We’re back in Clarines with Shirayuki, Zen and the rest but Zen’s brother Izana is scheming again. Shirayuki is sent to Tanbarun (her home kingdom) to attend a ball with Prince Raj and Zen is not invited. After some touching moments there, Shirayuki is kidnapped and then we spend most of the rest of the season rescuing Shirayuki.
Season 2’s are always a bit of a mixed bag. A lot of the wow factor has faded away and the characters have already developed to a certain extent and relationships have been forged. It’s hard to balance ongoing development, while maintaining what people like about a show, and manage to keep it interesting and fresh.
So does Season 2 of Snow White with the Red Hair succeed?
The answer is mostly.
I absolutely loved season 1, as you probably figured from my review, and I fell in love with the characters. I particularly liked the relationship that had developed and consolidated between Shirayuki and Zen. This is where season 2 took a big risk. Most of the season separates these characters and at first it seems like a really contrived way to stretch out a love story. However, by the time Zen realises that Shirayuki is in potential danger and goes chasing into the next kingdom to get her back, you realise we kind of needed to see these characters apart again.
Part of what fans of the series loved was Shirayuki’s independence even as she became closer to Zen. In order for the audience to realise that Shirayuki is still that intelligent and independent character we need to have her travel on her own, take on Raj as a person, and genuinely stand on her own two feet. It might seem disappointing that this interlude is ended when she is kidnapped leading to the need have not one but two princes follow after her to rescue her, the kidnapping doesn’t make Shirayuki appear weak. Yeah, she is genuinely in over her head and she isn’t getting out of it on her own. And yes, she’s scared. But she still faces this challenge with her usual quiet determination and while there are some excellent moments where her fear and anxiety is allowed to show, for the most part she is very calm under extreme circumstances.
More importantly, Zen as a character didn’t get as many chances to shine in season 1. He had his moment or two, but Shirayuki stole the show out from under him. It’s important that we see him refusing to let Shirayuki go, refusing to allow a difficult political situation (or his brother) stand in his way, and that he has learned a lot about how to take on challenges in his time with Shirayuki in season 1.
So both Zen and Shirayuki get to show us the full extent of their growth since coming together. And they are only given this chance because the show took a risk and split them apart. Not in a childish or petty fight (like some stories would have), but by a series of circumstances that force them to rise to the occasion.
We also get far more back story for the attendants. Kiki get’s her moment and while I was less fond of these episodes, they certainly helped us develop a clearer picture of the fairly stoic character. We also see more of her relationship with Mitsuhide and these moments are really quite cute. That said, I felt like they were also some of the weaker moments of the season.
Obi, on the other hand, glowed. We see his relationship with both Shirayuki and Zen pushed and tested. One of my favourite moments came when Obi challenged Zen to a fight in order to prove he was able to be Shirayuki’s attendent while she was away. And Obi’s reaction when he failed to protect Shirayuki from being kidnapped was priceless. Pretty much every scene with Obi this season was spot on and I’m glad we got to meet someone from his past. Even though most of what was revealed we could have guessed, it was excellent seeing this get some screen time.
We also meet Shirayuki’s father which is all kinds of interesting but I won’t say anymore about that because it would ruin the surprise if you haven’t watched.
My main criticisms of season 2 are these:
- The herbalists are all but non-existent. Which given how hard Shirayuki worked to become a court herbalist during season 1 just seems a little drastic. I know she doesn’t have a lot of time to make medicine while being kidnapped and all, but it just felt like this aspect of the show (and a crucial part of her character) really got sidelined for most of the season.
- What was with that ending? Unless we get a season 3, I am never going to be able to watch season 2 without wanting to knock Zen over the head (or Shirayuki – not sure who deserves it more after that last episode). Yes, anime relationships in sweet romances are notorious for moving slowly but that was ridiculous. Without saying what happened, when I finished the last few minutes of the final episode I immediately searched to see if a third season had been announced because it just felt like it was unfinished. Yes, we can fill in the blanks on our own, but no, I don’t want to, I want to see it.
Once again though, Snow White with the Red Hair has delivered a really nice fairy-tale like story that just makes you feel happy to be watching. If you haven’t checked it out, give it a go.