Born with uncommon red hair, herbalist Shirayuki is forced to flee her country when the fourth prince Raji, known for his whimsical temper and unpredictable personality, orders her to become his concubine. She finds refuge in the neighboring kingdom, Clarines, where she befriends the second prince, Zen.
Pretty, Pretty Everywhere
The sheer amount of pretty in this show is almost blinding. I’d read the first volume of the manga during my internship at J’aime lire magazine (it’s a super popular children’s magazine in France, for those of you who’ve never heard of it) , and I’d loved the fairytale-like atmosphere, and the show doesn’t disappoint, with gorgeous design, beautiful music and a somewhat original story. Usually, romance is pretty tame in shoujo manga, and it takes a bazillion years for the oblivious characters to confess to each other or just kiss. In Akagami, however, there’s an actual *gasp* kiss, with a real romance and everything. I actually applauded when I watched that episode, I kid you not.
So, this show also offers a nice palette of characters and an enchanting world. The Clarines palace, among other things, is a thing of beauty, especially at night, when the lavender-tinted white stone lights up in a gorgeous picture not unlike the castle in Cinderella.
The “Friend” in “Friendship”
Based on deep friendship, honesty and the search for one’s true self, the relationship between Zen and Shirayuki is a delight to witness. Zen finds a precious ally in Shirayuki, who doesn’t care about his status, while she draws from him the strength to follow her own path and build herself a new life in this foreign country. The tenderness in their interactions, their unbreakable faith in each other, carries Akagami through from beginning to end in a delightful explosion of fluff.
I also fell in love a little with Zen’s vibrant character. Serious and curious and impetuous but not reckless, his spontaneity gives him an irresistible sort of charm and charisma that I just couldn’t resist. Zen is lively, and he shines.
On top of that, Shirayuki proves that she’s no damsel in distress, thank you very much. Although she doesn’t have any skills apart from her knowledge as an herbalist and wouldn’t hurt a fly, don’t expect her to start crying at the first sign of danger while waiting for someone to come save her. She shows on multiple occasions her determination not to drag Zen down, and to become someone useful to him and his kingdom, someone he can trust and rely on.
Other than the main romance, however, the relationships both Zen and Shirayuki have with the people around them are very well written. I’m thinking of the deep friendship between Zen and his bodyguard Mitsuhide, or the newborn bond between Shirayuki and mischievous Obi. Kiki remains a bit faded compared to all the strong characters around her, but I hope to see more of her in the upcoming sequel.
Of course, some people don’t look kindly upon their friendship, but both Zen and Shirayuki have the advantage of being completely honest to each other and themselves, and to be surrounded with devoted friends who won’t hesitate to kick their butt into gear should it be needed.
Finally, all of those people live in a diverse world which is a wonder to discover as the episodes progress. One island in particular, populated with blue and green-feathered birds which helped fishermen find a gemstone from deep in the sea thanks to its specific vibrations, was beautiful to learn about.
All in All…
This beautiful, captivating fairytale can’t be recommended enough.
Titre: Akagami no Shirayukihime
Date de diffusion: 07/06/2015 to 09/21/2015
Nombre d’épisodes: 12
Genres: Shoujo, Romance, Fantasy, Adventure
Ma note: ★★★★★