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Manga / Snow White with the Red Hair

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"Color has meaning, and red is supposed to represent fate. You may not like it much now, but your red might lead to something good when you least expect it."
Zen Wistalia to Shirayuki ("Encounter...Changing the Color of Fate")

Snow White with the Red Hair (Japanese: Akagami no Shirayukihime) by Sorata Akizuki is an ongoing shoujo fantasy romance manga loosely based on the fairytale of Snow White. It began serialization in LaLa in 2006.

In the kingdom of Tanbarun lives a young herbalist with rare apple-red hair named Shirayuki. Her unique beauty catches the attention of the crown prince, Raj, who orders her to become his concubine. She instead chooses to flee Tanbarun, cutting her hair and leaving it as a parting gift for the prince. She escapes to the neighbouring kingdom of Clarines, where she quickly befriends another, much nicer prince, Zen. The two quickly become friends, and Shirayuki vows to become an herbalist in Clarines' court so she can stay by his side.

An anime adaptation by Studio BONES premiered in July 2015, with a second season following in January 2016.

Viz Media has licensed the manga for English release, with the first translated volume published in May 2019.

Tropes associated with the series:

  • Acquired Poison Immunity: Zen's background as a prince becomes relevant when he mostly shakes off the effects of a poison in the first chapter showing us how tough he really can be. It does not come up that often in the story but he did take various poisons to build up a resistance to them starting at twelve, this does not mean he is protected against all poisons however.
  • Action Dress Rip: After waking up after being drugged and kidnapped on a ship Shirayuki tears the elaborate ball gown she was wearing as the representative of the kingdom of Clarines and ties it in order to move about more freely to escape.
  • Actually Pretty Funny: Izana requires his brother Zen to go on a date with one of his potential suitors. Zen goes on a "date" with Kiki, who is a noblewoman and the two of them talk of their respective actual love interests while Kiki threatens to harm him should any of the knights in her Knight Circle spot her dressed up without a sword. Izana concedes that it was clever, and technically his own fault for not taking Kiki's name off of the list.
  • Actually, That's My Assistant: Ryuu and Shirayuki run into people confusing him for her assistant rather often due to the fact that she became his assistant when he was still twelve. Even after she's no longer his assistant on paper and is a pharmacist in her own right they still get this reaction since no-one expects a young teenager to be a pharmacist and it doesn't help that he usually is content to fade into the background since he doesn't really like attention.
  • Adaptation Distillation: The anime has to cut out or alter certain things to fit with the format.
  • Adaptation Expansion: The anime expands on scenes and adds a few sub-plots on its own.
  • Adaptational Wimp: In the anime Shirayuki was given Insane Forgiveness as well as adding scenes of her backing away in terror and sitting listlessly before deciding what to do, and skipping through the forest spinning around with her arms held out talking about how pretty it is rather than just taking a walk while irritated at Zen for tagging along all within in the first episode. It's an especially odd choice as her determination, decisiveness and career driven life are key aspects of the story and how she builds relationships.
  • Adorably Precocious Child: Ryuu.
  • Aerith and Bob: The cast features a mixture of vaguely European-sounding fantasy names such as Zen, Kiki, Raj, and Kihal, alongside distinctly Japanese names like Shirayuki, Umihebi, and Yatsufusa.
  • Agony of the Feet: Played for Laughs when Obi goes to give a message to Shirayuki from Zen while she's being taught ballroom dancing. She rushes up to him and asks if he can be her new dance partner as in the background her unfortunate teacher says he is capable of completing his job while struggling just to stand since she's been stepping on his feet nonstop. Obi tries not to laugh when he says he's too busy working. (Manga only, in the anime its Shirayuki whose feet are killing her).
  • Alliterative Family: The known members of the Bergatt family whose names are Touka, Tsuruba, and Tariga, all starting with a T.
  • Anger Born of Worry:Zen is particularly prone to this as Shirayuki and Obi quickly learn. He is especially annoyed when his friends try to hide or play down illnesses or injuries. Obi manages to earn this reaction out of Zen, Shirayuki, and Mitsuhide when he leaves during the night with one of his former associates without telling anyone where he's actually going just leaving a note under Zen's pillow saying he'll be back by morning. He seems both cowed and relieved when they track him down before dawn has even fully broke and he grins in response to Shirayuki and Zen's anger at learning he was injured since he never before had anyone he trusted and cared for the way he does the two of them.
