- For the episode named after her, see The Grimm Reaper.
Maria Calavera, also known as The Grimm Reaper, is a character in RWBY. She first appeared in "Argus Limited". Her weapons of choice, of which she only has one in her elder years, were Life and Death.
Maria is an elderly woman with dark skin and long silver hair, which she wears in a single braid down her back. She is of small stature and appears to be hunched over, requiring the use of a walking stick.
She wears a full-length dress in the traditional Tabasco style, consisting of a dark blue top with full sleeves and skirt comprised of alternating light and dark blue layers. In addition to her dress, she wears thick brown gloves and a heavy blue cloak trimmed at the edges with a pattern of white, hollow triangles on a light blue background. A similar white and blue trim is around the neck of the cloak. The cloak is secured to her shoulders with ornate white pauldrons.
Maria's eyes were slashed out by Tock, and she requires goggle-like prosthetic eyes to see. The prosthesis is dark gray with cyan colored lenses, each of which is equipped with a set of adjustable shutters capable of mimicking natural expressions. Four rectangular cyan lights create a partial ring on the outer bottom edge of the eyes, while a single cyan nodule on the top outer edge overlaps slightly with each lens. Two small antennae protrude vertically from the upper left side of the prosthesis. On the upper right is a port that allows for the attachment of a wireless receiver, allowing Maria to directly receive data from equipment.
Additionally, Maria carries a walking stick comprised of a natural wooden shaft terminating in a smooth, narrow section and metal foot with a purple band around its middle. Her walking stick is topped by an ornate blue skull connected by means of a thick metal band with a purple ring at its center. On the front of the connecting band is a large, blunt protrusion located directly below the skull's mouth.
As a young woman, Maria had shoulder-length black ash hair, silver eyes, and was taller. She wore an ornate skull mask that all but completely concealed her face, revealing only her lower jaw. She wore a laced waist-cincher over a long blue tunic with a dark gray hemline that fell over a dark teal skirt that also had the same gray hem. The tunic opens in a 'v' to reveal an off-white folded collar. The long sleeves are also cinched just above the elbows. All three cinches and the hem are the same dark gray as the hooded cloak Maria also wore. Her boots were dark brown. In addition, she wore a dark blue skull necklace.
She is rather energetic and nonchalant in spite of her advanced age, allowing the train's derailment to roll off her shoulders as if it were nothing. She greets the heroes with friendly banter but easily takes offense to those who call her "defenseless" and "old". However, she is well aware of her current limitations, berating herself for not realizing the threat of the Apathy sooner.
Maria is shown to be sound-minded when tension rises, as shown when everyone becomes discouraged after Ozpin ceases leading the group. This trait is further shown when Maria orders Team RWBY to flee without hesitation once the Apathy appear. However, she is not above being petty and callous, as shown by her interactions with Caroline Cordovin.
After her flashback in "The Grimm Reaper", Maria states her deep regret over not doing more for the world, even going so far as calling herself "a disappointment." She warns the group not to strive to become like her, a fallen hero who lost the will to fight after she lost her eyes, showing a degree of bitterness over her own fears. Despite her shortcomings, she repeatedly shows a high level of faith in the current generation. Additionally, despite her abilities and skills, she preferred to go under an alias during her Huntress days and believes deeply in the beauty of life and its protection.
Powers and Abilities
Maria at her prime possessed high skill in combat, aided by her Semblance. In "The Grimm Reaper", she was able to fight multiple opponents at once, and she was capable of dual-wielding her kamas, making good use of the gravity Dust within them. Currently, she is more durable and resistant than average, able to shake off a train crash, jump down a deep well without injury, and even run at a considerable pace despite her advanced age, shown during "Alone in the Woods".
Maria is also a certified aircraft pilot, being able to fly an Atlesian Manta ship. Her piloting ability is aided and enhanced by her ability to cybernetically interface with the ship's sensor array via her prosthetic optic sensors.
Maria was born with silver eyes, which allow her to project bright white light from her eyes that is lethal to the Creatures of Grimm. She was seen with the ability to petrify a massive Nevermore in quick succession while disarmed. She has a relatively good understanding over the activation of the ability, refusing to label it as a means to destroy, but to protect, but little to no idea of its origin, until she theorized it was divine. However, after being blinded by Tock, she no longer has access to this ability.
Maria's Semblance, which she nicknamed "Preflexes", allows her to sense everything better than most people and react to attacks almost before they happen.
- Maria is a Latin name, the meaning of which is highly debated. A possible translation comes from the Hebrew name, Miryam, which means God's Chosen One. Maria is Latin for the name Mary, mother of Jesus who was chosen by God to give birth to his child in Christianity.
- It gives the Marian blue color, which is mostly worn by Mary in paintings.
- One possible interpretation of the name is "sea of bitterness", which could allude to her feelings after being blinded and retiring from active duty.
- Calavera is the Spanish word for "skull" and is the name for the decorative skulls made of clay or sugar which are used as part of Día de los Muertos celebrations, which the skull on Maria's weapon is modeled after.
- Her nickname references the Grim Reaper, the personification of Death. The wordplay also references Maria's previous occupation as a huntress and killing (reaping) Grimm.
- In fellow Rooster Teeth show, Nomad of Nowhere, Melissa Sternenberg also voiced the Y'dala Elder, another elderly dark-skinned woman, as well as the role of the elderly Mrs. Campwell in Camp Camp. She has jokingly stated that "my previous two old lady roles didn't hurt my [audition] chances".
- Melissa Sternenberg was pregnant with her daughter while recording most of Maria's lines, and declared that the voice is inspired by Cologne from Ranma 1/2 and Malory Archer from Archer.