A Quick Look at Spice and Wolf

Seeing that this is going to be my first ever post here, I was kind of wary to write something about the Summer season titles. I only picked up four shows from this season, and I don’t have enough background information about them, to make a decent commentary on their first episodes. That being said, I’m going to start off with a series that I know very well. It is one of my all-time favorite titles, and I have enjoyed it countless times in the past, as well as in the present. Some of you may already be familiar with it, some, may be not. So without further ado, here it is, Spice and Wolf.

I first heard of Spice and Wolf on MAL. I was looking for a new series to watch, after having finished Code Geass, and Bakemonogatari. After viewing the “Recommendations” page, both titles suggested Spice and Wolf. I decided to give it a shot, and boy was I glad that I did.

So what is Spice and Wolf (or Ookami to Koushinryou) about? Well, the anime is an adaptation of a light novel series with the same name. It tells the story of a travelling merchant by the name of Lawrence Kraft, as he ventures from town to town, looking for trades. Now you might be thinking “A merchant? That’s not really exciting.” Well, you’re half right. Yes, this anime deals with economy and trade very seriously, but, they do it in such a way that it won’t bore you. You may even become interested in economy yourself, but that’s just stretching it.

To his travel to a certain village, he encounters, who is soon to be his travel companion, Holo, the wolf deity. Wait, Wha? A deity? Yes, she is known in the series as the deity of harvest. A Pagan god of sorts. A long time ago, she was revered very highly, since she controlled whether or not the harvest will be good. As time passed however, she was no longer deemed necessary by the villagers, since they knew how to manipulate their own fields.

Lawrence enters the village just in time for their festival to commemorate Holo and their good harvest. It’s basically just a tradition for the villagers, since they don’t believe in Holo anymore. By some coincidence, the tradition of sealing Holo away, lead to her being drawn to Lawrence’s travel cart. The tradition states that Holo will reside in the last bundle of wheat harvested which is then kept in a locked storehouse. A loophole to this is that if someone else had a larger bundle of wheat, Holo will instead go there. That “someone else” happens to be Lawrence, who had a bundle of wheat in his cart.

After leaving the village, Lawrence sets out to a clearing, where he planned to spend the night. Upon looking at the contents of his cart, he sees Holo, asleep under his goods.

Startled by the fact that the woman he saw sleeping in his cart had wolf ears, Lawrence wakes her up. Stirred from her slumber, Holo postured up, gazed at the moon, and gave off a deep howl. She introduced herself as a deity. Lawrence does not readily accept the fact that this Holo may be indeed the Holo of the village, and demands for some sort of proof. Holo then brought up her being able to manifest her “true” form, in exchange for either human blood or some wheat. Lawrence approves of giving her some wheat, and he sees, albeit only partial, the “true” form of Holo. He becomes frightened at first, but after Holo comes to him again, he decided to accept the fact, that she is the deity that the village once revered.

Holo, knowing well that she is no longer needed, has now had new hope after being set free from the village, and wishes to return to her hometown. So the two made a deal. As long as Holo earned her own keep, Lawrence would take her to her hometown in the North. Thus, the story begins.

The series has two seasons. Each season is comprised of two major arcs. The pacing of the story is well executed, not too long, not too rushed. One thing to note however, is that, this series is very dialogue heavy. Nonetheless, the talks about trade, as well as the conversations that Lawrence and Holo have, is the driving force of the series. Holo, proclaiming herself as the “Sage Wolf” provides Lawrence with some very useful information when it comes to trade. She has also proven to be quite the merchant, outwitting even Lawrence himself sometimes. Lawrence, on the other hand, enjoys having company, especially if that company could help him attain his dream: Having his own shop.

The character development in this series is well paced as well. We see how the business-minded Lawrence, slowly opens up to the concepts of companionship and, to some extent, love. Likewise, we see Holo, who has found new hope in Lawrence. However, alongside that new hope, we see Holo struggle as well, as she then gains a new fear. A fear of being alone. Throughout the series we see as these two slowly convey their feelings, all the while going through joys, sorrows, and anger.

Alongside good plot and character development, we have art style. Now the art style in the first season was very vivid. You will notice that they paid attention to the slightest detail. The flow of movement was very good as well. Entering the second season however, the art style began to lack something. Not that it’s not good, I mean, Holo and Lawrence still look as they were. But the scenery isn’t as lively. Don’t let that deter you though, the second season is still very good. Aside from that, I have no other qualms with this series.

Holo and Lawrence are the only main characters in the series. But along the way, you will be introduced to some pretty competent supporting characters. The likes of which challenge either Lawrence’s merchant abilities, Holo’s knowledge and wit, or the relationship of the two as companions. To cite an example (without giving off too much away) is a character from the second season named Amati.

He appeared as someone who became an obstacle to Lawrence’s trade, as well as his relationship with Holo. Amati was a young, but promising merchant. Very bold and witty, to the point where Lawrence considered him a threat, despite being older and more experienced. This feud of theirs was exciting to watch. The back and forth planning was very well paced. We see that Lawrence’s plans are not perfect. He’s a character that fails, yet, rises up again. Through the Amati arc, we also saw Holo’s vulnerable side, which gives a new depth to her character as a whole.

The last thing to note about Spice and Wolf is that, you do learn from it. The series tackles concepts as simple as demand and supply, to more complex things such as buying on credit. Not that it can be a substitute for your economy classes, but you’ll still learn a lot from here.

I would highly recommend this series, not only to those who are interested in economics, but also to those who enjoy a nice, dialogue-driven story, with a hint of comedy and romance. To those who have already watched Spice and Wolf, I would highly appreciate your thoughts on how I presented this.

So there you have it, a quick look at a very nice series.

6 thoughts on “A Quick Look at Spice and Wolf

  1. It got a bit slow in some parts, especially when it started dealing with economics, but I enjoyed it for the most part. I probably wouldn’t pick it up again since I’m prone to boredom.

    • I get your point. I usually use this as my go-to anime whenever there’s nothing else to watch. But yeah, you’ve got to admit that the enjoyment outweighs the moments of boredom.

      Also, thanks for being the first to comment to my first post ^_^

  2. Nice analysis and good job for the first post.

    I am familiar with Spice and Wolf and must say it does hold your attention initially. Thoughtful series that is both intelligent theme and writing wise. The economical bits and pieces by Lawrence were good, but Holo’s natural wolf instinct and sage-like wisdom is the winner. A really nice antithesis between the two. Sadly, it does get a tad tiresome near the end, but a nice series.

    Wanted more Nora myself (the shepherd girl).

    • Thank You ^_^

      Yeah, I kinda had this self debate about whom to use as my example for the “competent supporting characters”. I was between Nora and Amati. I went with Amati since I felt like I should say something about the second season.

  3. I love this series. I don’t mind that Holo and Lawrence spent a good portion of time dealing with economy and trade. It’s very interesting and I actually learned something in the process. It’s perhaps the only series I don’t mind it being heavy on the dialogues. It’s not empty conversations, if you know what I mean.

    I must say, this is a well executed anime. It’s something I’d watch over and over again. It’s that good, for me at least it is.

    • Yes, the conversations were not ’empty’ in the least. Even in their witty banter you will find some sort of enjoyment.I also learned a good deal from watching this series.

      I agree with you as well. It’s that good. I usually pick this up along with some other titles when I run out of any new anime to watch.

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