Snow White with the Red Hair
by Rebecca Silverman,
How would you rate episode 24 of
Snow White with the Red Hair (TV 2) ?
And so we find ourselves in beautiful Clarines for the last time; the land where dewdrops sparkle like the diamond tears of unicorns even without any light to reflect off of them and random flocks of pure white doves take diagonally to the skies at every symbolic moment. Early episodes of Snow White with the Red Hair garnered comparisons to Disney princess films, and this episode brings all of those back in terms of visuals and sweet happily-ever-after implications – if you're at all a romantic and you can make it through this episode without a big goofy grin on your face, I'll be impressed.
The finale's plot is basically about Shirayuki bringing herself to admit to Zen that she wants a future with him, but it doesn't get too bogged down in princessy tropes. While there is a good middle section all about true love and kisses by moonlight (to say nothing of Zen looking kind of proud of himself when Shirayuki's legs give out after a couple of them), and there's definitely something nice about hearing Shirayuki commit to a relationship where she's definitely been the more cautious party, she's still true to herself as the character we've spent the last twenty-three episodes getting to know: someone who ultimately wants to follow her own path in life. The only change is that now she accepts that she might get to do that and get the guy too. Interestingly enough, Raj seems to play a pretty big part of that. The episode opens with Sakaki, his attendant, coming to gift Shirayuki with a Tanbarunian title, Friend of the Crown. While it's clear that this isn't technically ennobling her – she's not going to be Lady Shirayuki or Dame Shirayuki – it's also pretty evident that he's trying to give her the option of staying with Zen if she wants to without Izana being able to object overmuch. She now has a clear tie to royalty and therefore some social status…to say nothing of the fact that if Izana makes things too difficult, Raj has made it known that she'll always have a place in his castle. Even if that wouldn't have any real international consequences, it could certainly make things uncomfortable between the Clarines boys. In a letter Raj tells Shirayuki that he knows she didn't ask for this help/title, but he wants her to have it in her arsenal anyway, the clearest sign we've gotten that the brat who tried to kidnap her back in season one has done some serious growing up.
In some ways it feels like this episode is about Raj, Zen, and Shirayuki's own character arcs coming to a close. The Tanbarun prince has reformed while the herbalist has reconciled her dreams with each other, which in itself is a nice statement about having it all. She didn't count on Zen, but she's realized that just because she loves him it doesn't mean she can't still be a court herbalist, while Zen has found the strength to stand up to Izana over something he really cares about. I actually find that for a change I prefer this ending to a more conclusive one where everything gets wrapped up in a little bow – it feels less like “read the manga, kids!” and more like a natural point to just let them go do their own thing, a hopeful ending if not a traditional “happy” one. Not that I wouldn't be thrilled to see another season or have the manga available in English, but I also don't feel the frustration I did with the ending of, for example, Yona of the Dawn or Princess Jellyfish.
This second season wasn't nearly as beautiful or quite as enjoyable as season one, but despite less gorgeous animation and some odd choices for storylines (I'm still baffled by last week's Mitsuhide story), it still made for a nice half hour every week. With more development for Kiki and Obi continuing to be awesome there was still plenty to enjoy, and this finale does bring things to a comfortable conclusion. When I say that Snow White with the Red Hair's second season was a nice show, I don't mean it as something kind you say when you can't think of anything else – not every story has to be epic and change your world. It really has been a pleasant show to watch, and in the end, that's really all it needed to be.
Snow White with the Red Hair is currently streaming on Funimation.
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