Story/Art: Sorata Akiduki
Translation: Caleb Cook
What They Say
A job she loves, free time with Zen—Shirayuki’s life couldn’t be better. But the return of Zen’s brother, Crown Prince Izana, puts everyone on edge. Even worse, Izana has much to say about Zen’s red-haired friend. Will Shirayuki be able to overcome this new obstacle in her relationship with Zen?
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
Shirayuki has settled into her new life and career as a court herbalist. She shares a unique relationship with Prince Zen, who has to defend his relationship with her from his brother. It’s a dicey situation because the crown prince holds the power and could have Shirayuki removed from the court if he so desires.
Izana is a calculated man. He’s not a preening idiot like Raj, he is shrewd and gives off an aura of danger. He tosses Shirayuki into an uncomfortable situation over and over, putting pressure on her and on Zen. Each move he makes causes more anxiety and frustration for the two. Zen pleads with his brother to get to know Shirayuki or take his word that she’s no threat. Izana calmly points out to his brother that he doesn’t have the same luxury of time to make his judgment.
Everything almost backfires on all parties when Raj is invited to the palace. Zen threatened the prince to never speak of Shirayuki again. Izana sees this as a chance to return Shirayuki home to her country. Raj, in his panic, makes a statement in front of the courtiers that he had heard Zen and Shirayuki were betrothed. The rumor mill goes nuclear at that point even though Zen clarifies that this is not the case.
This does highlight the fact that class positions are extremely important in their society. Maybe not to the level of some real-life examples, like England in the 1700s, but important enough that many assume that Shirayuki is just using Zen to climb the social ladder.
Shirayuki handles the situation about as well as you can expect someone in her position to. She keeps busy with work and confides in Zen when she can. Watching both of them find comfort and confidence in each other, even at this early point in their relationship, is such a nice change from how many manga would handle this situation. Zen even appoints Obi, a man he places a strange level of trust in, to guard Shirayuki.
We still don’t know much about Obi. Shirayuki is okay with him being her guard because he’s already made himself a confidant of her and Zen. (Amusingly, Zen doesn’t know about his lurking around her on a couple of prior situations.) He pushes Shirayuki’s buttons nearly as much as Izana, but ultimately is trusted enough for Shirayuki to put some trust in. Although how long Obi can resist becoming a third wheel we shall see.
This volume ends with the introduction of a new character, the bird handler Kihal. Her island is home to a rare bird species beloved by the natives who use it to locate things. Yet the lord who rules over the island as his territory sees the birds only as pretty plumage to hunt. It becomes a matter of saving the birds and the islander’s unique cultural practice while not undermining the rights of the lord. Greed and privilege result in a fraught contest which sees Shirayuki putting herself in danger once again.
Shirayuki’s presence close to the prince has made her a target of political gossip. From a royal brother who doesn’t have the time to determine if she is a threat to jealous courtiers to foreign lords, she’s now under the watchful eye of everyone. Luckily she is also under the watchful eye of Obi, even though his position at court is also that of an outsider. The introduction of some outside drama involving the islanders and their lord is a welcome addition. The manipulations of the prince’s on their kingdom’s politics are fascinating to watch, but they have to be careful not to make enemies in the process.
Content Grade: B
Art Grade: A –
Packaging Grade: B
Text/Translation Grade: A
Age Rating: Teen
Released By: Viz Media
Release Date: September 3, 2019
MSRP: $9.99 US / $12.99 CN / £6.99 UK