Snow White with the Red Hair – Episode 14: “Eyes That Protect”

Parting is such sweet sorrow.

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Change and movement continue to characterize this second season, as Shirayuki hits the road and has an awkward homecoming—but not before last week’s plans can see one major adjustment.

Obligatory Scenery Porn: Road Trip Edition

Obligatory Scenery Porn: Road Trip Edition!

While the majority of the episode is spent on Shirayuki’s journey and early moments in Tanbarun, a lot of short, important beats occur in Clarines that set the stage for what comes later. As the day of departure draws nearer, Shirayuki and Zen work to prepare for the future, tie up any loose ends, and do their very best not to totally freak out.

Both are proactive people who like to take charge and solve problems, meaning both want to simultaneously hunt for Kazuki and travel to Tanbarun. Fortunately, they’ve learned from their past mistakes and choose to stick to a single goal this time (Zen to Kazuki, Shirayuki to Tanbarun), trusting the other to handle their half. Shirayuki’s mantra is indicative of this, as she fights to focus on “What I can do right now.”

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Even so, the lack of control eats at them both, despite their best attempts to keep busy and distracted. Zen in particular is quietly terrified about what will happen to Shirayuki, plagued by stress-dreams and training late in the night so he can feel like he’s doing something worthwhile.

Still, the two get through the preparation and the farewell, thanks in large part to their trust in each other (and the people looking out for them). There’s not much dialogue between them, but we’ve seen them together long enough to know that Shirayuki’s hard work on the dance floor encourages Zen to stay focused on his own tasks, and that Zen’s sudden embrace comforts our anxious heroine as much as it does him.

Sometimes I’m tempted to go scene-by-scene through an episode and talk about how Snow White uses angle, color, and sound in every dang shot to convey meaning or contribute to its overall tone, but rather than write a thesis, let’s just focus on the above screenshots. In addition to turning your poor blogger into a puddle for the second week in a row, it’s a lovely bit of cinematography, conveying intimacy and privacy through the closeness of the characters and the wide emptiness of the room.

The scene is cloaked in shadows but a glow of light surrounds our couple, not only protecting them from unknown danger but softening the threats themselves. The darkness is a gentle blue instead of a sharp black, creating a sense of comfort and privacy rather than danger. The audience is soothed along with the characters, assured that these two will make it through this new set of looming challenges because they have the other to support them.

This episode is full of nice high-angle shots, but this one might be my favorite.

And speaking of looming challenges…

This week is all about the wordless visual cues, in fact, particularly those (as promised by the episode title) involving eyes and where everyone is looking. Of course there’s that great stare-down between Shirayuki and Izana, but there are also little moments, like Kiki watching Zen’s hand as he taps the hilt of his sword when talking about Kazuki, or Obi zeroing-in on the hairpin but opting not to mention it to Shirayuki.

I’ve talked plenty before about how Snow White conveys its story and themes through images and music as much as (or more so than) it does dialogue, but an awful lot of character work happens via these little visual touches, too. That’s on full display this week, and helps to build tension and hint at future conflict even when our cast chooses to keep their feelings to themselves.

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Oh, and speaking of Obi and that hairpin: Yes, turns out he’ll be traveling with Shirayuki after all, which is the closest to disappointed I’ve felt while watching this show. I like Shirayuki and Obi’s dynamic just fine, but we’ve seen them together so much at this point that I worry we’ll start repeating character beats. I talked last week about how excited I was to see some different groups than our usual ones, and sadly Zen’s decision takes the wind out of those particular sails.

Personal preferences aside, it does make sense within the story itself, given how concerned Obi is for both Zen and Shirayuki. His insistence on accompanying Shirayuki is as much to help put Zen at ease as it is to protect her, and Zen seems to understand and respect that (he may even sense the same quasi-romantic bond that Mitsuhide does, although that’s up for plenty of debate). Snow White hasn’t steered me wrong yet, so I’ll withhold any real criticisms until I see more of this arc in action.

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Regardless of how Shirayuki and Obi’s interactions play out, Prince Raj should help keep the Tanbarun story plenty fresh, given his own stand-offish, “wishy-washy” reaction to Shirayuki. He fluctuates between being the noble prince and the whiny royal this week, as if he’s trying to mature but can’t quite shake his baser instincts.

