Akagami no Shirayuki-hime: Poisoned Apples Lead to Princes

[My thoughts on Akagami no Shirayuki-hime/ Snow White with the Red Hair.]

I don’t make a habit out of watching or reading Shojo anime/ manga, simply because the stories never seem too exciting and the characters tend to be rather flat. Snow White with the Red Hair (what a mouthful…) was no different, but for some reason I enjoyed it, so much so that I actually went on to read the manga and caught up with the story.

Perhaps it’s because of the whole fairy tale element that this story has in spades. By definition, this isn’t really a fairy tale. See, fairy tales are supposed to involve some level of magic – things like talking animals, fairy godmothers, mystical creatures, what have you – which Snow White with the Red Hair doesn’t.  And yet, it feels like one. There is definitely some form of magic going on because even though no one waves a wand, good things keep happening. No one is that ridiculously lucky unless it’s a fairy tale!

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The owner of all that good fortune is our protagonist, the unfortunately named Shirayuki (or Snow White). As far as namesakes go, this was a sad choice. Let’s face it: Snow White (the one that holed up with the dwarves) is probably one of the most pointless fictional characters in existence and it really made me wonder why the writer chose this name. Also, there’s nothing “snow white” about Shirayuki and the name, ironically, seems more suited to the Prince in the story, given that he’s got hair as white as snow. Altogether, the story has very little to do with the Seven Dwarves version, with the only similarities being the name of the protagonist and a poisoned apple that makes a brief entry in the very first episode. Oh, there’s also the prince (or three).

Screenshot 2016-12-09 15.02.02.pngIn spite of her name, Shirayuki is not a shallow character. I don’t think she’s outstanding per se, but she has steel in her and a bit of bite as well; it surfaces from time to time, reminding us that there’s good reason for the prince(s) to like her. Being a Shojo manga/ anime, it is almost mandatory that Shirayuki falls in love with Prince Charming, and of course she proceeds to do just that. Prince Charming is Zen Wistaria, and he is charming to his bones. Honestly, Zen surprised me. He has a lot more character than I initially thought he would and his short temper and astoundingly straightforward nature makes him rather likeable. He’s not just relegated to a love interest.

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Their relationship is easy to watch because there’s quite a bit of chemistry between the two of them. However, it’s sort of a given from the start that they’re going to fall in love, and even their vastly different social statuses probably won’t matter in the long run. So while their romance is sweet, there’s not much suspense or ambiguity there. Shirayuki and Zen are going to stay together, eventually get married, have some royal offspring and live happily ever after. Like I said, it’s a fairy tale.

Screenshot 2016-12-09 15.21.40.pngThere are other relationships in this show (not necessarily romantic) that I much prefer. For example, Zen’s strained relationship with his older brother is a lot more interesting than his interest in Shirayuki, simply because there’s a lot more happening there. The elder Prince Charming, Izana Wistaria, is not an easy person to read, and while not evil, he’s not exactly an angel. All things considered, Zen is probably the nicer person here and it’s his misfortune that he doesn’t have as much say as his brother. There’s conflict and uncertainty in their relationship, and as much as Zen respects his brother, there’s also some resistance there. The dynamics of their interactions are far more intriguing than anything Zen and Shirayuki offer.

I also like Shirayuki’s relationship with Obi (her guard?), again because things are less certain with the two of them. They are definitely friends and they definitely care about each other but with Obi, there always seems to be something more. He doesn’t let on much though, which makes him a very exciting character on his own.

screenshot-2016-10-09-21-05-47I suppose this just goes to show that romance really isn’t what I appreciate most in a story. Nonetheless, I enjoyed this series thoroughly and plan to continue reading it. It isn’t a thrill ride, it doesn’t make me ponder on any deep social issues, and it doesn’t make me laugh. But it’s warm and lovable in its own way. If I had to describe this story in one word, I would say that it’s soothing. It transports the audience into an idealistic fairy tale world, full of optimism and bright things. Things seem to always turn out well and nothing horrible happens. At the end of the day, it’s a love story that promises a happy ending. That’s not such a bad thing, is it?

(If you’ve watched/ read this Aakagami no Shirayuki-hime, and wish to share your thoughts, do leave them here.)

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