[SPOILER WARNING: Spoilers to follow for the final three episodes of Snow White with the Red Hair’s second season.]
The second season of Snow White with the Red Hair has come to a close, and with it comes inspiration and encouragement for anyone who questions their future. Shirayuki possesses the rarest hair color in the story’s world: the color of a red apple. This poses as a problem for the humble herbalist; everyone from pirates to princes wants to own her as a prize. While running away from her home country to avoid becoming the prince’s mistress, Shirayuki stumbles into a new realm and meets her future, Prince Zen. Their journey, along with Mitsuhide, Kiki and Obi, shapes their lives and those around them forever.
Episode 22: The Spring of Intent Will Quench Your Thirst brings about a coming-of-age ritual that royalty must adhere to: marriage interviews. The 1st Prince of Clarines, Izana, begins the ritual by sending all of the marriage propositions, from various countries and nobilities, to Zen and suggests a ball to be held so that he can meet with all the prospective wives. Instead, Zen chooses one name on the list as a private interview, hoping to postpone the ball. He chooses to meet with Kiki, who is one of his personal guards.
Seeing Zen’s face and the terror in his eyes when being forced into an interview reveals just how much he desires to marry Shirayuki. He even goes through lengths to keep the marriage interview a secret, which obviously doesn’t work when even the servants know. Shirayuki’s strength of character shines through as she later admits she knew Zen would explain why he agreed to the interview. This small glimpse of a conversation between Zen and Kiki, the daughter of a count, gives the audience a much better understanding of Kiki’s intentions towards her own future and her loyalty towards her home country’s second prince.
When Prince Izana reveals to Zen that he placed Kiki’s name on the interview list intentionally, viewers cannot help but wonder if Izana realizes the depth of feeling and loyalty his little brother has towards the aspiring Court Herbalist. When Izana sent Shirayuki away to her homeland to accept the invitation of a ball without Zen’s protection, the writer made Izana look, frankly, like a complete jerk wanting to separate the two. All of his talk about downplaying Shirayuki as a nobody who would hold Zen back from becoming the prince the land wanted and needed, seemed extreme. But in the end, he tells the second prince he wants Zen to make him walk the same path as him and Shirayuki.
This revelation is incredible compared to how Izana acted before and now he seems to be their ally. In Episode 23: Because of Who You Are, Mitsuhide accidentally breathes in an hallucinogen in the herbalist wing and suddenly acts very extreme, both in regards to protecting Zen and with Kiki. Prince Zen is extremely annoyed and keeps saying he’s not bothered by it, but eventually lets go of his pride. Shirayuki, on the other hand, using her knowledge and reasoning skills, creates a medicine to reverse the original potion’s effects.
The penultimate episode is filled with humor and reminiscing. Apparently, the overprotective actions are what Mitsuhide used to do when he was first assigned as Zen’s bodyguard. The audience learns how much the three friends (Zen, Kiki and Mitsuhide) care for each other and that they all want to work together despite their stations of royalty and nobility. There are some funny faces, witty lines, and much more humor to this story than in previous episodes, which tended to have a soft, serious aura about them.
This anime’s glorious artwork, that possesses a fairytale essence, is made from soft lines and colors. Occasionally, the facial expressions become slightly exaggerated, but the exaggeration is rare and well-timed. I found myself laughing alongside Zen and Kiki as Obi was imitating Mitsude’s actions while under the influence.
The air of a finale closes in as Episode 23 ends and the finale, Episode 24: A Tale, My Path, begins. Zen repeats the statement to Shirayuki that red is the color of fate’s future, proving to her in a few words that she is his future. So many emotions and meaning are packed into a couple of words in Snow White with the Red Hair. Raji sends a special messenger to formally bestow the official certificate and golden necklace to Shirayuki marking her with a permanent title: Friend of the Crown. Not only has Shirayuki accomplished her dream of creating a path through the Royal Clarines Court to always be working beside Zen by her own power, but her actions have now granted her a royal title.
Shirayuki has followed her own heart throughout this second season of Snow White with the Red Hair. She has fallen numerous times and made mistakes but has always picked herself back up, trusting in her friends to help out. Zen promises her, in this final chapter, to properly propose to her in the future and to let her take her time loving him. Unlike other lovers in various stories throughout multiple cultures and literary pieces, both Zen and Shirayuki decide to have their own paths intertwine into a bright future slowly.
Snow White with the Red Hair is a soft and beautiful love story about choosing your own path to fate while relying on and supporting friends to create a wonderful future for you and for those around you. Although this anime has come to a close, the future for Shirayuki, Zen, Obi, Kiki and Mitsuhide and their countries are bright and I wouldn’t be surprised if a third season depicting their growing love and leadership were announced this year. This anime serves as hope for the many of us out there who doubt our own path.
Snow White with the Red Hair can be watched through FUNimation. The manga books (written by Sorata Akizuki) are being translated into English and are also available in North America.