Some of you may remember the shojo series Snow White with the Red Hair, which received an anime adaptation in 2015. This month VIZ Media have finally started bringing the original manga series to the West, but is it worth your time? Let’s find out!
The story follows Shirayuki, a young girl with beautiful red hair, who lives in the kingdom of Tanbarun. Shirayuki works as a skilled herbalist and spends her days peacefully, that is until her red hair attracts the attention of prince Raji Shenazard. The young prince wishes to make Shirayuki one of his mistresses, but Shirayuki doesn’t want to give in to his senseless demands and runs away instead! On her journey, she encounters a young man called Zen in a meeting which could change her life forever.
Unfortunately for Shirayuki, it doesn’t take long for Raji’s men to catch up with her. They leave poisoned apples behind, hoping to capture Shirayuki and take her back to Raji quietly. However, Zen ends up eating an apple instead and now faced with her new friend in danger, Shirayuki decides she must face up to Raji. In doing so she discovers that Zen is the second prince of the neighbouring country, Clarines. Zen uses his influence as a prince to both rescue Shirayuki from her predicament and obtains an antidote to the poison.
Things end peacefully with Raji and Zen invites Shirayuki to move to Clarines, which she agrees to. Once there Shirayuki decides to aim for becoming a court herbalist, which would allow her to both expand her abilities as a herbalist and work in the castle close to Zen. As these peaceful days pass by, Shirayuki and Zen’s relationship grows close and love is evidently in the air…
Back when I reviewed the anime adaption for Anime UK News I called the plot of Snow White with the Red Hair “simple”, a term I’d readily use again. I say this because the story set-up is very generic, but the tale is held up by a great set of characters. Shirayuki is a strong female lead who doesn’t want to rely on others to get by. It would be simple for her to gain entry into the castle through Zen, but instead, she works incredibly hard to pass the court herbalist exam and make her own way in life. Likewise, when she is suddenly kidnapped in one of the later chapters instead of waiting around to be saved, she looks for her own way to solve the situation. In a genre so dominated by damsel-in-distress heroines (especially in series from the early 2000s, when this began), it’s refreshing to see a protagonist like Shirayuki.
In terms of the male lead, Zen, his personality is a mix of humbleness and a prince charming. He’s a likeable character even if he’s sometimes overeager in his protection of Shirayuki (who clearly doesn’t need it), but if he ever gets too out of hand, then his guards (Mitsuhide and Kiki) bring him back down to earth. His interactions with Shirayuki are fun to read, especially as he slowly begins to fall for her.
Snow White with the Red Hair has been created by mangaka Sorata Akizuki and is on-going in Japan at 20 volumes. Akizuki’s artwork is beautifully drawn, capturing the world and cast very well. The mangaka makes use of small panels to fit a lot onto each page and they put a lot of detail into the character models and backgrounds. Having said that, characters can be a little bit inconsistent in how they’re drawn page-to-page especially if it’s a cluttered scene. This is easy to overlook, however, given that everything else about the series is so enjoyable.
Snow White with the Red Hair Volume 1 comes to the West thanks to VIZ Media and has been translated by Caleb Cook. The translation reads well and although some pages are quite dialogue heavy, the translation is always very concise. This volume also includes a one-shot Akizuki wrote after their debut in 2003 titled Colorful Seasons of August, which is a fun read.
Overall Snow White with the Red Hair is off to a fine start. With a relaxed story, strong female lead and likeable set of characters, the series has a promising future. Fans of the anime won’t be disappointed and newcomers are certainly going to be coming back for more.