Akagami no Shirayukihime – 18

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Akagami - 18 -1It’s not as if last week’s episode left any room for doubt, but we’ve definitely put the fairy-tale wistfulness of the first cour of Akagami no Shirayukihime behind us.  This is now an intense, plot-driven action series – the kind where young boys get sold into slavery and dunked in the ocean to make them talk and hapless goons are beaten until they bleed internally.  If you’d told me this show would end up staring into the heart of darkness as much as it has, I’d never have believed you.

Akagami - 18 -2The nuts and bolts of the story have certainly come into clearer focus now.  The two groups who’ve kidnapped Shirayuki are the the Lions of the Mountains and the Claw of the Sea, and it’s Kazuki who ties them together – having escaped from one to join the other.  It seems the Lions see themselves as something of a semi-independent refuge for anti-royalists and general malcontents, a force for lawfulness as they see it, while the Claw are unapologetically pirates and scum.  I’m not so sure the moral difference between the two is as clear as Akagami would have us believe, but it undeniably exists.

Akagami - 18 -3The one element that doesn’t quite hold water for me is Kazuki’s reasoning for kidnapping Shirayuki.  Apparently as a bishounen who was sold off to be a “doll” (you can euphemize all you want, it’s clear what that means) for his looks, he heard the story of the prince and the red-haired girl and assumed the same had happened to her.  That’s a bit weak as a pretext for everything that’s happened, to be honest, but it’s built into a good story so there’s not much point in holding onto it.

Akagami - 18 -4The scenes with Kazuki and Shirayuki held as prisoner on Umihebi’s ship are gritty, violent and unpleasant – almost shockingly so.  It’s as if the mild-mannered and sweet-natured child you know so well has started swearing like a sailor.  But there’s an awful lot going on everywhere, and a dizzying web of tangled interests at play.  Zen is out to rescue Shirayuki, Raj tags along to try and allay his own guilt and embarrassment, his father keeps a wary eye to make sure his kingdom’s name isn’t sullied.  Mihaya joins in looking for a way to parlay all this to his advantage, and the Lions are more or less forced into an alliance with their sworn enemies to prove that they’re better than common crooks.  It’s a messy situation (and that’s seeing aside the fact that both Raj and Obi are barely hiding their intent to make a play for Shirayuki themselves).

Akagami - 18 -5I can still sense the beating heart of Akagami no Shirayukihime under all this darkness – and I think in the end this arc is going to be a tale of the will of good people triumphing over evil.  I think the Akagami universe is still fundamentally a place where decent folk come out ahead and love triumphs over all – it’s just that now we’re seeing the ugliness they have to deal with first.  That means Zen is going to rescue Shirayuki and they’re going to be together against (or perhaps not) his brother’s wishes, so the truth is there’s not that much uncertainty to the outcome – but damn if things aren’t still pretty tense.

Akagami - 18 -6The counterattack begins with Kiki, who volunteers herself to be taken prisoner by the Sea Snake and act as a shield and ally for Shirayuki from the inside.  And because all these disparate interests have something to gain by seeing Shirayuki freed, they set aside their disagreements and set about making that happen – aided by the convenient coincidence that Mihaya’s father has had dealings with the Claw of the Sea and knows their secret base.  I’m looking forward to the confrontation, but also what comes after – when people like Kazuki will have to answer for what they did, and Raj and the Lions will no longer have any reason to suppress their mutual disgust…

 

 

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3 comments

  1. J

    There’s definitely more to why Shirayuki was kidnapped, I agree with you there – I would go as far as to say that Kazuki’s cliched response was meant to draw you into further questions. I think I might know what the real reason is as well. To avoid spoilers I’ll keep schtum but if I’m right it makes a lot more sense, as well as explaining why Kazuki was chosen alongside Itoya by the leader of the Mountain Lions, and this would be where what we heard from him here ties in well. If the Sea Claws found out, Shirayuki’s fate would be even worse than it looked before Kiki was taken aboard (if it wasn’t clear before Zen, we all know who you like now…)

    The back-and-forth between everyone involved in the rescue was interesting as well, here we see Raj turning his newfound knowledge/nous and melding it with old habits to produce what should be a positive outcome. It would be out of place for someone as coddled as he has been to do a 180 just on these events, but I like that we’re seeing him change (and mature) somewhat and starting to find his own way to rule. The aftermath of the rescue will be the big test though, assuming it all goes well I hope that the status quo changes – it would be a shame to see the Lions and Clarines maintain the stand off. Then again if I’m right (definitely) or wrong (probably) , Shirayuki will have a big part to play here as well.

  2. T

    I think the leader may be shirayukis father or something

  3. J

    Well I was trying to be coy about it but now that you’ve said it, yeah that was my line of thinking too. Which neatly explains Kazuki being so determined to “free” her (and to not let the Claws know that they have the daughter of their most feared/hated enemy) and how the inevitable defrosting of relations between Tanbarun and the Lions will kick off – Shirayuki won’t need to do much convincing where Raj is concerned but this provides a nice in as to why the Lions leader would even sit down with the nobles he so despises.

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