Snow White with the Red Hair – Episode 20: “The Temperature of a Smile”

Dust settles gently around here.


The past few episodes tricked me into thinking Snow White was a more conventional (albeit still quite good) shoujo fantasy, but this one was quick to remind me in no uncertain terms that it is, for better or for worse, very much its own story: A relaxed, low-key fairy tale about personal choice and defining oneself. As I said in the first cour, that’s not going to work for everyone, but love it or bored by it, I think you’d be hard-pressed to argue that Snow White isn’t doing exactly what it wants to do, audience expectations be damned. And, for me at least, that’s definitely “for better.”

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Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju – Episode 8

The light at the end of this tunnel is looking more like a speeding train with each passing week.


Due to a series of unexpected and slightly ridiculous events, I wound up handwriting this in the back of a car between bouts of motion sickness (#XtremeBlogging!), then quickly typing it up and posting it via shaky hot-spot WiFi. As such, it’s a bit scattershot, but I’ll do my best to keep it organized as we chat backgrounds, priorities, and shifting relationships.

After spending a whole lotta time firmly rooted in Kikuhiko’s perspective and developing opinions about others based on the way he sees them, we at last get some direct back story from our two supporting players that offers us our first real glimpse into the histories, hopes, and fears that have influenced and continue to drive them—and they’re not as different from our dour protagonist as you might think.

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Snow White with the Red Hair – Episode 19: “Wave of Determination”

The gang makes like McGruff and takes a bite outta crime.


The Pirates of the Tanbarun comes to its thrilling(?) conclusion this week, perhaps proving more than anything that Snow White is a much better character drama and cozy fairy tale than it is a rip-roaring adventure series. This might be the show’s weakest outing since it’s second episode (meaning it was still “pretty good” by most standards, mind you), but it still had plenty of standout moments, and its ending opened the door to what could be a major paradigm shift.

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Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju – Episode 7

Showa Genroku: A classic love story of boy-meets-rakugo.


Having at last found his voice, Kikuhiko’s star rises swiftly, as his performances earn him accolades from audiences and masters alike. But one person’s success can sometimes be another person’s loss, and the rapid changes occurring this week are as much about unraveling personal connections as they are about tightening professional ones.

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Panning the Stream: Winter 2016 Midseason Review

The party is shrinking faster than expected.


While it’s not unheard-of for me to drop shows between the third and sixth episode, my retention rate is something like 80 percent. Basically, if you can hook me after three, I’m usually invested enough to stick around through the whole cour even if I wind up with a negative opinion of the show.

This season, though? This season there was enough mildly entertaining mid-range stuff that I threw it all at the wall and waited to see what would stick. Not much of it did, and some of the results surprised even me. Hit the jump to see where we stand halfway through this chilly season.

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Snow White with the Red Hair – Episode 18: “Many Different Resolves”

Getting by with a little help from your friends.


We’re still ratcheting up the intrigue and plot points, but even so, this week felt more Snow White-like than the past two, as everyone managed to take a breath and remember who they were: Smart, skilled adults able to deal rationally with their problems and—most importantly—work together to do it. There may be “many different resolves” here, but they’re starting to cooperate both practically and emotionally. And if this show has taught me anything, it’s that focusing on what you can do while also trusting others to do the same is pretty much always a good thing.

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Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju – Episode 6

They say you should spend this day with a loved one, so…


Seeing as how it’s Valentine’s Day, I thought I’d begin this post by saying something I’ve neglected to mention throughout these many words of character analysis and directorial discussion: I am completely, utterly, over-the-moon in love with Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju. I give myself a couple of days to write these commentaries because my hot takes would just be several paragraphs of caps-lock gushing and a bunch of sparkly-eyed, flailing reaction gifs. Every week I think I’ll get used to how good this show is, and every week I am once again floored by the sheer amount of thought and artistry that goes into this production.

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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.


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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Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju – Episode 5

Shakespeare may be nations and centuries away, but “all the world’s a stage” has never been a more apt sentiment.


Has there ever been a series with as much unabashed love for performers and performance as this one? From the many rakugo stories to the bursts of shamisen music to this week’s low-budget kabuki play, Showa Genroku depicts Japan’s classic performance arts with a careful attention to detail and a fierce respect for the mediums.

Yet the series never lets itself slip into rose-colored nostalgia; rather, like the rakugo-ka who preserve the tales of Edo (and therefore its lost world and the flawed people who lived in it), Showa Genroku seeks to capture with the same blend of affection and honesty a time, place, and people who no longer exist. And it accomplishes this the same way humanity so often has: Through the telling of stories.

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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.


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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