「芽吹きの協奏曲響く、小さな手」 (Mebuki no Kyousoukyoku Hibiku, Chiisana te)
“From the Small Hand, a Burgeoning Concerto Resonates”
That has got to be the fastest exam ever… I was expecting it to drag on for at least 2 episodes, but nope! Half an episode in and Shirayuki has not only passed the court exam, but she’s made a new friend as well. They’re quick on the ball for this one. Normally I’d anticipate some form of sabotage or struggle for the protagonist, but Shirayuki caught on so fast that it felt like just another day tending to the garden. On the other hand, I would’ve expected others to be just like her; staying up all night to ensure that they passed and everything went smoothly but there was no indication that anyone else was doing the same. Obviously Shirayuki went above and beyond by literally replanting all the incorrect flowers, but I would have expected some more panic by the other candidates that the water was being cross-contaminated. Nevertheless, Shirayuki passed with flying colors and Zen by her side too *nudgenudge.
It’s getting rather obvious that Zen has a crush on Shirayuki now. To the point where he resembles a little boy with his first crush and rather than tease and make fun of her, he makes every excuse to go and see her. It’s rather cute, and at the same time frustrating because I just want to scream ”Tell her you like her”! I don’t even know if he knows he likes her yet… but if the audience and his guards can tell, I think it’s rather obvious. For Shirayuki though, I haven’t seen much of an actual interest in the prince romantically from her yet. Although, I can understand that she’s focused on being a court pharmacist and probably hasn’t even thought about love and relationships. It’s refreshing when you don’t see girls throwing themselves at the main guy or vice versa (for them reverse harems).
Shirayuki acts like a really good friend towards Zen, even to the point of feeling great sympathy for him after she learns what he had to deal with growing up. That definitely felt like a shock and awe moment for me because Zen was poisoned! On purpose! And repeatedly too, so how can anyone just let that go? I hope it’s discussed in detail more about why these tests were done; or maybe it really was just to build up Zen’s immune system… by injecting poison! That’s not too different from how flu shots are given every year, but it’s not for research and definitely not to this extent. The tone of that scene definitely threw me off because I was expecting a more repulsed reaction from Shirayuki given what she’s learned; followed by some climactic music. Instead, she responses by feeling a lot of emotions and bawls as Zen comes in to comfort her. You’ll rarely see that type of scene in real life where the guy comforts the girl that’s crying on his behalf.
There’s a new kid in the story now – with his own quirks and intellect. Ryuu (Sanpei Yuuko) is assigned to be Shirayuki’s mentor after she passes the court pharmacist exam. He doesn’t qualify as a “love interest” given how young he is, but he’s definitely taken a liking to Shirayuki and shows it in his own way. He’s not the most social boy, but hey! He’s brilliant and knows his plants well. I would say that as a mentor, he’s not ideal, but he’s learning as he goes along and will probably learn a lot from Shirayuki herself so the relationship is a balanced one.