Today I’ll be reviewing a romance anime, though one with fantasy elements. This one will be better than my last couple of reviews as the ending is actually fairly good. If you didn’t catch the announcement on social media, I’m returning to a Monday/Wednesday/Friday format since I’m running out of anime to review. For the upcoming anime of Fall 2015 I’ll be covering the first episodes three at a time like last season since there’s only so much you can say about a first episode. If there are any anime you are particularly interested in my watching/reviewing the first episode of, let me know here or on my social media. With that out of the way let’s jump into…
Snow White With The Red Hair
“Snow White with the Red Hair” surprised many in the anime community with it charm. True to the story for which it is names, it is a very fairy tale-esk telling of an anime romance. The opening theme even has a dance in it that could be straight out of a Disney movie. The interesting world this story builds is matched by the similarly interesting cast, and every episode is practically a mini-story in its own right. There were problems early on that some people in the community pointed out, but those problems were laid to rest later on in the show. Overall this show was a success with the promise of more in the future.
Our story starts with the red haired maiden (Shirayuki) to which the title eludes. She’s an herbalist in the kingdom of Tanbarun, and her hair is extremely rare there. Due to this rarity the prince of Tanbarun (Raji Shenazard) decides that Shirayuki will be his concubine, and he send a servant to tell her the “good” news. Shirayuki, knowing the prince’s reputation as a fool, decides instead to cut her hair short and flee the country. In her flight she meets a strange young man named Zen, and his two friends Mitsuhide and Kiki. Raji pursues Shirayuki to the country she’s fled to (the kingdom of Clarines) and he sends poisoned apples to her. Zen ends up eating one of the apples, but in a twist straight out of “The Princess Bride” he is immune to most poisons. He then saves Shirayuki from Raji and reveals that he is in fact the second prince of Clarines. Fearing an international incident Raji leaves with his tail between his legs, and thus begins this summer 2015 romance anime.
Once free of Prince Raji, Shirayuki finds that her new home is ahead of her old one in terms of herbalism and medicine. She decides that she will attempt to become part of the royal court’s herbalism branch to learn more about her profession. Many in the royal court don’t like this, as this means the red-haired foreign girl will be closer to Prince Zen though. They hatch schemes against Shirayuki which she, along with Zen and his bodyguards, constantly overcome. Through it all Shirayuki passes her herbalist examination, and is able to study under Garack Gazelt (the head herbalist) and Ryuu (12 year old herbalist prodigy). This allows her to stay in the castle as a staff member, which suits Zen just fine.
The show becomes slightly episodic from here with the group of unlikely friends taking on problems in the kingdom together. They befriend Obi who was an agent sent to disrupt Shirayuki’s access to the Prince. Soon after we are introduced to Zen’s older brother, Izana the crown prince of Clarines. Izana has a strange way of handling issues with his brother, where he seems to only want to piss him off to see what he does. Shirayuki is undeterred by the first prince’s tactics, and slowly Izana begins to respect her for her genuine drive to help people. Overtime Shirayuki and Zen begin to realize they have an affection for one another, and this comes to a head when Shirayuki endangers herself to help a wildlife relief effort. After hearing about this Zen kisses Shirayuki, presumably out of fear for her near death, and the two decide to enter a somewhat secretive relationship.
That last part was surprising, because it wasn’t in the last episode. That’s right anime fans, we had a romance anime where the lead couple actually had an intimate scene before the last episode. The last episode featured a festival in which the populace of Clarines was allowed inside the castle for a day, and Shirayuki and Zen stared in a play together. “Snow White with the Red Hair” does leave space for a second cour, but if it ends here it wouldn’t be considered the worst ending of the season. The build up of emotion throughout the season was well done, and the area in which it crescendos is perfect place it could have done so. I did hear moaning about the female protagonist needing the male to come save her all the time, but after episode three this became a moot point. Shirayuki shows herself to be every bit the strong female protagonist from episode one in my eyes. After all not every woman would leave behind everything she knew and owned, just to stay true to herself and follow her dreams.
To sum it up, “Snow White with the Red Hair” is an enjoyable romance anime with fairly light conflict. Just about every episode wraps up its conflict by the end of the episode, and you are usually left satisfied. If I had one complaint it’s that I’d like to know more about the backstory of some of the side characters. Mitsuhide has an small arc where they show how he came to the prince’s service, but I’m interested in Kiki’s and Obi’s story. I’m more interested in Obi’s back story though, as he is the most out of place in the court of Clarines with his thief/assassin talents. Hopefully we get another cour of this anime to dive further into this world. It’s likely though that I’ll have forgotten about this show by the time the possible second cour comes. Still with such an excellent story and an interesting world it will be a joy to rewatch this show to catch up.
Arigatō my fellow BrOtaku!