Snow White with the Red Hair
Episode 17

by Rebecca Silverman,

How would you rate episode 17 of
Snow White with the Red Hair (TV 2) ?

Despite the number of tense scenes and important events this week, it's kind of hard not to feel like aspects of Snow White with the Red Hair's plot were ripped from an early 19th century farce. Not only is she kidnapped from the palace in Tanbarun, she's then also kidnapped from her initial kidnappers by even worse kidnappers, a group of sea-going rogues known as “The Claw of the Sea,” who can best be found by looking in the mountains. Seriously, it you think about it, this is one of the more ridiculous plots to appear in a serious show, at least recently.

Fortunately, it's all handled better than the chain of events would imply. It's clear that Kazuki, the initial kidnapper, is far less dangerous than the pirate queen who later seizes both of them. In fact, Kazuki has acted from the start as if he knows Shirayuki somehow, and there was almost a glimmer of recognition when she first sees him. It's played off as her astonishment at how pretty he is, but there's something about the way he treats her that implies a relationship somehow different from kidnapper and victim. Once he and his partner in crime Itoya have her tucked away in the forest, they untie her, which also speaks volumes; yes, it could indicate that they doubt she has any chance of escaping in her heavy gown, but it also says that they don't want her to be uncomfortable – even when she was initially restrained, it was with a coat rather than a coarse rope. Whatever purposes they want her for don't seem quite as nefarious as they did at first, which is much more than we can say for the Claw of the Sea group, who is perfectly happy to let Kazuki (or anyone) do what they like to Shirayuki as long as it's “below the neck,” which is code for “hidden by her clothes.” Of course, the pirates clearly have more interest in Kazuki than in Shirayuki – she just had the bad luck of being kidnapped by their target.

Meanwhile, back at the palace, we have three young men suffering from fairly extreme combinations of anger and guilt. Obi's is clearly the worst case, since he was knocked out by Itoya during their fight, allowing Shirayuki to be kidnapped. (Raj's sister also feels badly about this, since she's the one who distracted Obi.) Rather than wait around to face Zen, Obi simply takes off after the villains, and his confrontation with Itoya (after Shirayuki has been re-abducted) is the most violent I can recall seeing him. He's almost animal in his intensity and movements, and it really feels like he wouldn't hesitate to kill any number of people – and Itoya in particular – in order to rescue Shirayuki. Not only has he let her down, he has also failed the mission Zen assigned him, so the combination of personal and professional guilt and grief is clearly pushing him towards (if not over) the edge.

Zen does manage to keep his head, although his emotions are clearly simmering just below the surface, visible through his eyes and stiff body language. Raj, however, is the character most truly transformed by Shirayuki's abduction. Far from hiding or laughing things off, he is clearly afraid, both for her and for himself when Zen finds out she's gone. Shirayuki has inspired him to try to become a better person, and this is the moment when he can either fulfill that promise or slink back to his room. His choice surprises himself, to say nothing of his father, the king of Tanbarun, who seems to know his son's behavioral patterns pretty well. He also understands that there's more going on here than two princes after a random kidnapped girl and appears to be weighing the political issues this could raise, making him not at all what I had anticipated Raj's father to be like. It was an expectation I was happy to have defied, and I was also pleasantly surprised to see him drawn as a fairly young man – I have come to expect fathers/kings to look like little old men. (I blame Disney.)

While the introduction of an abduction plot does seem to run counter to what Snow White with the Red Hair has been about, it also isn't reducing the story to a simple damsel in distress tale. Once Shirayuki recovers from her shock, I'm sure her determination will kick back in, and I really can't blame her for her current state of panic and disbelief. The heroes are riding to the rescue, but there's a hero right there in Shirayuki herself, and Kazuki is likely to step up to the line as well, given his clear fear of the Claws. This hasn't been a typical “Snow White” story by any means – maybe it's worth remembering that in many of the Northern European stories, the princess plays just as big a role in her own salvation as the prince.

Rating: B

Snow White with the Red Hair is currently streaming on Funimation.

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