Welcome to the fairytale.
It would be difficult to succinctly describe Akagami no Shirayuki-hime (Snow White with the Red Hair) without it sounding cliché or even bland, but Akagami is so polished in its anime delivery, we can only applaud its perfection. Rivaling the fairytale classic for which it’s named, Akagami’s story itself relies less on the cliché situations we know and closet love and more on steadfastness of its characters. Knowing our favorite faces aren’t going to be all wishy-washy is what makes us want to spend our evenings, and admittedly our early mornings, living vicariously through them.
Mihaya is a former noble who mistakenly decides to kidnap Shirayuki for her rare hair color with intentions to sell her. His plan fails, but he still tries to keep pulling himself up by the bootstraps to recapture the nobility he’s long lost. Later in the story, Mihaya reappears and offers important information to Zen regarding people looking for Shirayuki and aids Zen in finding them. Even though he isn’t the most loveable of the bunch, he is a handsome familiar face who is dependable in his own special way.
9. Garack Gazelt
Garack is the onee-san we all wish he had. Not only is she highly accomplished as a pharmacist, she’s also friendly and fun to be around. Intelligent and sometimes eccentric, Garack is the Chief Court Pharmacist for the royal family of Clarines. She mentors Shirayuki and Ryuu and cares for Zen’s health and well-being. Although we don’t see too much of Garack, we can count on all her lines being inherently important or wise. Her easygoing personality even wins over Obi’s friendship. This is the dictionary definition of a woman that anybody can get along with.
Sakaki is Prince Raj’s devoted aide sworn to the kingdom of Tanbarun. Only a saint could put up with the finicky Prince Raj, but Sakaki is more than a saint, he’s also a comedic timing master. Playing the straight man to Raj’s eccentric behavior, Sakaki dotes on the prince and occasionally shows flashes of sarcasm in front of Raj’s immaturity. He is dedicated to making Raj a better prince and a better person in general, and we can’t think of a better man for the job! All of these characteristics culminate into a character that we are happy to see on screen.
7. Raj Shenazard
If the second season didn’t happen, it’s highly doubtful Raj would be on this list, but oh man, did the second season happen. At first, Raj is all about making Shirayuki his concubine, but after getting a talking to from Zen and later from Shirayuki, he is perfectly fine not having anything to do with the girl. Although he could easily be seen as a natural romantic rival in the story, Raj instead builds and treasures a friendship with Shirayuki. This friendship is misinterpreted by Sakaki and Raj’s family, but Raj is certain has no intention of trying to “win her over.”
Raj is a spoiled brat, but he’s a well-read spoiled brat who understands he will someday rule Tanbarun. Watching this spoiled prince change his tune from trying to own Shirayuki to respecting her and ultimately giving her the title “Friend of the Crown,” we can’t help look forward to Raj becoming a prince that can rival the ideal that is Zen.
6. Kiki Seiran
As with Garack and Shirayuki, most of the female characters in Akagami are pretty impressive. Kiki is also a shining example of a strong, intelligent character in this anime. One of Zen’s trusted aides, Kiki has excellent swordsmanship and has an even more impressive dedication to protecting both Zen and Shirayuki. A bit more on the serious side than other characters, Kiki is somewhat of a mother hen character for Zen and Mitsuhide. They respect her opinions, trust her plans, and are sometimes afraid of her angry side. If you ever give Kiki a job, you know she’s going to complete it with flying colors. With measured discretion and talent to boot, Kiki is a character you just can’t hate. If there are haters, they’re just jealous.
5. Mitsuhide Rouen
With Kiki, Mitsuhide is Zen’s aide and his highly skilled in swordsmanship, as well. Although they had rough patches, Mitsuhide and Zen have a strong and open friendship. Mitsuhide has a tendency to be over-protective of Zen, which leads to Zen’s frustration, but Zen knows that Mitsuhide is someone he can depend on. If anything, Mitsuhide is overly caring for those around him and has a strong emotional connection to both Zen and Kiki. He is very understanding and easily empathizes with just about anyone. From his very first scenes, we could tell this guy is a trustworthy guy.
