Once Upon a Time…
“Writers possess magic. It’s in their words. They compose phrases as powerful as incantations, creating illusions in the minds of readers. These spells make eyes envision things that aren’t real; they make hearts feel things that aren’t actual. A writer’s work is to pen enchantments meant to entrance and hypnotize the mind, causing neglect of all other duties and responsibilities in order for the reader to remain a puppet controlled by the writer’s wand. And if some foul friend does manage to break the spell, he is despised for it. His heroics are too late in coming. The words―the fairytales―have seeped beyond the body and into the soul, taking possession. Our poor reader is infected, compromised, never to be cured. The notion of magic found in simple words such as, ‘Once upon a time…’ has always fascinated me. It is no wonder I am compelled to write.”
― Richelle E. Goodrich
Shirayukihime! A series that’s… So-so I guess? It didn’t leave much impression on me since I was hella lost with the first chapter and so forth (I stopped at chapter 4 and haven’t continued since), but maybe the anime will be different. Maybe.
Ever Just the Same, Ever a Surprise
Once upon a time, there lived a young girl with hair as red as the rose and skin as white as snow. She lived alone in a simple village, helping the townsfolk at every opportunity giving them herbs and plants to heal them. Her beauty and kindness delighted all far and wide, and everyone knew of her because of her magnificent red hair.
Eventually, word spread to the prince of the kingdom of this young maiden. The prince was spoiled, selfish, and unkind, and he wanted to make the maiden his own. The young girl was distressed that she was to be forced to become the prince’s mistress, and so in the dark of the night, she fled from the kingdom, but of course not before leaving tearful goodbyes and herbs to all her neighbors and townsfolk that had been her friends all these years. And lastly, before she fled, she cut her lovely red hair that the prince had so desired.
Traveling day and night, she fled from the kingdom. It was when her feet could walk no more that she noticed a house hidden in the woods. “They will be able to give me shelter for the night.” she thought, And so she went up and knocked on the of the house. Unfortunately, there was no answer, and not wanting to intrude, the maiden decided to sleep against the house’s wall to wait for the owner to return.
Yet, upon morning’s dawn, she was greeted by a passing young nobleman, handsome of face and gallant of nature. The man asked if she was alright, having sat by the house the entire night, the maiden was too surprised to answer. However, she noticed an injury on the man’s arm, and as was her nature, she quickly made some medicine for him. Taken by the girl’s kindness, the man asked who she was and where she had come from. The maiden told him her tale and why she was running away. The man was furious, but before anything could be done, a basket of apples appeared suddenly on the doorstep of the house. The maiden wondered where they had come from, but the man, to allay her fears took a bite of one of the apples.
Suddenly his vision became blurred and dizzy, and the young nobleman fell to the ground in a death-like sleep. The maiden fell into despair realizing too late that the apples were full of poison and they had been meant for her, sent by the prince she had tried to escape. Knowing that the only way she could find a cure for the poor nobleman who had inexplicably stolen her heart, was to give herself to the prince. She was taken by his guards and went before him.
The evil, selfish prince laughed at the poor maiden’s pleas, but her heart only wished to do what she could for the poor man who had been kind to her. She promise to be the prince’s mistress if he gave her the cure to take back to the nobleman. The evil prince sneered, but before he could force the maiden to kiss him, the doors to the chamber burst open, and none other than young nobleman marched into the room, standing healthy and whole again with a sword in hand!
The nobleman pleaded for the maid to make no such promise, and that his body was trained to resist all poisons and that he did not need the cure. The prince, angered at his plans being spoiled, commanded his guards to capture the young man and execute him. However, the nobleman defeated them all, for he would not leave without the young maiden healer. Highly angered, the selfish, cowardly prince demanded to know who would have the gall to oppose him. The nobleman then bowed and uncovered the royal crest on his sword’s hilt, revealing himself to be the prince of the neighboring kingdom! Showing his strength and nobility was more than a match for the other, he commanded that the cowardly prince was never to both the young maiden again, and to let her live in peace. If not, he would spread word of the prince’s deeds and make him the laughingstock across the land. Being a coward, the evil prince immediately released the couple, but not before the healer once again demanded the cure to the poison, which he gave her in hast.
