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.
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 =)
A sensory description accompanied by fields of gold swaying as the west wind moves. A reference to a European legend so obscure most people living where the legend was current will have never heard of it, and well-used to boot. A depiction of change, of progress and of its accompanying alteration of people's perception. All in a preamble spoken in a soft voice.
How could this not turn out to be brilliant?
When discussing Spice and Wolf, the very title of the series is of interest. More particularly, the sequence of the words of that title. Whereas the Japanese original should have produced the sequence 'Wolf and
Spice', the reverse is used in the English title; both sequences are used when people talk about the series. The very preference of one sequence of the title's elements over the other might very well show which such element is more important to the viewer. Equally, it will probably betray appreciation of the show as a whole, as one of the two elements is clearly inferior to the other.
-= Wolf =-
One way of looking at this series is to see it as a traveller's tale, perhaps even one of a budding romance: a story of two companions trekking from place to place to reach their goal and becoming more firm friends with each bump in the road - bumps that are present, partly as that's how roads are, but mostly as a method of giving the travellers something to struggle with and to overcome.
Such a view can easily enough be taken, since both protagonists, travelling merchant Kraft Lorenz and his companion Holo, have a penchant of running into trouble at each way stop, either of their own making or by coincidence and plot-convenience, and especially since theirs is an age-old adventure tale, a tale of crossing a continent while finding one's way home. The particular angle from which Spice and Wolf looks at this story is noteworthy, though.
Kraft Lorenz is one of the more unusual characters concepted within the entirety of anime and manga. A travelling trader owning little but his own horse and carriage and dreaming of making enough money to open a shop, he is hardly an archetypal hero. Nor is he concepted to become one. The focus of his character and his actions lie squarely on his business. A generally upright and decent, if competitive, man, his is a less than overly adventurous life of trying to strike a good deal and staving off bankruptcy, trading in commodities and making the best of opportunities encountered by favourable exchange rates or the novelty of trading on credit. At first glance it may not be the most exciting of lives to watch, but it is made up for by the detail poured in each individual transaction and the worries they bring to someone whose very survival hinges on the successful deal.
There is also the little fact that he has made a promise to a spirit of an age past, letting this spirit travel with him and helping her search for her far-off home for as long as their routes overlap. His motivation is partly one of expedience, partly one of awe, and partly one of wishing for a companion on the road.
While Lorenz is simply a character who is able to assess and laugh about himself and who never strays too far from the path of weighing all his options and usually acting from his thoughts instead of his emotions (somewhat rare in itself), only being overcome at times by the greed his profession might by necessity entail, Holo is what, to many, makes the show memorable.
First of all, there's her concept. She's a 'Roggenwolf', a wolf-spirit from folk legend who was a protector of the rye fields and the harvest; the legend depicted in the anime, including the idea that the wolf hides in the last sheaf of rye, comes directly from the actual legend (although the anime most likely speaks about barley, not rye - it's hard to tell, with 'mugi' meaning barley as well as rye and wheat). But Spice and Wolf adds to this simple notion, mentioning how she agreed to be present in the fields in days when the success of the harvest depended on the whims of nature and the supernatural, only to be forgotten when progress and developing technology made her antiquated, until she roused herself from her placidity, longing to return to her old home, a semi-mythical place where everything was bathed in a brilliant silver.
A being who is not human, Holo is shown to enjoy the marvels of the human world with all the lack of solicitude of a child. Seeing herself as better than humans, she is a trickster, toying with whatever interests her, shown to like mind-games, wittiness and swiftness in conversation, all the while seemingly thoroughly enjoying being pampered, being treated to large amounts of alcoholic beverages and socialising.
While this might make her likable, perhaps even charming, it doesn't make her stand out as a character. What does manage to do so is the fact that, every now and again, without too much attention being piled on it, she, and the audience with her, is reminded of the fact that she is, in truth and not only in word, different, a spirit. At such times realisation creeps through that she is, in fact, hundreds of years old and wise in the ways of the world - but in the ways of the world that was and now is gone. She is a stranger in a strange land, having awoken from slumber only to find that what she once knew is lost. It infuses her with a sense of loneliness that might not always be the most convincing, but at least appears to be sincere.
