Akagami no Shirayuki-hime (Snow White with the Red Hair) is a romance-adventure anime, where in our leading lady is forced to leave her home kingdom for fear of becoming a slave to the prince. As she flees, she meets a man who will eventually save her from slavery and offer her solace in his own kingdom.
I've always been a fan of fairy tales re-told. While this one holds very few elements from the original story that I can see, it was something different from the usual Shojou romance anime. It deals very much with the workings of a kingdom: Trade, crime management, and the giving and rescinding of titles. Adding to it, there are fight scenes. Good ones, too. No Shojou anime I've ever seen has gone beyond a shove or a slap in the face, but there's sword-fighting, hand-to-hand, and other interesting styles in these fights. Real fights.
Not many of the characters are super remarkable, in my opinion. In the first season, Shirayuki is a resourceful girl, very used to making a run for it and finding a way out of tough situations her appearance causes her. She's knowledgeable and smart, only a little clumsy, and is generally kind and encouraging to most people. Season two kind of turned her into the more common Shojou protagonist, which bothers me to no end, but she's not bad, as the main character goes.
Zen is also much better in the first season. He's the prince, the knight in shining armor, and he's mostly useless to the girl who handles herself well, which he seems to like very much. He does what he can to be there for her, and accepts that she can usually handle herself. I began to dislike him a bit near the end of season one, but, I'll cover that next.
Of the character lot, I'm fond of Kiki, as she's very different from other girls in Shojou anime. Cold, indifferent, and impeccable with a sword. She can beat all the boys, and I love it!
Mitsuhide was very funny, and Obi was kind of adorable. But, once more, there were only a few characters I really liked as they were.
Overall, the story is mostly episodic, with a few longer adventures in there. Much of it was just as predictable and cheesy as any Shojou anime would be. I do praise the moments where the girls were not helpless, where they could actually hold their own. I honestly feel like that's lacking terribly in anime, lately. After all, even Sailor Moon needed a man to save her life, it seemed. I'm not crazy feminist, but it is annoying that girls in anime are always depicted as weak and delicate. This show breaks away from that, more so in the first season, but the second season shows some of Kiki's shining moments. I just like a little Girl Power if I'm going to watch a show aimed at girls and women, you know?
Minor rant aside, the art of the show is also to be praised. It's a little more neutral to look at. Not everyone is just skinny and ropy, there are women with different sized curves and levels of modesty, men are depicted a bit more muscular than is common for this genre. It's all notable.
The romance... honestly bothered me. Obviously, I went in wanting to ship characters. I was all for Shirayuki and Zen, waiting on her to notice how much he liked her and come to her own realization that she liked him back... And then he kissed her. And decided he might as well ask her to consider him. Told her to take her time, but who would be able to after that? A shock like that would make one feel obligated to say yes. Obligation is not the same as having return feelings for someone! I was really disappointed in it, anyway. I liked how they were together, but the way they came together was just... stupid.
Breaking away from that, the music sounded familiar to me. Looking up the composer, it turns out that she's done music for FMA, Little Witch Academia, and Rokka no Yuusha, just to name a few. She sets a good mood for the show. Better than the opening and credits songs, in my opinion. I couldn't really get into either of the openings, and never really sat for the endings after hearing the first few notes. They're pretty basic.
In the end, I like the show pretty well. It's different from what I was expecting, only sort-of maintaining the more annoying tropes. I don't recommend this to romance fans, but people who want to see a Shojou anime with a bit more fast-paced action may enjoy this one quite well! I know I did!