RWBY Compassrose Analysis: Pink, The Colour of Romance
After the last couple of days that have been so full of negativity, we thought it was high time to talk about something fun.
So we’ve compiled a tiny little analysis on one of our favourite scenes in the first three volumes: The dance scene from Burning the Candle
Not only is this an episode whose title plays on the Wizard of Oz metaphors series of titles they’ve been having which focus on the Dorothy-Wizard metaphors in the overarching plot (Burning the Candle, Lighting the Fire, The Coming Storm etc), but it’s also one of the episode where we really begin to get foreshadowing about Ruby’s reincarnation and her significance in the greater scheme of things; thanks to Summer’s introduction into the story and Ruby and Oz’ conversation during the dance.
But I want to start somewhere else because what I really love about this episode isn’t just all of that: it’s how they use colour to tell a story of emotion.
See, for a long time I wondered why the colour scheme they chose for the dance was purple, turquoise and pink. It’s kind of tacky, isn’t it? And they’re all vaguely the same saturation which never goes well together in a composition—Except when you’re breaking rules for the sake of storytelling.
And, as per usual, that is exactly what CRWBY has done.
Let’s look at first at the balloons and the ribbons and the lights. Those are the ones standing out the most.
The psychological meaning of the two colours of these objects are:
Pink: Compassion, love, playfulness, comfort, kindness, timidity and Romance.
Turquoise: Compassion, calmness, clarity, stability, peace, empathy, friendship and Communication
In other words these are fairly selfless colours. They express healthy communication and caring for others, as well as a clarity of emotion which enable us to make the right decisions in any given situation.
So by using these colours strategically, a colour designer and director would be able to communicate certain intentions of romance or friendship, or communication and empathy within the characters.
When Blake and Sun begin to dance together they step into the turquoise pillar, telling us that while Sun has feelings for Blake, because she’s communicating her overall intent to be friendship (with her turquoise bow) he respects that and chooses to follow her lead and being her friend instead of pushing something more.
Then, just as Blake steps under the pink and turquoise balloons she looks happily at Yang, showing us that she has romantic feelings for her friend in the audience, and is attempting to communicate those feelings to her.
Contrarily, while Ruby and Yang talk about Yang planning the event, they’re surrounded almost entirely by pink, telling us that Yang’s intentions of planning the event were of compassionate, kind and romantic reasons — to cheer up Blake. But because there’s no turquoise she’s still incapable f incapable of communicating those feelings to Blake.
Other examples are Neptune sitting down beside Weiss in a column of turquoise, showing that their relationship is growing into a friendship. And that because there’s no pink around them, there was never any romance involved in the first place.
And of course team JNPR dancing under pinks and turquoise, but mostly pink, to communicate the two pairs’ respective budding romances:
So! Now that a lot of the more explicit pairs have set the pattern for us to read by, let’s have a look at some of the fun CR stuff, shall we? As that is the main highlight of this episode.
As we’ve mentioned before Ruby’s central emotional flaw is her loneliness. She is constantly searching for a specific person she can’t quite remember, and though she tries to place other people in the hole that’s left in her heart by that person, they never quite fit. Or they pull the big sister move of pushing her to stand on her own two feet, when all she really wants is a friend or a companion that ends that loneliness. Which is also emphasised in this scene, with both Weiss and Yang leaving her behind to stand on her own and take care of her own entertainment in a place she doesn’t feel entirely comfortable, with all the reminders of romance and companionship that does nothing but rub salt in an open wound.
And Although Ruby is standing in front of the turquoise pillar in this shot, it’s barely visible behind her. Instead we get the darkness of night framing her outside, a cold dark blue colour, the windows symbolising prison bars, and this worried, lonely expression, as well as pink erupting from her head at every angle. This, of course, suggests that once again, even if she is surrounded by friends she still feels lonely—all alone in crowded rooms, and all that.
And she isn’t so much thinking about friendships but about her schoolgirl crush, as shown by the pink erupting from her head.
Meanwhile, as Oz is introduced he also steps into the turquoise pillar, but from his heart we see pink and turquoise balloons. This is a reincarnation romance we have to deal with here, and there is an age gap which he is very much aware of. So this is an excellent way of showing that while he will always feel romantic feelings and caring for Ruby, his main intention is compassion, empathy and selfless friendship.
As he’s said a million times before, he just wants the privilege of standing beside her.
In other words, he doesn’t see a need to dance with her, because the love that he feels for her isn’t something as rushed or passionate as a teenage dalliance. It’s old and patient and compassionate.
It isn’t what she needs, so it isn’t what he’s here to give.
But it’s still there, in the background, framing them, and in the foreground expressing what they both want but cannot have: a dance.
It’s also one of the most sincere communications we have between the two. He isn’t so much teaching her about being a team leader as much as he is encouraging her to live her life with love in her heart for everyone:
“It’s not everyday that friends are able to come together like this. Time has a way testing our bonds. But it’s nights like these that can help keep them stronger than ever. Nights like these are ones we’ll never forget.”
