Akagami no Shirayukihime

This anime made me feel so meh. I’m not sure if it was because it’s a shoujo and I’ve largely outgrown shoujo or if because it was just a really crummy shoujo. I’m going to go with the second one since I’d like to believe that I’m not a horrible jaded adult yet XD. To be honest I’m really not sure why I ended up finishing this one. It kind of threw out every random awful trope again and again, but without any panache or enthusiasm that sometimes makes this forgivable. I think the show was bored with itself, which is why it turned into such an unpleasant viewing experience for me.

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Unfortunately I was suckered in by the misleading synopsis that made me think this wasn’t going to be another common girl x prince pairing.
Although her name means “snow white,” Shirayuki is a cheerful, red-haired girl living in the country of Tanbarun who works diligently as an apothecary at her herbal shop. Her life changes drastically when she is noticed by the silly prince of Tanbarun, Prince Raji, who then tries to force her to become his concubine. Unwilling to give up her freedom, Shirayuki cuts her long red hair and escapes into the forest, where she is rescued from Raji by Zen Wistalia, the second prince of a neighboring country, and his two aides. Hoping to repay her debt to the trio someday, Shirayuki sets her sights on pursuing a career as the court herbalist in Zen’s country, Clarines.

Akagami no Shirayuki-hime depicts Shirayuki’s journey toward a new life at the royal palace of Clarines, as well as Zen’s endeavor to become a prince worthy of his title. As loyal friendships are forged and deadly enemies formed, Shirayuki and Zen slowly learn to support each other as they walk their own paths. (Courtesy of MAL

Although from the beginning there seemed to be a lot of random shit happening that didn’t make sense. Prince #1 was all like, “you have super exotic red hair so I want to keep you like a pet”. And Shirayuki was all like, “oh noes I shall cut off some of my super exotic red hair and run away to somewhere else so you can’t have me”. Gingers rejoice–clearly in this land being ginger means you’re guaranteed to attract marriage prospects from a prince.

Basically what happens is that Shirayuki escapes the clutches of one prince and falls right into the arms of another. But it’s okay because Prince #2 is a cool prince and super tortured and conflicted about his royalty.

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Then there’s the fact that the whole romantic premise and most of the action hinges upon the fact that “Shirayuki is just a really nice, brave, and caring person”. In fact, she’s so nice that it makes princes fall in love with her and everyone wants to be her friend. Why would anyone ever want to hurt super nice apprentice court physician Shirayuki?

Speaking of the court physician thing–I thought that was really cool! Until it literally became a plot device intended to give her snuggly moments with the prince. I’m always down to have a female character defying shoujo stereotypes and have her doing something that actually requires her to have a brain. You see flashes of Shirayuki’s intellect at various points throughout the show, but any time she does something even remotely clever it’s so heavily valorized that she loses all her credit. That, and she usually needs someone else to help her execute whatever idea she has.

I’m not saying that Shirayuki’s design had any negative intentions, she just fell into the all too common trap of “special snowflake” heroine. She didn’t have any magical powers or anything, but you may as well have put some wings on her and call her a fairy for all the difference it would have made if she did. She was just too damn perfect. She was a friend to everyone and did nothing wrong throughout the entirety of the series. I’m all for anime heroines that aren’t annoying or whiny, but to do a complete 360 and make one that’s a paradigm of nobility isn’t much better. I’m sure if you’ve read this blog you’ve heard me rant at one time or another about how I like my characters to be conflicted and properly beaten into the ground before they are allowed a modicum of success.

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I mean the show also loses me on the fact that there’s no real conflict or enemy or really anything that seems to be at stake. Sure there’s Zen’s older brother, Prince Izana who’s all like “this girl is probably using you and she’s common, blah, blah, blah”. You know typical disapproving family member style. But this whole conflict is literally resolved when Shirayuki shows how wonderful and kind and freaking fabulous she is. Special snowflake with red hair. And then Zen is all like “I’m going to live my life so that you can be in it” Because that’s how politics work in Clarines apparently.

When she and the prince finally got together it was so boring and lackluster. He was all just like oh sorry I kissed you without your permission I’m a bad person. Next time I kiss you I’ll ask first cuz I’m super chivalrous and all that nonsense. Point being, their coupling was obscenely anticlimactic. There were no real consequences. No kingdom got blown to smithereens. Even older brother Prince Izana didn’t try to get her tortured or kidnapped or anything. To be fair I would have had different issues with that, but at least it would have been a smidgen more exciting.