Viewed as a traveller's tale, their story is one of visiting new places and getting involved with the goings-on there, either by becoming embroiled in the affairs of that locale or by interacting with the local markets and traders in a professional capacity. The different tales, more or less one per locale, depicting the ideological problem of Holo being a wolf-spirit and the fiasco of investing in something the market is flooded with, among others, focusing on the interaction of the two travelling companions in their persons and professions with the wider world, generally lead to a calm pacing that give the two ample space to converse with each other and their surroundings and developing the bond between such unlikely bedfellows.
As it should be, that bond is slow to develop. Their travelling together at first being nothing but a marriage of convenience, slowly the practical agreement gains an emotional aspect as trust starts to build up. Equally slowly, their conversations change from the purely economical (in all meanings of that word) to the moral and the emotional, yet both keep their distance, befitting two persons who have only known each other for a short time: though banter is exchanged, sometimes infused with quite a bit of wit and mocking of self, once it starts getting personal both have a tendency to back off unless it is truly important for their travels together. If there is no progress in their relationship, this is because there should not be any: Lorenz and Holo are companions, perhaps friends. By knowing each other, they can work together; by caring, they can travel together. But more would be out of place: they are fundamentally different persons in outlook and goals and their focus on the practical side of things only makes them all the more realistic and mature.
-= Spice =-
Looking at Spice and Wolf as the story of its two protagonists, travelling companions and unlikely friends slowly growing into a stronger relationship is, however, missing the trees for the forest. The super-story isn't but a method to link the little tales together. What makes this series one that stands out from the crowd is the staggering amount of detail poured into the fictional world, a world brought to life in many of its facets by the highly unconventional method of making one of the protagonists a merchant.
As a trader, Lorenz is bound to explore the cities he travels through and while he does so the audience is treated to a setting that is as evocative as it is true to actual history. Though Spice and Wolf is ostensibly set in a fictional world, it becomes clear very soon that this world is the Central Europe of the late 14th, early 15th centuries in all but name. In particular, the cities appear as the market towns of the late Middle Ages, and the trading guilds mentioned are a clear reference to the rising Italian companies and the Hanseatic League.
The actual content of the show has little to do with the relationship between Holo and Lorenz, but is squarely focused on immersing the audience in the particulars of the small-scale trade of a time when pepper was worth more than gold. It is this what makes Spice and Wolf different from almost anything else out there, and the series makes the most of it, being sure to place enough emphasis on minute details to bring both the practice of the trade and its mentality to life.
Through Lorenz and his dealings, the audience is shown the workings of the guilds and bourses of that age, including the modus operandi of the early international trading companies and the limited use (and understanding) of trading on credit, as well as the developing sense of difference between nominal and real value of coinage. While watching Lorenz and Holo exchanging banter, the audience is also shown the more mundane aspects of city life, being taken to watch folk festivals, inns and hostels and a variety of stalls and shops.
The faithful rendition of historical detail of the setting - utensils, architecture, accoutrements all, and even, for once, the ships - surpasses anything I've seen to date in anime, putting your average (and better-than-average) Renaissance fair to shame. From the exact construction of buildings to the fact that trenchers were usually made of bread, it seems as if every single detail of the daily life of people has been carefully checked and incorporated. It does so well that I was honestly miffed when noticing that one letter shown was written in modern, not mediaeval, German.
Equally striking is the general optimism of the general worldview, a sense that people can understand the world and leave their footprint on it. This, too, is an important part of the portrayed setting and true to historical fact. The time was, and is explained to be in the setting, one of technological progress, one wherein more and more tools were developed to aid agriculture and industry and less and less was dependent on chance. Belief systems focus on the human and their mastery of the world, with nothing standing between man and his God but his own mind, resulting in a general outlook of opportunity, contrasting sharply to most fantasy and historical shows and befitting the more grounded story marvellously.
