Yep, you guys got to me, and I’m glad you did. I wasn’t going to talk about Snowdrop because I didn’t have anything meaningful to say about it before. You guys kept asking me to do it, and I did say I was giving into the demands of my viewers, so I gave Snowdrop another watch, and discovered that I liked it a lot more than I expected, and found something to say.
First of all though, I should address why I didn’t want to watch Snowdrop in the first place. Originally, I watched the first few minutes of it with my brother while we were setting up for a livestream, and I quickly got the impression that it was supposed to be a sadfic. This term usually refers to a sad fanfiction, but I often use the phrase sadfic to refer to any story that goes out of its way to be deliberately tearjerking. The top tier of sadfics, in terms of being exactly that, are the works of Maeda Jun, such as Kanon, Air, and Clannad.
I don’t like sadfics. I don’t put much value into a story’s ability to make me cry, because to me it’s very much a smoke and mirrors act of trickery, for an emotion that doesn’t mean a lot to me. Allow me to explain:
When I watched episode nine of Clannad, I cried like a baby. I didn’t care about the characters or the story in the slightest—hell, I barely remember what happened in the episode—but the way that it was put together perfectly pulled on the heartstrings. The way it was directed – the pacing, music, voice acting, and animation, were all constructed in a way that elicited the maximum outburst of emotion, which caused me to cry about something that I not only didn’t care about, but found completely unmemorable.
My first impression of Snowdrop, which I still hold to be fairly true, was that it wanted to make me emotional, and it seemed to be going about this in the cheapest way possible. The main character is an ultra-adorable little girl with a disability (specifically blindness), and she lives in a world that doesn’t know how to take care of her.
This scenario COULD ring true, and could be incredibly sad, but it would have to be explored extremely in-depth before it would start to resonate with me. The only story I can think of that pulls off that kind of depressive atmosphere while still being a resonant and human story is the classic HBO drama The Wire, which is an amazing show that I still have trouble going back and watching just because no matter how resonant it is, it’s still depressing, and I don’t particularly like to feel depressed about things.
Snowdrop was obviously not going to be on that level and I wouldn’t expect it to be, whereas I’d totally expect it to be a cheap grab at my heart using the cruelty and ignorance of its characters to make me feel bad.
When I watch this episode, my feelings aren’t, “oh man, I feel sorry for Snowdrop,” my feelings are, “FUCK THAT TEACHER. HOLY SHIT. FUCKING BE HER PARTNER YOURSELF YOU FAILURE. HEY ASSHOLE, IF THE BLIZZARD IS SO BAD, WALK THE FUCKING BLIND PONY HOME.”
So yes, the story successfully generates emotion in me, and for a lot of people this would make it good. However, for me, generating an emotion that I don’t like and am not interested in feeling means that I would rather not watch it. When I felt that the story was trying to deliberately make me pissed at the world around Snowdrop in order to find sympathy for her, instead of making me sympathetic for her by showing off how interesting and cool she was on her own, I decided not to continue.
But as I mentioned earlier, this isn’t really the story of why I don’t like Snowdrop, it’s the story of what I did like about it after returning to it.
Before I say anything else, I’ll point out that Snowdrop is definitely well-constructed. The animation is solid, it’s paced well, and while I may not agree with the techniques it uses to develop sympathies, the dialog itself is not bad in any way, and the story has no intrinsic flaws. I wouldn’t ordinarily bother pointing all of this out, but after my Double Rainboom review, I’ve been told that people really want me to mention stuff like this, so here it is. And since this statement, while not important to me, will probably be vindicating for a lot of viewers of both reviews, I will state openly that yes, I think Snowdrop is altogether better constructed than Double Rainboom. The animation may not be as technically impressive, but the production altogether has way more tonal cohesion and tightness that makes it feel like a solid piece of work, rather than a lot of hit-or-miss ideas flying around. We all happy now?
So, why is Snowdrop interesting? Because the central conflict and its resolution—what Snowdrop is trying to accomplish, and the way in which she accomplishes it, are interesting.
Snowdrop’s goal is simply, to prove that she isn’t useless. That, even though she can’t see and doesn’t have any particular talents, there must be something that she’s good for. And as it turns out, she expresses this through art, in a startlingly realistic representation of what art is and what it means to people.
You could compare Snowdrop’s snowflake to something like a Jackson Pollock painting. To a lot of people, such as the other kids at the celebration, the painting is meaningless and stupid. However, the art piece manages to find its audience in Princess Luna, and just as an artist like Pollock could have a place in life as long as there was someone who would pay for his art, Snowdrop’s creation was embraced by a backer who mattered enough to give her a place in the world.
The romance of making art is a lot like the romance of love. If you’ve ever read the kind of romance where a character says that their life has meaning as long as they can be with their lover, the same is often true of art. It has meaning, even if only one person can see that meaning, and if that person happens to have a lot of money, then the art can be allowed to flourish. This is the same magic that Kickstarter operates on. The idea is that a piece of art doesn’t have to appeal to a wide audience, it only has to appeal to an audience that’s willing to pay for it, and as long as you can get someone like Notch, the creator of Minecraft, to see something in your work, you’re pretty damn likely to get funded.
Snowdrop’s initial snowflake is not exactly well-made, and it’s interesting that she was not even necessarily passionate about the construction of the snowflake. Her passion was to prove herself useful, and her creation reflected that meaning. She wanted to show that anything could have a purpose and bring joy to someone’s life, including snow, which was typically treated… coldly. She does this by comparing snow to the night sky, which she knows can bring joy, and this conflict immediately resonates with Luna, whose inner conflict over the lack of appreciation for her night had once been so intense that it lead to her transformation into Nightmare Moon.
So yeah, this is pretty interesting stuff, and I appreciate this kind of hardship as an artist myself who, for a very long time, had an audience of just a handful of people that really appreciated what I was doing. The Lunas to my Snowdrop.