What They Say:
Shirayuki s story continues in the beautifully animated second season of Snow White with the Red Hair. After Zen confessed his feelings for her, the young herbalist continued her studies and the prince doubled his efforts to keep up with her pace. But just as everything seemed to be falling into place, Shirayuki s happily ever after is put on hold. An old enemy has resurfaced with grave news that a mysterious boy has been searching for a girl with apple-red hair but his intentions are unknown. With the kingdom of Clarines on high alert, an invitation arrives from Tanbarun that Shirayuki is to be the guest of honor at Prince Raj s upcoming ball. Preparing for the boorish prince s ball is one thing, but nothing could have prepared Shirayuki for the grander adventure to come. When the mysterious boy finally catches up with her, the beautiful maiden is swept into a harrowing journey that will put her face to face with her past as she determines what her future holds. Contains episodes 13 to 24 on Blu-Ray with both the English dub and the original Japanese track with English subtitles.
The audio has a 5.1 release in English and a 2.0 in Japanese – I watched the first disc in English and the second disc in Japanese to compare – and with the Japanese release I did have to raise the volume a little from my default settings, however, there were no other issues regarding sound quality, echoing, synching with subtitles, etc – the quality is high overall. The dub is excellent too, with this being discussed in the commentary just to the amount of care and love is put in the show, you feel the cast did the same in both languages.
Similar with the audio, the video is set in full screen format via NTSC transfer to PAL format with the show combining animation with some of the brightest clarity I’ve seen on a Blu-Ray, it is incredibly well defined and in your face with the animation (considering its studio BONES, who behind a ton of beautiful series from both Fullmetal Alchemist variations, Soul Eater and Wolf’s Rain just to name a few) with the amount of work behind the locations, even minor things like the books and animal designs –with no real problems with the subtitles, the sound synching in either language, no pause lag or in general, it is a quality release, perhaps one of the best ones out there, pretty much continuing how amazing the 1st season was, it sticks with what isn’t broken and comes out looks like one of Shirayuki’s roses.
There was no packing for this test release.
The menu on both discs is pretty basic – offset by the beautiful line drawings of Shirayuki and Kazuki on either side – a red bar is underneath them with the selections Play All, Episodes, Setup and Extras – easily selectable and also via the pop-up menu can return to these selections (bar extras) – straight forward but fitting for the show’s style.
Extras are pretty standard on this release – we have a couple of dub commentaries, the first one being the more informative one in episode 16 – we have the director Chris George along with one of my favourite Vas in Todd Haberkorn (Raji) – they mention it is the first show they’ve worked together in the format of director and actor, tell how season 2 became a broadcast dub after the 1st season became surprisingly popular on release which was a first for Funimation, how it is quite a different style of show because of the ‘real’ relationship side that Zen and Shirayuki play off each other, and talk about Raji’s development goes through the two seasons (which I agree, from my least favourite character to my 4th favourite under the core trio of Shirayuki, Zen and Obi) and the amount of layers he actually has with his humanization…and of course like myself, praying for Season 3….
The second is more a commentary on the episode in a comic way – episode 23 commentary has Ian Sinclair (Mitsuhade), Josh Grelle) Zen) and Austin Tindel (Obi) pretty much riffing on the episode as it is the one in no real other ways to put it, Mitsuhade gets high ^^ It is a strange episode to commentate on because after pretty much all the episodes prior to this, this one is a bit more comic and slice-of-life so it’s a bit of a weird one, and the three guys take full advantage of that. Not exactly an intellectual commentary but fun none the less.
Standard other extras including a promotional video, a commercial collection for the Japanese release, the clean opening and ending (3 different versions for things that happen in certain episodes) and trailers for the following shows; Inari Kon Kon, Haruchika, Nichijou & Noragami Aragoto.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
So those of you that follow my reviews regularly will remember that I reviewed the first half of this series just after reviewing one of my worst series I’ve ever watched, and it basically renewed hope in this old fuddy-duddy of more recent anime – it was stylish, gorgeous to look at, great character development and told a great story even for those who weren’t fond of slice of life series. It was only the 2nd series I rated an A+ since I’ve been reviewing for 7 years now, so naturally I was looking forward to the 2nd half.
