The original title for this piece discussing Snow White with the Red Hair (Akagami no Shirayuki-hime in Japanese, and “Akagami” in this piece from now on) read as “Transgressively non-Transgressive Shounen Romance?”, but as “transgressive” is not a wide-spread word, I opted for readability. But this piece needs some unpacking of terms, which will be brief. “Shounen” and “Shoujo” are demographics, with “shounen” referring to young boys and “shoujo” referring to young girls. How do you know a series’s demographics? You look at the publication where it’s released. This also means that over time “shoujo” and “shounen” have grown, at least in the west, to mean certain genre conventions. Though this is “wrong”, this colloquialism is what this piece will use (I wrote about anime/manga demographics before). As for “transgressive”, we’ll get to that soon enough.
Akagami’s anime adaptation ended its second season recently, and after watching it, I thought it is as shoujo (remember: aimed at younger girls) as they come. It’s serialized in a shoujo publication (LaLa DX), it centers around a super-capable commoner heroine, it has a love at first sight encounter in its very first episode, with the super-capable and handsome prince, and the show has all the necessary associated sparkles for the lovey-dovey sequences, balls, gowns, declarations of eternal love and loyalty and not a lot of romantic conflict or plot-progress and external conflict (we’ll get back to this). And yet, watching the second season something suddenly became apparent to me: This quintessential specimen of the shoujo genre conventions might actually not be one?
(This is a Things I Like post, it’s not a review, but more a discussion of the show and of ideas that rose in my mind as a result of watching the show. There will be spoilers for the two seasons of the anime series. I think due to the nature of the story, these spoilers should not impact enjoyment of the show.)