Bearing little relevance to its namesake, Snow White with the Red Hair is a relaxed anime that leaves a lot to be desired. The most appropriate word I found to describe it would be “basic”. While the medieval setting in the anime is preferable over the typical school backdrop, it wasn’t utilised to its full potential. Furthermore, by relying almost solely on its characters to generate interest, there’s very little reason to stick around if none of them appeal to you. As someone who looks forward to intermittent action, or some other gimmick that provides an entertaining break from the monotonous back and forth that happens so often in shows like this, Snow White with the Red Hair was a bit of a letdown.
After learning the identity of a beautiful herbalist with unique, red, hair, the prince of Tanbarun sends an order that this woman is to become his concubine. Although it’s a completely fair and innocent request, Shirayuki, the red-haired Snow White in question, decides to turn down the opportunity of becoming the prince’s public mistress, and sets off on her own. Not one to be refused, especially by a commoner, Prince Raji goes to great lengths in order to claim Shirayuki. However, his plans are foiled when Zen Wistalia, the second prince of the neighbouring kingdom of Clarines, steps in on Shirayuki’s behalf.
Snow White with the Red Hair sets itself up well with the romance between Shirayuki and Zen, but there’s rarely any satisfying payoff derived from it. Coupled with the straightforward storytelling, it’s difficult to become invested when the show simply tells you what is happening. In passing up several opportunities to develop both its story and characters, Snow White with the Red Hair struggles to maintain its relevancy. Thankfully, everything starts to come together around half-way through. In saying that, if I had been watching on my own time it would have been a struggle to continue watching up to that point.
Of course, the plot in a romance anime is rarely the main focus. Even still, it’s nice to have a side dish to compliment the main. Throughout the season, Snow White with the Red Hair alludes to the political goings-on in Clarines, especially in regards to its neighbours. However, it never delves any deeper into the topic. While it’s understandable that, owing to her status, Shirayuki likely wouldn’t know anything particularly juicy, she almost exclusively spends her time with the kingdom’s important figures that it wouldn’t be unrealistic for her to discover something of importance. Additionally, there’s enough focus on the prince and his aides that there’s plenty of opportunity to explore this idea. It just seems a waste to focus so much on Shirayuki when other characters are much more interesting.
Straight away, Shirayuki establishes herself as every female lead in a young adult novel ever. With an unhealthily calm demeanour in dangerous situations along with a respectable level of confidence and self-worth, Shirayuki is definitely preferable to the usual emotionless pawn inserted for the male cast to fawn over. However, at times she is almost as unrealistic. There’s an overall positive depiction of the characters in the show, but Shirayuki isn’t the only one who feels a little off. Due in part to the lack of meaningful conflict and compelling antagonists throughout the course of the show, it’s difficult to connect with the characters.
Aside from a few obvious references to dwarfs, poisoned apples, and mirrors, Snow White with the Red Hair has nothing to do with the traditional story nor the Disney adaptation. Maybe I missed the relation, but I still fail to see the reasoning behind the name. Instead, with this original “rendition” of the Snow White tale, a huge topic of discussion is the incredibly strange and unique colour red of Shirayuki’s hair. As the catalyst that drives almost every event in her life, Shirayuki’s hair is one of the most ridiculous plot points I’ve seen in an anime. Forget white haired Zen and his aides sporting the only blonde and blue hair in a sea of brown and black, no, those colours are so vanilla. Only red can shake the nation.
Although Snow White with the Red Hair isn’t an explicitly bad show, there isn’t anything that makes it stand out. To be honest, it’s a well-made and altogether wholesome romance anime, which can be pretty rare these days. There’s a definite demographic for this show that I guess I’m not quite part of. However, thanks to Zen’s aide, Obi, becoming more relevant in the latter half, I started to enjoy the show a lot more. Though, I continued to feel indifferent towards anything that didn’t involve him. Snow White with the Red Hair is far from the worst anime that I’ve watched, and thanks to the story beginning to pick up towards the end, I’m hopeful going into the second season.
A review copy was provided by Madman Entertainment to the author for the purpose of this review.