  • Anguished Declaration of Love: Shirayuki's, most definitely. Poor girl was crying as she said it:
    Shirayuki: Zen, I like you. You are very important to me. I respect you, and I want to be helpful to you... I also know that I'm in love with you.
  • Aristocrats Are Evil: Not all of them, but there are definitely some around. Examples include Prince Raj arbitrarily deciding to force Shirayuki to be his concubine just because he likes her hair (and trying to poison her to cover up the shame after she refused and fled the country to get away from him) and a viscount in Clarines who tried to sabotage a competition that could have gained his lands a valuable resource if it succeeded on the grounds that he would face embarrassment over the fact that Zen and Shirayuki had discovered the true value of the birds in his territory while he had been hunting them to extinction for their feathers.
  • Arrow Gram: In the third chapter, Shirayuki gets a message this way warning her to turn back. Undeterred, she plucks it out of the wall and takes it with her to go find Zen.
  • Assassination Attempt: This is seen to happen to Zen twice in the series (as of chapter eighty-eight). First during a flashback of his childhood with Atori as an accomplice, and during the Serge arc at the hands of Touka Bergatt and the head and sons of the Tohz house.
  • Awesome Moment of Crowning: Izana's coronation in chapter fifty-one.
  • Badass Pacifist: Shirayuki is a herbalist and although she has defended herself, has quite the backbone, not at all flinching when the Marquis has a blade pointed at her throat.
  • Batman Gambit: Prince Izana pulled one off in the past, building a castle between the territories of two feuding lords (Lido and Sui), setting them up for failure, and replacing them with their retainers.
  • Beleaguered Assistant: Sakaki to Raj.
  • Bare-Fisted Monk: Obi surprises Zen and Shirayuki when he slips away from them at a festival and enters a fighting competition under a name which he created in the past specifically for earning winnings from martial arts events. He wins, and has thus far proven unmatched in unarmed combat, but isn't crazy enough to go up against armed opponents without weapons of his own if he can avoid it and is always covered in hidden throwing knives with at least two daggers hanging at his belt. He has however shown that he can very quickly disarm a single opponent with a sword without any weapons of his own, and that was accidentally in a fight he was trying to lose.
  • Barehanded Blade Block: A realistic take on this when Mitsuhide, who is not even wearing his trademark gambeson for armor at the time, traps a blade between his arm and side to disarm an opponent trying to assassinate Zen. It works to disarm the would be assassin but Mitsuhide doesn't get away unscathed and ends up requiring stitches.
  • Bathtub Bonding:
    • After getting caught in the rain while traveling Mitsuhide stays as a guard while Zen and Obi take a bath in the large bathroom at an inn. Shirayuki and Kiki also bathe together at the inn and while both pairs get a bit of time to just chat between the two of them Obi uses the time to mostly tease and fluster Zen, joking about peaking in on the girls and saying that now he'll be forced to picture Zen naked if Zen ever again says something about wanting his aides (including Obi) to be happy in life again now that he's done so while they were bathing.
    • In Lyrias Shirayuki and Izuru are invited to a public bathhouse by Yuzuri to celebrate the success of the Olin Maris experiments, when Suzu hears about this he decides to bring the guys to the bathhouse as well in order to relax a bit and Obi, Ryuu and Kirito come along with him and the guys end up talking about their relationship prospects.
  • Beta Couple: Kiki and Hisame, while she expressed an interest in Mitsuhide and even proposed to him he doesn't see her in the same light and is unable to reciprocate her feelings, while Hisame was willing to push Mitsuhide to say yes to Kiki even after he'd started his own relationship with her just because Mitsuhide was her first choice of partner. Also, later in the manga we have Izana and Haki, and Shidan and Garack, in a weird professionally competitive relationship where Shidan is in love with Garack but her feelings on him are unclear.
  • Big Brother Instinct: When Lido rebels come after Zen in chapter sixteen, Izana starts cutting them down without reservation.
