Snow White with the Red Hair
by Rebecca Silverman,
How would you rate episode 16 of
Snow White with the Red Hair (TV 2) ?
Things are certainly heating up, both emotionally and in terms of the plot...although this episode doesn't always do the best job of showing that. I do appreciate what it tries to do, however – rather than bouncing back and forth between Clarines and Tanbarun every so many minutes, or saving all of the Clarines parts for the very end, the episode bookends Shirayuki's days in Tanbarun with what's happening back home. This does allow for us to see the emotional tension growing in Obi (and in a different way in Raj), but it also makes the Tanbarun parts drag a bit as we wait to get back to the more urgent plot of the dangerous, possible piratical, people coming for Shirayuki.
Since the first season of the show did such a good job with the romance angle, it would have been reasonable to assume that it was done with it. And Zen and Shirayuki are a very certain thing – even Izana, although visibly surprised by how serious Zen is about her (clearly he doesn't know his brother as well as he assumed), doesn't offer any major ultimatums beyond the expected “no trouble.” What we didn't necessarily count on was Obi's growing feelings becoming apparent so quickly. In this episode we see Obi start to understand what some of us have suspected for a while now, brought about by Princess Rona's keen eye for competition. When Rona shoves Shirayuki, Obi catches her, and when he lets her go, we see him almost reflexively clench the hand that had touched her. Later in his room he again regards his hand as if it has some special quality now that it has held Shirayuki. Obi is visibly upset and conflicted as he realizes that he might have warm feelings for her, doubtless due to his loyalty to Zen and Shirayuki's shyness in admitting that she misses the prince. This could lead to Obi leaving Clarines in the far future, but more importantly it is likely to strain his relationship with the prince rather sooner...and this is not looking like a good time for that to happen. Meanwhile Raj is also struggling to figure out his own feelings for Shirayuki. People keep pushing him to like her in the romantic sense, but at this point it feels more like he simply enjoys her as a friend, a relationship he hopes not to sabotage now that he's matured beyond kidnapping her. If Rona and his assistant would stop pressuring him for ten minutes, I'm pretty sure he could come to that conclusion on his own. Zen, on the other hand, looks as if he may be willing (and ready) to throw everything away for Shirayuki – his defiance of his brother and his body language, which indicates barely contained energy, speaks of his determination to keep her by him in the future, no matter what Izana says.
Ten minutes' peace for everyone to figure things out does not look like it'll be happening any time soon. Kazuki and his associates (one of whom looks like he escaped from Princess Mononoke) are coming to Tanbarun to steal Shirayuki for their own presumably nefarious purposes, and Zen is hellbent on getting there before they do. From the preview, it looks like her abduction is a foregone conclusion, which is likely to send all three of Shirayuki's protectors into a tizzy, or possibly, in the cases of Raj and Obi, a guilt-riddled rage and/or meltdown. It's a pretty serious cliffhanger, compounded by the fact that for just a moment, it looks like Shirayuki recognizes Kazuki when he shows up on her balcony.
Really both “sections” of this episode are good and engaging, with better art and animation than we've seen this season. I do understand why they were split up as they were, as it allows development for both, but it also feels just a little awkward when we return to Zen towards the end, and a bit slow while Shirayuki and Raj are hanging around in the library. (The best I've seen since Beauty and the Beast, incidentally.) There may not have been any other way to pull it off with the constraints of an episode count, but it does make this work a little less well than it could have. On the other hand, it got us to the major plot, which looks good. Let's see if it lives up to expectations.
Snow White with the Red Hair is currently streaming on Funimation.
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