Playing catch-up: Akagami no Shirayuki-hime S2 Eps. 2 & 3

I always have trouble writing about Akagami no Shirayuki-hime, not because it’s lacking in substance, but because it’s such an uncomplicated show, with no bells and trills about its story and characters. Storylines are east to follow, characters behave within the realm of reason while never acting out of character, and conflicts are understated and undramatic. It never feels like it is rushing its story or pressuring its characters, and I always come out of each episode with a sense of tingly warmth because I got to see my favorite characters go about their lives.

Obi has been great addition to Zen’s team since the first season, but he’s really grown on me over these past few episodes. He could merely have been stereotypical “agile-thief-with-heart-of-gold” character, but I appreciate how the show’s been able to mold that stereotype into a character that has nuance and feelings. Obi challenging Zen to a mock duel so he could become Shirayuki’s attendant was completely in line with his character, but I was slightly disappointed because having Mitsuhide accompany Shirayuki would have given the show a chance to experiment with different character dynamics.

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Smoke signals that you can see from twenty leagues away.

Obi almost certainly has feelings for Shirayuki, but it’s hard to gauge whether he’s actually aware of those feelings. His loyalty to Zen is clear, so it’s even harder to tell whether subtle actions, like his hairpin gift to Shirayuki and his mock swordfight with Zen, are intentional provocations or unconscious reactions to his own feelings for Shirayuki. Mitsuhide, on the other hand, seems to know exactly what is going on, and I do wonder if he might take a more active role in preventing a love triangle. Nothing about these character dynamics is original, but it all still works because the characters are incredibly likable and are acting in ways that are completely realistic. Ordinary can sometimes be extraordinarily hard to execute.

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Mitsuhide is the voice of the audience.

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Too soon, Obi.

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This also counts as protecting Shirayuki, Obi.

Prince Raj remains a cocky idiot, but at least he’s an idiot who’s making a concerted effort to become a better person. I was prepared for Raj to remain a completely one-dimensional villain, and I wouldn’t have blamed the show for sticking with that stereotype. Instead, Akagami no Shirayuki-hime added depth to bratty character by giving him a sympathetic backstory, actual feelings and thoughts, and most importantly, a pair of adorable younger twin siblings.

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Nothing like irrepressible younger siblings to bring out the best in a person.

Shirayuki remains the only person who refuses to put up with his nonsense (her calling him an idiot to his face was a wonderful moment), and his continued interactions with her has forced him to reevaluate his values both as a prince and a decent human being.

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Love the use of symmetry to frame character dynamics in this episode.

So far the Tanbarun diplomacy visit is looking far more harmless than we thought it would be. The mysterious Kazuki makes a brief appearance, but the only thing we learn is that he isn’t working of his own accord. I’m holding on to my theory that Kazuki is part of Shirayuki’s past that we don’t know much about, but if it’s something completely different I’m hoping that we get some hint of it soon. Akagami no Shirayuki-hime has been watertight in its storytelling and character development so far, and I have faith that it’ll stay that way for the rest of the season.

Random observations:

  • Zen didn’t get to do much other than do princely duties and be adorable with Shirayuki.
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Zen needs to do nothing else for the rest of the season.

  • Prince Izana remains an intriguing figure. He’s definitely watching his younger brother closely, but I’m still not getting a malicious vibe from him.
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Sneaky vibe, yes. Bastard vibe, no.

  • Ryuu forgetting that Shirayuki wasn’t around to help with herbalist duties was a nice touch.
  • Shirayuki was born in the mountains but was adopted and brought up by her grandparents in Clarines. Yet another hint to her unexplored past?
  • I’ll say it again: this show just knows its characters so well. Lord Haruka is still haughty and severe, but has gained a begrudging respect for both Shirayuki and Obi. Mihaya’s attempt to capture Kazuki is very on point for former noble trying to recapture his lost glory.

2 thoughts on “Playing catch-up: Akagami no Shirayuki-hime S2 Eps. 2 & 3

  1. I think I quite like Izana’s character. He’s a difficult guy to pin down and I get that he’s acting as something of an obstacle to Zen and Shirayuki’s romance, but it’s hard to fault him for being a good king and a good brother. He’s a bit of a troll, yet everything he says or does seems to be out of a genuine desire to put both his kingdom and his brother first – and if that happens to mean threatening the relationship between our main couple then so be it. I can respect that.

    • Totally agree with you. I was prepared to dislike him when he was first introduced in the first season, but I think he’s become more of an instigator than an antagonist over the course of the show. I like that he’s acting from a place of duty and responsibility rather than petty aristocracy, so while I can’t say I like him per se, I definitely find his character and motives pretty intriguing.

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