Why must you do this to me Studio Bones? After stealing my heart and making me shout in fanboy delight, you end on an episode that is quite literally titled, “The End of the Beginning,” and then force me to wait for a second season in Winter. You’re cruel, oh so cruel. Anyways, in case you can’t already tell from those previous statements, Akagami no Shirayuki-hime has ended its first season, and with a long wait ahead of us there’s no better time talk about all this show’s many features. So with that said, let’s get this thing started!
Okay, so before I dive into the few negatives in this second half, let me first remind everyone why Akagami no Shirayuki works so well. You see, unlike a lot of modern day romance anime, the relationship between Zen and Shirayuki isn’t one of pointless teasing or wasted potential; but a consensual, active, and ever evolving romance. One could easily look at the first episode of the show and ignore it as simply another kind of progressive and generic shoujo fantasy, but I think that really undermines a lot of the true strength behind its core couple. They aren’t just a perfect couple that fall in love, they help strengthen their individual desires and support each other through their flaws. Shirayuki learns not to work herself so hard, and Zen realizes that he needs to console others about his wants and goals.
I also love how the show never dodges the big question of, “Will they get together.” By episode 10 Zen and Shirayuki have had their first kiss and declaration of love, and by episode 12 they’ve sorted out their feelings and have become a true couple. Seeing a show have the two leads reconcile and get together so quickly is absolutely amazing, especially when many romance shows center their major conflict around keeping the two mains apart for 25 plus episodes. The only other show I’ve seen come close to this level of smart modern day relationship politics His and Her Circumstances, which is a pretty great comparison if you ask me.
That being said, Akagami no Shirayuki-hime is not the perfect creation I’d like it to be. The biggest problem with this season comes in the form of the ending, or the lack of one to be more precise. Akagami’s finale, while not a bad episode by any means, certainly didn’t leave me with any sense of closure. Admittedly, I was pretty satisfied by the development of Shirayuki and Zen’s relationship, but without any true finality I couldn’t help but feel kind of jipped.
It also helped me realize an underlying problem that the entire series has had throughout its runtime, that being the lack of a consistent conflict for the overall plot. Most episodes/arcs of Shirayuki follow a very samey structure. Shirayuki gets in trouble/gets involved in the kingdom’s politics and makes Zen worry, but they then work together to further their relationship and solve the problem at hand. This leads every arc to have a very closed off feel, and while there are a lot of interesting ideas in each episode, the potential long running conflicts presented feel incomplete. I want to see how the class structure and culture of Clarines will affect and challenge Zen and Shirayuki going forward, but as of this writing none of these conflicts have really turned into anything big. This all feels like set up for the second season that’s airing in Winter, which isn’t necessarily terrible, but it makes watching this season standalone a dubious idea at best.
Still, that doesn’t change the fact that Akagami no Shirayuki-hime is a really great romance. It may have been left incomplete by the lack of an immediate second half, but with that problem being fixed in January, I don’t really see much reason to hate this show. The main couple are amazingly well developed, the animation and color design by Studio Bones is absolutely stunning, and the final product is overall a very strong one. I highly recommend this to anyone who’s a fan of shoujo fantasy or romance in general. Just make sure you wait until the second season starts airing.