Light Spoilers of episodes 1-3 follow
This summer, the tale of Snow White is completely reworked into a new story within a gorgeous anime:
Snow White with the Red Hair, originally a manga created by Sorata Akizuki, presents a beautiful, kind, and resourceful heroine, Shirayuki. She lives in the kingdom of Tanbarun, where she works as a herbalist at her own shop. Her most admirable quality is her love and desire to learn as much as she can about herbs and their healing properties. Shirayuki believes her purpose in life is to heal, and will go so far as to prove her medicine works by even injuring herself.
Shirayuki possesses the rarest apple-red hair of the kingdom and a personality to match. Her hair causes her so many problems, from threats to kidnapping, and yet she survives. The story sounds like the usual damsel-in-distress scenario, yet it’s far from that. Shirayuki uses her own abilities and smarts to out-think her opponents. She meets Zen, a prince from a neighboring country, and befriends him. Even though Prince Zen could fill the role of the dashing prince that rescues her, he is reserved and watches Shirayuki play through a situation of being threatened with a sword. His desire is to learn more about his country and work hard — even when it means writing and signing documents all day — makes Zen the perfect partner for Shirayuki. Both of these characters strive to become better persons, and they want to accomplish that as a team.
Shirayuki is a scholarly anime heroine. Spending her time studying books and the plants she finds makes her more human, and less of a made-up character. The beginning episodes set the tone of Snow White with the Red Hair by exemplifying Shirayuki as the type of princess-figure that is worth admiring. Instead of choosing a life of fine clothes and money after being threatened into becoming the prince of Tanbarun’s mistress, Shirayuki leaves her beloved herbal shop, and begins a journey to a new kingdom and a new life. Within the first episode she states “This is my own path, this is my story.” She decides to enter the court herbalist exam to earn her passage into the palace, and not rely upon Prince Zen’s friendship to give her a standing in society. Snow White with the Red Hair is a gem within the anime industry. Having the female lead take matters into her own hands and show how spirit and ambition can lead one in life is just what the industry needs in today’s repetitive climate.
In place of exaggerated animations with overly large eyes or mannerisms, the show is charming and inviting by taking advantage of a clean art style reminiscent of Studio Ghibli — It has a sense of realism in a beautiful medieval landscape. Without magic spells or weapons, the story is able to focus more on the characters themselves instead of action sequences. The only downside is the lack of character background. Although the story has the rest of the season to reveal backstories, it would have been great to learn more of the underlying story.
Snow White with the Red Hair is refreshing anime to watch for fantasy fans, and it’s a great starting point for someone new to the anime realm. The muted fairy tale background and peaceful soundtrack provides a sense of peace that truly makes watching the show an enjoyable experience. For any anime fan, or for those looking for some good entertainment this summer; Snow White with the Red Hair is a wonderful anime to become immersed into. This story offers a fresh mix of fairy tales and female empowerment, with stunning art.