Snow White with the Red Hair, Volume 1 by Sorata Akiduki
The “two volume” rule for judging manga series is something I tend to stick by because sometimes it takes six or seven chapters for a series to come together. In the case of Snow White with the Red Hair, the first volume is charming, but I was left a little confused about what the storyline would be to carry this series for 20 volumes. I’m assuming that this minor quibble will be cleared up with the second volume, or if not, it will continue to be a great slice of life series about herbalism with occasional low stakes kidnappings.
The woman with the red hair is actually not a princess at all, so the “Snow White” of the title is a bit of a red herring? What is it with red-haired heroines in shoujo manga anyway, is it a call back to Anne of Green Gables maybe? Shirayuki is an herbalist with striking red hair that unfortunately makes her a target for petty royals. In the first chapter, Shirayuki flees an overzealous prince who is determined to make her his new concubine, only to run into yet another prince – Zen, the second son of royalty for a neighboring kingdom. They immediately strike up a friendship, but in a subversion of the Snow White fairy tale, Zen eats a bit of a poisonous apple sent by Shirayuki’s would-be paramour and she has to rescue him.
One of the amusing aspects of Snow White with the Red Hair is the fairy-tale like setting combined with characters who are determined to make their own destiny. Shirayuki is devoted to the study of herbalism, and she decides that she’s going to make her own way in Zen’s country through her studies until she can become a court herbalist. Zen has a somewhat laid-back attitude to his royal position which is refreshing. I am not sure if I’ve seen a super chill prince in shoujo manga before. Shirayuki continues to be targeted, both because of her red hair and due to her new friendship with Zen. Seeing their initially quasi-platonic friendship slowly develop throughout the course of this volume made me look forward to what might happen next. On the whole, Snow White with the Red Hair reminded me a lot of the whimsical fantasy series that CMX used to publish, and then when I realized that it ran in LaLa, source of many CMX series, that all made sense to me. I’m glad that shoujo fantasy seems to be doing so well for the Shojo Beat imprint, because it is one of my favorite genres, and this series looks like it will be a worthy addition.