The Winter 2016 Anime Preview Guide
Snow White with the Red Hair season 2
How would you rate episode 13 of
Snow White with the Red Hair (TV 2) ?
What is this?
Ever since Prince Zen confessed his feelings for the beautiful, strong, and wise court herbalist Shirayuki, things have been peaceful in the kingdom of Clarines. Day by day, Shirayuki is improving in her horticultural studies, and Zen has become far more committed to his duties as a future ruler. But all that changes when two terrible messages arrive at the palace, reminding Shirayuki that the devils of her past aren't quite done with her yet. First, the kidnapping scoundrel Mihaya returns to warn Shirayuki that a mysterious blonde traveler named Kazuki may be after her little red head for some nefarious purpose. Then a message arrives from the notorious Prince Raj inviting Shirayuki to a banquet in Tanbarun, which Prince Izana orders her to attend. It seems there are still many forces conspiring to keep Prince Zen and Shirayuki apart, but can their love overcome these obstacles? Snow White with the Red Hair season 2 is based on a manga and can be found streaming on Funimation, Mondays at 11:00 AM EST.
How was the first episode?
When we last left court herbalist Shirayuki and Prince Zen they had just made their budding romantic relationship official. This brought new problems for the couple. Shirayuki is not a noble and Zen's elder brother is set on testing the two of them by orchestrating political and romantic complications. Even Zen's own messenger Obi seems to be grappling with his own growing feelings for Shirayuki.
The opening episode for this season returns to the court of Clarines but feels much more like a mid-season episode. The story doesn't get underway until well into the second half, with the first 15 minutes meandering around the castle. The herbalists are cleaning out the medical wing, Shirayuki's supervisor gives Obi seeds to grow a plant Shirayuki likes, and Zen gets a papercut. Compare this to the first half's opening episode where Shirayuki gets kidnapped and adeptly out strategizes her captor. That initial episode excelled at blending both drama and pacing, something this episode sorely lacked. Snow White with the Red Hair refuses to end on a slow note, though. Once the story gets its bearings things begin moving forward rapidly just in time to leave the audience hanging. The previously mentioned kidnapper is back with vaguely threatening information to sell to get himself a secure job at the castle and Prince Izana is more than happy to separate Shirayuki and Zen and set her up with some other prince.
Animation was another indicator that this episode was drafted as “episode 13” and not a proper opener in its own right. The beautiful backgrounds are still present but the characters themselves go off model whenever a wide shot features more than one character in a room. Faces start to devolve into rudimentary lines fast.
This episode's second half serves as stage setting for the romantic drama to play out for the rest of the season. The threads from last season are still hanging with the move to another kingdom and a mysterious boy thrown in for maximum turmoil. This doesn't excuse the front portion's lackadaisical pacing, though. A story can create a great hook at the end of each chapter but the story's substance cannot be this slow if it wants to draw viewers in. The audience hasn't thought about these characters for almost six months. The staff could have managed to punch the episode up a bit so it feels exciting to rejoin this cast. At least the things to come look more promising.
Review: Though it didn't make my Top 5 list, the first season of this series was far and away my favorite shojo title of 2015. Hence its second season was one of my most-anticipated titles for Winter 2016, and its first episode does not disappoint. . . in most regards, anyway. Anyone who was a fan of the first season should be quite pleased with the way this one starts.
Let's get the one significant negative out of the way first. The first season was a very pretty series loaded with pleasing character designs which did not play too much into common shojo stereotypes beyond a seeming general trend towards heroines with short red hair. This episode mostly retains that, but only mostly because the characters are slightly off-model with alarmingly abnormal frequency, as if this episode was rushed through production. Perhaps I'm mistaken, but I do not recall this happening to this degree at any point during the first season.
Other than that, though, there's a lot to like here. The first two-thirds of the episode is a return to the slower and more mundane parts of the first season, with Shirayuki, Zen, and the major supporting cast all going about their ordinary business. All of this is perfectly pleasant and fits well into the series’ overall tone, but the only thing significant to come out of it is that Obi seems to be getting friendly with Ryu. The last third, however, turns towards the more dramatic side as it sets up the two initial plot threads for the season: one concerning a boy who seeking Shirayuki with a possible intent to kidnap (though I'll be shocked if it doesn't end up being something else) and the other concerning Shirayuki being ordered by Prince Izana to temporarily return to Tanbarun, this time in a diplomatic capacity. Those should provide plenty of meat for tensions to develop, especially since Shirayuki's attraction to Zen seems to be growing even if she doesn't want to admit it and she obviously has reasons to feel trepidation about what awaits her in Tanbarun. They also give reason to bring Mihaya – the noble who kidnaped Shirayuki back in episode 2 of the first season – back into the picture as the one who brings tidings about the boy apparently seeking Shirayuki. That he would eventually reappear was always expected, and it should be interesting to see what trouble comes with him.
So strap in for another season of warm, fuzzy romance and Disney-flavored drama, viewers! This rocket is taking off.
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