Here’s a manga as charming as the anime series, which is only slightly related to the original Snow White fairy tale. Shirayuki is a young woman famous for her bright-red hair, which the prince of Tanbarun wishes to have for himself! Shirayuki escapes into the neighboring kingcom where she crosses paths with a young man named Zen and his two friends who come to her aid, but there’s something mysterious about Zen. As it turns out, he is the second prince of the Clarines kingdom and he offers Shirayuki an opportunity to come to his kingdom as his guest. Shirayuki however, is determined to make her own way in life and sets off to train in becoming a court herbalist. Her plans are sidelined though when she’s kidnapped. Once again, Zen will have to step in and save the day.

In the first volume of this manga, readers will meet and bond with Shirayuki, who’s being sought out as a concubine by her Tanbarun’s Prince Raj. Not willing to sacrifice her freedom on the whims of a prince, she cuts her hair and runs away into the forest of the neighboring kingdom of Clarines. It’s there that her adventure truly begins. While hiding out, she encounters two travelers, and an intriguing young man named Zen she attempts to heal with her knowledge as an herbalist. As she’s recounting her tale, a messenger from the prince delivers a basket full of apples, which Zen eats, only to collapse from the poison. With the threat on Zen’s life, Shirayuki travels back to Tanbarun with the Prince’s messenger to get the antidote. Unfortunately, he gives her an ultimatum: become his concubine or Zen will die. In the midst of this, Zen appears, revealing that he is not in fact some unknown traveller in the woods, but the second Prince of the Clarines kingdom, Zen. Prince Raj is defeated and told to forget all about Shirayuki. With her freedom once again at hand, she makes the choice to stay in Clarines and attempt to become a master herbalist. The volume continues with some bumpy adventures on the road to taking her entrance exam to become a court herbalist at the palace so that she may visit Zen on her own terms. The volume ends with her passing of the herbalist exam.

In the second volume, Shirayuki meets her Court Herbalist mentor Ryu, a twelve year old herbalist prodigy with some interest in the toxicity of plants. While Shirayuki finds him interesting, she finds out that not everyone is okay with his specialization. She has a tender moment with Zen upon finding out that a lot of Ryu’s study coincide with Zen’s resistance to ingesting poison. From there Shirayuki is sent on a mission to procure medicinal herbs in a town called Laxdo, when she, Prince Zen and crew encounter sickness at the Laxdo fort. Shirayuki makes quick work of it, but quickly exhausts herself by taking care of so many people. Prince Zen steps in to help her out a bit until they travel back home, where the first Prince Izana has finally arrived back to Clarines. The rest of the volume leads up to Shirayuki meeting the first prince, who doesn’t seem to like Zen’s involvement with her and intends to put a stop to it. The manga ends with Shirayuki upset and worried over what will happen between her and Zen.

The third volume of this manga picks up where the manga left off, and Shirayuki is pondering her relationship with Zen. She goes to great lengths to avoid him, until Obi (one of his attendants) takes her to spy on Zen’s meeting with his brother and Prince Raj, who’s been invited back to Clarines. Shirayuki continues to avoid the prince until after the meeting, where she calls out to Zen, explaining that she’s not as okay as she thought she might be. The majority of this volume consists of Shirayuki and Zen both asserting to Prince Izana that there’s no way they’re backing away from their relationship. Readers will find out that there’s a reason that Izana is testing them in this way, and it’s likely not so malicious after all. From there, readers will find out Shirayuki has a low tolerance for alcohol, even if it’s in medicine, and Obi will take care of her, with a brief appearance from Zen.

This manga was very interesting and similar to the anime, just not as detailed. Aside from the poisoned apple, there aren’t a lot of other elements that indicate that this is a retelling of the Snow White fairy tale, which makes the title feel a little misleading. The story moves very quickly in the manga though, which might make readers a little confused as to how Shirayuki is so comfortable with Prince Zen so quickly. Although it is a shojo manga, the romantic aspects of this story are very minimized, and I like this aspect of it. It builds in each volume so that readers begin to see how Zen and Shirayuki’s relationship is developing. Something that I think might resonate with a lot of young women reading this is the fact that Shirayuki is making her own choices, and walking her own path, without being aided by men. If anything, the men or boys in this manga are honestly very funny comedic relief.

The artwork is certainly lovely, but doesn’t have those super clean lines that I would normally expect out of a shojo manga. When I did a little research, it seems that the reason is because this was originally published in 2009 in the shojobeat magazine. Even with it being published so long ago, it stands up well, and has some really fun side panels and non-related side stories at the end of the manga that I think readers will love. They’re not your typical happily ever after side stories either. They forge a deeper connection and delve into some of the harder emotions that the main manga hasn’t gotten into yet. Readers will be able to delve into this manga without needing to know any Japanese words, as it’s been translated with only English as the language. There are a few characters to keep track of, but they’re quite memorable, and there’s a guide at the beginning of the manga to remind readers of the most important ones.

Snow White with the Red Hair is sure to be a manga that will appeal to a wide variety of readers, and is very true to the teen rating it has. This would be a good pick for both shojo and shonen readers because of the fact that it’s not very romance heavy, and does have some good action scenes going on. It’s a very lighthearted tale with characters who will leave a good impression on readers, and will have them picking up the next volume. This would make a perfect addition to all collections of manga.

Snow White with the Red Hair Vols. 1-3
By Sorata Akiduki


Viz Media, 2019
Publisher Age Rating: 13 +
Series Reading Order: (Wikipedia or Goodreads)

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NFNT Age Recommendation: Teen (13-16)

  • Nathalie

    Past Reviewer

    Nathalie DeFelice is currently an MLIS student at the University of North Texas, as well as a full time Information Assistant at the Springdale Public Library in Springdale, Arkansas. When she's not filling her brain with library knowledge, she can often be found browsing Hulu, Netflix, Crunchyroll, and Funimation for new anime to watch. She can also be found lurking in the manga sections of bookstores around town. She also loves travelling, Wonder Woman, and has a special fondness for Ikea.

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