Snow White with the Red Hair has been one of my all-time favorite series since the anime came out. I could watch the series again and again and still get enjoyment out of it. After season two wrapped up, I knew I needed to start back with the manga, see how it compared, and continue on with the story past where the anime ended. I’ve already written a comparison of the manga and anime, and now, as the manga volumes continue to come out, I want to pick up my reviews where the story left off. Volume Eight, chapter 32 sees us at the end of the content for the anime but that also puts us smack-dab in the middle of the volume. However, I think it’s still worth it to take a look at this one considering the character development and extra content found within the pages.
In volume eight, Zen and Shirayuki finally have “the talk” about their relationship, with Zen professing his commitment to Shirayuki even as the shadow of Crown Prince Izana hangs over their heads. Now Zen must convince his brother that he is serious about making Shirayuki his bride. As a show of support for her position, Prince Raj officially gifts her the title of “Friend of the Crown,” giving her status among the nobility. After seeing Sakaki off back to Tanbarun, the group gets caught in a downpour and takes shelter at a nearby inn. But as night falls, Obi slips away on a mysterious adventure.
I’ve probably talked at length about the art in this series, but I really do love Sorata Akiduki’s art. The character designs are great, a lot of attention is paid to expressions which makes each moment more impactful and entertaining, and the pages never really feel too crowded with content. This means the important story moments are given the attention and detail they deserve and the space to breathe. I also love how Akiduki uses shading and values to draw attention to important moments like some intimate moments between Zen and Shirayuki. Whenever they have these meaningful connections, Akiduki adds a layer of shading over their characters, separating them from the rest of the panels which are almost always lighter in value. It starts to feel like we’re looking into an intimate, shady corner as Zen and Shirayuki profess their love for one another.
Akiduki uses another method to separate certain moments on the page though. It’s the actual page color behind the panels. On some of the pages, we’ll see the page backgrounds shift from white to black. This makes the panels pop on the page and adds a new layer to the mood of the story. We see this used the most in Obi’s story from Chapter 31 to 32. When Obi is sneaking out the inn to go meet the mysterious Trow, we see the background shift to black. This both enhances the fact that he’s sneaking out during the middle of the night and adds a layer of suspense and mystery to his getaway. We see it pop-up again when Trow and Obi flash-back to the last time they met when Obi was seriously hurt on a job. The black background here separates the flashback panels from the current-day panels. It also adds a layer of darkness or edginess to Past-Obi who was definitely not as carefree as our current Obi. In this way it signals a personality shift and growth of character for Obi by creating contrast between past and present.
We see so much character growth with Obi in this volume. The story of Obi and Trow gives us a look at his past and an opportunity to compare his personality then to the present. Through Trow we see that Obi had a much darker and more independent personality than what he has now. He seemed to have not connected well with people in the past and generally kept to himself unless he had a job to do. Even when he was severely injured, he didn’t let the people working with him to help. But Trow notes that he has changed when she meets him again in this volume, and it’s because of his relationship with Shirayuki and Zen. He’s never dedicated himself to someone before, but I think it may have been because no one really put their trust in him wholeheartedly. Both Zen and Shirayuki saw the good in Obi even after Obi shot an arrow at her and tried to force her out of the castle. Now he’s the go-to escort for Shirayuki whenever she goes outside the city. I love seeing the growth here and the contrast with his past self. Obi is definitely one of my favorite characters within this series.
Zen and Shirayuki’s relationship becomes solidified in this volume as well. Zen professes his devotion to her, and tells her that in his own time he will find a way to tell the world about their relationship. I think one of the most important moments is when Zen stands up to his brother Izana and we see that Izana comes close to accepting their relationship. He basically challenges Zen to convince him that Shirayuki would make a good bride for him. I think it’s very likely he’ll be successful, but in the meantime Izana will definitely continue to challenge and test Shirayuki on her fitness to be part of the noble family.
We see this happen in the last chapters where Shirayuki goes on a trip for the head herbalist to the northern cities, and Izana just so happens to also be making a trip to this exact area as well. He disguises himself as an herbalist assistant and accompanies Shirayuki through her duties. The volume ends before we get to see exactly what Izana is planning, but I’m guessing it’s along the line of seeing her work first hand and getting a better idea of the kind of person she is to cement his opinion of her. Knowing Shirayuki, this may become a turning point in her relationship with Izana, especially if he gets to see her work as an herbalist tending patients.
It seems like this volume really begins to solidify Shirayuki and Zen’s relationship for the story going forward. There’s really no more “will they, won’t they,” it’s become more of a “will their current relationship survive the struggles Izana and nobility forces them to face.” I’m really interested to see if Izana changes his opinion of Shirayuki in the future volumes. Luckily the next one is coming out in a few weeks, so we won’t have to wait too long!
Let me know what you thought of this volume and if you have any favorite moments from it. Volume Nine will be out soon, and I’ll see you all again then!
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