Now that we’re three volumes in to Snow White with the Red Hair, it’s fair to say that things are going well for protagonist Shirayuki. She has a job she loves, gets to spend plenty of time with prince Zen, and is thoroughly enjoying life – that is until Zen’s older brother, Prince Izana, returns home. To make matters worse, Prince Raji from Shirayuki’s homeland is due to visit the castle!
The peaceful lives our cast have been enjoying are turned on their head with the inclusion of Izana. Coming home to find Zen smitten with a commoner, Izana does his best to encourage Shirayuki to give up her life in the kingdom and return back to her homeland. Zen is furious with his brother’s strong-armed approach, but will he be able to convey his feelings to Shirayuki before she feels like she doesn’t belong?
Part of Izana’s scheme involves inviting the prince of Tanbarun, Raji, to Clarines. You’ll recall from Volume 1 that Raji tried to poison/kidnap our young heroine in a play to make her one of his mistresses. Hoping to prove that there are no hard feelings between the kingdoms, Izana wishes to prove that Tanbarun is a safe place for Shirayuki to return.
What I really liked about this volume was the return of Raji. While the first volume portrays him as a creep, this instalment revises his character into that of an idiot. He doesn’t truly mean anyone harm, he’s just a prince who doesn’t know better than to demand what he wants. In fact, while visiting Clarines he’s outright scared of seeing Shirayuki again, but when he does inevitably run into her, the encounter is one which begins to change him.
Shirayuki rarely treats Zen as a prince, and the same can be said for Raji. She does her best to be polite and courteous, but that’s not going to stop her from standing up for herself. When Raji almost drinks a medicine meant for treating wounds and not stomach problems (like those he’s having), Shirayuki slaps the bottle out of his hands. It’s an unthinkable action for anyone else but Shirayuki doesn’t hesitate in the slightest.
This volume on the whole does a good job of showing how strong and independent Shirayuki is. She doesn’t rely on Zen to fight her battles. Instead the two are a stable partnership and lift one another up. This truly is why this series is such a good read, because many other shojo would have had portrayed Shirayuki as a damsel in distress – especially when facing up to princes.
Snow White with the Red Hair humanises all of its characters well. It’d be easy to point at Raji, and especially Izana in this volume, and say they’re the ‘villains’ of the story but the manga does a good job of avoiding that. Instead, it’s easy to understand where Izana is coming from in his move to remove Shirayuki from Zen’s life. Deep down he’s just worried that having her around will lead to Zen losing respect. Mangaka Sorata Akiduki conveys all this through carefully placed expressions and short dialogue. While the artwork is overall still a bit inconsistent throughout the book, it’s clear that Akiduki is very talented.
This volume once again comes to the West thanks to publisher VIZ Media. The series continues to be translated by Caleb Cook and it reads well with no issues. Unlike the previous two volumes, this instalment doesn’t include any of Akiduki’s one-shots, meaning we get more Snow White with the Red Hair content than previously.
Overall, this third volume of Snow White with the Red Hair brings with it some new challenges for our cast and reintroduces Raji into the mix – a character many of us grew fond of, thanks to the anime. As all eyes move onto Shirayuki, thanks to Izana’s disapproval, she must prove herself worthy of standing beside a prince. It’ll certainly be interesting to see where things go from here!