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I've stared death in the face over and over again! And every time I've spat in that face and survived because I'm strong enough to do what others won't!
—Raven, to Yang Xiao Long

Raven Branwen is a character in RWBY who first appeared in "No Brakes". She is the mother of Yang Xiao Long, the older twin sister of Qrow Branwen and the estranged wife of Taiyang Xiao Long.[2] Her weapon of choice is Omen, a sword with a rotary chamber filled with six types of Dust blades. She serves as a main antagonist in Volume 5.

She is the leader of the Branwen Tribe as well as a former member of Team STRQ. She is also the current Spring Maiden and had been using her fellow tribe member, Vernal, as a decoy.


In her first appearances in Volume 2, Raven's outfit consisted of a V neck black and red wrap style top with a black pleated skirt that has black shorts underneath, with series of beaded necklaces. She also wears a red obi sash around her waist alongside a red tasset wrapped around her waist that carries her weapon's sheath. Attached to it is a long black object that is either fur or feathers, with a red and white bandana material like hanging from behind her. Her forearms bear red armored gauntlets that protrude outwards and black fingerless gloves. She wore black mid-thigh high boots, that had armor plating with red splatter patterns and black heels. She had long black hair and bright red eyes, in the exact shade of Yang's when she becomes angry or activates her Semblance.

In Volumes 4 and 5, her appearance changes slightly: her boots gained a red sole and heel and have become solid black, losing the splatter design and armor and her eyes now a darker crimson color. Her most distinctive feature is a fearsome, full-face mask that resembles the face of a Creature of Grimm. The mask has four eye slits, further enhancing the character's inhuman appearance. In Volume 2, Raven's eyes are visible through the lower slits, but in Volume 5, the slits are black and red inside. She wears this mask to not only hide her Maiden powers, but to also appear more intimidating when leading her tribe.[3]

Under the mask, she looks very similar to Yang; they share the same facial shape and long, bushy hair. However, Raven's hair is jet black, her eyebrows are a little bit higher, her complexion is significantly lighter and slight age lines are under her eyes. Her hair is tied by a red bandanna and loosely done up in a ponytail with the ends resembling curved black feathers. A cowlick can be seen protruding from the top of her head, similar to that of her daughter's.

As a corvid, Raven is similar to her brother's corvid form, only lacking his head feathers. However, befitting her name, she transforms into a raven rather than a crow. This is indicated by their different calls (Qrow's is a harsh caw, whereas Raven's is a deeper croak) and different flight patterns (Qrow tends to flap his wings more, whereas Raven soars).

Image Gallery


Raven is cynical, patronizing, selfish and stubborn. She believed her act of "kindness" of saving Yang's life from Neopolitan was sufficient despite having left Yang at a very young age and refused to protect her daughter when in need after that. Raven is intended to be more intimidating the less you know about her.[4]

Given her upbringing in a nomadic bandit tribe, Raven has a "survival of the fittest" mentality, and she has little issues with taking the lives of the innocent or even that of Huntsmen, indirectly or otherwise. Despite murdering the former Spring Maiden, Raven presented her actions as merciful and necessary, saying that the Maiden never learned anything despite the training Raven put her through and that she wasn't cut out for this world.

However, beneath her "survival of the fittest" philosophy and despite her great powers as a Maiden, Raven is a coward who is really troubled and fakes confidence.[5] Her fear of Salem is so great that she chose to run from it all after deeming the fight unwinnable. She is even willing to risk her brother and daughter's lives in order to get access to the Relic of Knowledge in hopes of warding off Salem. As Yang pointed out, Raven's definition of strength is shallow. As despite her great power, she chooses to run away from her problems instead of facing them, sacrificing others as shields to gain herself advantage. In the end, Raven's survival of the fittest philosophy is just a façade to hide her fear of Salem and her other insecurities.

Raven is not above manipulating others, having tried to emotionally manipulate Yang during their reunion in "Lighting the Fire" so she would choose to stay with her instead of reuniting with Qrow and Ruby Rose, first by taking a faux warm and theatrical attitude before revealing secret information and threatening Yang in the hope that it would scare her from joining Qrow and Ozpin. She also successfully deceived Salem's subordinates into thinking that Vernal was the Spring Maiden and into setting an ambush for Qrow and the students in order to get access to the Relic in "A Perfect Storm", although the latter was due to Cinder Fall's need for revenge.

