Holo is a powerful wolf deity who is celebrated and revered in the small town of Pasloe for blessing the annual harvest. Yet as years go by and the villagers become more self-sufficient, Holo, who stylizes herself as the "Wise Wolf of Yoitsu," has been reduced to a mere folk tale. When a traveling merchant named Kraft Lawrence stops at Pasloe, Holo offers to become his business partner if he eventually takes her to her northern home of Yoitsu. The savvy trader recognizes Holo's unusual ability to evaluate a person's character and accepts her proposition. Now in the possession of both sharp business skills and a charismatic negotiator, Lawrence inches closer to his goal of opening his own shop. However, as Lawrence travels the countryside with Holo in search of economic opportunities, he begins to realize that his aspirations are slowly morphing into something unexpected.
Based on the popular light novel of the same name, Ookami to Koushinryou, also known as Spice and Wolf, fuses the two polar genres of economics and romance to create an enthralling story abundant with elaborate schemes, sharp humor, and witty dialogue. Ookami to Koushinryou is more than just a story of bartering; it turns into a journey of searching for a lost identity in an ever-changing world.
Wolf and spice can be summed up fairly easily. Be prepared for ALOT of dialog. In essence, its about a story about merchant trading during medieval times. A time when the word of the catholic church was more important than anything else and anyone else was deemed a witch or heretic. Since it is set in such archaic times it would be a perfect fit to have an anime about merchant trading.
Ever since i was in middle school I used to play video games with trading and how prices rise and fall from location to location and how supply and demand and even risk margins for investing in certain things to turn a profit. That was the main goal, to make money. And that is the main goal of our main character Lawrence Kraft. Through his travels he entrusted a small heretic town that believed in a wolf god named Horo that watched over their crops. And it just happens that Lawrence Kraft befriends this god and he soon finds out that she just wants to go home. And so the adventure begins....
Being a story about trading goods there is bound to be alot of dialog between bartering, negotiating, trading information and the chemistry between Horo and Lawrence. If theres going to be alot of dialog an my anime it better at least intelligent and make sense. Luckily this show does it very well, almost perfect. And its safe to say this is because how Horo and Lawrence feed off each others energies so well that you almost feel like you're right there arguing with Horo. Theres no "voice in the head" in this anime, all their thoughts and ideas go between each other and nothing is never left out. Although little background details are left out for time constraints, viewers with an open mind can understand most of the unmentioned side stories. Those who cant figure out the small things, the subbers (ayako) were nice to place side notes for every episode. Its very refreshing to see an anime that actually takes time to explain things to the point that you are convinced enough to believe the situation at hand.
Lawrence and Horo are the only main characters of the show so having a good chemistry between them was key but also having a strong seiyu cast for those two is another reason why this show is addicting. Their voices emit their emotions perfectly and the background music just makes this show so much more elegant and beautiful. Its basically consists of a string quartet. Who ever composed all of the background music must be one of the best composers I've ever heard. I never knew so many emotions can come out of just a group of strings. Environmental sound effects are just as what you would expect after hearing the beautiful strings and artwork. Crickets chirp at night, flames flicker and click, they're all of high quality. But they never interfere with the dialog at all which I enjoy the most.
The last component that brings this whole show to masterpiece status is the artwork. This show is best shown on HD resolution definitely. You can see all the painstaking detail it took for all the artists to draw all the settings of the medieval towns, each cobble stone looks different from each other, the stained glass is painted with perfect care. Even all the guild halls and churches have a massive feel to them. Everything about the artwork screams perfection and is easily one of the best artwork I've laid my eyes on. The character animations aren't as greatly skilled as the background and static animations but it does hold a medium-high quality at best. But Horo and Lawrence are still quite memorable throughout the whole show.
Overall this show crams so much information and dialog to the viewers its easy to say that its not for everyone. But this is indeed a very intelligent, beautiful, and intriguing show. Its a show that you will either understand or not. As for me I love shows like this that leaves JUST enough out for the viewer to make them think and analyze about the episode they just saw. And I am a total sucker for beautiful artwork and music, but character chemistry is what drives me (and all my other 10's on my list) to score this a 10.
This is a review of BOTH seasons of Spice and Wolf, but I have gone to great lengths to make it completely spoiler-free.
