Akagami no Shirayukihime – 16

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It’s a worrying time in shoujo fantasy land…

Akagami - 16 -1The “can one minor character ruin an otherwise good show?” meme is all too familiar, though for obvious reasons I hate to see it put to the test.  And it is being tested here, just as Rona is testing my patience.  I think Akagami no Shirayukihime is a strong enough series to pull through this, and I have seen worse than the character doing the testing.  But she is a dose of cliche and pandering (apparently successful pandering) in a show that had previously been refreshingly free of such things.

Akagami - 16 -2I’m still trying to get my bearings in this second season, really.  The premiere felt like Akagami, but the last three episodes have been quite a change from most of the first cour.  Pirate captains, annoying lolimoutos, love quadrangles, mysterious bishounen…  I’m enjoying most of this, but it does feel like a different route than the one I thought I’d bought a ticket for.   I think in the larger scheme what we’re seeing is all about testing Shirayuki and Zen’s relationship, and if that relationship was going to the next level it was always going to be tested.  But it’s quite a long diversion away from what was the heart and soul of the first season.

Akagami - 16 -3One of the better elements of this season is seeing the effect Shirayuki is having on Prince Raj.  I always give props when an initially preposterous buttmonkey of a character can convincingly be morphed into something more, and I think Akagami has done so pretty convincingly with Raj.  He’s studying affairs of state (to impress her), thinking about the future (stealing another prince’s woman), and trying to help Shirayuki with the more awkward aspects of her visit (again, to impress her).  Clearly Raj is still a pretty preposterous guy, but he’s at least making progress.

Akagami - 16 -4Ultimately, of course, all this is building towards an eventual (relatively) open declaration from Raj that he’s in-love with Shirayuki (as opposed to being in lust as he was before).  It’s actually kind of heartbreaking because Raj obviously knows this is a bad move and he’s trying to do the right thing, but those who supposedly love him like Sakaki and Rona keep pushing him into declaring.  Rona is also much more literally pushing Shirayuki and Obi together, trying to size up the relationship between Shirayuki and the man she’s mistakenly convinced herself is her brother’s biggest threat.  Obi, too, knows that declaring would be a terrible mistake – but I suspect he too has to cave sooner or later for the story to move forward.

Akagami - 16 -5Of course, the real biggest threat to Shirayuki and Zen’s relationship may come from elsewhere – either Izana (who’s clearly the smartest guy in the room) or Kazuki.  We still don’t really know what Kazuki is up to or what his interest in Shirayuki is (I’m expecting some kind of major misdirection now that they’re finally meeting), or even if he’s directly connected to the busty pirate captain we meet at the close of this episode, but Kazuki has gotten enough of a buildup that his role here is presumably quite significant.

Akagami - 16 -6Pressed by all this, Zen gives us what may be the most important thing in the episode and the point of this whole arc – he tells his brother that he intends to marry Shirayuki.  It’s obvious of course, but the nature of court life (and anime) still makes that statement a game-changer.  Having seen his brother moved to such bold pronouncements Izana allows Zen to travel to Tanbarun to try and protect Shirayuki from Kazuki, but accompanied by a threat that if she causes an incident that threatens the peace, she’s forever banned from the castle.  The sense is strong that when all the bluster and noise has died down, it’s only Izana that can stop Zen and Shirayuki from being together – so despite all the attention paid to other men, it’s really the elder prince of Clarines that bears closest watching.

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7 comments

  1. Y

    For some reason, in both this episode and the previous one, I didn’t find Rona nearly as annoying as I expected to. Sure, she’s over-enthusiastic about a lot of stuff that isn’t exactly her business and likes to think herself a schemer, but to me it always came off as if she’s doing it just because she desperately wants things to be better for her brother. One moment that stuck with me from last episode was when Raj apologised to Shirayuki after the whole incident with the underground maze and Rona reacted with astonishment to his words; it made me wonder if she wants him to be a better (and happier) person because she and Eugena have never had a good relationship with him, or seen him be good (towards anyone and at anything) at all — which is why Shirayuki coming over to the castle is like this big, exciting bomb dropping on all of them.

  2. S

    Actually I found Rona to be fine this episode. It was a lot clearer that her brother sort of enjoyed being part of her schemes and I thought it was really endearing how she jumped to the idea of a dramatic love triangle and got terribly excited about it. I’m less sold on the Raj plot line though. It’s nice how he’s growing as a person but I’m just not terribly invested in it and I really miss the old ShirayukiXZen dynamic. I’m sure that reunion will be worth the wait though and i’m keen to see what happens with Obi in the meantime.

  3. Wow, I definitely didn’t get the sense that Eugena was happy to be part of Rona’s nonsense. They of course he’s really been given no characterization at all so it’s not like it makes a difference.

  4. “Glad to cut this comment out”? But not till after I’ve seen it of course.

  5. R

    Apologies, I figured keeping specifics out of the comment would be enough but I’ll be more careful about general spoilers as well now

  6. o

    So, random question… These kids are princes and a princess… Raj is shown “studying” statecraft, but Izana is acting like he’s already running things.

    Shouldn’t there be a king or queen somewhere, who would have the actual final say as to whether Zen could travel?

    I don’t recall any reference to their parents at all.

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