Raven is also very prideful and hypocritical, refusing to acknowledge her faults and always trying to justify her actions both to others and to herself, often putting the blame on others for them even if she feels guilt. She states to Qrow in "Family" that she did not know that the Grimm would come quickly to destroy Shion, despite the fact that it was the tribe's attack that left it vulnerable in the first place. When speaking to Lionheart in "True Colors", she refuses to admit that it is out of fear of Salem that she worked with her subordinates, unlike Lionheart who freely admitted it. Finally in "Haven's Fate", she tells Yang that she knew that she could handle the trap on her and her friends even though it wasn't the case and presenting her murder of the Spring Maiden as an act of mercy due to the girl's perceived weakness. Also, despite criticizing Ozpin over keeping information from others, using others to reach his goals and being manipulative Raven has no issues doing the same.

While Raven and Qrow used to see each other as family when growing up, she now sees Qrow as a traitor for leaving their tribe and Qrow outright stated that she was dangerous and hostile, though he continued to care for her and they stayed in touch, though Raven seemingly only contacted Qrow to get information from him. When Qrow confronted her on her setting a trap for him, Yang and Ruby and renounced her as his sister Raven went as far as implying that she may have never seen Qrow as family. Raven is a cynic who claims to have foreseen Ozpin's failure to protect Beacon Academy from its destruction. She believes that Ozpin is not the man her daughter thinks he is and condemns those who trust him, such as Qrow, Ruby and even Taiyang and Yang.

Because of her prideful and self-centered mentality Raven often fails to measure the consequences of her actions, such as her attempt to manipulate Yang into staying with her and to distrust Qrow and Ozpin by calling Ruby a lost cause, and revealing Salem's existence and insulting Qrow and Taiyang, which only reinforced Yang's determination to reunite with her uncle and sister, and reject Raven further. She also advised Yang to question everything which eventually caused her to question her mother's own motives and actions. She also devised a plan to get the Relic of Knowledge to keep Salem away from the tribe while overlooking the fact that it would only cause her to become a greater target for her.

According to Qrow, Raven has a very skewed definition of what a family means. Despite having constantly watched over Yang in her corvid form, Raven never took a part in her daughter's life or tried to meet her in spite of her Semblance. With Qrow, the only reason she would visit him was only when she needed something from him rather than trying to maintain or reestablish a good relationship with him. When reunited with Yang for the first time Raven used a theatrical attitude trying to be welcoming to Yang by praising her and offering hospitality, only to drop the act after Yang stated that she wasn't here for her.

She also does not understand why Qrow chose to stay with their former teammates and his nieces over returning to the tribe despite how close Qrow has become with them, as well as underestimating how far Yang would go for Ruby by trying to scare or convince her with knowledge about Ozpin and Salem, which instead only reinforced Yang's determination to reunite with and protect her sister.

Yet despite her ruthless and immoral behavior, Raven isn't totally devoid of morality as she showed some regret for her actions, such as the treatment of her family and the killing of the Spring Maiden. When battling Cinder in "Downfall", she is disgusted by her complete lack of scrupules in her quest for power, calling her out for having become a monster by getting a Grimm arm. However, because of her pride, Raven often tried to deny her true feelings, hiding it behind an aloof attitude. She states to Vernal that she did not care about Yang being in danger due to her plan even though her body language said otherwise. Likewise, when Ruby made a proposal for her to join them in "The More the Merrier", she showed an instance of vulnerability, before hiding it and dismissing her entirely.

According to Taiyang, Raven had a straightforward approach, often dealing with obstacles by going through them instead of going around, and saw strength as all-important in a fight, traits that Yang inherited. He adds that Raven was ambitious and gave her all to whatever cause she saw as just while acknowledging she had unspecified faults that greatly contributed to the dissolution of Team STRQ. When Raven told Yang that she didn't know her, Yang replied that she only knows the Raven that her father told her about, asking her mother if she killed her previous self too. The question caused Raven to be shocked and look away, indicating that Raven was once a braver, more idealistic woman before leaving.

