I give this sequel to one of the best shoujo anime in recent years...a 93/100!
In 2015, a popular shoujo manga called Snow White with the Red Hair got adapted into a 12-episode anime, and it was surprisingly popular and well liked. I went on to watch it, and as you can tell, I really love it. About a year or so later, a second season came out, which is the subject of today's review. Of all the shows that deserved a second season or more, this is one that absolutely deserved it, not only because it's manga is still ongoing, but because it's just a great, well-rounded show overall, and more anime like it need to be made! I did see the second season when it first came out, but didn't write a review because I was still in my huge burnout phase, and am still trying to break out of it. But now that I've seen it again, I think I can attempt to do so this time. In terms of its content, it's about the same as the first season, and it still centers on Shirayuki, Zen, and their friends and family, so I don't think I need to repeat what the show is about, as anyone who's season the first season knows what it is already.
But don't think the second season is a retread of the first one. While the animation and music are still of the same quality (Amazing as always), the main plot is actually very different. Shirayuki is invited back to her hometown of Tanbarun by Prince Raj, who originally wanted to force her to be his trophy/concubine and resorted to underhanded means in doing so. This time, he does genuinely want to make amends for his transgressions at the beginning of the series. However, on the night of a ball he's supposed to hold, Shirayuki is kidnapped by a mysterious pursuer and through other events, winds up in the clutches of an evil group of pirates called the Claw of the Sea. Zen, Raj, and everyone else need to do all they can to get her back safe and sound. While the first season was relatively light on plot and conflict, this one ramps it up considerably, especially in the middle episodes, giving the show much more of a sense of urgency. It also helps that the writing is still very strong, having the characters actually take the time to think, plan things out, and actually examine from every possible angle how their rescue efforts will pan out and the consequences that going against it will ordain. While the show does wind up making Shirayuki into a damsel in distress, which many may say goes against her overall character, the show still manages to stay true to her original characterization, so it's not like she's suddenly turned into a prize for Zen to win (Take note, Sword Art Online Alfheim arc). Furthermore, the situation she's in makes sense because she was kidnapped by a large group of people with swords and spears, who could easily kill her if she tried to make any kind of move, so it still makes sense for her to not be able to get herself out.
Speaking of the characters, they're still as rich, well-rounded, and likeable here, with extra insight on their backgrounds and how they came to know each other. Later episodes shed some much needed light on Kiki, Mitsuhide, and Obi's backstories, though not much, and...in all honesty, the character who grew the most throughout the entire season is Raj. You could argue the whole season is basically one long character arc for Raj. In the first season, he starts out as a narcissistic, petulant, annoying prince who throws tantrums if he doesn't get his way, and pisses himself when Zen holds him responsible for his actions. While later in the show he does try to make an effort to redeem himself, the second season decides to make this the main focus, and boy, does Raj really shine in this season. Through Shirayuki and everyone else, he finally stops being a narcissistic idiot and learns to grow a spine and become a braver, more responsible, diligent, proactive, and much nicer person as a result, to the point where he finally decides to take charge and help someone in need, and not to satisfy his own ego this time. It really helps that his growth is really natural and organic, so you really feel like Raj is trying to be a better person but is constantly struggling to really do that, especially since sometimes he's still kind of a spineless maniac, but has to grow up in order for the story to advance.
As I said earlier, the animation quality is the same as the first season was, with lovely, sumptuous animation, down-to-earth character designs that still mesh well with the fantasy setting, and bright colors and detailed backgrounds. The music is still nice as well, and I really don't have a bad thing to say about the soundtrack. Besides, how can you say bad things about Saori Hayami's lovely singing voice and Michiru Oshima's lovely soundtracks? I don't feel belaboring the point here is necessary. That said, the only real flaw I can find with this season is that a huge reveal about Shirayuki's past is revealed, and...she doesn't really react much to it. I mean, yes, she is a calm, down-to-earth person who generally doesn't let her emotions get the better of her, but you'd think that with a revelation like the one she experienced (You'll know it when you see it) that she'd show more emotion, or do something like demand answers for why this person wasn't around much in her life. But it's probably more of a nitpick than anything. So yeah, the show is still great, with top-tier writing, well-rounded characters, steady pacing, a more focused storyline, great animation and music, impeccable romance (And this is coming from someone who really hates most romance in media because of how awful they tend to be written), and damn near solid execution.
I'm repeating myself here, but yeah, Snow White with the Red Hair builds upon what made the first season great and is still a great show that deserves all the love it can get. Why can't more shows like this be made?!