Taking place in a gorgeous medieval setting inspired by the original fairy tale, Snow White with the Red Hair treats us to a pure romance that’s also a breath-taking visual spectacle.
Meet Shirayuki, a herbalist with a kind heart and a resourceful mind, winning the favor of the peasants and royalty alike as she chases the path she wants to take in life.
However, while many barbaric young men are enamored with only the beauty of her luminous red hair, a prince named Zen is the first to see her as something more than that.
Shirayuki’s resolve is tested as disapproving noblemen come in the way of her and the path in life she wants to take. Meanwhile, Zen is so inspired by her determination that he starts questioning his own life choices and before he knows it…he’s fallen in love.
Despite the humdrum premise and lack of supernatural elements, it always feels like you’re watching a true-to-heart fairy tale, one that anime hasn’t seen in a very long time! The characters’ journeys take them across forests and landscapes detailed with jaw-droppingly beautiful colour and lighting as the two lovers open up to each other day by day.
In this incredibly vivid atmosphere of nostalgia and anticipation, the anime surprisingly manages to combine the whimsy of Disney’s 1937 film with the emotional tension and release of a relatable romance. The latter element in particular is something incredibly rewarding to see, given the current landscape of romance in anime.
I’ve found that the biggest knocks anime viewers have against this genre nowadays go something like this:
- It takes an awkwardly long time for any relationship progress to be made.
- One of the two lovers is distractingly one-note compared to the other.
- The end result is never particularly rewarding (e.g, 12 episodes leading up to holding hands).
…and Snow White with Red Hair managed to sidestep all three of these issues!
It all comes down to how interesting and independent these two lovebirds are.
Shirayuki presents herself as nice and considerate yet she’s not afraid to get her hands dirty, evidently uses her background in medicine to find solutions in the most fascinating ways. Zen on the other hand is incredibly confident in terms of his actions but always faces challenges as a prince through the pressure exerted by his older brother. As a result, he’s unsure of how to balance out his desires and his duties without Shirayuki’s support. In turn, she finds herself more and more willing to trust others through Zen’s acts of heroism.
With so many sides to our main duo you can expect an unpredictable emotional journey, however the minor characters aren’t necessarily left out either. While we don’t see nearly as much of Snow White with Red Hair’s supporting cast they all add their own unique touches to the story in a way that the main couple could never accomplish on their own.
Everyone and their surroundings are brought to life by the efforts of studio Bones under director Masahiro Ando. Whilst his specialty in previous anime has been action, it seems that he’s put his skills in battle choreography to use as stage choreography in this show. The settings, ranging from grand castles to quaint villages are detailed and thoroughly rendered, and the characters act with a dramatic flow that resembles the energy of a stage play.
This is all topped off by Michiru Oshima’s sensational orchestral serenades that are just as bright and adventurous as the story itself. Her previous works with internationally renowned orchestras as well as live-action films has given her a mature understanding of how to convey a character’s emotion through string and wind instruments alone that is leaps and bounds beyond your common garden anime soundtrack that uses similar instruments.
Snow White with Red Hair may not be a show that can generate massive hype but it seems that wasn’t the staff’s goal in the first place. What we get instead is a subdued yet incredibly poignant take on Snow White, with every element that makes up anime used creatively, from the writing to the visuals to the music.
The warmth and wonder of this romance can be felt in every aspect of the Snow White with the Red Hair, a phenomenon you get very rarely with this genre, and definitely worth seeing for yourself as soon as you can!
Have you seen Snow White with the Red Hair? Let us know what you thought in the comments below!