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See they’re super chill. No conflict here. Nope.

Anyway, I’ll keep my conclusions brief, but this show is pretty much the anime equivalent of lukewarm tapwater. It’s not like the worst thing in the world and it won’t kill you to watch it, but if someone offers you pretty much anything else to drink you should probably go with that instead. Also seriously, Shirayuki just because a bell decides to jump off a tower doesn’t mean you have to do it too. Talk about giving into peer pressure.

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No one is impressed.

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9 responses to “Akagami no Shirayukihime

  1. I couldn’t agree with you more. The whole show is focused pretty much solely on how incredibly awesome Shirayuki and Zen are, making everything that happens dull as dishwater. We know that the epic perfection of our female and male leads will always completely swamp any bad vibes from other characters or storylines. In the end, it’s just a dull, pastoral version of a magical high school show.

    I’m glad to finally find someone else who shares that opinion!

    • Thanks for the comment DP. I totally understand what you’re saying. I kept waiting for something, ANYTHING to happen that made me more interested, but yea as you said, the whole thing was dull as dishwater.

  2. I agree with many of your points about the show, especially the ones about how the story doesn’t do anything to significantly challenge Shirayuki. I don’t think she’s ever depicted as “perfect” by any means, but the show is very conspicuous about directing the tension away from her in a way that avoids putting her character under scrutiny. She’s shown to have a semblance of a major flaw or two, mostly related to how her headstrong attitude can potentially put her in bad situations, the show reins her in before any lasting consequences happen.

    Yet, while she’s not suitably punished for these kinds of misdeeds, there are times where the show acknowledges that it’s shielding her from actual danger. Episode 9 comes to mind when Obi observes a drunk Shirayuki attempting to plan a journey back to the snow fort, to which he comments that she doesn’t always think about the consequences of her actions. Episode 2 is an actual example of this happening when she goes to an island without thinking hard enough about her conspicuousness. Later she’s shown to be really lucky that Zen was around to stop anything drastic happening. Sure, these kinds of developments are very transparent when it comes to the show’s intent, which is to create a safe environment for Shirayuki’s character to shine, but at least it tries to make itself sound believable in the process and I personally do not fault the show for the attempt.

    I think I came into this show with much different expectations than you did. I wasn’t really looking for any grandiose adventure-type narratives where the stakes are high and the tropes are more obnoxious than they are now. I wasn’t given many reasons to believe that Shirayuki is the kind of strong, independent female character that the show needs to function at a higher level. The show restricts itself quite visibly as to what is can and cannot do with Shirayuki, thanks to a setting that is in the middle of peacetime and has no major political strife. So, within all of these confines and regulations that Snow White with the Red Hair is forced to work with, I think the show operates well and directs itself with a knowing modesty. It’s bloody dull as a result, yes, but now it can have its shoujo cliches without being borderline problematic or perhaps being outright problematic in the process.

    This is probably, then, an issue of whether a shoujo that knowingly neuters itself can have as much merit as a shoujo that at least tries to have meaningful conflict but shoots itself in the foot in the process. I don’t have much of a preference myself, but I like this show despite knowing that it can’t be observed as nothing more than just okay, cute, and inoffensive.

    • Thanks Appropriant! I think your points make a lot of sense. The setting just isn’t that conducive to any sort of real conflict. And I guess sometimes I expect more than I should from shows like this, even though I usually get disappointed haha.

  3. And I thought this blog is death.

    Normally, for a work adapted from manga, I’d say that the original is better. However, this time, they are both the same.

    • XD Hi Fireminer, I also thought this blog was dead, but Josh has been bothering me to post something so I did haha. Nice to hear from you! And yea well if the manga was this dull then there really wasn’t a whole lot they could do to resuscitate it.

    • Haha yea…I mean I think that seems to be the general consensus. Although it seems you caught on a lot faster than me since I somehow ended up watching the whole thing XD.

  4. Pingback: Why I don’t care about the romance in Akagami no Shirayuki-hime (but I do care about the shipping) | Fantastic Memes·

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