Do you wish you were whisked off to a faraway land by a handsome prince? And not a mean idiot prince who only thinks of himself, no –a perfect gentleman of a prince, who’s kind and funny and always knows the right thing to say, who’s both charming and cool and could stand his ground in a swordfight, who respects you and will never treat you wrong.
If the answer is yes, then boy is this the show for you.
Shirayukihime is very much going for a fairy tale angle. The official translation of the title is “Snow White with the Red Hair”, and the first episode alone is littered with Snow White references. It also has all the subtlety of a red brick hitting you in the face with a note saying “See, it’s red. Just like the poisoned apple”.
Shirayuki is a young herbalist running a pharmacy on her own. One day, the self-absorbed local prince sets his sights on her (but in a totally superficial way! He just likes her because her hair color is uncommon!) and sends a guy with no social skills to deliver the message to her. He also doesn’t even want her to be his wife, just a concubine. Did I tell you this prince is not a nice guy?
Shirayuki won’t have any of that though, and immediately makes up her mind to leave the country and find her luck elsewhere. But not before cutting her long hair off, because that’s anime tradition. So far, so good.
After managing to cross the border, she falls asleep in front of an empty home, lost and hungry. Is everything lost? No, because the next morning, Zen appears. That’s his actual name, by the way. He just so happened to be hanging out in this abandoned house, but whatever his reasons for being there were, it’s all about Shirayuki now.
Zen listens to her story, and tells her something about how red is the color of fate so maybe her red hair is a good sign after all? I don’t really know how that works, but whatever.
But then, shock! Someone delivered a basket of apples tied with the same ribbon Shirayuki left behind at home. They know she’s there! She gets sad for a moment, because the apples are red, just like her hair, but they’re also going bad. This implies that she, too, is going bad. Or something.
Zen responds by taking a bite out of the apple, to show her that her hair is still perfectly edible. I’ve lost track of the metaphor by this point. Anyway, this was a foolish move because the apples… were laced with poison! And the poison was actually meant for Shirayuki!
Let’s step back for a moment. Right after Zen met Shirayuki, he refused her offer to treat his wound, stating he doesn’t know her and her ‘medicine’ could be poison. Ten minutes later he willingly takes a bite out of an apple that was explicitly left there by the bad guy. Uhm, okay. There is an explanation for this, but don’t worry, because the explanation is even stupid. I’ll get to that in a minute.
Shirayuki now has no choice but to return to Prince Raj, because he has the antidote.
In an act of self-sacrifice, Shirayuki submits herself to Raj in order to save Zen. But luckily, Zen busts in and saves the day! He reveals himself to be the prince of a neighboring country (he didn’t give a fake name, so I guess Zen is a common name). Raj is made a fool of, and Zen takes Shirayuki with him to his home country to live happily ever after. The end.
“Now wait a minute,” you might ask, “wasn’t Zen poisoned?” Yes, but you see, he was actually faking his symptoms. I’ll show you the actual line so you don’t think I’m making this up.
I’ll leave it as an exercise to the reader to think of reasons why this would not actually work very well. But okay, it explains why Zen ate that apple… but then, why did he refuse Shirayuki’s treatment because it could’ve been poison? Shut up. It’s symbolism.
I wanted to like this show. It’s not offensive, or stupid in the usual anime way. It’s just such overt wish fulfillment, and the characters so far are so utterly one-dimensional it’s hard to really care. Meh.
First Episode Rating: 6/10
What would it take for me to watch another episode? A strong desire to have my womanly wishes fulfilled