Snow White with the Red Hair hits another critical milestone as it celebrates hitting 20 volumes and 100 chapters. The series still shows no signs of ending anytime soon, but after a couple of thrilling storylines, author Sorata Akiduki gives our cast a chance to relax in these two new instalments.
Volume 20 opens with Shirayuki and Zen getting to enjoy some time off together in Lilias while they wait for the arrival of Mitsuhide and Kiki. Currently, their biggest concern amounts to nothing more than the pretty women Obi has been seen hanging out with and whether romance could be on the cards for him. Then when Mitsuhide and Kiki join the group in Lilias, they’re in for a lecture from Zen when he learns that Mitsuhide rejected Kiki’s proposal! A lot happened between the two (as we saw for ourselves in Volume 19), but Zen’s not about to let Mitsuhide run away from his own feelings.
Being confronted by his closest friend, someone Mitsuhide even views as family, finally leads him to break down and reveal how hopeless he felt when Zen was attacked in Toka Bergat’s plot a few volumes ago. He never wants to be in that position again and wants to stay by Zen’s side to protect him for as long as he can, even if that means not pursuing a relationship with Kiki. Zen, meanwhile, is frustrated that Mitsuhide has been tormenting himself about the attack without ever breathing a word of it to anyone else and orders his retainer to take some time off and figure himself out and find dreams and desires that are not just serving his lord.
Then in Volume 21 vacation time is over and Zen, Kiki and Mitsuhide return to the palace while Shirayuki and those left behind move into the next steps with the Orimmallys plant they’ve been working on since our heroine was posted in Lilias. Now it’s being submitted for official recognition as a breed separate from the poisonous species it originated from.
This volume brings with it plenty of change for our characters. Zen is formally assigned to Wirant Castle, while Shirayuki will be tasked with spreading the Orimmallys to other domains, should they pass inspection. And then there’s Ryu, who was supposed to be returning to the palace as his time in Lilias comes to an end – but is that really what he wants to do? He’s grown so much here in Lilias, learning both new skills and how to stand on his own two feet. Rather than return to the palace, he wonders if he wouldn’t be better off continuing to hone his skills and perhaps the best place to do that is by Shirayuki’s side…
One of the things I appreciate about Snow White with the Red Hair at this point is that author Akiduki has no concerns when it comes to taking the focus away from Shirayuki and placing it on the other characters. In my previous review of #18-19, I commented that we barely saw Shirayuki at all and while she is more of a focus in this set, it’s once again the side characters who take the spotlight. The fact this much time spent away from Shirayuki’s story hasn’t become a problem is a real testament to the strength of the writing in so far as we readers genuinely care about all of them. There’s certainly never a boring chapter.
Now that we’re into the 20-volume mark it’s nice to see Akiduki shake things up for the cast. New paths are beginning to open up to the characters as they chase their desires, giving us opportunities to visit new places within the world and meet new characters. Most importantly the series hasn’t grown stale despite how long it’s been running and it’s clear there’s still plenty to look forward to in the future, given the developments of #21 too. Certainly, this remains one of the more rewarding long-running shojo series currently being released in English.
Snow White with the Red Hair Volumes 20 & 21 come to the West thanks to VIZ Media where they continue to be translated by Caleb Cook. As always, the translations read well with no problems. As a minor aside, I do wish VIZ would include colour pages in these releases since it’s obvious there was a very striking image celebrating Chapter 100 which is left in black and white here. An art book of some description in the future would be nice… Volumes 22 & 23 of the series are also already available in English, so there is plenty more for fans to get their hands on!
Overall, these two volumes of Snow White and the Red Hair continue to showcase the best of the series. As we head toward new story arcs for the characters, there’s a lot to look forward to in a manga that shows no signs of ending anytime soon. This one continues to be a highly enjoyable read.