-= And everything nice =-
And then, there is myth. Vague, half-forgotten, impossible but in the dark places of the world. Hidden in plain view, in tales from the countryside and quaint mannerisms of people who should know better, shadows of a system of belief of a world past still remain. Only very seldom made explicit, Spice and Wolf employs one of the more subtle and low-key depictions of magic, neatly integrating it into the overall setting. Spirits being real, they only survive where the remaining tales say they ought to be. Reminding the audience every now and then that there is more to the fictional world than market towns, Holo is made less of a unique phenomenon and her desire to return to a home the continued existence of which she can't even be certain of, is thereby enhanced. The supporting cast, as well, complements the setting very well, living wholly in the world of man's endeavours or still faintly recalling what's outside the walls, considering alchemy to be a science yet still a bit fearful of getting involved in it because of its storied connection to the supernatural.
Being a series with a slow-moving plot and a lot of dialogue, it was a good choice to try and have each conversation be infused with at least an attempt at wit, and it's nice to see how the failing attempts are often recognised as such by the characters themselves. Always remaining on the safe side of the rational-emotional spectrum, the conversations have a lightness and lack of unnecessary outbursts that keeps the overall tone of the series intact.
Mention should further be made of the music. Granted, it's about as standard folk fair as it comes, but it fits the setting, accompanying especially the more festive moments perfectly and has the good graces to sometimes simply not be very good. As far as I can tell, there has been made something of an effort to only use traditional folk instruments and what's left of the musical scores of the time (little of which is certain to be actually old, by the way), and some of these instruments just aren't capable of producing the purer sounds their modern varieties can produce. The opening tune's lyrics also do a very good job of introducing and accompanying the type of story told.
-= Icing and Cake =-
Looking at Spice and Wolf as the tale of Holo and Lorenz is mistaking the icing for the cake. What comes first in this show is the spice, that is, the setting. In many ways, the travels of the protagonists are but a means to show the audience a small piece of a living and breathing world.
Original, if not unique, in focus and angle, superbly detailed in setting and at least decent in adding a glue to fit the separate stories together, Spice and Wolf was, to me, 2008's biggest surprise and an instant favourite. I'll admit that my particular interest in the era alluded to makes me biased, but even without it the originality of the concept, the integration of actual and made-up legend in a detailed world and the soothing charm of the low-key telling of the tales would have me recommend it as one of the very few shows that shirk away from the incessant need to bombard audiences with action and suspense, romance and relationship or like topics.
Charming, enjoyable by all age groups, calm and beautiful in its manifold details, Spice and Wolf is a delight to sit down by after a long day and simply enjoy.
Spice and Wolf is a Supernatural, Romance, Adventure anime set in a sort of fantasy, European, Medieval world. The story itself revolves around a young travelling merchant (Craft Lawrence), who encounters a legendary wolf god, in the appearance of a cute girl (Holo/Horo) and they end up travelling together. However for those expecting plenty of wolf action or full-on romance may be disappointed. Instead it basically follows their journey from town to town, helping each other on complex business deals, whilst coming across major developments and dilemmas. Of course there are pockets of action & minor romantic developments but those don’t play much part until
later on in the short series.
Due to the nature of the story; the main characters don’t really stay at one place, so the series lacks recurring characters. But the Craft and Holo duo helps make up for the lack of characters, with their thought provoking and witty comments. Craft is a guy who’s usually so full of himself that it’s hilarious and Holo is the cute, arrogant, wolf-girl that’s there to put Craft in his place. The conversations the 2 have are what make the series worth watching however if you turn off that factory in your head called a brain you are bound to miss something important or amusing.
The quality of the animation is sheer amazing. The environments are aesthetically well designed that you’ll notice straight away it is strongly influenced by Medieval Europe. The characters and objects move somewhat fluidly and have a general slender design but this series doesn’t have many opportunities to show what it’s fully capable of.
