Up Close with Yuki Soleil

The Price of Smiles Episode 6 Yuuki

Alright, so let’s establish who Yuki Soleil actually is given I’m kind of certain a lot of people decided not to watch The Price of Smiles during the Winter anime season. Which is a fair enough decision. Even though I low-key enjoyed it and still feel it is probably better than some people think, it isn’t exactly great and ends up being a fairly average watch once it concludes (though more on that in the series review that will come out later this week). For now, I just want to look at Yuki, one of the two protagonists that The Price of Smiles splits its time between.

The Price of Smiles Episode 1

On meeting Yuki we find her to be an exceptionally bubbly and cheery Princess. She does all the usual anime Princess things such as being adored by her subjects, has a childhood friend who also guards her, and she sneaks out of the palace to play. It is all pretty standard and unfortunately, despite Yuki actually being a reasonably interesting character, she ends up grounded in this terribly cliche mould.

The other issue Yuki suffers as a character is that despite being The Princess and technically the ruler of the Kingdom of Soleil given her parents are dead (oh look another anime character with dead parents), those around her actively strive to keep her in the dark. Their excuse is they want to see her smiling and happy, but how can she possibly rule anything when she knows nothing of the reality?

The Price of Smiles Episode 4 Princess Yuuki

Even after the truth confronts her in the horrible shock of the death of a close friend in a war she never knew existed, Yuki remains stubbornly naive looking for quick solutions to solve the conflict including offering herself up to secure a peace deal. And while that path could have been interesting, once again, those around her ignore her wishes and whisk her away sacrificing someone else in her place.

The Price of Smiles Episode 12 Yuki and Layla

It makes you wonder what authority Yuki actually has and unfortunately they never address this. While Yuki keeps making decisions and works with Layla, her closest adviser to ultimately get the outcome she wants, she never does win over the council or the army. She technically goes behind their backs. So it never becomes a story of Yuki growing into her authority because even in the final episodes she seemingly has little sway over anyone outside of her inner-circle.

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That and Yuki never really gets over her childish desire to simply make everyone happy, as if such a state were possible.

Yuki is a character who had huge growth potential but largely didn’t get it. Her periods of grief for those who are lost vary with some deaths hitting her significantly hard and other deaths seemingly being just another drop in the ocean.

The Price of Smiles Episode 2 - Yuuki

What manages to keep Yuki from becoming a fairly forgettable character are her few moments of tactical brilliance. This is demonstrated in the early episodes when playing a game. She helps her knight fight his way to victory through reading the terrain. Mid-season this brilliance comes back again very briefly, but over and over again she makes poor calls because she allows her emotions to overcome her reasoning. It does however make her final play more believable because Yuki isn’t a dumb character. She’s naive and she didn’t know much about the real state of the world, but with the right information at her disposal, she certainly demonstrates that she can use it creatively and to be effect to achieve her desired results.

The Price of Smiles Episode 8 Yuki

I’d have loved for Yuki to have gotten more time to develop and to grow. I would have loved to see her actually earn the authority as a ruler and to see her win over those beneath her. Unfortunately, the story just didn’t have time for it and so we end up with a character who potentially could have been great but will for the most part be forgotten.

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Karandi James
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