Akagami no Shirayuki-hime – 16

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Throughout the duration of Shirayuki’s visit to Tanbarun, the prevailing issue hasn’t been whether Shirayuki would fall for Raj (she just doesn’t see him that way, and in any case is already in love with Zen) or whether Raj would keep her here against her will (he owes his growth as a prince and a person to her, and the present Raj would never do that). Nor is it whether Obi will fall for Shirayuki (he seems to be, but doesn’t want to).

No, the issue that casts a shadow over this entire Tanbarun trip has been not if, but when those who are after Shirayuki will get their hands on her. Because we knew that when that happened, neither Zen nor Raj nor even Obi would be able to protect her, because if any of them did, because this is Akagami no Shirayuki-hime,which is Japanese for “She’s Getting Kidnapped.”

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That being said, until the night of her abduction arrives, life goes on, and it’s still great to see Raj putting in a very Beauty & the Beast (Disney Version) awkward effort into her sorta-not-quite-courtship. He’s even got a rose and a ginormous and awesome library that would even make Mirepoc Finedel gawk with awe.

Initially cute but quickly wearing out their welcome? Raj’s siblings Rona (who can’t help but meedle for Raj’s sake) and Eugena (too passive to stop the force of nature that is Rona). He’s a big boy, Rona. Let him sort this out for himself. Heck, she doesn’t even have the whole picture, wrongly assuming her heart belongs to Obi, which she “confirms” by shoving Shirayuki into him.

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When left to his own devices, Raj is slowly groping his way in the dark shadows of his selfish upbringing, and gradually starting to see the light of what an equitable interpersonal relationship is. Sure, he cheats a bit with notes, but he’s making the effort, which counts. And there’s no subterfuge in his lovely violin playing – at least this guy knows how to do something!

No amount of notes on general knowledge or violin playing, however, will convince Shirayuki to stay in Tanbarun any longer than originally planned, at least not if she’s not specifically asked to and given a good argument for why she should. She misses Zen terribly, which Obi can see when the two inadvertantly meet on their adjacent balconies.

When Obi said goodnight and went in first, staring at the hand that arrested Shirayuki’s fall in the library, as if thinking “I will never wash this hand again!”,  I was more than 50% sure his hand-staring would be interrupted by a scream indicating Shirayuki had finally been captured. After all, when Obi’s mind is staying to thoughts of impossible romance, his efficacy as a bodyguard is diminished.

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But no, the hammer doesn’t drop until the night of the ball, when Shirayuki gets dolled up in a gorgeously flowing pale green gown that makes her hair pop. Obi is telling her all the ways Raj is making the ball as painless and enjoyable as possible for her, before receiving a letter from Zen warning about Kazuki and an accomplice are on their way to Tanbarun.

How did Kazuki know which room Shirayuki would be in? How did he scale the castle walls without detection? Why the heck is he so gung-ho about kidnapping Shirayuki in the first place? These are all questions for which the answers lie ahead. All we know is, this season’s pleasant extended “honeymoon” is over.

Speaking of honeymoons, Zen, in demanding to go to Tanbarun to rescue Shirayuki, tells his brother he wishes to marry her. And Izana warns Zen if anything happens that requires him to bail him out, he can forget about bringing Shirayuki back to the castle. Yikes…everything is on the line now.

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End-of-Month Rundown – January 2016

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January ended with a snowy bang in our parts (over two feet in some areas) so it’s appropriate several shows that failed to make the cut were subsequently buried.

Those who came here to read reviews of the likes of Norn9, Divine Gate, or Shoujo-tachi wa Kouya, etc. may be disappointed, but we’re committed not to waste our or anyone else’s time with shows that just don’t do it for us.

We’ll probably be sticking with eleven shows you see above; all have passed the 3-episode test.  It’s not a huge list, but that’s fine; we can maximize our attentions and memories far better with a small group than the huge ones of past seasons. The smaller sampling also means a sharper drop-off.

Quick observations:

  • There is an undisputed King of the Winter, and it is Boku dake ga Inai Machi, which blows every other Winter show out of the icy water. It’s cracked 9 on MAL and continues to rise (good for 11th all-time) with the most voters of any Winter show we’re watching, which is a very rare thing.
  • Preston is confident that quality can be maintained or even surpassed, but a slight regression on the back end wouldn’t be the end of the world. Her second pick Grimgar, while not quite as excellent, is also breaking conventions in its ostensible genres and providing its fair share of emotional punch.
  • Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu has only a small fraction of Inai Machi’s audience, and it’s not for everyone, but it’s engrossing enough to be Zane’s top pick. Dimension W is proving the best of recent shows that are about “A Lot of Stuff”, but it’s not guaranteed to stay as good as it started.
  • As for Hannah’s shows, they’re all second seasons or sequels, with Gundam, Durarara!!x2 and GATE all plugging away nicely, in that order.
  • Zane has not committed to finishing Prince of Stride, but the recent racing has been enough of a distraction from the bland characters to keep him interested. As for KyoAni’s latest effort Phantom World, Preston is taking a similar ep-by-ep approach.

Anyway, we hope you’re enjoying our reviews. It’s always better to write and be read than to simply write. Please keep up the thoughtful discussion, but be sure to clearly mark spoilers if you absolutely must include them in your comments. And as always, thanks for reading!

—RABUJOI STAFF