Ryuu is only 12 years old, but he’s already a court pharmacist in Clarines. He is also a mentor to Shirayuki. As an herbal genius, Ryuu’s accomplishments have him isolated from others. He rarely shows emotions on his face, but he’s still just so darn loveable! Ryuu’s interactions with Obi and Shirayuki are some of the most endearing scenes in the series. Even though he is a genius, his character is still very true to a 12-year-old’s character. It’s so nice to see this in an anime! Moreover, he’s pursuing what he loves. Intelligent but misunderstood, Ryuu is a character we want to relate to. He doesn’t let the misunderstandings get to him too much, but we’re glad there are people like Shirayuki, Obi, and Garack who make the effort to understand him.
Shirayuki might be in a fairytale setting, but she’s a role model for modern girls. A prince seeks out Shirayuki and demands that she enters the castle as his concubine, but home girl says no and sets off on a journey to anywhere but there, leading her right to Zen. She then saves Zen’s life, who in turn, helps her out with the whole concubine thing. After that, we would expect Shirayuki to go straight lovesick mode, but she doesn’t. She instead focuses on her career and balances her dreams of becoming a royal pharmacist and her affections for the silver-haired prince.
Anime girls are supposed to be cute when they blush, but Shirayuki’s blush timing takes the cake. She blushes, we blush, and then the giggling starts. Giggles aside, we respect that Shirayuki doesn’t depend on her looks, like many a fairytale princess. Instead, she gains favor with all these princes by her resourcefulness, dedication, and knowledge. As far as shoujo protagonists go, Shirayuki is a rare specimen, indeed, and we shall keep watch over her development from here on out.
Obi, the mysterious bodyguard (cue the music) with a sly sense of humor, is so very loveable, one hundred and ten percent. Originally coming off as an antagonistic character, after seeing how Zen handles things, Obi switches over to serving Zen and being Shirayuki’s secret service. With his special stealthy skills, Zen entrusts Obi with many tasks that he can’t give to Mitsuhide or Kiki. Although there is low-key flirting with Shirayuki, the girl only really has eyes for Zen, so thankfully, we don’t have to choose sides. We still choose sides, but we don’t have to. We ship at our own leisure.
Obi’s past is by far the most interesting in the whole series. We are begging for more about this walking mystery. The biggest mystery is Obi’s true feelings. A perennial jokester, we only get glimpses of Obi’s true feelings through the occasional blush or drunken conversation. Nonetheless, be it love or respect, as the second season progressed, Obi proves he has an unwavering dedication to Shirayuki and Zen. As time goes on, this character just keeps getting better and better.
1. Zen Wistalia Clarines
Every good fairytale needs a perfect prince. He’s attractive, charming, kind-hearted, skilled in fighting, and a little mischievous. He’s a prince who also chills with normal people. Zen is the classic “perfect man,” but Akagami has upgraded this ideal in very specific ways to make him the evolved perfect man.
Zen is straightforward with his feelings, once he finally realizes what they are. He’s very clear with how he feels about Shirayuki and doesn’t waste his time trying to hide his feelings or act cool. He’s still plenty cool, but he doesn’t let something like pride get in the way of their relationship. Instead, his responsibilities as the second prince of Clarines get in the way, but that kind of responsible behavior just makes us love him even more.
Instead of becoming the “I’ll provide everything for you” type of prince, Zen supports Shirayuki and roots for her success as a court pharmacist. Zen and Shirayuki gain strength to reach their respective goals by looking as each other’s determination. Akagami isn’t about an ideal prince; it’s about an ideal couple. Zen is particularly sensitive to Shirayuki’s feelings. He doesn’t force his feelings onto her even though it could be pretty easy for him to do so. These are only small differences with the traditional prince archetype, but these small differences really go miles for how much we love this couple.
Enough good vibes to go around
If you didn’t see the top three coming from a mile away, we’re not sure if we’re watching the same anime. Fighting the urge to make the top trio a tie for #1, we did hash out a proper top ten list for you in the end. There’s not that much angst in Akagami, but there is a whole lot of love to go around. Of course, there are so many loveable characters in Akagami, so please share who is your favorite!