Snow White with the Red Hair
by Rebecca Silverman,
How would you rate episode 13 of
Snow White with the Red Hair (TV 2) ?
How would you rate episode 14 of
Snow White with the Red Hair (TV 2) ?
It isn't easy to make a second season live up to the high expectations of the first, and the first of the two new episodes of Snow White with the Red Hair doesn't quite pull it off. It's real task is to reintroduce us to all of the characters while bringing this season's new plot to bear, and while it does do all of that, it doesn't do it in the most captivating way – especially since it tries to introduce us to two new threats to Shirayuki specifically and Shirayuki and Zen's relationship tangentially.
But first we have to see how well things are going in the castle. Shirayuki continues to prove herself and her worth to the other herbalists while Zen works like a fiend to make it possible for the two of them to be together. At this point he's still clearly the one more invested in their romance, with Shirayuki mostly blushing about all of his even slightly romantic gestures. This does make a degree of sense since she's so far beneath him socially (although one of the new threats, a “pretty boy” named Kazuki, calls her a princess, which may not just be a figure of speech, especially given the series-wide emphasis on her red hair), but it also feels a little old, given that they basically established couplehood last season. But if she was as comfortably invested as he is that wouldn't leave room for what is becoming increasingly clear – that Obi has a crush on her and that he would be the more socially acceptable choice. Plus Tanbarun, the other threat, has requested Shirayuki's presence for a ball, meaning that Raj has most definitely not given up on the red-head. We viewers know that he's not going to replace Zen, but Izana wouldn't be himself if he wasn't acting like he hoped the foreign prince would take care of his little snow white problem.
Luckily episode fourteen happens, which is generally much more engaging. While it keeps up poor Zen's tension - he's practically beside himself for most of the episodes and so tired that he's even dreaming about sleeping in fourteen – it also spends more time on Obi and his potential feelings for Shirayuki. I'd totally be rooting for him if I didn't like Zen so much, and there's a nice use of subtle hints to confirm his implied feelings from the previous season. The best scene on that front is when Obi challenges Zen to a duel for the honor of escorting Shirayuki when she leaves for Tanbarun; you definitely get the feeling that he's talking about a lot more than just going on a trip with her. It seems like Zen is aware of that implication as well, and while he doesn't back down, even when he concedes defeat in this particular battle, he manages to make it apparent that he's using the fact that he trusts Obi as a way of reminding him who has the prior “claim.” It's interesting that he's the one working himself to the bone for the couple, as it could imply a greater commitment, but its more likely that Shirayuki simply can't do as much, and therefore is just focusing on her work as a way to stay in the palace. She's also got more of a disbelief that things are actually working, because how many regular girls actually get the prince? On the other hand, she still manages to get her feelings across when she asks Zen for essentially his favor when she's about to embark on her trip to Tanbarun, although whether she wants it as a good luck charm or as a sort of spell to ensure that she's going to come back to Clarines isn't clear. Either way, it certainly lets Zen (and us) know that she really is serious, to say nothing of nervous about going away.
It certainly looks like she's right to be – Raj is waiting for her full of stammers and veiled blushes, to say nothing of an attendant who seems to want him to connect with Shirayuki. If anything, Raj's feelings for the girl he once tried to force to be his seem stronger (albeit purer) than before, making him more of a threat. He is unstable, after all, so it is by no means certain that he will allow Shirayuki to leave now that she's in his castle again, although Obi seems to set him on edge, as well he should. It looks like Shirayuki's “kill 'em with kindness” routine may backfire on her...
It may be because I've built season one up in my mind, but it looks like the quality of the art and animation has dropped this time, with characters frequently off-model and a slight decrease in the richness of the animation. The scene of Obi leaping among the trees in the opening theme is amazing (take that, Prince of Stride!), but that level of quality is largely absent from the first episode, although the second does show some improvement and a return to the quality of season one with both the fight between Zen and Obi and one small scene of Shirayuki taking her feet out of a basin of water, which looks strikingly natural. Fortunately there's still a good use of humor in the show, with Zen the Guard Dog being one of the best instances.
Episode thirteen is really a transitional episode as we move forward into new territory. It's better than starting with a clip show and it certainly works to give us more Obi , who looks to be getting a much bigger role this season, something borne out by the better episode fourteen. The story is picking back up and Shirayuki looks like she's going to have plenty to think about (especially since she's clearly pleased to see Tanbarun itself again) as she navigates Prince Raj's hospitality while Zen searches out a mysterious young man who seems to know something about her. It looks like we're in for another good season.
Snow White with the Red Hair is currently streaming on Funimation.
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