Spice and Wolf I & II Review

Spice and Wolf Review

Fantasy World. It is amazing how almost any bizarre idea can take shape into the reality of this world. You can have worlds where everything is decided by games or a world which is a giant game.
Spice and Wolf is a fantasy anime with a very realistic and mature take on romance. With the horde of romance anime out there with all the Tsunderes and Derederes and dumb hothead male protagonists playing the same damn script, i.e., the same thing getting repeated over and over again, Spice and Wolf comes out as something refreshing and unique.
And the thing that makes this so interesting is the pairing between a Pagan God and a Human. A Pagan God who has lived for god knows how many years and has met countless number of people meets a mere Human whose lifespan would feel like a blink of an eye to her. How would a pairing like that work out? (If you really think about it, she has probably been hit on by every single pick-up line in the book.) That is the best part of the anime, the way they work out that romance. 

Before we even begin, let me leave this little note here : I'm sure everyone knows this by now that this is not an ecchi anime with fanservice everywhere. I know the synopsis says a naked wolf girl, but if you have any expectations of that kind, you will be disappointed. She is not going to "accidentally" trip, fall and land on the MCs dick. Now that that's out of the way, let us get into some of the major points of this anime (positive and negative)

If you think about the main aspect (i.e., the romance) of the anime, the first thing that comes to mind is the weird pairing, a Pagan God and a Human. The God is going to live on for many human lifetimes and the whole romance thing simply becomes painful considering that you will have to watch your loved one die and live on many many years afterwards. That is something you don't get to see in your everyday romance anime. It is impressive that the anime even takes that into consideration. And what that does is brings this depth to Holo's character. You can see her trying not to get too attached to Lawrence. And she deals with that feeling in a very mature way.

Second thing that I would like to point out is that this is a dialogue heavy series. Now, you can take that as a positive or a negative, that is totally up to your taste. Also there is a lot of economics involved, some of which might go over your head if you don't pay attention and try to work it out. You will see Holo making snarky sarcastic remarks when she is teasing Lawrence, to them having a long business discussion involving market strategies. Even though there is plenty of dialogue, it does not fly by at hyper speeds that you have to pause or rewind to read it. (example, Bakemonogatari, Tatami Galaxy)

Spice And Wolf Image 1

The anime succeeds in delivering a variety of different emotions involving different situations. Even though the predominant genre is romance, the anime is not lovey-dovey all the time. It involves some clever dialogue and clever tactics. You will learn about economy and how the currency worked back in the day. You will see greed, betrayal, and people using shrewd underhanded tactics to get what they want. The Church and the amount of power it used to have. Not only that, it gets serious too. The main characters get caught up into situations that force them to take some drastic measures (which are really clever and well thought out) and you might even find yourselves at the edge of your seat waiting to see the outcome or how they are going to get out of the situation. To give you a slight idea of what to expect, here is a little fact : Holo, the cute looking wolf girl, can turn into a giant scary wolf that can wreak havoc in a whole city. (BTW this isn't really a spoiler.)

The one thing that I felt lacking here, was a backstory on our main character Lawrence. Yes, he is a travelling merchant and his dream is to settle down and have his own shop someday but I don't know where the guy came from? What are his motivations? What is his relationship with chloe? The anime gives us all this info on Holo but if you really think about it, most of the background for Lawrence is missing. And the answer to all that is even more disappointing, i.e., the anime is incomplete. They only adapted a few volumes from the Light Novel. The ending only gives you a little sense of closure (how? well, that's a spoiler. sorry) and leaves the main plot/story hanging, i.e., we don't get to see the end of their journey. I mean, that is supposed to be the whole point of an adventure anime, the journey from start to finish.

Now, before I tell you how the anime makes up for all that, I think I should get this one last thing out of my system. It is the animation. I personally think that they could have done a better job. It gets inconsistent and there are some clearly visible mistakes where the animation gets really sloppy (like the horse animation in episode 9). I'm not saying that it is really bad, what I mean is that it didn't measure up to the level of the goodness of the anime. It definitely deserves better than that.

Spice and Wolf Gif 1

The soundtrack on the other hand, holds up to the standard of the story. The music is cheerful and lovely most of the time and carries this medieval feel to it with the instrument choice. (trumpets, flutes, violin etc.) And did I mention that the season one opening is one of the best openings ever? Yes! It is. Just listen to Kiyoura Natsumi's voice. WOW! Special mention to the voice actress for nailing the role of Holo.

So, how does the anime make up for the incomplete ending? One word, Holo (or Horo). She is now one of my favourite female anime characters of all time. Don't be fooled by the looks. She might look like a cute harmless girl with wolf ears, but she is so much more than that. After all, she is called Holo the wise wolf for a reason. First of all, she is a goddess, and we don't know how old she really is. That makes it a little difficult to get a clear picture on her personality. AND she's not really human. I already said how the romance situation adds a certain depth to her character.
[Extra : How the village treated her is something to notice. They used to depend on her for harvest and worshipped her and then after all those years they suddenly stop all that (sly little bastards, I know.)]

She is the driving force behind the whole enjoyment of the anime. She is not only cute, sweet, sarcastic, funny, beautiful looking girl with wolf ears, she can turn into a giant scary wolf and kick ass! How cool is that? (Total Fanboy here.)
Note : Is it just me or do all Gods tend to have a thing for apples? (remember Ryuk from Death Note?)

Spice and Wolf Image 2

Now, even though Holo is the dominant character here, that does not mean that the other main character just lets her have her way all the time. Lawrence isn't dumb. He fights back with the same intensity of snarkiness (if that's a word), keeps up with her and asserts himself as a man. He is greatly overshadowed by her most of the time but he can have her begging if he gets serious. The interactions between the two feels like a dance routine that they do. It is very entertaining. I would write more about their romance, but I feel like I would ruin it for ye.

Since, this is an adventure anime (an incomplete one at that. Yes. I am going to whine about it.), the side characters play a major role in the story. Even though they appear for a short time, they make an impact. They help get the main characters into situations that are thrilling and entertaining to watch. My favourite will be Norah "The Fairy" Arendt. I think her character was well done compared to the other side characters. (And who doesn't like blondes? haha :D)
All in all, this was a very entertaining anime to watch. I am glad that someone recommended it to me. And I am pretty sure you will enjoy it. But if you have a problem with dialogue or economics, this might not be your cup of tea. A little warning though, the anime is incomplete and you will find yourself in a hole praying for the third season to air or you will hunt down the Light Novel and binge read all the volumes. You decide.
Spice and Wolf Rating

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May 9, 2015 at 9:37 AM delete

Great Spice and Wolf review ! Holo da bombbb