The music is a mix of piano melodies complemented by a variety of string and wind instruments, to go well with the medieval theme. Though I must say, the music is extremely catchy that you may start humming the OP or ED themes without even knowing it.
Overall Spice and Wolf is definitely something to watch if you want to try something a little unique, or if you’re just into girls with a pair of cute ears & a tail; because either way you won’t be disappointed. The story may not be all that interesting and neither is the very educational economics and trade involved, nonetheless the well developed, main characters are what make it interesting. With such captivating and hilarious, high-brow conversations between the main characters; it is quite easy to forget about the story that doesn’t feel like it’s going anywhere, half the time. At least the story does nothing to ruin the clever plot but the ending is pretty unsatisfying and in need of a continuation.
"Presented a whole new definition for anime. One of a kind story-plot. Intriguing character relationships."
Tired of action-based (shounen) anime? Want to try something more "wordy" for a change? Spice and wolf will be your ideal candidate in this case! Heavily driven by plot, Spice and Wolf require the viewer to pay 100% attention to the dialogues between characters. It is, however, important to note that the conversations between the characters were so well planned that one will hardly ever feel bored over the course of the series.
Skillfully constructed dialogues throughout the series resulted in a wonderful story full of joy and sorrow. While it can
be confusing to follow at first, the story develops itself slowly and quietly for the first few episodes leading to one climax after another in the short 13 episodes.
The animation quality is very consistent throughout the series. Smooth transition from scene to scene really makes it hard for even the "pickiest" guy (or girl) to complain. HOWEVER the occasional "nude" Horo scenes really frustrates me, not because I don't want to see nudity (heck, who wouldn't want to see Horo naked), but rather it is due to the horrible body line curvature/texture (or whatever you want to call it) of Horo's supposedly "goddess" body. It would have been better to keep her covered up instead, the animation crew just completely shattered my fantasy.
Spice and Wolf have some well known CV voicing the main roles. Lawrence's CV is Jun Fukuyama (Lelouch in Code Geass, Kimihiro Watanuki in xxxHOLiC). Horo's CV is Ami Koshimizu (Kallen in Code Geass, Nina in Mai Otome). Norah's CV is Mai Nakahara (Mai in Mai-HiME and Mai Otome, Nagisa in Clannad, Nagisa in Strawberry Panic). Although I am not a fan of Natsumi Kiyoura who sang the OP, I find the OP suit very well with the overall image of the story.
Artfully woven character relationships (though 90% of the time the focus is on Horo and Lawrence) is one of the strong points of Spice and Wolf. In fact, the special bond developed over time between Horo and Lawrence is one of the keys to the success of the show. The bond shared between the protagonists is so unique that it is rarely seen in modern days anime.
It is worth noting that Ami Koshimizu used a rather catchy accent to make Horo's character stand out (Horo is known to be "wise").
As previously stated, it is heavy with dialogues and will often make you think. Some people may find it enjoyable while others will just drop it instantly. There wasn't much for me to complain about the overall production of the show (beside the nude Horo) and I do completely enjoy the series from start to finish.
Spice and Wolf delivered what it intended to deliver to its viewers very successfully in one season (13 episodes). The ending was not conclusive since, as we found out a while, a sequel is underway. Although not a masterpiece level of work, Spice and Wolf definitely redefined anime in a whole different way.
"We won't laugh until we get the money, we won't cry until we go bankrupt."
If one wishes to switch a bit from action and cute-girls-doing-cute-stuff series, and watch a more serious but yet funny and romantic story, this is the perfect choice.
The quote above, said from Lawrence to Holo, represents one of the main features of the anime: the mixture of an economics theme with slice-fo-life elements. From the surface, it sure seems pretty odd, but when you take a deeper look, you see it blend so well with the storyline that long conversations about price raising and market value -boring to many people- end
up as things joyful to watch in a way that it's even possible you get excited over commercial deals just as much as you'd be with a mecha fight.