Usually this is the part where I’d say ‘what a disappointment…;
Nope, not this time. Spoiler: This is now in my top 10 series of all time and I just pray there is more because the manga is still going…
To recap, Shirayuki is now living in the castle with Zen (though not together because she is still technically just an assistant and not royalty) and is working with Ryu and Garack as a pharmacist/botanist and hoping to train to be officially a royal botanist so she can officially be closer to Zen as the developing romance is official but they’re keeping it (mostly) quiet. However, suddenly they are visited by a surprise guest – Mihaya – who had kidnapped Shirayuki in one of the earlier episodes in Season 1. Needless to say Zen takes it well by nearly beating the crap out of him, but he brings actual news – a boy named Kazuki is out to kidnap Shirayuki for currently unknown reasons. To make things even more worrying, Zen’s older brother Izana is slowly approving of Shirayuki and decides to use her as a go-between for the nation of Tanbarun, where the original antagonist Prince Raji resides. So Shirayuki now has to learn the ways of being in royalty for a ball he is running…
So after some amusing classic moments of Shirayuki trying to learn to dance (that poor teacher’s toes…), the palace staff are investigating what to do about this Kazuki boy and as much as Zen wants to be with her, he has royal duties (I love the conflict that Zen wants to go out for his love but he also stays faithful to his responsibilities) so he asks Obi to act as his bodyguard after he bests him in a sparring match. After some sweet goodbyes, they meet with Raji who definitely is a bit different than last time we saw him…he clearly has changed and is nervous around Shirayuki, is a lot kinder despite being hilariously awkward and this development continues as the strongest part of this show continues…
The awkwardness between Raji and Shirayuki is a lot of fun when he tries to take her and Obi on tour, and gets lost in the old passage ways, whilst also introducing Raji’s cute siblings Rona and Eugena (who clearly ship Raji and Shirayuki) whilst Zen is doing his duties, including the brief but welcome return of Kihal as Zen is doing some bird training that was brought up by Kihal from the last season (which becomes very important later). Unbeknown to them, Mihaya has met up with Kazuki for a deal…which quickly turns sour…
We see that Shirayuki has become a positive influence on Raji, which in turn also influences Obi as he is wondering if he is also in love with Shirayuki – the Obi/Shirayuki relationship is the most interesting because he is very playful and fun, but also respects both her and Zen a lot, and he is obviously in conflict because of this. Unfortunately, the deal with Mihaya didn’t go well and Kazuki is on his way to kidnap Shirayuki, which in turn makes Zen have to make a choice over his duty or his love…he does of course pick Shirayuki and is on his way…
…sadly he is too late, as whilst Obi holds his one to protect her he is eventually defeated due to an unfortunate distraction by the siblings, so Raj and Zen team up to save her whilst Obi sneaks away feeling guilty to save her himself. In a twist, Kazuki and Shirayuki are kidnapped themselves by some mysterious pirates who had been mentioned briefly as a plot hint named the Claw of the Sea Pirates, who are a mutual enemy of the Lions of the Mountain named Mukaze who Kazuki is part of. Eventually, Obi, Zen, Raji and the Mountain leader all join forces and using Kiki as bait (attractive woman to be sold, ironically the Pirates leader is a tough evil no-nails woman) considering Kiki is UTTERLY BADASS this is quite a good plan…
Kiki reunites with Shirayuki, whilst Raji demonstrates the full conversion of his character development – from spineless egotist to commanding leader – he humbles himself among his people, and leads them into battle on the sea, and his boat is the only one that navigates through the whirlpools, allows Zen and company to track the pirate’s lair on horseback. It leads to Shirayuki being rescued, the pirates defeated and Shirayuki discovering her father…
Yep, Mukaze, the leader of the Lions of the Mountains is in fact Shirayuki’s father. There were definite hints of this from Kazuki’s talk and you now see the motivation of Kazuki wanting to bring Shirayuki there, but kidnapping her was probably not the best way as Zen points out, almost lampshading how dumb that was considering the intentions were never mentioned and could have just asked. ^^ The interesting thing is that it could easily be a way for her father to reunite with her, and the two do bond, but it is brief as both parties know that their lives couldn’t be different whilst Mukaze also gives his blessing to Zen regarding being with his daughter (including a hilarious fake out) – they return back to Clarines after Shirayuki and Raji also finally dance at the delayed ball, completing his development.
