Jouran: The Princess of Snow and Blood (Joran The Princess of Snow and Blood) served us the traditional revenge story revamped. With a beautiful setting and a cast of intriguing characters, several of them notably being women of different ages and social standings, Jouran could still use some editing plot-wise before reaching our screens. We’ve followed the adventures of Sawa, the blue-blooded Nue executioner and sole survivor of a horrific massacre, and we’re sharing our after-season impressions with our fellow otaku.
Indeed, violence begets violence. We spotted this underlying theme in our earlier season impressions and we were quite right about our prediction. Huge spoiler alert, but the bittersweet ending with a redeemed Sawa collapsing next to Asahi was the natural culmination to a life of killings. Even though Sawa had been a victim of violence herself, there were consequences to her actions, setting into motion a cycle of pain and destruction.
Sawa starts off as a seemingly emotionless character with one thing on her mind—revenge. She doesn’t even think of a life after getting this revenge, since she dedicated herself to finding and killing the person behind her village’s massacre. When she reaches that point mid-way in the series, she was forced to consider the life after. That was an interesting decision because most revenge stories end with the success or failure of achieving getting back to a mortal enemy. Sawa is granted the space to get a taste of normal life until she is forced by Tsuki into getting back to the grind. In the end, she seems content, having made up with Hana and Asahi, and leaving her last breath next to her chosen family.
Plot - Kill Your Darlings
It was too early to form an opinion about Jouran and we were keen to see what happened next after the revenge plan seems to complete in the first half of the series.
However, we continued to have issues with the plot, how the story was structured, and at times, the predictable dialogue. One of our pet peeves was the frequent “killing” of the main cast, only to find out later on that they are still alive, with Hana making a record number of miracle re-appearances. We are happy that in a show full of gruesome events important main characters survived, like Asahi and Hana, we just find it a cop-out that doesn’t add much to the story.
Getting access to Jin’s past in the second half sheds light on the plot by delivering a moving background story of one of the main antagonists. Flashbacks might stall the narrative, however, this episode was necessary to understand Jin’s motivations and the extent of Sawa’s tragedy. Overall, we wish the writers had worked more on the pacing and character development. Sometimes you have to kill your darlings aka the plotlines you love but don’t necessarily serve the main plot.
The animation style delivered a unique blend of traditional Japanese elements with thick and fluid brushstrokes and more fine-line, luminous background shots. What Jouran lacked in plot consistency, it gained from the excellent art direction. The opening and ending sequences were some of the best of the season. We hope to see more of this art style in future anime!
Jouran: The Princess of Snow and Blood is a promising anime series with an interesting premise that kept us watching through this season. At times confusing, it could have scored better with more focused writing and by avoiding tropes. We recommend it for lovers of alternate timelines, sword fights, and badass ladies.
What did you think of Jouran? Let us know in the comments below and thanks for reading!