Yes, I am bullying RWBY again. If you expect me to ever stop, you will be disappointed.
There are a lot of characters in RWBY. In fact, that may be the show’s main issue! Rather than sitting down to properly develop the cast that’s already there, the writers just keep throwing people at you and giving them no time to grow or change! The list of characters just keeps getting longer with every season! Each new character is more shallow than the last!
And no character is more problematic than Oscar. A character with so little going on in terms of depth that I couldn’t even give him a witty title.
When Oscar was first introduced, he was a character wreathed in mystery. Who was this farmboy that was hearing Ozpin in his head? Why is he important? What’s he going to do? What’s going to happen to him? His first few scenes were actually really effective and interesting!
But then they just kept going. And going. And going. And he’s still around. And he doesn’t have any more depth now than he did then.
Normally, I’d go into the four building blocks of a character. I’d talk about the Wound, Want, Lie, and Need in order to see what makes that character tick and break down their character arc. Unfortunately, there’s a little problem with Oscar. A teeny-tiny problem that brings his character down.
He has none of those things.
Oscar doesn’t get wrapped up into Ruby’s adventures because he has some goal to strive for. He did it because Ozpin told him to and he lost the will to say no. What does Oscar want to do with his life? Prepare to die with that question! Because even now, after he’s been around for roughly four seasons, he still doesn’t have his own goal! He’s just hanging out with the ‘save the world’ squad because he has nowhere else to go!
Alright. But does he at least have a lie that he believes holds him back? Well, not really. The closest we ever got was his insecurity; he was worried that he couldn’t keep up with Ruby and the others. But that was entirely true! When Oscar felt useless, it wasn’t because he didn’t think he was capable! It was because he was a farm boy surrounded by skilled warriors! His insecurity was entirely justified! Then he just forgets about it later and stops worrying!
Oscar doesn’t have an interesting past, either. How did he get to where he was before Oz showed up? Did he ever lose anyone important to him? Was there some great struggle he dealt with on the farm? Did the kid have anything to make his life harder than the average person?! Well, I hope you’re prepared to die with those questions! Because they will not be answered! Ever!
Naturally, since he doesn’t have any of the other three building blocks of a character arc, he can’t have the Need. A Need is entirely dependant on both the Want and the Lie. If he doesn’t have those two, then how can he possibly have a Need? It’s like trying to sell milk without buying a cow!
At least when I analyzed Ruby, I could talk about the cornerstones of a character. They weren’t executed well, but at least she had them! Ruby is a poor character, but she’s still at least a character!
This is what makes me so upset about Oscar. He is not a character! He’s a plot device! He existed so Ozpin could do more exposition and fight stuff. Then, after they got rid of Ozpin, they kept Oscar around to do all the same shit he used to: act as a wise sage. He’s important to the plot not because he’s a character that drives the plot along through his desires and actions. He’s important because the writer’s told us he was!
Maybe Oscar will have something later. Maybe he’ll have a heroic moment where he takes down the big villain or opens the window for Ruby to do it. But even then, it won’t be satisfying. Dramatic hero moments are earned because the character accomplished it by learning and growing. Oscar has done nothing of the sort. So, even if he does get a dramatic scene later that justifies him being there, it won’t be memorable and interesting. It’ll just be another moment of Oscar being shoved into the plot because the writers put themselves into a corner and needed an easy way out.
It’s a shame, too. If executed properly, Oscar could’ve been an incredible character! How would someone react to a voice in their head suddenly telling them to go on a dangerous adventure? How would they feel when they learned that they were only the latest in a long line and they were chosen at random? Maybe Ozpin’s desires could have clashed with Oscar’s more heavily, giving the writers an easy and compelling character arc! How would this normal, non-heroic person deal with the fairy-tale hero Ruby? He had so much potential that has gone to waste!
Much like RWBY itself, now that I think about it. It’s such a shame.