After defeating Cinder, Raven shows a softer side, taking the time to close the deceased Vernal's eyes and thank her for her service. This side of her is further shown in "Haven's Fate", in which she and Yang share an emotional conversation. After Yang calls Raven out for killing the former Spring Maiden, her cowardice and hypocrisy in refusing to fight Salem, and for showing a callous indifference to her own daughter's well-being, Raven once more begs Yang to stay out of the war against Salem, but to no avail. Raven subsequently breaks down in tears, apologizing to Yang before fleeing.

Powers and Abilities

Raven possesses great speed in combat, so much so that her attacks are difficult to follow with the naked eye. She shows proficiency in "Iaido", the art of swordsmanship also practiced by Adam Taurus, as seen when she first engages Neo. After her initial attack, she challenges Neo with a more traditional stance, indicating a more intricate fighting style. During her fight with Cinder, she was able to slice in half a massive boulder and use the elemental effect of her ice blade to smoothly slide away from an attack, all within seconds, showing a faster than average reaction time. She allowed Cinder to chase her during the initial stages of their battle, letting her opponent expend energy before launching a counterattack. She also takes to account her surrondings during battle, and often uses what is around to her advantange, such as falling debris.

As a testiment to her skills, Raven as a child, with no formal training, was able to get into Beacon through sheer skill, which normally requires several years of training at a combat school to do. She then went on to train directly under Ozpin and became skilled enough that he entrusted her and Qrow with a portion of his power, as well as becoming a part of his inner circle.

It is stated in "Welcome to Haven" that Raven is equally matched with her brother Qrow, although this did not take her Maiden Powers into account. During the one time they were shown fighting each other, Raven had the initiative, forcing Qrow back and landing a kick on him.


Main article: Omen

Raven's weapon of choice is Omen, a scabbard that has a rotary chamber filled with different types of Dust blades, reminiscent of the Dust vial chamber of Myrtenaster wielded by Weiss Schnee. The blades, when connected with the accompanying handle, are reminiscent of the long-bladed, single-edged ōdachi, or "great sword". Using the handle, Raven is able to wield a variety of different blades, each one possessing a different color and property.

By reattaching the handle to the scabbard, Raven is able to interchange, or if need be, replace the Dust blade. The blades are telescopic, which allows them to be approximately twice the length of the scabbard. She tends to most often use the blade made of Red Dust, though she has also used others. The colors seen so far in combat include Red, Blue, Yellow, Gray/Black, and Green. The Dust blades, though powerful, can be broken if struck several times or hard enough. Since they are Dust, she can use them for elemental based attacks.


Main article: Kindred Link

Raven creates a portal with Omen.

Raven's Semblance, Kindred Link,[6] allows her to create portals to instantly travel to people she has a strong emotional connection with and can cover vast distances through them. Raven largely uses this ability to make an exit, rather than for offensive purposes: she has notably used them to teleport to Yang in order to save her from Neo, as well as to leave the bar in Higanbana after talking with Qrow and to allow Salem's associates to walk into Haven Academy from her camp. Raven can also allow other people through her portals, as she did with Weiss and Yang, without going through herself or requiring them to be bonded to her, provided they are with- or traveling to- someone she is bonded with. To activate the ability, she swings her sword, causing a portal to open a few feet in whatever the direction the blade was swung at, but she is also able to open portals without her sword, such as when she opened one in her bird form. To date, she has bonded with at least four people:

  • Taiyang Xiao Long
  • Qrow Branwen
  • Yang Xiao Long
  • Vernal †

Maiden Powers

Main article: Maidens

Without knowing that it was his sister, Qrow Branwen deduces that much of the damage wrought in Shion village was caused by the Spring Maiden, exemplifying her destructive utilization of the Spring Maiden's powers. She is able to generate a lightning strike in "Lighting the Fire", summoning it from the sky like the previous Fall Maiden Amber could. In "A Perfect Storm", she is able to summon strong gusts of wind and turn the sky from clear to cloudy in an instant. In both cases, she was able to disguise her power and make it appear that Vernal was performing the feats.

