"Keep moving forward."
This is a quote originally popularized by Walt Disney. However, the context meaning for us to not give up, and to try new things, is taking a new meaning among many mourning fans.
Monty Oum, the animation director at Texas-based production company, Rooster Teeth, and creator of American anime "RWBY," passed away on Feb. 1 at the age of 33. A highly skilled animator and creative genius, he suffered a severe allergic reaction during a simple medical procedure and remained comatose before dying of his condition. A fund was raised for his family, drawing in $243,402 to pay for his medical expenses.
Monty Oum's work has fared exceedingly well in many gaming and online communities. His first work, Haloid, a video combining characters from video games Halo and Metroid, is the highest viewed user-created video on YouTube. His web series, "RWBY" is the first US anime series to be exported to Japanese audiences. His fluid, complex fight and dance sequences found him jobs working on series like "Red vs. Blue" and "Afro Samurai" -- an impressive feat for a high school dropout who taught himself all he knows.
Aside from his skilled work, Oum (rhymes with "home") became popular in an industry that hardly breaks into the mainstream. His outlandish anime inspired outfits, his "Dance Dance Revolution" skills and his love for cosplay made him a superstar quicker than his employers at Rooster Teeth. And yet, despite his fame, Oum had always been a rather quiet and demure individual, preferring his work to do the talking for him.
And boy, did it talk loudly.
"RWBY," his record-making anime web series, has quickly become a fan favorite with its animation, soundtrack and original concept. The series follows four girls being trained at an academy to fight monsters, while also dealing with underground crime and interpersonal drama.
Although "RWBY" is one of Rooster Teeth's greatest assets, the fate of the series is yet to be determined. Oum had gone straight into production of season 3, however it is yet to be revealed how much has been completed or who will run the project now.
Oum's tenure at Rooster Teeth had made a huge impact on the company; his addition to Red vs. Blue, a satire of Halo that has quickly evolved into "the M.A.S.H. of science fiction," helped launch the series into a renaissance. He became a reference for his quips about efficiency and frequently "powering down" once production ended.
More importantly, his drive for perfection and getting the most out of animation sessions inspired many others to not quit until they had done things the best way possible.
While his death was greatly mourned by the company, his words of "keep moving forward" stuck. Rooster Teeth pulled through, returning to work and dedicating their most recent episode of their popular podcast to discussing Monty's life, insisting "he wouldn't have let them get away with missing two [podcasts] in a row".
As encouragement, Meg Turney of The Know encouraged fans to continue to create, to honor Monty by living their lives the way he did. Fan art, tribute videos and even a memorial of rose petals by the offices have been made in honor of this young man's life. As a consequence of his legacy, "Monty Oum" was a trending topic on Facebook, Google and Tumblr for a few days after his death.
Needless to say, Monty Oum will be missed.
His presence in the animation scene was a powerful one, and his impact at Rooster Teeth is long lasting. With the offices at Rooster Teeth returning to business and the fate of "RWBY" uncertain, the adjustment is going to be rough. But, if the 33 years he gave us were worth anything, they showed us what one person could accomplish in such a short time.
"I believe that the human spirit is indomitable," Oum had stated on a blog entry in 2012. "If you endeavor to achieve, it will happen given enough resolve. It may not be immediate, and often your greater dreams are something you will not achieve within your own lifetime. The effort you put forth to anything transcends yourself, for there is no futility even in death."
It's safe to say that Monty, you've lived up to these words.
You will be greatly missed.
June 22, 1981 - February 1, 2015
Oum is survived by his wife Sheena, his father Mony, his brothers Woody, Sey, Chivy and Neat, and his sisters Thea and Theary, as well as a countless number of fans and friends. A tributevideo put together by his friends at Rooster Teeth can be viewed on YouTube.
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