“To have everyone recovered this much in just a few days…Shirayuki’s skill is undeniable.” -Kiki Seiran
Shojo is marvelous when it gets its heroines right.
There’s a lot to like about Snow White with the Red Hair (Akagami no Shirayuki-hime). The selling point of Shirayuki though, that makes her stand out from most other generic shoujo heroines, is Shirayuki’s tireless dedication to her studies in medicine.
Most garden-variety shojo heroines either get a supernatural power, usually along the vein of magical girls with perhaps a transformation sequence or cute magical item, or just inexplicably radiate enough cuteness to overcome the tribulations of their schoolday lives. Not Shirayuki. Shirayuki’s strength is her intellect and her expertise in herbal lore, developed by years of dedicated studying. Unlike other shojo heroines, Shirayuki’s considerably more mature, drama-free, and best of all, fiercely independent without coming off as obnoxious.
All episodes of Shirayuki are cute in their own way, but Episode 5 is a perfect episode that showcases Shirayuki’s expertise in medicinal healing…as well as her fatal lack of self-preservation. She is called upon by Zen to investigate a mysterious sickness that has plagued a military fort and man, it is a marvel to watch Shirayuki work her magic. No magic healing wand, just good old-fashioned herbs and a lick of smart sleuthing exposes the source of the sickness in the very wood being used to heat the fort’s main fireplace.
“You can’t burn this wood. Harmful particles will scatter and if you keep breathing them in, they’ll start to have an effect.” -Shirayuki
Of course, Shirayuki’s not immune from all shojo heroine flaws as she exemplifies perfectly the concept of “being too good for her own good”. Shirayuki’s such a competent healer that she also forgets the health care provider’s most important creed (besides the Hippocrates oath)–self care. You can’t be a good doctor if you don’t take care of yourself. It seems obvious but to Shirayuki, who puts her patients’ well-being and care before her own, it’s a trap she’s spun herself into.
Good health care administration necessitates teamwork…and transparency as Zen cheekily admonishes when he tricks Shirayuki into a well-deserved slumber when she’s teetering on the verge of collapse.
“But, you know, if you had just said something, I would have tried to come up with a way for you to not be so overworked. It’s not a problem you need to deal with by yourself, Shirayuki. Even if it were, don’t hide it again. Ever.” -Zen Wistalia
For those especially who either care for sick people either professionally or personally, the idea of checking in on yourself can easily slip a mind that’s preoccupied by the suffering of the people in front of us. It can be easy to slip into the mindset of “I’m the only one who can do this” or “I’m the only one responsible to care for them” and forget that just by looking around and asking for help, rather than just trying to forge on ahead alone, can easily accomplish in speeding along the health of everyone much more quickly, with much less stress overall. Self-preservation seems to be a side-effect of Shirayuki’s compassion, but fortunately for her, her health and well-being are in good hands.