  • Big Brother Worship: Zen has a mild form of this to his brother, stemming, in part, from his Batman Gambit.
  • Big Fancy House: The manor Mihaya uses in the second episode.
    • And then there's Kazuki, who is referred to as this In-Universe, although he's considered an androgynous example.
  • Blood-Splattered Innocents: Zen in the anime flashback. That poor boy.
  • Bodyguarding a Badass: Zen is such an elite warrior that his two bodyguards, Kiki and Mitsuhide, are basically just a formality.
  • Bodyguard Babes: It isn't emphasized, but Kiki is an attractive female retainer to the prince.
  • Bodyguard Crush: Obi has been slowly developing one for Shirayuki, sort of — he seems to have a case of I Want My Beloved to Be Happy, which, due to his fondness for both Shirayuki and Zen, has him rooting for them and holding back the further development of his own feelings.
  • Butt-Monkey: Poor Mitsuhide is always being picked on. And then there's Prince Raj, who absolutely no one takes seriously; even the narration refers to him as "the stupid prince," not that it isn't earned by his behaviour.
  • Can't Hold His Liquor: Half-a-glass of fermented Loka Nuts (alcohol) was enough to put Shirayuki down for hours, and when she woke up, she was still half-drunk. That said, other characters commented on the high strength of the beverage.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: This is part of why Raj is called a stupid prince, especially given some of his comments in chapter one. The other example, lampshaded more than once, is the Lyrias pharmacist Suzu: e.g. his self-introduction in chapter thirty-four.
    Suzu: There aren't many plants that can bloom in this cold environment. Rather than pharmaceutical plants, we have to raise plants to paint this snowy world. Getting rich is not just a dream. Hello, royal palace people.
    Yuzuri: He says things like that, but he's in the same line of work as you and Miss Shirayuki. He's a pharmacist and his name is Suzu.
    Suzu: [as he crawls under the table] I'm a bachelor. I'm here most of the time. It's nice to meet you.
  • Cool Big Sis: Shirayuki becomes something like this to Raj over the course of the Tanburn arc, and already acted like one towards Ryuu.
  • Cool Old Guy: Shirayuki's father, Mikaze, the leader of the Lions of the Mountains.
  • Crapsaccharine World: Clarines, Tanbarun, and the surrounding area at first seem to be a very nice and idyllic place to live in. Then you remember that the story started when a noble arbitrarily decided to force a commoner girl into being his concubine, and her reaction implied something like this was anything but uncommon. Several lines (particularly in episode two) also imply that slavery is not only practiced, but very abundant. The fact that commoners are banding together in a paramilitary force to protect themselves from criminals because they don't trust the government (The Lions of the mountain) is hardly a good sign either.
  • Daddy Had a Good Reason for Abandoning You: Shirayuki's father, Mikaze, left her in the care of her grandparents and told them to say that he was dead after his wife's death, because her hair color stood-out too much for her own safety, which is more problematic for a group like the Lion's of the Mountains.
  • Damsel in Distress: Though perhaps not the most blatant anime example, Shirayuki does end up getting kidnapped four times in a 24-episde series, including one occasion where she gets captured twice in the same episode by different factions, an absurdity even Shirayumi feels the need to point out.
  • Damsel out of Distress: Shirayuki usually tries to get out of being in distress on her own with varying levels of success. Her first attempt with Raj was to flee the country, and the second was to use improvised paralyzing gas to put Mihaya down long enough to get out of the manor. They tracked her down afterwards. Her attempt to escape during the Tanbarun arc also lacked success, but the same went for her companion. Otherwise, she normally gets herself out of trouble on her own, and whenever she can't, she becomes a Defiant Captive.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Kiki, with an emphasis on the "Deadpan."
  • Died in Your Arms Tonight: Atori dies in Zen's arms after Mitsuhide cuts him down for trying to shoot him with an arrow.
  • "Do It Yourself" Theme Tune: Saori Hayami, Shirayuki's voice actress, also performs both opening theme songs of the anime adaptation.
  • Dope Slap: During episode 12, an actress is lamenting that having broken her foot, she'll never meet the prince. Obi mutters to Zen that this is his chance. Zen applies this trope in response.
  • Dude Magnet: Shirayuki draws the eye of most of the male cast, as well as the female cast, justified due to her hair color.
