Snow White with the Red Hair
by Rebecca Silverman,
How would you rate episode 6 of
Snow White with the Red Hair ?
Even before last week's preview, when we first caught a glimpse of Zen's older brother Izana, we've known that there was an elder prince waiting in the wings somewhere. After all, Zen is repeatedly referred to as the second prince; the real question has been where the first prince has been for the past five episodes. While we don't find that out specifically, this week we do finally meet Prince Izana, and it very quickly becomes clear that even though he hasn't been around, Zen's activities and friendships have by no means been a secret from him. Whether or not that's why he's returned so suddenly is unclear, but given his actions, it does feel like a safe bet.
Izana is rather an interesting character right now. There's an edge to him despite the fact that he's elegance personified (for this show, anyway), indolently playing with long-stemmed lilies and swanning about where Zen is usually shown moving quickly and working. This is clearly a facade, as his words are far more incisive than his body language would suggest. He's also very keen on reminding Zen that he's the older, more powerful prince in the castle: when Zen first figures out that his brother has returned, he is prevented from meeting him by the royal guards. When Izana speaks to his little brother, it will be on big brother's terms, end of story. It's an obvious statement of power, but that doesn't stop it, or any of his other tactics, such as hiding Shirayuki in the audience chamber while he's speaking to Zen or inviting Prince Raj, whom we haven't seen since Shirayuki escaped his clutches, to Clarines. On the surface, this looks like a series of ploys to separate Zen and Shirayuki, and it's pretty clear that they both think so too, with Shirayuki being the more concerned of the two. This also makes sense, since Zen has had a lifetime to get used to how his brother does things, but also because of the two of them, Shirayuki is the commoner, the audacious little herbalist who dared to become friendly with the prince. That she's only just now allowing herself to realize her feelings for Zen compounds her worries. Despite his actions, Izana really isn't a “bad guy,” and seen from another perspective what he's doing makes sense. If his brother is in the middle of doing something really foolish, it's his responsibility (or their absent parents'?) to put a stop to it, and you have to admit, from a royal standpoint, Zen getting cozy with a commoner does sound like a suspicious plan. Izana seems like there's much more to him than we're getting, and I'm looking forward to seeing what his next moves will be.
On the subject of Shirayuki, I realize that six episodes of a projected twenty-four or twenty-six episode series is hardly “only just now,” but given that Zen has known and been fairly obvious about his feelings for her since episode one, it does feel like something of a relief to have Shirayuki acknowledge that she, too, has warmer feelings for Zen than she typically shows. We started to get a glimpse of it last week, and this week her emotions grow progressively stronger as the episode goes on. What it really does is start to help Shirayuki flesh out as a character. Up to this point, episodes one and two aside where she repeatedly saves herself, she has been mostly defined by her work ethic. She's good at what she does and she works at it tirelessly, and while we know that in part that is motivated by a desire to help Zen (look at the crying scene from a few weeks ago), having confirmation that there's more than professional pride on the line really helps to make her more human. I don't want to see her emotions make her weak, but knowing that she has them and falls prey to them just like the rest of us gives her a little more development, helping to invest us in her as a person, not just a protagonist.
The series is back to looking gorgeous this week, and there are also some good humorous touches, such as Zen's face when Raj makes a particularly ill-advised comment or Zen's reaction to Shirayuki's non-reaction. Hair is realistically messy when Shirayuki is running and in one particularly beautiful scene, the billow of a curtain practically makes you feel the wind. The one problem I had, which may very well be unique to me, is that I kept having to remind myself that Izana was not Howl from Howl's Moving Castle – there are a couple of scenes where I really thought he looked like it. But if that's my biggest problem with this week, I'd say we're in pretty good shape for episode six of Snow White with the Red Hair.
Snow White with the Red Hair is currently streaming on Funimation.
Rebecca Silverman is ANN's senior manga critic.
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