Snow White with the Red Hair – Episode 17: “Prologue of the Quietly Twisting Night”

You know it’s a wild day when even Shirayuki looks overwhelmed.

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Has everyone had time to catch their breaths after that whirlwind of an episode? I said last week that our story lines were beginning to converge, and this week we saw them all slam into each other with a tension and force Snow White has never had before, spinning us between locations and characters and surprise twists that leave our normally easy-going cast reeling. I never thought I’d say this, but Monday can’t come fast enough.

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Snow White with the Red Hair – Episode 16: “The Name of That Step is Change”

Being popular isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

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Shirayuki finds herself at the center of a storm both political and martial this week, as various story lines converge and new ones begin to take shape. Princes in the ball room, kidnappers in the hall, and unwanted ships and ‘ships looming just out of sight. So much for my “sleepy little slice-of-life fairy tale” synopsis.

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Snow White with the Red Hair – Episode 15: “Indecision Caused by Confusion”

Good thing Snow White has a better sense of direction than Prince Raj does.Screenshot_2016-01-25-12-30-29

There’s an alternate universe where this is a terrible episode of anime, where Raj is an insufferable prig who tears at the comfy sweetness of Snow White like a cheese grater. Fortunately for us, we live in a universe with BONES animators and Fukuyama Jun, who know how to ride the fine line between annoying and hilarious with sympathy and wit. So, while this might not have been the most graceful or subtle of episodes, it still wound up being a pretty entertaining one. Sometimes it’s nice to live in this universe, doncha think?

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Panning the Stream: Sequels and Carryovers Edition (Winter 2016)

There are precious few familiar faces, but some are rather precious.

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This may be the briefest sequel/carryover post I’ve ever written thanks to a shortage of sequels, some odd licensing issues, and personal viewing preferences. Still, the few there are have a lot of fond memories attached to them, so that should be a good sign going forward. Hit the jump for fairy tales, thieves, and urban legends.

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Snow White with the Red Hair – Episode 13: “The Red That Spins Fate”

New season. New challenges. Same beautiful show.

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After a busy premiere weekend characterized more by mediocrity than anything else,  Snow White with the Red Hair returns to brighten a cloudy Monday and the winter as a whole. The art is gorgeous, the music vibrant, the interactions natural and charming, and the story handled with steady-handed grace. It’s quintessential Snow White, and it’s a delight to have it back.

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Glancing Upstream: Summer 2015 Retrospective and Review

Having some good old-fashioned fun in the sun.

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Summer might not have had the most groundbreaking or ambitious of series, but what it lacked in artistry it made up for in pure enjoyment. This season was just plain entertaining, chock full a variety of genres from high fantasy to crime drama to horror to comedy. Well-executed (or awesomely bad) pop fiction was the name of the game, and I was genuinely excited for the next episode of even the lowest-rated series on this list.

That isn’t to say there weren’t some excellent ideas and characters to be found among the batch, mind you. While “entertainment” was the primary focus, many of the top series featured strong character writing, showrunners who knew how to develop unique atmospheres through art and music, and an understated but insightful exploration of social issues such as power imbalances and bigotry.

School-Live and Gangsta dealt with trauma in nuanced ways, and Snow White and My Love Story depicted some of the healthiest relationships in shoujo memory, promoting communication and quietly but consistently challenging traditional gender roles and genre stereotypes. Part of the reason I had so much fun this season was because I wasn’t having to constantly roll my eyes at some trite or harmful characterization, but could just get swept along in a bunch of great (or hilaribad) stories. And that makes this a pretty strong season in my book.

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Snow White with the Red Hair – Episode 12 (Season Finale & Review)

And so we come at last to the end middle of things.

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Snow White hits its first-cour finale today, so it makes sense to spend the first half of this post providing a mostly spoiler-free review for anyone who somehow hasn’t made this a part of their watch list and is wondering if they should. Short answer: Yes, you should. Long answer: Hit the jump for some glowing paragraphs, and I’ll let you know when we’re moving back into spoiler territory.

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Snow White with the Red Hair – Episode 11: “Experiencing…”

Okay, Snow White, now you’re just making the other shows look bad.

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Do I really need to say anything about that one? You watched it. You saw. You know the art was gorgeous and the staging elegant and the music sublime and the characters so wonderful that my notes are like 75% caps lock, underlines, and little heart drawings. I literally wrote “I can’t even” in large block letters at one point. Trying to parse it out and describe it almost feels like I’m cheapening the experience.

But not writing about it means I can’t share this experience with you, and I want to do that. Oh, very much. So hit the jump for some screenshots, gushing, and analysis. But mostly the first two.

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Snow White with the Red Hair – Episode 10: “Inexperienced Heart”

I’m not sure what we did to deserve so many great shoujo series in a single year, but whatever it was, let’s keep doing it.

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This would have been a marvelous episode regardless of anything else that happened, but coming less than seven days off My Love Story‘s fantastic “The Letter to Me,” it really struck me how lucky we are to have two great shoujo series running simultaneously for arguably the second time in a single year (a relative rarity in the anime schedule these days).

Shoujo (and its more mature counterpart, josei) series have their share of harmful cliches and archetypes, to be sure. But at its best, the genre features an emotionally honest, character-driven storytelling style and a focus on the complexities and nuances of individuals and interpersonal relationships that’s unmatched just about anywhere else in anime. Shows like Snow White remind me why I fell in love with this genre over 10 years ago, and why I keep coming back despite the rough patches along the way. Here’s hoping 2015 is the beginning of a trend and not an anomaly, and we see plenty more series like this one in the years to come.

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