「始まりのさようなら」 (Hajimari no Sayounara)
“Goodbye of the Beginning”
A strong finish for our happy couple and I’m glad to have seen this relationship from beginning to end. I wouldn’t have expected any better for a finale (given that I wasn’t expecting a cliffhanger either) and it’s a lot of fluff, but it’s happy fluff. I mentioned the importance of seeing the post-confession scenes before and this episode gave me exactly what I wanted to see. The blushing, the “honeymoon stage” and just seeing Zen more attached than usual was comforting. It sets the base of the story up for the second season, which has been confirmed to start winter 2016. I’ll be excited to see where we go from here as there are still a lot of barriers to their relationship. The obvious one is still the fact that Zen is a prince and even Shirayuki notices more than ever during the celebrations that even though they’re so close, they live very different lives.
Last week I mentioned that Shirayuki’s character hasn’t really been explored or looked at compared to Zen. This finale gave us a peek at who raised Shirayuki (her grandparents apparently) and how she became the way she is. It gives a good indication of where her morals come from and from the looks of it, her grandparents really loved her and treated her well. I wish there was more to her than that. I’d like to see her struggles outside the superficial ones with her hair and although it does cause a lot of issues for her (e.g. the play), it’s not something that she can’t overcome. Her toughest problems are probably ahead of her as she dates Zen.
As fluffy as the episode was, there was some minor developments for Zen, Shirayuki and company that I thought was great for their character (although not necessarily plot movement). From the handholding to the small signs of jealousy, Zen is really not hiding his affections for Shirayuki very well and even Mitsuhide, Kiki and Obi notice. It’s cute, but I hope it doesn’t get him in trouble one day. Mitsuhide, and Kiki have grown on me a lot these past few episodes; even though they don’t have a solid side story of their own. Their loyalty to Zen is admirable and I hope they get their own spotlight one day. Obi has and will always be that black sheep that I hope makes a move one day. It’s kind of already hinted at that he might have feelings towards Shirayuki but doesn’t act on it given what he knows about her and Zen. Shirayuki will also probably never reciprocate those feelings since she’s so tunnel-visioned by Zen. I’m not sure what to make of that since I clearly ship them, but with both parties oblivious to their own (or the other’s) feelings, it’s hard to say. We’ll have to see next season.
Akagami no Shirayukihime is a gem amongst a lot of romance series that you see these days. I wouldn’t consider it a romantic comedy, nor is it full of drama and angst – it fits right in between that makes it a feel-good anime. It follows a good pace alongside Shirayuki and Zen’s relationship and you really see it come to fruition at the end when they go beyond the typical point of the confession. An anime feels like it’s worth watching when I get a strong connection between the characters (and myself) and I’ve gotten enjoyment and entertainment from watching it. Akagami no Shirayukihime does exactly that with a fun journey for the characters and it brings back the old butterflies in my stomach I would get when I watched shoujo. Not a lot of shows will do that to me nowadays and maybe it’s because I’m a romantic at heart, but it does tug at the heart at all the right moments.
The biggest takeaway from Akagami no Shirayukihime has to be its characters. The plot itself is one thing, but the characters that live it are what makes each scene special or funny or impactful. I thought the writers did a great job empathizing certain moments with the right tone in music, the beautiful background and close-ups of expressions. Sometimes there was a bit too much of Shirayuki or Zen’s face (taking screencaps makes you realize just how many of the same shots there were), but for the most part, I thought the animation was consistent and relatively well done. The scenery is amazing and fits well with the setting of the story about princes, castles and romance in the air. From the synopsis of this story, I was expecting more folklore or references to Grimm stories and fairytales. Akagami no Shirayukihime did not deliver on that point, asides from the first episode which used Snow White as a reference. If that’s what you’re looking for, I’d keep looking; but if you’re hoping for a cute romance about a prince that falls in love with a “commoner”, then definitely check this out.