  • Enemy Mine: Zen's group teams up with Raji and the Mountain Lion's, groups who probably otherwise would have been at each other's throat were it not for the common goal of rescuing Shirayuki and Kazuki.
  • Fairy Tale Motifs: It's a story based on Snow White. Quite a few things should ring a bell here.
  • False Friend: Atori was this for Zen, as a child. He used his friendship to lure him into a trap by Lido rebels who lost everything due to Izana's Batman Gambit. Though it was suggested he was Becoming the Mask. Slightly subverted in that Zen never stopped considering him a friend.
  • First-Episode Twist: That helpful guy, Zen, is actually royalty.
  • First-Name Basis: Zen enforces this among his close associates.
  • Foreshadowing: Right before the Lyrias lockdown arc, Izana informs Zen that he will be taking a bride and that he's heading north for that purpose. It later turns out that Izana's future wife is Haki, a noblewoman of the Lyrias region. Readers who paid attention during this arc will notice they share a significant Held Gaze when the lockdown goes into effect.
  • Forged Message: Lord Haruka drafts a royal order to keep Shirayuki from entering the castle. Too bad for him, she'd already entered by then.
  • Fractured Fairy Tale: Every manga volume opens with the cast portraying characters from some other fairy tale. Said tale generally ends in a non-standard way in a single panel, such as Cinderella!Shirayuki not caring about being unable to attend the ball and going straight to bed.
  • From Shame, Heroism: After being called out by Shirayuki for his ignoble behavior Prince Raj determines to become a "ruler his people can be proud of". This includes him forming a fleet of volunteer ships to pursue The Claws of the Sea, a group of notorious pirates, after they kidnap Shirayuki, and bestow the title "Friend of the Crown" on her to protect her from future harm.
  • Funny Background Event: Chapter 35 starts out with Zen and Kiki looking over paperwork in a covered sleigh with the door open out of which can be seen Mitsuhide standing with perfect posture looking over the beautiful winter scenery while Obi launches a snowball at his head from behind.
  • The Gadfly:
    • Obi deeply enjoys teasing Zen on a regular basis.
    • Hisame lives for getting reactions out of people, and is disappointed when Mitsuhide doesn't react as much as he'd hoped to various small pranks and inappropriate comments. This extends to the royalty he's sworn to serve, though he prefers such annoyances to only be realized when he's not present, and people he's only just met. His relationship with Kiki works so well as adults because he never annoys her beyond a glare and his annoyances of other people entertain her to the point that she's willing to be complicit in his plots.
  • Garden of Love: Zen and Shirayuki have a number of late-night and early morning impromptu romantic meetings in the beautiful garden connected to the wing of the castle Izana signed over to Zen and his personal retinue.
  • The Good King: Zen and Izana's mother is hinted to be this before handing the throne over to Izana, who is indicated to become this.
  • Hair Memento: When prince Raji orders Shirayuki brought to him as a concubine after he hears of her striking rare red hair, she takes the night she was given to prepare to cut off her ponytail and leave it with a letter saying that if he wants her hair he's welcome to keep it before fleeing the country.
  • Hidden Purpose Test: The test to become apprentice court herbalists in episode four wasn't merely to maintain a small section of the garden, but to notice that one of the plants that looked like another had been improperly planted. Only Shirayuki and one other noticed and passed.
  • Holding in Laughter: After being subjected to a hypnotic drug, Mitsuhide is acting out of characters, to say the least. He bumps Kiki with the door, then apologizes to her, holding her hand, saying "Oh, Kiki, I'm so incredibly sorry. Did I cause any injury to your lovely and glorious hand?" Kiki gives him a very put out look, and slaps him over the nose, saying "Morning." Behind Prince Zen, Obi, who witnessed this, has his back to them, is visibly shaking with his arms wrapped around his trunk.
  • I Always Wanted to Say That: When Zen meets Shirayuki's father Mukaze, leader of the Mountain Lions, and - after being pressed on the subject - admits that he is in love with Shirayuki, her old man immediately shouts "I will not allow it!" ...only to then immediately break down in laughter and admit that he really just always wanted to try saying that.
