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    anime review—Snow White with the Red Hair



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    anime review—Snow White with the Red Hair

    Post  jazzact13 on May 25th 2016, 11:40 pm

    Shirayuki is a young woman who runs an herbalist shop in the kingdom of Tanbarun, and is known for her red hair, which is unusual for people of that place. When the Tanbarun Prince Raji wants to make her his concubine, she leaves in the night and eventually find herself in the neighboring kingdom of Clarines. She falls in with a man named Zen and his two bodyguards, Mitsuhide and Kiki, and while foiling an attempt by Prince Raji to bring her back to Tanbarun it's revealed that Zen is a prince of Clarines.

    The first season focuses mostly on the growth of the relationship between Zen and Shirayuki. This growth is shown as they work both together and separately to achieve their goals—Shirayuki wants to become a court herbalist, and Zen deals with the myriad problems he faces as someone who takes seriously his responsibilities as a prince of a kingdom. They also face the problem of their differing social status, and people who think it inappropriate for a prince to be so friendly with a commoner. Toward the end of the season, they each realize how they feel about each other.

    In the second season, Shirayuki returns to Tanbarun at the invitation of Prince Raji, who is still a buffoon but showing signs of improvement. But there are strangers hunting for her, too, and when Zen learns that she might be in danger, he rushed to Tanbarun himself, but arrives too late. He joins up with Prince Raji and a group called The Lions of the Mountains to rescue Shirayuki from a band of pirates.

    A Different Kind of Romance
    If I say this a romance series, that might cause you to think it would have certain elements in it. There would be lots of silly flirtations, probably rivalries and jealousies and arguments and misunderstandings, embarrassing situations, and so on. While I will say that this is very much a romance series, how it's done makes it much different from what I've normally come on in such stories.

    This isn't the normal high school setting that is common in anime romances, but more of a medieval setting that at times looks very similar to Disney's Beauty and the Beast, and maybe that has something to do with how the characters act. In the first scene of the series, Shirayuki is shown out in the forest in the early morning looking for plants she can use for medicines. She's already a responsible adult who takes her work serious. And while Zen might not like all the deskwork he has to do as a prince, he takes his responsibilities seriously, and even his excursions from the palace to the nearby cities serve to remind him of the people he must care for as their prince.

    For many of the first episodes, the romance element is muted. Shirayuki wants to be a court herbalist, not because she has a silly crush on a boy prince, but because Zen in her friend, she genuinely respects him, and wants to be someone he can rely on as he goes about his duties as a prince. It's a little plainer with Zen that early on he is starting to fall in love with Shirayuki, and this makes him work all the harder to be someone she can respect, and also causes him to respect her, too.

    This respect is well shown in the test Shirayuki takes to become an apprentice court herbalist. Zen knows she has worked and studied hard for this test, and he does nothing to interfere with it. Even after the head court herbalist tells him that he could bypass the test results and have Shirayuki chosen simply based on his own power as a prince, he refuses by saying that if he did that then Shirayuki would never come back to the palace. He knows that she would want the position only if she has earned it and proven herself fit for it.

    A Good Example
    I know that holding up something as a good example can be dangerous. Good examples can often mean dull examples. Opinions about something being dull or interesting can be simply questions of taste, so the fact that I found this series very interesting doesn't mean everyone else will.

    We probably don't have to look far to find bad examples of relationships  in the stories we see on TV or in movies or that we read about in stories, not to mention is real life. Even Snow White with the Red Hair is not perfect. But I've seen few examples in fiction or reality that does so well as this series in showing respect, honor, and dignity between a man and woman whose friendship grows in romance. Zen and Shirayuki encourage each other, they correct each other without that correction taken as an insult, they trust each other, they treat each other with dignity and respect.

    The Price of being Rescued
    I'm not always a big fan of trying to “find the Gospel” in stories, and I know this example will fall well short of the Gospel, but it may well do well in pointing towards it.

    In the first episode, there are a few references to things in the Snow White fairy tale, though after that the story in this series pretty much leaves the fairy tale behind. But there is a poisoned apple, something Raji tries to use to incapacitate Shirayuki so he can take her back to Tanbarun. Instead, Zen is the one who takes a bite of the apple, immediately realizes it's poisoned and passes out. But a bit later, he's recovered enough to confront Raji and make him run back to Tanbarun without Shirayuki. Zen explains that he's been developing his resistance to poisons. You may insert your favorite The Princess Bride jokes here.

    After Shirayuki passes the court herbalist exam, the head herbalist gives her some books telling about Zen's health history. One of the books is a record of Zen's building up his resistance to poisons, and in reading it Shirayuki learns that this resistance he build up didn't just happened, but cost him much discomfort and even pain.

    Of course, this does fall short of the Gospel. Zen didn't build up that resistance for her sake, but his own, to keep himself alive in case anyone should attempt to poison him. But it's still an interesting example of something similar.

    This is easily one of my favorite series. Not only is it a good series with a fascinating story, but it's about the cleanest series I've ever seen. I can pretty highly recommend it.

    Here's the Hulu page for the series.

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