The Snow Queen
(Yuki no Joou
) is a 2005 anime by TMS Entertainment
and directed by the late Osamu Dezaki
Like in the original story
, Gerda and Kai are childhood friends and neighbors living in a small town, playing and preparing with their families for an incoming winter. In the meantime, the Snow Queen proceeds with her annual summoning of snow and ice, leaving the Ice Palace
in care of her subordinate trolls. During one of her outings, the giant Magic Mirror
shatters and its shards are blown away all over the world, including their hometown. Kai’s eye is pierced by one such shard and soon his demeanor begins changing, to the point of driving Gerda away in tears. One night, the Queen sees him and decides to take him away to her castle all while Gerda is helpless to do anything about it.
When the villagers and Kai’s family give up the search and hold a funeral for him, Gerda cannot shake off the feeling that Kai is still alive, remembering her dream about Kai going off in a while carriage. She eventually encounters the town drunk who saw the same thing as she did in her dreams and decides to travel north in order to find him. She meets many people on her journey, including a mysterious minstrel Ragi and his animal companions who join Gerda in her search.
Not to be confused with The Snow Queen (1957)
, The Snow Queen 1977
, The Snow Queen 1995
, or The Snow Queen (2012)
This anime contains examples of:
- Action Mom: Frida's mom Amanda.
- Adaptation Expansion: The anime spends an episode just fleshing out Gerda and Kai and their families, and shows what their town is like. It also takes its time showing Gerda actually preparing for her journey to find Kai. And then it throws in a bunch of episodes that never were part of the original story; see Massive Multiplayer Crossover.
- Adaptational Heroism: The Snow Queen was an ambiguous figure in the story; here, she's a heroic figure who fights against the Devil.
- Adventure Towns: Just about every town Gerda walks in will have her meet someone or do something.
- Animated Adaptation
- Animesque: Inverted in that the art and character designs resemble more of a European style than a traditional anime.
- Alien Sky: If there’s an aurora borealis in the sky, chances are the Snow Queen is there. Then there’s the Avatar’s red eye like aurora…
- All Myths Are True: The Snow Queen and Holger the giant are treated as legends, with only a few people actually seeing them for real, but they do turn out to be real.
- Arrows on Fire
- Benevolent Genie: The witch in the “Three Walnuts” episode who gives Gerda and two siblings magical walnuts. She’s a bit of a Literal Genie when the youngest sister wishes for a carriage and princess but it turns out she didn’t specify who it was for, so the witch herself drives off in the carriage.
- Big Damn Heroes: Ragi finds himself doing some of these for Gerda. In the final episodes, Holger also manages to show up at the ice castle (all the way from the glacier, mind you) to catch a flaming arrow aiming for Gerda.
- Bilingual Bonus: There’s some Danish in this.
- Cerebus Syndrome: While the series already dealt with fairly serious issues, it was still a story about a young girl traveling to find her friend. And then Satan shows up.
- Climbing the Cliffs of Insanity: Later on in the series, Gerda and Ragi need to climb over the great glacier to get to the Snow Queen.
- The Corruption: The mirror shards. Unlike in the fairy tale where other shards are mentioned but not seen, the shards are shown to have affected some people other than Kai, and Gerda runs into such people on her journey.
- Coming-of-Age Story
- Cut the Safety Rope: Ragi discusses this with Gerda on the glacier. He ends up doing it.
- Department of Redundancy Department: Gerda calls a pickpocket a “pickpocket thief”.
- Dramatic Shattering: In this case, both the mirror and the puzzle.
- Earn Your Happy Ending
- Easing Into the Adventure: It takes four episodes to properly set up Kai and Gerda’s daily life and relationship, Kai’s accident with the mirror shard and Gerda’s eventual decision to find him.
- Everything's Worse With Bears
- Feuding Families: Amanda’s clan and Gaion’s clan have been fighting each other for years, mostly for territory.
- Forbidden Fruit: The fruit of the largest tree called the Ancestor in the Bandits’ Forest. Eating it is what gets both Frida and Gerda in trouble with the bandit clans.
- Find the Cure: In the beginning, Gerda sets out to find herbs for her grandmother’s fever in during winter and in the later episode Ragi searches for some after Gerda herself falls ill (which ends with him getting down with one as well).
- The Final Temptation: There’s the scene where the Avatar of the Wind takes Kai to the Garden of Paradise and even offers him immortality should he stay there. Considering the Avatar turns out to be the Devil himself, it becomes even more apparent.
- For Doom the Bell Tolls: While on a picnic with her family, Gerda hears a strange church bell that she knows isn’t coming from her town. Her grandmother tells her she heard the same bell years ago and later a notice came to her from the military; Gerda’s father had died in the war.
- Grim Up North: Where the Snow Queen lives.
- Ghibli Hills
- Grand Finale: The series concludes with the characters fighting off the Devil.
- Harmless Freezing: Ragi freezes at the bottom of the glacier and notably dies. Played straight when he’s revived.
- Healing Spring: Frida is tasked to find the Spring of Life by Bae to save her dying mother.
- Heartwarming Orphan: Often.