And that, as always, is what makes her the happiest. To be encouraged to love not just one person, but everyone she comes across, to be told that yes you are right to care, you are not alone and you have a right to find joy in that.
Which we know, thanks to Pyrrha and Jaune setting a frame for the event are his sincere feelings and intentions when it comes to the evening. After all, the phrase “No pick-up lines. No suave moves. Just be yourself” is repeated over and over again before and during the dance.
Self-less love, then, is the name of the game. Romantic love and communication in combination brings friendship and encouragement.
And I think one of my favourite parts of all this (other than Ruby’s little girlish giggle) is the way that they use mirror reflections in RWBY to suggest whether they are talking about Ruby’s feelings as the immortal, reincarnting Rose, or Ruby Rose the singular person who only emotionally remembers things.
After all, Reflections has for so long been associated with the subconscious:
And although Ruby’s feelings are only being shown to slowly grow, and are still mostly focused on friendship with her professor, where they grow from is rather interesting. Because the reflection suggests to us that it is from her heart, but not her heart as an individual, mortal 15 year old. No, they grow from her heart as a very old being with lots of memories and lots of emotion.
That coupled with the colour purple being everywhere. Purple symbolises spirituality, mystery and royalty. In other words these are feelings that erupt form her spiritual self, not those self governed by the body.
They erupt from her soul.
And these colours are a recurring theme with Oz, Oscar, and Ruby, though they change over time to suit the characters and their moots.
For example, when Oz returns we get a framing of mostly turquoise and Red. In other words the pinks have changed and while the intention is still one of friendship and communication, the literally underlying emotion is no longer romantic love but passionate love—as Oz struggles with re-balancing his feelings and his authority now that they are in bodies of the same age (playing the leader, but wanting to pursue your lady love as a teenager is not entirely easy, at first glance, after all). These emotions and intentions are emphasised by the composition which has Ruby entirely as its target.
We see that it’s something that grows, which he struggles with, throughout vol 5, especially with this down shot of him, trying to continue a conversation that has grown stale. No only is the camera angle used to show him feeling awkward and subordinate, but it also shows how, in comparison to the first scene, his feelings for her are growing back in place.
Unsurprisingly given that she’s showing off all her best qualities in this volume: her acceptance of others, her strength in adversity, her caring and love for all that come across her, her ability to always look ahead and keep moving forward.
This is a moment, indeed, of rest and resolutions and it’s the volume that in many ways show us why they fight every lifetime. This is the volume that most resembles why home is something they feel in each other. It’s fun and caring and lighthearted, the troubles are all kept elsewhere. They don’t quite exist yet.
And yet even when those troubles do come knocking and things go awry, even when they are separate or angry with each other, as soon as they are on the same sides again it is the pink that returns, the caring of others without selfish passion getting in the way.
After all, pink is the world Oscar falls into when he falls back in love with Ruby:
And pink is the colour that first returns to Ruby, when Oscar returns to her side properly:
And pink is the colour of their world when they decide it’s worth it all to risk a fall, one more time:
But, of course, there’s still a lot of sorrow and darkness to be worked out, as the cinematography is so prone to remind us, and even in the midst of love and romance, the boys have had a tendency of keeping secrets and building illusions of fairy tales that aren’t real.
Because Ruby loves the world, and Oz has always had a habit of building a world that she would love.
(Have to appreciate that little smidge of green touching her head, to show us who she’s thinking of here)
That, after all, is the point of Trust Love: an acknowledgement that what he has built is full of charm, but it cannot be sustained on an illusion of fairy tales.
Because the point was never to involve Ruby in the battle against Salem, whenever he could avoid it: the point was to keep her smiling and keep her happy, and living a life surrounded by people in a beautiful world, so she wouldn’t see the way its roots were burning away under her feet. So she wouldn’t get killed again, or had her soul captured in a grimm prison for all eternity.
Hence the fairy tale setting.
Hence the dance.
Hence, the fact that Ruby is the one complaining about her shoes, tripping in them all the way through the two episodes covering the affair and complaining about lady stilts.
It isn’t Cinder who talks to the king or dances emotionally with him. It isn’t Cinder in the glass shoes or ruby slippers. It’s Ruby.
Ruby is the princess trapped at Beacon, and Ruby is the one saying goodbye to the things she loved and the innocence of youth, as she chooses the World over her own feelings:
Ruby leaves behind all of the fairy tale like romantic feelings that have grown in her heart for her professor behind, and she heeds the call of the world, as she has always done it. Because Ruby will always choose to fight for humanity and lock her feelings away in her heart. She will always choose doing the right thing, even if that is not the right thing for her own self.
And the cinematography, by using the open doors here, shows us that very clearly.
As Oz said, this is a night she will remember forever, it is a night that has had an impact on her heart, her friendships, and her feelings for others.
But, as always, Ruby chooses reality over the fairy tale.
And it has been Oz and Oscar’s job to follow her on that path of light so that in the end it is Ruby’s truth that will govern and empower their romance, not their illusions.