After this, the final few episodes seem very stand alone – but that doesn’t make them any less enjoyable, just not part of a major arc or story. We get a glimpse of Obi’s past and how much he has changed since meeting Zen and Shirayuki, as an old friend Torou asks him to help out with a job but with Zen and co worrying about him when he’s missing, he realises he can’t go back to his old life now. Another episode has Zen being pressuring by Izana due to marriage requests – obviously because of his love for Shirayuki he has been holding it off, but he manages to loophole it by doing one marriage interview with a noble…who turns out to be Kiki. This also gives us a flashback into Kiki’s past and considering Kiki was the one character that didn’t get much character development in Season 1, Season 2 makes up for this with her efforts in saving Shirayuki and this episode. Another episode is quite fun as Mitsuhide accidentally inhale a medicine which changes his thoughts and increases his protection for Zen to an absurd level which seems like filler (albeit funny) but it did serve a big purpose, because Shirayuki discovers the cure, she is promoted to court herbalist, in affect making her part of royalty, which of course in effect, could change her relationship with Zen…
The last episode reflects just how important Shirayuki is – her official title with Tanbarun via Raj, Izana now having the respect for her, but most importantly, making a decision with her relationship with Zen. With both Raji and Obi most likely having feelings for her, she makes her decision and leads to a sweet and romantic finale with the two on the roof of the castle…
…and of course begging for a third season DAMN YOU!
This series as you can probably tell, is not just one of my favourites in recent years, but one of my favourite full stop. The character development is a big thing alongside everything else, but this one shows how it can work perfectly as Raji, one of my least favourites of the previous season shows that Shirayuki’s influence has worked and becomes one of my favourite characters. He doesn’t lose his comic value because he clearly is having trouble, but he becomes noble in his own way and also his good values (he genuinely cares for those he likes – his siblings, Shirayuki, and later his attendants and people) – he gets an ally and friendship with Zen as well, and it is clear he has feelings for Shirayuki but is unsure on acting on them because of that, so there is potential conflict but also wonder because of their allied nations now.
Obi as well gets full development in his feelings for Shirayuki and his change in life since meeting Zen and Shirayuki, his disappointment on not protecting her and the fact he won’t go back to his old life shows his own mentalities and how whilst still carefree, he feels a sense of responsibility for his friends. Even Kiki and Mitsuhade have their moments, especially Kiki with her flashback episode and how she is in fact a noble – whereas Mitsuhade when for lack of a better term, gets high on medicine, you see how much he is holding back on his desire to protect Zen.
But of course, the core is the Zen/Shirayuki relationship – you can tell the whole commoner vs. royalty thing is in the midst, but with Izana more or less approving of the relationship, it is slowly more romantic but both are still nervous about it – there are a few more kisses, hand holds and touches which are adorable, but also the strength of their characters is never in question. I will admit, this is ever so slightly weaker than the 1st season just because Shirayuki is a bit more a typical damsel in distress in this arc. In the 1st season despite not being a fighter, was able to fight with smarts, her botany and words. Here, she falls more into that archetype, which granted she wasn’t able to do much about in this situation and doesn’t weaken her character (the moments with her father are a good example), but it is a bit more noticeable compared to Season 1. That said, her reunion with her father is great, with Mukaze being very fun and manages to explain and read between the lines everything in the short time that they reunite, actually being much more memorable than Kazuki (again, why didn’t he explain to her than just kidnapping her? Zen rightly points that out to him…) which again, slightly weakens it to Season 1, but all that means it drops to an A than an A+…
The show otherwise is a gorgeous piece of slice-of-life, with drama, action, romance and even comedy, the characters makes the series and whilst it isn’t obviously for everyone, in terms of the total package in the style of show it wants to be, it is easily among the best.
Snow White & The Red Hair isn’t a complete fairy tale ending as the prince and the pauper have to work to get what they want, but Season 1 set it up and Season 2 continues it. The relationship is more closer, and this leads to conflict when people are after Shirayuki for things not revolving around her hair, and this conflict brings characters back for the better (Raji in particular), their relationship is realistic but stronger, and everyone gets their moment in the sun. I prefer Season 1 by a little bit but this doesn’t make it any less a masterpiece.
Cleaning Opening/Ending, Trailers, Episode Commentaries
Content Grade: A
Audio Grade: A
Video Grade: A
Packaging Grade: N/A
Menu Grade: B+
Extras Grade: B
Released By: Anime Limited via Funimation
Release Date: August 21st, 2017
Running Time: 250 minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen
Playstation 4, Sony Bravia 32 Inc EX4 Television, Aiwa 2 Way Twin Duct Bass Reflex Speaker System.