Why I love Raven so much
No, this is not gonna be another gay post with just me yelling that I love Raven. Now I actually want to explain what the writers did to make me love her. So this Raven post might actually be useful for once.
Let’s go back to Volume 2. Yang first mentions her in Burning the Candle and everything we learn about her is that she is a great mystery, even to Yang. She has never met her, no one ever really told Yang much about her and everything we get is her symbol on a chalkboard. Later she suddenly appears, stepping out of a portal (that was possible?), wearing a mask (wait, doesn’t it look like the one Adam was wearing?), not saying a word and scaring Neo off before she looks at Yang and disappears. Then there is the post credit scene that raises more questions than answers.
What this Volume does is establishing Raven as a big mystery. We barely know anything about her, just as Yang doesn’t know anything about her. But she saved her after all, so she does care about her, right?
Volume 3 changed that. Qrow finally talks about his sister and her message for Yang is not to expect any further kindness. He describes her as a dangerous woman with a worldview he doesn’t share, but also offers Yang to tell her where to find her. In Volume 4 we finally meet her and learn that she is the leader of a tribe of bandits and follows some kind of survival of the fittest mentality. Her relationship with Qrow seems to be rather cold, cautious. Her acting like she cares about Qrow almost seems like a mockery because she clearly doesn’t.
All this establishes her as a ruthless, cold and unapproachable person. But then there is Taiyang. He talks about her so fondly and it’s just so obvious that he has once dearly loved her, or still does. He describes her as a strong woman who would fight for what she thinks is right with everything she has, he says that she is a lot like Yang and even though he says that she does have flaws, it still doesn’t sound like she is quite as ruthless and cold as she seemed to be.
What the writers used here is contrast. We have those two conflicting sides of Raven that just don’t seem to match up. Raven saving Yang’s life. Raven telling Yang not to expect any further kindness. Raven leading a tribe of bandits. The most caring member of team STRQ still speaking so fondly of her. And what this does is showing us that there must be more to her. She is neither one extreme nor the other but a complex character.
Nothing about Raven makes sense and that is just telling me that there is more about her to learn, that we are missing an important detail that will explain it all.
So this explains why she was always an interesting character to me. Volume 5 did more than that. It didn’t answer any of my questions, but it did one important thing that made me fall hard for her.
Finally meeting Raven was not like I would expect it to be at all. I expected a cold, ruthless leader, but all of a sudden she just seems so human and emotional. She is horrible at dealing with Yang and there is no denial she has done a really bad job at parenting so far (I mean seriously Raven, I am not even sure if an attempt was made) and that she still is a serious threat and didn’t become the leader of that tribe because she had the fanciest hairstyle. But she still so obviously cares. There are these soft moments when it’s just so obvious that she might try to act like she doesn’t care but she can’t fool anyone with that.
So many things about Raven (her semblance, the way she acts around Yang, her just sitting on her bed and thinking after Cinder has showed up, her softly saying “I know” after Yang has gone through the portal) ist just so soft in a way I can hardly describe.
She has abandoned her daughter - but she is her daughter, so she must have some emotional attachement to her, right? After all she has literally bonded with her and can create a portal to see her anytime. But why did she never visit her? Or did she watch her growing up, staying around as a Raven to see what Yang is up to? But why, Raven, why? And she saved her daughter, so does she care? But why only once? She seems cold and unapproachable, but she was once approachable enough to get pregnant by Taiyang, so did she love him? What was their relationship like? Qrow is her sibling, her twin brother, where they once closer than they are now?
Almost all those open questions are somehow related to Raven’s relationship with other people - people we already deeply care about.
The writers have made Raven interesting by giving us conflicting information about her to hint there is more to her than we know, by giving her emotional context (her relationships with Yang, Qrow and Tai) and then by actually letting her to show emotions. We know that Raven does feel things. We know that there are many things she should have strong feelings about. Raven is still a mystery and we don’t really know how exactly she feels about things, but now she’s an emotional mystery.
We know that she has done things in the past (or rather: left her team and her family behind) that we still have no real explanation for and that “she just doesn’t care enough about them” is probably not the answer. That makes her so incredibly interesting to me and this is why I love Raven so much.