So….you may have heard this manga being adapted as an anime before (if not then, hey there’s an anime for it! go watch it 😀 – after you finish reading this post ofc ~ lol) and I’ve seen so many different opinions on it. Some say it’s extremely good while others say it’s dull and boring. I would consider myself the former.
Now before you click away from this page (thinking that I’m gonna be super bias on this), I want to say that I probably would have been extremely bias if I were to talk about this manga a year ago. Now, however, I kind of get why this might not be a cup of tea to some people. Still, I would like to voice my opinion and maybe convince some of you to at least give this manga a chance….and here’s why:
I feel that some people might be going into the manga in a very different mind set because of the summary put up in baka-updates or manga websites.
Shirayuki, the red-haired heroine, is ordered by the prince of her country, Raji, to become his concubine. She then runs away and meets a young man, Zen, who helps her after she boldly cures his wounds. Zen soon, however, becomes poisoned by an apple meant for Shirayuki…..
So, from this, people’s initial perception might be that it’s kinda like the fairy tale feel of “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” with the poisonous apple and such. But really this manga is more than that.
Now, despite being labeled shoujo and romance, I feel that in the recent chapters (45+), it’s starting leaning towards political aspect of the fantasy kingdom, which of course is not a bad thing (this is just a heads up to know what you’ll be getting). But what is most prominent of all is SLICE OF LIFE aspect of this manga. Essentially, this manga is about the journey towards the goal / aspiration of two people (Shirayuki and Zen), their story and the people around them – how Shirayuki and Zen are influenced by others and how they influence those around them.
What I like about this manga is how well-rounded the characters are. They are all more or less in the age of 18-25 (according to author’s note) and mixed with the experiences that they have to undergo, makes them a lot more mature than a lot of other characters in the typical shoujo manga. From the start, they have a very good idea of their own role, their strengths and weaknesses. By knowing their capabilities, they are able to complement each other through their strengths and weaknesses and that’s what I think is lacking in shoujo manga nowadays.
All of the characters are very likable as well, from the strong female lead to individual supporting characters, even ones that are like the palace guards who we only know the name of after 40+ chapters. Most of the “villains” become likable as well because of either you understand their motive for doing something or they make an effort to become a better person – they are in a way, relatable
Also, the author does a good job of using small plot arcs into bigger plot lines. What I mean by that is there are some minor arcs that seemed unimportant but really it will be used again in the later chapters suggesting that those chapters and new characters were not in vain but they do serve a greater purpose in this fantasy world. It’s kinda like life where you experience a “coincidence” but then looking back at it later you’ll see a bigger picture of how that experience fits in your life as a person. Hence the saying “everything happens for a reason.”
Despite that, it is by all means not a perfect manga. To a lot of people this manga may seems very slow in term of progress – especially starting from chapter 35+. I felt it because each arc will take about 5+ chapters to actually be resolved and each chapter is released once a month. So, yea, it’s slow. But, I own the tankobon (volume) copies and when I read it from those, the plot actually goes by pretty fast. It’s just that the months wait makes it longer and there are a lot of arcs.
The thing that might be not super clear from this manga is the plot. However, the goals to accomplish for each characters are still very clearly stated. Now what I mean here is that we can’t really predict what kind of sub-arcs the author is going to write and we can’t really see the point of it before it is resolved. Thus, making the arc seems boring/dull at the time of the chapter being released (especially when following the magazine release).
But, when looking at it from the bigger picture, those sub-plots are definitely needed for future arcs and plot lines. It’s kinda like life. When (bad) things happen to your life, you don’t see the point of why such things happen to you; but when you look back at it, the experiences that you go through is an important part of your life that makes your present self.
I’ve also noticed that even though character development is there, it is very minimal and subtle for most characters. This is mainly because most of them are already very developed from the start – there was no much fixing to begin with, but improvement is definitely there. (slow but sure)
Nevertheless, I still think it is one of the best and enjoyable manga I have ever read. It’s very refreshing to see a smart, strong, independent female lead and a similar male lead (the non jerk type! – in fact non of the characters are jerks!). My suggestion would be to read the finished arcs rather than waiting for the magazine release each month – if you are impatient with the pacing. Although you will probably be missing out the gorgeous color pages.
All pictures credit goes to Akizuki Sorata (check out her other works!) and manga reader.net where they are taken from.
As of now the manga is yet to be US licensed, however I know that several countries have already licensed them (including my home country) – so do double check and see if you can buy them to directly support the author!
And also there is an anime adaptation for it too – 2 seasons in fact! The animation is gorgeous and follows the manga pretty closely!