  • Important Haircut: In the first chapter, no less. Although it's not really important so much plot-wise as to define Shirayuki's character to the reader right off the bat.
  • Impoverished Patrician: Mihaya's family used to be nobility. Now he's resorted to kidnapping Shirayuki in order to get enough money to get out of poverty.
  • Impressed by the Civilian: Obi, who is implied to have worked as an assassin, shoots an arrow with a message at Shirayuki, at the behest of a court noble who thought she was a nasty Social Climber. Obi is thoroughly impressed when Shirayuki, rather than run away, plucks the arrow from the wall and takes it with her.
  • In Name Only: Zen fears becoming a Prince-In-Name-Only, so if he leaves the castle for too long he ends up overworking to compensate.
  • Intelligence Equals Isolation: People around the palace consider Ryuu creepy because of his high intelligence at a young age and his interest in poisonous plants, and tend to avoid him. Later, in part thanks to his friendship with Shirayuki, he gets a few friends and becomes less isolated. Ryuu is also not the most social of people to begin with, as an introvert who is awkward in conversation.
  • I Will Punish Your Friend for Your Failure: Or more like "I will punish you for your men," but because Zen wouldn't punish the soldiers at the fort for falling for the bandits' trap, his brother temporarily removed the fort from his jurisdiction. This hurt him while, at the same time, making the soldiers feel guilty, granted, Zen had a good reason for not punishing them.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: There have been people who were skeptical of Shirayuki, and while it's acknowledged they make sense, Shirayuki manages to prove them wrong:
    • Lord Marquis points out that Shirayuki had no social standing prior to her gaining a role as the Court Pharmacist and had no business in the castle, as it could be damaging to Zen's reputation or she could take advantage of his generosity. He's technically right, she isn't supposed to be in the castle without identification, and others would question whether she used her friendship with Zen to gain easy access to him and become a Social Climber.
    • When they first meet, Prince Izana questions whether Zen only cares about Shirayuki because of her red hair. He later points out to his brother its obvious he likes her, but if he only cares about her for her appearance others will look at her coldly and judge her, made more evident when rumors about him considering her as his fiancee get around.
  • King Incognito: Zen routinely sneaks out of the palace to see Clarines for himself. During the first Lyrias arc, Izana also decides to disguise himself in order to accompany Shirayuki (for various reasons), and decides to go as "Court Apprentice Pharmacist Luen," Hilarity Ensues.
  • Lonely Rich Kid: Zen as a child, which made getting along with Mitsuhide difficult.
  • Longing Look: Obi occasionally will stare almost dazed at Shirayuki, whom he has admitted to love but since he supports her relationship with Zen he's never told her. He's also been caught looking at Zen with exactly the same expression, though he's refused to clarify his feelings for his boss beyond liking him.
  • Look Behind You: Shirayuki tries this on Obi in the ninth episode. He points out that she's still drunk and Lord Haruka wouldn't be there so conveniently.
  • The Medic: Shirayuki is fairly knowledgeable about medicinal plants, and can competently provide medicinal treatment. She eventually becomes an apprentice pharmacist in Wistal Castle.
  • Modesty Towel: At a public bathhouse, Kirito and several background characters are seen wearing towels around their waists implying that everyone is wearing them even though the others are submerged to the point that the towels wouldn't be visible.
  • Never a Self-Made Woman: The story tries really hard to avoid this trope and stresses at every opportunity that Shirayuki didn't reach her position in Clarines' court because of Zen's goodwill, but of her own hard work and diligence, which is all true. However, the same thing cannot be said for her time in Tanbarun. In that arc, she is allowed to lodge for an entire week in the royal palace, triggers a royal expedition against local pirates and receives a prestigious honorary title all because Raj considers her his friend. It's not particularly problematic, since the focus is on the Clarines side of things and Tanbarun is rarely important outside of that arc. Also, her becoming close to Raj in the first place is due to her own efforts, further negating the effect of her connections in Tanbarun.
  • Never Trust a Title: Other then a few throw-away lines and an episode involving a poison apple, this series doesn't really have anything to do with the original story of Snow White.
  • Nice Guy: Zen, and most of Zen's True Companions, though Obi verges into Jerk with a Heart of Gold at times. Shirayuki arguably verges into All-Loving Heroine territory.