Similarly, he seems either smitten with or terrified of Shirayuki (likely both), which is certain to complicate things as we progress. Raj is an idiot but he’s a highly entertaining one, and I look forward to seeing him make more faces at Shirayuki (even if they are lovesick ones) in the coming weeks.

This, That, and the Other

  • The Clarines guards ‘ship ShiraZen almost as much as Mitsuhide does.
  • Of all the interactions we’re going to miss out on, I think I’m most bummed about the lack of additional sniping between Mihaya and Obi. That relationship is rife with potential, particularly where Snow White’s running conflicts about social status are concerned.
  • I didn’t get a chance to talk about the borrowed pocket watch in-post, but what a sweet (and very real) little gesture to grant ShiraZen some extra assurance that they’ll meet again soon. In most anime I’d worry it’s a death flag, but with this show, I feel I can flail without fear.
  • So the jury’s back and uh, yeah. I do not like Izana. He’s interesting, to be sure, but I kinda wanna slap him in his smug mug every time he shows up.
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6 thoughts on “Snow White with the Red Hair – Episode 14: “Eyes That Protect”

  1. Totally on board with all your thoughts, save one. Izana. The ever inscrutable Izana, who this week, actually made me like him even more.

    Mostly because he gave away enough of what he’s up to that as a the viewer, we can figure out his plan in all this. First, he needs to know if what Zen and Shirayuki has is real, and not just an infatuation. So, he is sending her away for a month. When she returns, if she and Zen are tighter than ever, then okay. It’s for real and he needs to deal with that.

    To that end, Shirayuki has subtly been given the training she’ll need to walk the high status circle at Zen’s side without embarrassment. All done under the pretext of her not shaming herself at this ball. Very clever, Izana, making Shirayuki think of it in terms of not embarrassing Zen.

    Of course, if she returns, and she and Zen find that what they had was just a passing thing, he can still encourage her to return to Tanbarun, now with the proper courtly training to join Raj, ensuring that the relations between their nations only improve, as Shirayuki is sure to make Raj into a future King that will do right by his nation.

    Either way, Izana has covered not just all his bases, but every one else’s, too. Cause he’s clever like that. The most interesting part of all this, though, is that no matter what the outcome when she returns, he’s set things in place that will be of benefit to literally everyone.

    This guy. It is everyone’s best interest to not go to war with this this guy. he’s scary smart and clever.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, sure, I agree with pretty much everything you said! He’s a very clever, subtle politician who clearly has Clarines’ (and maybe Zen’s) best interests at heart. Izana is a well-written character and a good antagonist (not a villain, ofc, but definitely an antagonizing force) because we can understand where he’s coming from and even sympathize with his actions.

      I can think all of that and still, personally, really not like the guy. Regardless of his intentions or “true feelings,” he treats other people with a measure of contempt and carries himself with a smarter-than-thou smugness that rankles me. The camera does a good job of visually showing this, as he’s constantly positioning himself above and/or at a distance, able to watch people without having to really interact with them (which strikes me as a glaring flaw for a leader to have, really). His treatment of Zen – who should be his greatest ally – especially irks me, as he keeps him at arms-length and even acts like he enjoys seeing his brother upset.

      Again, his ends may be noble, or at least politically sound. Heck, maybe he deep down knows all this about himself and respects Zen’s more balanced approach to leadership. Maybe he’s even intentionally acting the villain because he feels he has to be for Clarines and Zen to grow (I disagree with that, but I can see the logic, at least). All of that may be true. But he still acts like a stand-offish jerk, so I just can’t bring myself to actually like him.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Which is all totally fair. He is smug, and does act like a jerk. In a way, that’s what fascinates me about him, as he’s intelligent enough to know he’s doing it. Which leads me to the question of why.

        Granted, he’s really a secondary character in this story, but I do hope at some point we see why he chooses to be this way. Somehow, I think that would be a really interesting story in and of itself.

        In the meantime, dislike him for being the Dicknose he acts like. :D

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I want to ship Izana and Obi. I want the show to want that, so it week do out as well as anything else it does. In part for Obi being happy away from Shirayuki, in part for some good glbt representation. But it’s way too early to see, since Izana can still turn out to be still an antagonist, not a reformed rogue like Obi.

    everything else, Squee. I am so so sad my wife didn’t get into this show. I’m still b baffled why, but respect it. But i wish i could squee with her about the best romance in anime.

    Like

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