Shirayuki, why are you so special and so loved by everyone you meet? This is the question I cannot help but ask with each episode I watch of this anime. The specialness of this very bland, boring, ordinary girl with a supposedly unusual hair color just goes way too far. If I'm not feeling it, then why are all of these idiots in her world?
Those who claim this anime sidesteps the usual shoujo anime tropes couldn't be more wrong. It falls awkwardly and unawares into most of them and sloshes around in the ditch water like a pig wallowing in its own filth. We have a very cliched protagonist, Shirayuki, who is the Mary Sue of anime.
First, she has a very unusual name in any culture, "Snow White." If that doesn't scream "Mary Sue," then I don't know what does. Second, she has a rare hair color for NO story reason in order to force her to be considered special by the other characters, but it doesn't convince the viewer who is not impressed with this unrealistic display. Third, she is so special, the prince of her own kingdom wants to make her his concubine, but she decides to flee the country instead, only to run into none-other than the SECOND prince of the neighboring country. A coincidence for you, and one coincidence for YOU---coincidences for everybody!
But, wasn't Shirayuki escaping a horrible life when she ran away from home? That's why she ran, right? Well, no. In fact, she was very well loved by everybody in her own kingdom and she literally threw it all away simply because Prince Raj got horny and decided he wanted to pamper her like a wife without actually marrying her. I'm not saying this is okay, but there are worse fates out there.
So, now she's in the kingdom next door as the very special friend of Prince Zen, a young second prince she meets immediately upon leaving her own kingdom. Because she had already worked as an apothecary, she took naturally to this whole herbs business and easily passed the test to become the palace's apprentice herbalist. Well, nothing's hard for this girl, other than being so beautiful and revered. Life is hard, indeed.
And, that's just the problem. There really is nothing about Shirayuki's life that is a problem. She was happy before and she is happy now. She was pretty before and she is still pretty. She was hardworking before and she is hardworking now. She stood up for herself before, and she does it now, too. What is the point of even watching this anime when the story is nonexistent and she has so little conflict in her life?
It comes off like a wish fulfillment fantasy that gets so carried away with making the protagonist's life perfect, it's BORING AS HELL. There is no character development whether in Shirayuki, Zen, or anyone. You cannot have meaningful anything or anyone if you have nothing at stake. There is nothing at stake here, and it is a story about a really fortunate girl, with perhaps a bit too much fortune, finding a very fortunate love match. Perhaps this would be more interesting if there was some struggle and some real growth in Shirayuki and Zen, but it doesn't exist.
Watching this can be a way to pass the time if you're bored, but I found myself becoming bored while watching this. If a story about everyone getting along with everyone else and only having to deal with minor misunderstandings sounds like a blast to you, then dig in. I ain't got no time for this lightweight storytelling crap.