moments. I also like the OP more than the last one; Casey Williams' vocals are so powerful, while having their more subtle moments in the beginning. She may still over sing a little, but it is less noticeable this time. I just wish they'd give her more songs to sing that have a more subtle vibe; she has a great voice and can belt out notes, but sometimes less is more.
The voice acting also improved this season. While the actors aren't really professionals, you can tell they put more effort here; the voices sound less clunky and forced. They still have their times of straining their voices and having some weak delivery, but overall they have improved greatly and sound much more natural and realistic.
World Building: 4.5/5: The world building even improved this season. We find out more about Remnant, including a "Great War" that was fought 80 years ago. The Hunter and Huntress occupation is explored more, and even technology is introduced, which is really different for such a fantasy based series.
- Expanded World Building: The world building is expanded even more. It's obvious that Monty Oum put a lot of thought into this world and its laws, as well as its history.
- Improvement all around: This series improved in just about every way. The voice acting, the animation, the art style…the quality is definitely higher than last season.
- Character Relationships: The relationships here are absolutely amazing. Team RWBY is an amazing squad, each girl supporting each other physically and emotionally. Jaune and Pyrrha's friendship is also developed and realistic (and possibly turning into something more). Nora and Ren's friendship is also absolutely precious.
- Limited Character Development: As awesome as the characters are, there are still problems. Ruby's development seems stuck. This doesn't just affect Ruby, but some side characters like Ren and Nora. They are all likable characters, but they just have so little development…
- Aimless Villains: The villains are falling flat for me. They mainly seem there to stir up chaos for the characters to solve, without any other goals. I know they have other goals, but I'd like to have an idea for what they are. They're a little too mysterious.
- Also, while the voice acting has still improved, it's still a little weak at parts. It's not as noticeable as last season, but there are still stiffer lines and delivery.
Grade: 3.5/5: I was close to giving it a four, but I have a feeling that'll be for the next volume. RWBY has definitely improved in its storytelling, animation, and voice acting. I hope that some characters will get more development/get more involved next season, and that the villains finally have a goal and defined role in the series soon. And I also want to know who those two characters who appeared at the end are? (I'm close to finding out…so close!)