Raven using her Maiden powers.

When she uses her magic, her eyes gain a dark red aura similar to her fellow Maidens, which is why she wears her Grimm mask whenever using Vernal as a decoy Spring Maiden. In "Downfall", during Raven's fight with Cinder, she makes use of several different elemental powers. She can generate ice, either by condensing it into weaponry, forming ice spikes or freezing from a distance. She can also generate electricity from her hands and release it in close ranged strikes. Lastly, she demonstrates the ability to fly, which she has been able to use additionally to propel herself at high speeds.

Unlike Cinder, Raven does not choose to specialize in or prioritize the use of one element above the rest. Rather, she varies in attacks that she uses to keep her opponents off balance. Also, she does not rely heavily on her Maiden powers, mostly using it as a physical boost, as seen in "Downfall" where she used them to keep up with Cinder.

As the Spring Maiden, Raven is the only one that has the power to open the Vault containing the Relic of Knowledge in Mistral. Later it was revealed that again only Raven can lock the Vault once it was opened.


Like her younger twin brother, Raven has the ability to transform into a corvid, specifically a raven, which she demonstrated in "Known by its Song". This ability was bestowed upon her by Ozpin through magic. In this form she can fly and cover large distances, though she largely uses it for stealth purposes, such as observing Qrow or Yang as well as disguising her arrival at Haven. While transformed, she can still use her Semblance, as seen in both "A Perfect Storm" and "Haven's Fate". She can also talk while transformed.[7]



  • Raven alludes to Huginn from Norse mythology. For more information on this allusion, as well as other choices the creators made for this character, see Raven Branwen/Behind the Scenes.
    • During the scene where Yang talks about her search for Raven and being saved by her Uncle Qrow in "Burning the Candle", the text on the chalkboard (enlarged) is an extract from a poem about Huginn and Muninn, two ravens from Norse mythology. The text supposedly reads:
      Hugin and Munin fly each day over the spacious earth.
      I fear for Hugin, that he not come back, yet more anxious am I for Munin.
  • The Branwen Tribe alludes to Branwen the Blessed from Norse mythology.

Color Naming Rule

  • Branwen is Welsh, meaning "blessed white raven/crow", which corresponds to her first name.
  • Raven can refer to a number of bird species in the genus Corvus, or in reference to the color black.
    • As well as the fact that their first names, Raven and Qrow (crow), are both black birds in the genus Corvus. Specifically, ravens are a type of crow.


  • Since Yang never mentioned meeting Raven in the post-credit scene in Breach, and the visual distortion of the entire scene, it can be assumed the scene was most likely some sort of dream or vision.
  • Originally, they were going to do more with Raven Branwen and Yang Xiao Long in Volume 3, but weren't able to due to time restraints.[8]
  • According to the July 2019 update of RWBY: Amity Arena, her card description refers to her as "a sister, a student, an agent, a friend, a wife, a chief, a mentor, and a survivor". This implies that Raven was married to Taiyang before she left him and their daughter, Yang.[2]


  • Her mask appears to be a more elaborately-styled version of the Grimm Masks worn by the White Fang.
    • Notably, her mask and feathered hair give her an appearance markedly similar to a Nevermore, likely referencing her name, as the word "Nevermore" comes from a poem by Edgar Allen Poe titled "The Raven."
  • The picture of Raven that Yang shows to Junior is an artwork of Monty Oum called Transient Princess , which depicts the character Rinoa from Final Fantasy VIII with "hair that transitions into the threads of a feather".
  • The red and black portal Raven uses is visually similar to the one created by Cinder's glove in "Beginning of the End". A similar looking portal is seen in both the Volume 1 and Volume 3 Opening animations.


  1. "Downfall"
  2. 2.0 2.1 July 2019 updated for RWBY: Amity Arena
  3. Volume 5 Directors Commentary Chapter 6
  4. Volume 5 Directors' Commentary Chapter 4
  5. Volume 5 Directors' Commentary Chapter 4
  6. The World of RWBY: The Official Companion
  7. "RWBY #1" Chapter 2
  8. Volume 3 DVD Directors' Commentary Chapter 8
RWBY/Justice League
Minor Characters