  • No Social Skills: Ryuu is a prodigy who has trouble communicating with others.
  • Official Couple: Zen and Shirayuki.
  • Outlaw Town: The Mountain's Lions are outlaws living in a town in the mountains. It's an odd take as the only two members whose criminal origins are known are a former noble who chose to save his eventual wife from an Arranged Marriage to another noble she wanted no part in and a boy who is still a young teen and was briefly a pirate before the pirates sold him into slavery due to his looks. The Lions also go out of their way to fight far more villainous criminals and the only known case of their partaking in criminal activity was the previously mentioned teen kidnapping someone who he thought was in the same boat he had once been in without their leader's knowledge.
  • Paperwork Punishment: Prince Zen Wisteria spent far too long away from the castle, and there is a large stack of paperwork on his desk waiting for him upon his return. Downplayed in that his retainers, Kiki and Mitsuhide make him take a break because he's begun writing Shirayuki instead of his own name on all of his paperwork.
  • Plucky Girl: Shirayuki, shading into Action Girl when the occasion calls for it.
  • Psychological Projection: Part of the reason Shirayuki is kidnapped in the Tanburn arc is due to this. Having previously been bought and used as a decoration by nobles, like what Prince Raj initially had attempted with her in the beginning, Kazuki assumes she'd appreciate being taken as far away from nobles as possible. She doesn't.
  • Rebel Prince: Zen, with shades of The Wise Prince.
  • Redheads Are Ravishing: Discussed in-series. Shirayuki's red hair is apparently so rare and exotic that she hides it in public to avoid attracting attention; she's already had to fend off kidnappers intent on selling her to a harem and a prince that wouldn't take no for an answer.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: Both Izana and Zen definitely are this and in completely different ways. Their mother's actions aren't often mentioned, but it is hinted that this is due to a combination of her physical condition and handing the throne to Izana.
  • Scenery Porn: The anime is chockfull of this. Then again, it is Bones.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Connections!: Discussed in-universe. Shirayuki's friendship with Zen means if she asks for something she's liable to get it, which is one reason she could enter the castle as she pleased without having an identification tag. But Shirayuki doesn't want him to pull strings for her, and he wouldn't respect her for it.
  • Single Woman Seeks Good Man: On of the reasons Shirayuki falls in love with Zen.
  • The Stoic: Kiki is this. Ryuu often falls into this as well. Sakaki can take all of Raj's antics in stride, also putting him in this group.
  • Taking Advantage of Generosity: Lord Haruka cites this in the third episode as the reason he wants Shirayuki to stop hanging around Zen, citing that as she has no social standing and is not making any effort under her own power. Zen knows her better.
  • Tampering with Food and Drink: In the first episode, Raj has one of his aides deliver a basket of apples to Shirayuki. She takes one that looks like it's going bad, but Zen takes a bite out of it before she can and starts to become ill. It is then shortly revealed that the apple was laced with poison.
  • Those Two Guys: The gatekeepers at the Clarines castle.
  • Trojan Horse: The bandits in the fifth episode have travelers give the guards at the fort wood that had been laced with something to make them ill when burned, allowing them to sneak in and steal the weapons in the armory.
  • Trojan Prisoner: Kiki gets "sold" to the pirates, mostly to look after and protect Shirayuki, but also carrying a special bell that would alert one of Kihal's messenger birds as to just which ship Shirayuki is on.
  • Twice Shy: Shirayuki and Zen.
  • Upper-Class Twit: Raj. He gets somewhat better.
  • Warrior Prince: Although he's less skilled than his aides, Zen is no slouch on the battlefield and actively takes part in taking down criminals and the like. Izana is hinted to have elements of this in several flashbacks.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: The Lions of the Mountain. Members of the group chase down Shirayuki across country borders and break into Prince Raj's castle in Tanburn to kidnap her... with the intent to have her stay with them to reunite her with her father and keep her safe from corrupt nobles who might want to use her as a living decoration. This is all done of course completely without her consent on the matter, to say nothing of what other troubles the kidnapping leads to.
  • Wise Prince: Izana is definitely this, and Zen is developing into this.

Alternative Title(s): Akagami No Shirayukihime