Personally, I believe Spice and Wolf's central theme to be a rephrasing of the saying 'Never judge the content by the cover'. The story is one of the most unique in anime, despite the presence of a naked wolf girl that would normally slap a bold 'FANSERVICE' stamp right across the middle. Spice and Wolf is inexplicable, to be honest. It's a medieval fantasy, but has nothing to do with swords and spellcraft, but rather trading and economics. If I try to explain this in any further detail, I will risk adulterating the amazing experience that is the show.
In my opinion, having watched the anime first, the light novels don't cut it (well-written as they are). Spice and Wolf isn't just beautiful in context to the (basic scaffolding of) a story, the world, the atmosphere, the narrative, or what I believe to be the greatest female lead of all time. It's one of the most visually and aurally appealing stories out there. Only three or four shows have made it into my top ten before I even completed the series, and this is one of them.
As has now become customary, I will proceed to rate the show on the subject of story, characters, its visual aspect, its aural aspect, and its overall entertainment value, plus any bonuses or deductions it might earn along the way.
The story of Spice and Wolf is not exactly a story. It earns points for setting everything just right, but gives the story the freedom to be divided into arcs; most of which are thoroughly enjoyable, and the origin stories to provide background are well-written, but still enough to shroud the subjects in mystery, which I personally tend to favor. However, at times, the show becomes unnecessarily complicated, resulting in convoluted storylines revolving around arbitrary trading escapades, which might bore viewers who aren't fascinated by the subject of economics (and I am yet to find those who are). However, this is but a tiny imperfection in a masterwork.
I hereby award the story with an 8 out of a possible 10. However, a more realistic portrayal medieval world is something I greatly value, as seen on George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire, and that gives it a one point bonus to result in a final rating of a 9 out of 10.
The characters are some of the best I've ever encountered. Holo is probably one of the greatest characters of all time, and undoubtedly my favourite female lead in all fiction. Lawrence is also a brilliant character, with quirks and eccentricities and a keen intellect, but not without flaws. It only makes it better that his English voice is the same as that of Okabe Rintarou from Steins;Gate, my favourite male lead, who also happens to share a slew of character traits with Lawrence. I hate to say this, but some characters come across as lazy and one is a little too Moe-influenced for my liking. If not for the sheer brilliance of the lead characters' performance, I would deduct an entire point for the few bad characters there are. However, I cannot find it in myself to do so.
I award the characters of this show with a 9.5 out of 10.
The visuals of Spice and Wolf aren't overly extravagant, but are beautiful, and manage to capture the setting of a medieval world (without an emphasis on huge gilded swords and dragons) perfectly. The visuals in the second season, due to the change in the animation studio, are a tad more outlandish, but still carry much of the same flair.
The visuals of Spice and Wolf earn a 9.5 out of 10.
Now, moving on to the aural aspect.
Spice and Wolf's music is beautiful, it's opening is one of my favorites to date, and the lengths the studio went to in order to incorporate medieval instrumentation into the soundtrack really paid off. Tracks like the initial score to the festival in Pasloe or the more fast paced Zawazawa Suru, or even the tracks that add to the suspense of the show when it's required really hit home.
I award the aural aspect Spice and Wolf an 9 out of 10.
I would be remiss if I did not, at this point, mention the show's opening sequences, both of which are rather spectacular and definitely are a credit to the show's sound and animation departments. On that note-
Speaking of bonuses, there is one thing that Spice and Wolf has that earns it an enormous sack of brownie points; the dub. Aye, Spice and Wolf boasts what is, in my opinion, one of the greatest dubs of all time, and is comparable to the likes of Cowboy Bebop and Steins;Gate. The Japanese voice simply cannot do justice to the character of Holo herself, much less Brina Palencia's impeccable portrayal of her. J. Michael Tatum as Lawrence is, as I might have mentioned, a perfect match. The dub and openings are so utterly spectacular that I award not one bonus point, but two, resulting in a final rating of the aural aspect; 11 out of 10.