Spice & Wolf is a smart anime, with a serious tone and a lot of dialogue, however, it doesn't lose its silly moments and sometimes shows a glance of an heartwarming comedy.
Also, I may clarify for those who are still wondering about it, the fanservice in this series is very close to zero, with the exception of few seconds in specific episodes, there is none of if. Then you might ask me "oh, but that girl was naked in pics and in the first episode as well, wasn't she?". Well, of course she was. That girl is a wolf and I've never seen a wild wolf wearing clothes before. With that in mind, there was never such intention to turn this series into an ecchi. I would consider it... realistic (in some extension of course).
There is indeed some eroticism in the series, most of the female characters do have a slender look. It might have been a marketing maneuver, in order to catch more viewers in the beginning of the series, who knows.
Anyway, it is just a nice eye candy, not a huge appeal and definitely not the major focus of the anime.
With that in mind, the summary here in MAL is very nice. It sums up the beginning of the story, and without further spoilers leave that scent of mystery on the air.
How lonely would be travel all by yourself? How important it is to have someone with you?
Craft Lawrence is a peddler traveling by himself for more then 5 years. he was able to establish himself as a somewhat-known merchant in the territories of South and is working hard with a goal in mind. After a while, he arrives in a agricultural village during a spice harvest festival, do some business, meet up with old friends, and... find a wolf-girl. *ahem* Not just an ordinary wolf-girl, please. She is Holo, The Wise Wolf. To the church, a pagan god. For the villagers, the deity of that region spice harvests. What does she wants with him? What will develop from this? Just watching to find it out.
What I found wonderful about this story is the placement and the context of it.
The fantasy element plays an important role in the story, although, it is not the "generic style" of fantasy, common in many anime titles nowadays.
Instead of doing an story full of magic, wizards, knights, titans... and things like that, Spice&Wolf approaches the folklore and tales from the medieval era. The struggle between believers in other divinities and the holy church, gods living between people and holiness protecting and blessing the fields are just the tip of the iceberg that will develop along the storyline.
What is marvelous to see, is that even with all this development, scriptwriters were cautious enough to not let this characteristics takes the spotlight of the show, which should and indeed continued to be, economics and Holo & Lawrence relationship.
This series sure has one of the best classic OST I've ever listened to.
With the sole exception of ARIA -which has a very similar tone then this series by the way- this was probably the first series I actually paused one episode to search what song was playing and if there were any TABs for it.
Along with a great performance, the sound direction in this anime was also superb. Since I'm already on the topic, I'd take a moment to emphasize the difference some VoiceActors can make in an story. Something that I was amused by was the characteristics and the accent they attributed to some characters speech. The geographic location of them would change their way of speaking and some slang, while Holo for example, talks in a completely different way from other characters. She uses an old dialect from Edo period Tokyo.
It is great to see that someone did cared about this details. Think about it, indeed would be weird for a 600+ years old wolf, to talk modern Japanese.
Spice and Wolf brings up a deep psychological analysis of characters and a lot of development.
Do not expect simple or formulaic characters and never underestimate Holo's personality’s complexity.
This being a slice-of-life series, of course it would focus on dialogues and characters themselves, however the way these chars interacts with the environment and how the scenario contributes to the normal flow of the story and conversations was also carefully thought.
The collabo between animators and writers succeeded into this great "visual interaction" with characters expressions, allied with a marvelous voice acting already mentioned. One notorious example of it, is Holo's physical reactions to some emotions, where instead of just blushing, she would sometimes raise her ears or move her tail.
That said, I have no complains with the artwork. In some episodes it was visible that few scenes were rushed, but besides from minor weird camera angles and some lines in the wrong place, there is nothing else to complain.
In the end, I'm still enjoying its "afterglow".
It was sure over my expectations. I dislike doing "generic" recommendations, but this title is something everyone should watch. But there is a right time for it. If you are new to anime, or if your list contains mostly action/mecha shounen, this is not the right time to watch it. On the other hand, if you're already used to romance or medieval themed dramas this would be a nice pick. Give it a try! Unless you have horror to economics or suffer from fear to math and/or long dialogues, you won't regret it.