- Home Sweet Home
- Hope Spot: Kai finally finishes the puzzle which restores the magic mirror and seals the Devil back where he belongs… only for him to tumble over when his heart starts to hurt, with the Devil still free to rampage due to the shard still lodged in Kai’s heart and leaving the mirror incomplete.
- Ice Palace
- I'm Not Afraid of You: When the witch’s rat transform into a dragon, he is surprised Gerda isn’t afraid of him. Played for Laughs since she manages to convince him she will act like she’s afraid if he gives her back her shoes. She ends up running out on him while he’s distracted.
- Identical Stranger: There’s the Prince, apart from the fact that he’s older than Kai. Gerda also meets a Captain who bears a passing resemblance to her father.
- Intergenerational Friendship: Gerda (eleven) and Ragi (middle-aged), with shades of Parental Substitute.
- Involuntary Dance: In the episode based on “Red Shoes” which ends with disastrous consequences.
- Lady of War: The Snow Queen.
- Like Brother and Sister: Gerda and Kai, to some amusement to their schoolmates.
- The Lost Lenore: A rare male example; Holger the giant. The Snow Queen still hasn’t gotten over his death a hundred years ago and he does have a significant presence not just for her, but for the other characters as well (mostly through his legends as they likely didn’t know he existed or that he was already dead till the final episodes). Gerda names the wolf companion after him and the Queen appears to see much of Holger in Ragi.
- Loyal Animal Companion: Holger and (to lesser degree) Amor.
- Magic Mirror: The Snow Queen can observe faraway events with it even when it is broken. It also contains the essence of the Devil that can turn people evil and makes them susceptible to his control.
- Massively Multiplayer Crossover: References and adaptations of other Andersen stories appear throughout.
- Men Don't Cry: Averted because everyone cries in this. Girls, boys, women, men, old people… all of them.
- Mood Whiplash
- The Mourning After: The Snow Queen for Holger.
- Mysterious Mist: One comes up at night in the Star Falling Valley that was once the place of a huge war.
- New Year Has Come: Episode 19 has a fun one made from The Little Match Girl.
- No Name Given: Some of the characters from the original story gain names in this version, such as the Robber Girl who becomes Frida, others (like the witches) stay unnamed.
- Nonchalant Dodge: Ragi and the Snow Queen are fond of this.
- One Side of the Story: Ragi believed the Snow Queen refused to help his men who were dying in the raging snowstorm and even thought she deliberately caused the blizzard, despite him begging her to help them. It’s revealed only later that she did try to help them, but was too late as they were all already dead. He humbly admits that he was wrong about her.
- Pensieve Flashback: Gerda has one when she enters the ice castle. she sees herself as a baby along with her mother and Kai’s family as they are seeing off Gerda’s father who is going to war. She tries to talk to him and prevent him from leaving which doesn’t work since the Snow Queen uses this memory to lock Gerda in a room.
- Pastel-Chalked Freeze Frame: All over the place. Just look who directed this.
- People Puppets: The Devil can control people who have a mirror shard lodged in their hearts. He even tries to use Kai like this against the Snow Queen.
- Plucky Girl: Gerda.
- Premature Eulogy: When Kai doesn't come back for a long time, his father and the other townspeople give up and declare him dead. Gerda's positive he's still alive though.
- Port Town: There was one that was absolutely crazy about mermaids.
- Recap Episode: Episode 20.
- Ridiculously Cute Critter: The baby seal the Snow Queen brings to Kai so he’ll have someone to play with.
- Say My Name
- Scary Shiny Glasses: King Globo.
- Scenery Porn
- Shout-Out: There are several episodes based around other Andersen’s fairy tales, along with the more obscure ones such as The Flying Trunk and The Garden of Paradise.
- Sick Episode: Episode 26.
- Soft Water: When Frida is made to go over a waterfall in a barrel as a punishment, she survives. On the other hand, her mother who dives after her to save her sustains massive injuries and ends on her death bed.
- Split Screen: Mostly used during dialogue to show faces and expressions of both participants.
- Tailor-Made Prison: The puzzle on the floor of the ice castle is what keeps the Devil under lock. When it’s broken into many pieces, he escapes and it has to be reassembled before they can seal him again.
- Talking Animal: There’s the rat who works for the witch with the flower garden, Bae the great reindeer, the bear that protects the Spring of Life and the crows.
- They Died Because of You: A father of one of the deceased men that served under Ragi accuses him of being a Dirty Coward who abandoned his troop to save his own skin since he was found in a cave miles away from them with no real explanation.
- This Is Unforgivable!: The Snow Queen says this to the Avatar who kidnaps Kai and Ragi is not at all willing to forgive her for not helping his dying troop.
- Ultimate Showdown of Ultimate Destiny: The Snow Queen vs. Satan.
- Woobie of the Week
- Work Off the Debt: Gerda does this willingly a couple of times, in exchange for lodgings and pay. Also, Hans tries to sweet-talk the waitress into opening a tab on him, but ends up working since the elder owns the restaurant.
- World Tree: The Ancestor in the Bandits’ Forest which is said to have made the forest.
- Year Outside, Hour Inside: The witch’s flower garden. It’s stated Gerda spends six months there.
- You Remind Me of X: Ragi seems to remind the Snow Queen of Holger… which is what also prompts her to save him not once but twice.