Lastly, the show's entertainment value;
Spice and Wolf is my favourite show for a reason; the characters. No matter how convoluted and frustratingly intertwined the stories get, you can always divert your attention to the main characters and their interactions, which is what the show really is about. Although it goes without saying that the story will have its impact on everything, and at times is good enough to turn your head in its direction, and then weaving itself in with the MASTERFUL character development to create something truly amazing. I hereby award the entertainment aspect of Spice and Wolf with a 9 out of a possible 10. However, it gets a one-point deduction; letting it drop at the end of the second season with a half-baked finale (whereas the ending of the first season was conclusive enough to serve as a true finale) seals its fate in stone as naught but promotional material for the light novels, however good as it may be. Hence, the aspect of entertainment gets an 8 out of 10.
I haven't fine-tuned these ratings as much as I normally would, but I didn't want to analyse the show at such a critical level as to end up sullying the experience for a prospective audience.
Spice and Wolf earns an overall rating of 9.4/10, and a personal recommendation that comes with my three favourite anime series' of all times; right alongside Steins;Gate and Cowboy Bebop.
Also, I would like to say that if by any chance a third season were to be announced, the rating would instantly increase to a perfect 10. However, if it does what the second season did, I the overall rating of the franchise might drop down a notch to a 9.
Are you tired of action shonen series with a fighting tournament every 2 story arcs? Want to see something different? Anime has many different genres from which to choose: psychological drama, slice of life, echii comedy, sports, etc. How about something REALLY different? An anime centered around trading that mainly teaches the viewer principals of economics like inflation, buying on margin, and short selling stock? Spice and Wolf is a show so uniquely odd that I had a hard time convincing my friends that it actually exists. This is an anime so dialogue heavy and business oriented that it would likely get better ratings on Bloomberg than on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim. Spice and Wolf also has some well written romance and great characters, so even if you aren't into economics, there is still a chance you will like it.
The story of Spice and Wolf seems simple, but it is very well written and can actually teach the viewer something. It would be an understatement to say that Spice and Wolf is much better at teaching economics principals than Hetalia is at teaching history. For an anime to have such a daringly unique and unconventional story in today's consumer driven media is extraordinary. The setting in medieval Europe reminds me of the famous economic author Ludwig Von Mises and his tendency to use Robinson Crusoe to simplify and better explain complex fiscal theories.
The story begins when a travelling merchant discovers an unusual girl with dog ears and a tail lying naked in the pile of wheat he is transporting. Lawrence is obviously shocked by this, but the mysterious girl Holo claims to be a Goddess that controls the harvest and now wishes to leave this village because the farmers no longer believe in her. Lawrence is skeptical, but Holo offers to prove that she is a wolf goddess by transforming in front of him and causing him to faint from sheer terror. Later that night, Holo appears before Lawrence again and convinces him to take her along with him since she needs to travel with wheat as a harvest deity. This is sort of like Dracula and his need to travel with his coffin and soil of Romania. Holo offers her wise advice she has gained from centuries of living to help Lawrence in the world of trading, and Lawrence in turn will eventually take her back to her birthplace in the far north country of Yoitsu.
The two main characters are Kraft Lawrence and the wolf goddess, Holo. Kraft Lawrence is a very believable and realistic protagonist. He is a medieval merchant that at first mostly cares about profit and seems to have a Randian Objectivist outlook. However, as the series goes on we see that he does have a heart and he grows as a character. Lawrence doesn't conform to the stereotypes of anime romance leads. He isn't a pushover that lets a harem of girls beat him up all the time. He isn't a secret pervert that gets nosebleeds at the slightest provocation. He isn't a musclebound hero that rescues random damsels in distress. What he is, is a well rounded character that seems like a real person. Since this is tagged as a Romance title, it is not a spoiler that Lawrence eventually begins to develop some feelings for Holo. However, he is reserved with his feelings and doesn't rush head first into a relationship. Lawrence is calm and calculating as one would expect from a medieval broker. The other character is Holo, who calls herself the "Wise Wolf". Holo is centuries old deity that can help crops grow and bring bountiful harvests. However, as mentioned above, she has been abandoned for a new God, which is sort of the Spice and Wolf universe's version of Christianity. This new monotheism denounces the old Gods despite the viewer knowing for a fact that they exist and believes only in 1 God, which the viewer never sees any evidence exists. However, Holo doesn't take revenge because she is not a "jealous God" as God Himself said in the Old Testament. Holo is a very bored god that lives in the field of wheat and longs to return to the place she was born. How Gods are born in this series has yet to be explained as of the end of season 2, but it isn't particularly important. The important thing is that she wishes to return to the land of Yoitsu in the far north. Yoitsu is a very vast land with lots of snow, lots of wolves, and few people. If Holo is an accurate representative of the population, the people of Yoitsu seem to have hair trigger tempers and a propensity to get sauced. I honestly wonder why the English dub didn't just give her a Russian accent and be done with it. Holo is in fact quite wise and knows the ways of the world through her centuries of life. However, she can often act immaturely and has a very sharp tongue. It is shown quite often that Holo is very cautious about developing feelings for a mortal, because she knows that she will be alive for centuries after her love has died. Like Lawrence, Holo is a well rounded and believable character that doesn't just fit into an established mold like "tsundere" or "yandere". A point of criticism from some viewers revolves around Holo's lack of shyness in regards to nudity. The nudity in Spice and Wolf though is very mild and avoids showing nipples or any detailed bits feminine anatomy. It is far more artistic than erotic and realistically displays the attitude that a God would have around mere humans.
