MAJOR SPOILERS ARE INCLUDED IN THIS REVIEW
Now that Snow White With the Red Hair is well under way, the story is becoming more engaging as the dangers of court life are more apparent than ever for our heroine Shirayuki. In “Episode 4: From the Small Hand, a Burgeoning Concerto Resonates”, Shirayuki passes her Court Herbalist exam by tending to one of the medicinal herb gardens, and replanting a plant that was in danger of poisoning half of the garden. Zen comes by the greenhouse to check on Shirayuki only to be locked in by a mysterious and jealous competitor. In such a sweet moment…er…amount of hours, Zen helps Shirayuki replant and is more worried over her being expelled for his help than what the royal court will think of their night together.
The head herbalist Garack Gazelt is pleased with Shirayuki’s discovery (which was all part of the exam) and is impressed that Shirayuki replanted the poisonous flower. Zen explains that she wants to earn her position as a court herbalist and it would do no good to use his command as the second prince to place her there. The members of the royal court of Clarines are learning the determination and spirit of the mysterious red haired girl.
Although each episode of Snow White is roughly 25 minutes, it would have been beneficial for the audience to see more of Chief Gazelt since Shirayuki will be studying and working as part of her staff it’s odd that Gazelt wasn’t given much screen time. It seems that Ryu will be the focus of the court’s herbalist group. Ryu is assigned as Shirayuki’s superior and feels the warmth of her friendship at their first meeting. Since Ryu is a child prodigy, and the people are unsure of him, he has no friends and doesn’t speak easily with others. Patients are afraid to ask for his help due to the rumor of Ryu only experimenting on those who need medicine.
In“Episode 5: This Path, the Crystallization of Premonition,” Zen and his trusted guards, Mitsuhide and Kiki, travel to Fort Laxdo only to find all the soldiers mysteriously ill. Shirayuki is called in, and she figures out it was the firewood that was tainted to make everyone sick. She is always looking out for the health of others, but she neglects to take care of herself during this episode. With the Fort’s entire regiment ill, Shirayuki brings them back to health while denying sleep to herself. As good natured and lovable as Shirayuki is, it seems that she has no faults other than forgetting to take care of herself.
Her desire to become a better herbalist and earn her position at court to stay by Zen’s side is admirable, but it would be nice to see some type of talent flaw within her such as not being able to mend a dress or sing off key. For a completely developed character in any type of story, there needs something to be wrong with them. Zen. for example, is often overly cautious of Shirayuki’s safety and at times wants to forsake his duties just to make sure she is safe, and Ryu barely knows how to interact with other people. He finds Shirayuki crying after learning about Zen’s poisoning as a child and runs directly to Zen believing she shouldn’t be alone.
The episode of the bandits stealing the fort’s armory by tricking the soldiers into using poisoned firewood is clever storytelling. With Zen and his friends not understanding what causes such a mysterious illness, the writer makes Shirayuki’s heroic effort of dragging the burning firewood out of the fireplace an act to make her a vital part of the kingdom of Clariens. Zen, Kiki and Mitsuhide’s fight against the bandits exemplifies the spirit and form of being a royal knight. The swift and graceful movements are credited to the anime’s artists for being able to recreate an image of noble knights fighting for justice right out of old tales.
Yet not all of Clariens royals are so noble and kind. Zen’s older brother makes an appearance in “Episode 6: The Back Full of Meaning;” Izana, the first prince of Clariens does not like the thought of Zen having a commoner as a friend. To make the castle’s atmosphere extremely uncomfortable, Prince Izana invites none other than the ingrate Prince Raj to stay at the palace. Raj is still afraid of Zen but is willing to take Shirayuki as his mistress. He gathers enough gall or stupidity to announce at a garden party that Shirayuki is Zen’s fiance, which even shocks Izana.
Zen admits to Raj that Shirayuki is not engaged to him and that she may even leave him. I would have preferred at that moment for Zen to admit that he loves Shirayuki. Perhaps then it would have been awkward for Zen to pronounce his love to an enemy and not Shirayuki herself first. Still, the scene of public realization for Zen’s friendship seemed much too quick as was Shirayuki’s quick relapse into doubt at the end of Episode 6.
Snow White has the soft art style, befitting music and a memorable story which all make this anime enchanting. The only problem with the anime is that the story and character development is moved along too quickly. A few of scenes from Episodes 4-6 emit a feeling of wanting; the scenes seem to be cut short, so the episode will move forward. I can only hope that the rest of Season One and the upcoming second season will have more elaboration of both the characters and story.