The gallant prince took her back to his kingdom, and let her treat him even though he tried to assure her that he was alright. Yet, it was in her nature to make sure, and so she did just that.The prince asked the maiden if she would stay by his side, as he had become quite taken with her. The healing maiden felt the same about the prince and took his offered hand, and the two lived in his kingdom together, happily ever after.
IreneSharda: Or at least, it felt that way at the end of this episode. The premiere for Akagami no Shirayuki-hime was such a pleasant surprise for me. This episode felt like a straightforward fairytale, from the orchestral music, (featuring the best score of the season, done once again by Michiru Oshima) to the colors, to the overall tone of the tale. Studio Bones is on their toes once again, the animation, breathtaking with such a scope that I was actually getting a few Studio Ghibli vibes in certain scenes.
All the characters that were introduced, from the strong, and yet soft and feminine Shirayuki (Snow White), to the quite fascinating and chivalrous Prince Zen, and of course the pompous and ridiculous Prince Raji, all are fully brought to life and are characters that you find yourself drawn to from the first moment they are on screen, bringing this story to life.
And speaking of the story, the story went so fast, it could have ended at the end of this episode and you could have said “They lived happily ever after” and I would have been satisfied. You had all three acts of a simple but complete story in this one episode, and so now, going on, I have to wonder what will be happening next with our characters, and what new adventures will they have? What will we learn about this kingdom? How will Zen and Shirayuki’s romance continue to blossom? What challenges will the young couple face? I’m pretty excited to find out. I have never read the still ongoing manga, and since we have a split-cour anime series now, I won’t be looking at it until after it’s fully over, but it has received quite a bit of acclaim, and I can see why. Even the supporting characters of Kiki and Ryuu were fun and engaging comic relief, and ones that we wanted to know more about as well. In a world that wants everything gritty, dark, revisionist, a simple, warm and fuzzy, Disney-esque story is so refreshing.
Ever as Before, Ever Just as Sure…
anaaga: When I watched the first episode, I had the same feeling when I read the first chapter of the manga. Which is nothing. I don’t think it was good, I don’t think it was bad. Just… Indifference, I guess? It’s probably because I don’t really know what kind of series this is. Is this fantasy? Because obviously it’s trying to be one with the setting and the unique main character we have. What about historical or royalty? Because there is a prince as the main character’s love interest. Romance? There are subtle hints here are there, but somehow the romance (will) develops really slowly. Slice-of-life? Since basically all we’re getting are Shirayuki’s daily lives and her encounters with people. There is plot of course, but it takes time. So this anime can fit many genres, but which genre will dominate this series?
And that’s the problem I have with this. It’s only in the first episode and they’re mushing in so many things at once, I don’t even know what they’re focusing on. It’s as if it’s just a bunch of things being put together without any focus at all, and that’s bad. If there is no focus, then what am I supposed to be excited about? Just watch random people doing random things? Now if this is truly a slice-of-life series like Non Non Biyori, that’s fine because I know that’s the kind of things I would come across in a full slice-of-life anime. After all, it is slice-of-life. But with Shirayukihime, who is trying to do so many things at once, I expect more. There should me more than Shirayuki doing things with people. But of course I’m not getting it.
Another thing that disappoints me, specifically for the anime, is the portrayal of Shirayuki. When I read the manga, I see her as a strong girl who is mature but still has her active childlike side to balance her character. However, she is very different with the anime. I was so surprised when I see Shirayuki acting so calm and adult-like. Where is her active side? Where is her cheerful side? The anime did try its best to show her wild, swift, and cheerful side, but I’m still not getting the vibe. And yes, it’s more than her voice though her voice plays a big role on my impression of her in the anime. Whatever it is, the Shirayuki I know and like is definitely not the one in the anime.
…As the Sun Will Rise.
Disappointed is the word that describes my feeling when I watched the episode. I feel indifference toward the series, but I do read the manga because of Shirayukihime and the love interest (I ship them so much). Unfortunately, the lack of direction that can be seen right away in the first episode and the disappointing portrayal of Shirayuki overwhelm my love for my ship. So I will pass on this anime. I would rather focus on the manga instead.
I myself am a diehard Disney Princess fan, and honestly, this feels like it could fit right in there. I loved this from the moment I heard the “Morning Mood-esque” flute in the beginning score. I’m excited to see how this continues to progress and what will be Shirayuki’s new life, as well as more about Zen, and all the people that we will meet along the way.
*Also, special thanks to Shumijin who created the fantastic fanart.