Sound Track: 7/10
From the absolutely beautiful opening theme to the sickeningly sweet ending theme, Spice and Wolf has a solid OST. The soundtrack is heavy on flute pieces and seems to fit the environment of an alternate Medieval Europe. My only criticism is that some tracks sound a little too silly like the track "Kenshi to Yopparai" which bares a striking resemblance to the famous Torgo theme from "Manos".
The character drawings are fine, but art isn't really the strong point of this series. The animation is normally OK, but there are scenes that are so poorly animated that it causes unintentional hilarity. Just type: "Spice and Wolf horse" into youtube and see what I mean. Those scenes with horrendous animation are few and far between, but they are in fact there and stick out like a sore thumb.
I will say that this is a very dialogue heavy anime. There is little action and that alone may throw off many viewers. Parts of the series can get confusing, so if you can't quite wrap your head around an economic concept or a certain sub-plot, don't be afraid to rewind and watch again. This is especially true if you are watching the subbed version and aren't a very fast reader. Spice and Wolf is not an anime for everyone like Cowboy Bebop or Attack on Titan. It doesn't go for a calculated line drive when it can go all out and swing for the fences. As a result, Spice and Wolf will either be a strikeout or an out of the park home run depending on the viewer.
Spice and Wolf is the kind of anime that only comes around once in a long while. It is a daring and unique series that everyone should at least try. If you watch the first 6 episodes and absolutely hate it (like most of my friends), that is OK. You don't need to torture yourself and finish the whole thing. However, if you have the desire to keep watching, it is a series that won't disappoint. read more
A show about a merchant and an incarnation of a harvest-wolf-god, set in a beautiful medieval world.
So, a merchant named Lawrence encounters the incarnation of the harvesting god - a wolf god at that. Her incarnation looks like a human except wolf ears and the tail to match. Then, he's supposed to accompany her to her home country in the north. On top of that, it's all set in a medieval setting. That's pretty interesting, if you ask me. It lays the base for a good adventure anime; which I definitely like.
This show doesn't have a vast array of main characters - it's mainly Lawrence and Horo (the wolf-god) so far. Well, they're both good characters, and I especially like how Horo is a contrast in herself: She is pretty smart, and wise - as she says herself several times - at times. Still, she can be pretty child-like, and has a personality that doesn't really indicate wisdom or smartness.
Lawrence is, well, a pretty average main character, I think. I don't really have much to say about him. There's one thing I don't like, however: They both try to act though towards each other, hiding their feelings. Or something like that. Anyway, I am pretty tired of seeing that, even though it's turning into a standard part in a recipe for this kind of anime.
Ah, and I really like the setting of the show, as I mentioned earlier: A medieval world. I find it really awesome to watch this show with its medieval feel - I've always been a sucker for that.
All in all, this can turn into a pretty good show. I'm going to recommend this to all of you adventure anime fans out there. However, it can be pretty confusing in the first episodes - I'm just starting to understand it after thinking a bit about it. But that may just be me, so watch it yourselves!
To 'Not Helpful' voters (and you 'Helpful' voters too): Feedback greatly appreciated =)read more
It's time to get medieval in this article! If you're a fan of European style medieval anime then this is a must read. Anyone who loves knights, nobility, peasantry, and grand battles should watch these shows.