Welcome, dear readers, one and all! The English title for Akagami no Shirayuki-Hime is Snow White with the Red Hair. The anime is a 2015 production animated by Studio Bones and directed by Masahiro Andou. It’s a great example of a shoujo-genre anime that’s well worth your time. Akagami is not a retelling of the Snow White fairy tale, but has its own original story. Shirayuki (meaning Snow White) is an herbalist who meets a prince after running away from her home to avoid becoming a concubine. With the help of Prince Zen and other new friends, Shirayuki must develop and explore her new life here. With that in mind, let’s begin the review.
The art and animation in this anime are good, but I can’t quite consider them excellent. That’s mostly because of things like lack of detail on characters seen from farther away. For example, a character’s face may not be drawn in. The animation sometimes looks choppy or focuses too long on a still shot. It isn’t particularly smooth. There are also very few creative shots or camera angles. But that’s enough about the negatives. Let’s consider the visual strengths, too.
Scenery and aesthetics are treats for the eyes in this anime. There are simple but still fun and memorable character designs for everyone. Naturally, I love Shirayuki’s design the best. Face expressions on the characters are decently drawn and animated. The colors, light, and shading are excellent. Finally, the overall look of the show is polished, clean, and bright. Personally, I adore the visuals in Shirayuki. But that will factor into the personal enoyment category. I think it’s fair to give the visuals category 7/10.
The high rating for this category comes mostly from the great seiyuu playing the characters. Saori Hayame voices Shirayuki, and her voice is among the most beautiful and musical I have heard from any female seiyuu. The voice-acting in general was well done, especially when compared to the English Dub. I actually broke down and watched the dub, but it was highly disappointing. For one thing, Shirayuki and Zen were played by English voice actors that sounded nothing at all like the characters they were dubbing.
Anyway, a few other seiyuu to note are Akira Ishida (Izana Wistalia), Jun Fukuyama (Prince Raji), Nobuhiko Okamoto (Obi), and Yuuichirou Umehara (Rouen). Fukuyama delivered the spoiled prince Raji commendably, and with comical enthusiasm. Obi is a good example of a character voiced by Okamoto who isn’t over-the-top and crazy, as he is sometimes type-cast. I recently started to recognize the Umehara’s voice, and he played Rouen very well. The seiyuu for Zen (Ryota Osaka) did decently, but didn’t really leave an impact on me.
The intrumental music is quite good, orchestral but calm and charming for the most part. The OST has over 40 tracks to enjoy. It’s not the kind of music that’s “epic” or “montage music,” but not all anime music must be like that. The opening song “Yasashi Kibou” (meaning “gentle hope”) was sung by Saori Hayami and it sounds beautiful, inspiring, and upbeat. Ending song “Kizuna ni Nosete” by Eyelis was decent, though not a personal favorite. All in all, the audio category is excellent.
The plot feels episodic, but at the same time, each episode builds on the others, and they are in chronological order. This style isn’t for everyone, but it worked well for this Shirayuki in my opinion. It is not a thrilling plot, but it’s not meant to be. The anime is a slice-of-life drama with romance. I think it’s a fine example of an anime for those categories. The romance aspect was handled expertly. I love the gradual progression of Shirayuki and Zen’s relationship. There is also some decent comedy to be found in this show.
There were some weaknesses, of course. The royal family dynamic was interesting but there should have been more world-building about the kingdoms. Because there are no profound psychological themes or elements of thriller, the story can naturally seem slow. It would never get a perfect score for me just because of the category.
All this is well and good, but why give the category 8/10 when it isn’t particularly strong? It’s because of the hemes of empowerment, independence, and following one’s dreams prevelant in this show. While these sorts of themes are fairly common in anime in general, they are rare in a shoujo anime. It’s really a breath of fresh air. Shirayuki is following her dreams and living life her own way no matter what others say or what obstacles are put forward. She is not a damsel in distress, but someone who thinks of solutions without necessarily relying on help. Since I love this theme so much in a shoujo anime, the story category gets a solid 8/10.
This section will be brief since I am short on time. Akagami no Shirayuki-hime boasts good overall presentation and development of the characters. There are lovable side characters like Kiki and Rouen and even Raji. I was interested in Rouen’s dedication to Zen and the way he is so caring. Obi might be considered a typical hearthrob character with the quiet roguishness and an attractive look. However, I think his character was handled just fine, and I was happy he formed a deep but platonic attachment to Shirayuki.
Shirayuki herself is a wonderful character. As I touched on in the story category, she’s unusual for a anime heroine. She is clever, decisive, motivated, kind, and hard-working to a fault. I won’t say much more since it would lead to a whole character analysis. Zen isn’t a bad character, and his backstory was interesting. He’s gentle, kind, and a bit spoiled compared to his older brother. It’s nice to have someone sweet-natured and confident for a love interest. I won’t be forgetting these characters any time soon. They make this category well worth the 8/10.
Personal Enjoyment: 10/10
There’s a lot to enjoy in Akagami no Shirayuki! It’s great that this show has minimal sexism for anime. You normally see a lot of sexism in romance anime (and anime in general), whether casual or direct. I love that Shirayuki is a character who is very mentally strong, practical and quick-witted, in the face of so many shallow, weak, or badly written female anime characters. Again, the theme of being yourself and living your dreams despite what others say or do is wonderful.
I loved the scene where Shirayuki and Zen talked about their relationship and how they would both continue with their own lives and dreams at the same time. I love that Zen respects Shirayuki and her freedom. On a related note, it’s great to have a male lead in a romance who doesn’t show any of that disgusting possessiveness seen in many others. He does get protective and angry at Shirayuki for risking her life in one episode, but I think that’s a natural reaction that even a really understanding guy might have.
I also enjoyed that this anime is about an herbalist, and there are so many scenes of plant caretaking, medicine preparation, and tea brewing. I used to be really into herbalist medicine as a child, and I grew several in my garden. Now I know thats one must be very careful not to depend on herbal remedies or treat them as science. I still love herbal teas, though.
Those are some of the elements I most loved in Shirayuki. There are more, of course, but this should suffice. I can harly imagine enjoying it more than I did.
Overall Score: 8.2/10.0 Excellent
The overall score is calculated by taking the average of the five categories explored above. I consider anything in the 8s range to be excellent, between good (7) and Magnificent (9). Shirayuki got a very solid score, especially considering I don’t tend to think too highly of shoujo anime. This anime and Yona of the Dawn are tied for my favorite shoujo anime. I recommend this show to anime fans looking for something easy to digest, positive, sweet, and colorful. It’s especially good for a family anime, as it’s well-suited for children.
Below is a gallery of screenshots from Shirayuki. Feel free to use them for your own blogs, wallpaper-making, or what have you. Thanks for reading! Enjoy your day and stay well.