Snow White with the Red Hair
Episode 23

by Rebecca Silverman,

How would you rate episode 23 of
Snow White with the Red Hair (TV 2) ?

First things first, the translation error that several people pointed out last week, where Izana actually said that he wanted Zen to convince him to be his ally rather than outright stating that he will help his brother, has been corrected for the brief flashback at the start of the episode. (For the curious, Justin Sevakis covered the schedule simulcast subbers are under here and here.) So with that all cleared up, we can get on with the meat of the episode, which is not, surprisingly, about Shirayuki and Zen.

It's about Mitsuhide. A very…formal Mitsuhide.

Long story short, when some butterfingered maids accidentally drop a heavy carpet on Zen from a gallery, injuring his neck, Mitsuhide runs for the herbalists, only to accidentally inhale a potion with hypnotic powers. Since he was fretting about helping Zen more efficiently at the time, the fumes make him become incredibly vigilant and serious about his Zen guarding duties, to say nothing of chivalrous and attentive. If you've ever yearned to see Mitsuhide surrounded by sparkles and shoujo bubbles, this is your chance.

Needless to say, Zen, who values his space, is feeling a bit stifled by all of this, while Kiki is unimpressed and Obi has his own plans. While this might feel like a bit of a wasted episode given that it is the penultimate one, it could very well be intended to remind both Zen and Shirayuki of what comes with being (or marrying) royalty – supervision and a need to do things when others demand it rather than at your leisure. Mitsuhide's devotion has its perks, but it also reveals that he was lurking just outside the door while Zen and Shirayuki were having a tender moment, indicative of the lack of privacy that they may well be subject to later on. Zen is even seen reverting back to his old tricks to get away from Mitsuhide's smothering presence, which does make us wonder how he'll handle playing a bigger governmental role if that is the price Izana extracts for his support. Not that such a trade has been proposed, but it does seem like it could be a distinct possibility, given Zen's efforts over both seasons to pay more attention to his work.

Largely, though, this is a funny episode rather than a deep one, and that's fine. Obi is a highlight, snickering his way through Mitsuhide's transformation and others' reaction to it, and ultimately winning the day with his well-kept records of all of Mitsuhide's pompous utterances. (I wish we got to know what he said to Obi while he was on the couch!) Kiki and Zen consistently make some good faces listening to him, although that seems to be an excuse for some generally sloppy animation throughout the episode, with off-model faces and one particularly terrible scene of Zen walking. This is in part made up for by Zen's stiff movements when his neck is injured (and shirtless Zen may also be a plus for some viewers), but given that stiff Zen required very little animation except for his eyes, that feels like faint praise.

What is mostly lacking in this episode is Shirayuki herself. While she's surprised by Mitsuhide's behavior and determined to research a suitable cure, she's also largely absent from the majority of the episode, or at least failing to make an impact. The fact that her future as an official herbalist (rather than an apprentice) hinges on the events of this week fails to make much impact, which definitely gives the impression that the show is rushing towards next week's conclusion. Given all that has to happen for things to have a moderately satisfying, hopeful ending, I am concerned that giving this week's episode to fluff may come back to bite Snow White with the Red Hair in its finale. I know we're unlikely to get a conclusive ending – I just hope that we don't get one that thumbs its nose at us and jeers, “Read the manga!”

Rating: B

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


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