I wonder why is this series not very popular... It isn't underrated, as we can see, the score it holds here in MAL isn't that high but still above average. But the ranking of popularity is awful low. Maybe due to the studio who made it isn't that famous?
It is a jewel in a dunghill after all.
Along with this, I would recommend for anyone who enjoyed it, to read the Light Novels. Since the anime adaptation of season 2 just cover till chapter 5, it stops right in the middle of the adventure, which is a pain. While we hope for a 3rd season, read the books!
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.
Wolves are beautiful creatures to look at. You see them prowling around the woods with their pack and rule the territory that they claim as their own. There is no doubt that they have been the focal point in some anime shows over the years, but when have you seem them being used as an intelligent focal point in a show's narrative? Out comes Spice and Wolf, a tale that follows two of our heroes in their journey involving mercantilism, to convince us once and for all that you can pull off a simple concept and make something brilliant out of it.
Spice and Wolf sets
up as your typical traveler's type of story where we follow Kraft Lawrence, a traveling merchant who deals with trading anything that is profitable and makes a fortune out of it. He is then confronted with a Wolf goddess named Holo who wants to come with him in his travels and help him with his business for reasons that involve trying to establish a bond between Kraft and her. What is very fascinating about the relationship between our two main leads is how perfectly paced the bond is between Holo and Kraft. There is no awkward transition between the two automatically becoming lovers over the course of a day or two into the story, or in this case episodes if we're being more formal here. The show takes it's time to build it up slowly so that we can breathe into the scenes that involve them talking to one another and displays them increasing their relationship's strength in a realistic fashion than relying on pointless melodrama. Not there is not any drama between the two but it doesn't come across as being hammy or out-of-place, it fits well with the scene it portrays and succeeds quite nicely.
It also helps to the show's credit that the way Kraft and Holo enhance their relationship isn't just through romantic dialog or dialog that only involve positive responses, they get into arguments, they disagree a lot, and things don't always work out between each others plans. Just like what a real relationship is like for most people. You see this a lot in anime and movies that tackle romance in a formulaic style that doesn't seem very organic or pragmatic from how relationships are really like in a real world setting. Not that portraying relationships in that way is bad, but it's refreshing to see something like Spice and Wolf pull it off and do it in a successful way.
Now let us talk about both characters individually. To my surprise, Kraft turned into a very memorable male lead by the simple fact that they build him up around an archetype that could have easily been bland or generic. I say this because when you deconstruct Kraft as a character, there really isn't that much to go around other than that he's just a simple merchant and nothing else but the way they write him as this strong individualistic character who can handle any given situation with ease comes at a shock considering how Kraft has to one up Holo in terms of character traits. Now Holo, the main star of the show, is one of, if not, the greatest female leads that has ever graced the screen. She's witty, sly, and is an absolute joy to watch when she is front and center. Normally any character like Holo could be looked as a cheap way of shoving in nudity or a generic female character to spice things up, no pun intended. With Spice and Wolf the way it handles Holo's development and personality is very mature and charming in the witty writing that she is given that definitely makes for an interesting character study of how Holo and Kraft come across as very believable characters in how they carry the story forward in a delightful aspect.
The story's writing, while relying heavily on economic theory, is top-notch and lenient to where it isn't necessarily hard to understand what is going on. Spice and Wolf's economics is grounded upon Medieval lore, where the economy was a little simpler to understand than in today's economic system. What really works well in this demeanor is how it doesn't drag on the narrative too much. How the characters explain their economic motives is not only interesting in an intellectual standpoint but also makes for a strong gripping drama from the way it trickles down to Kraft's eventually economic troubles. Even if you are not a scholar in an economic school, you can still feel the pressure that Kraft and Holo are going through when the eventual climax sets in when they have to find out a way to get out of their debt. How they portray the politics that involve heavily with the church is intellectually honest in how things were running in the era and they portray it with the narrative to good effect on how bribery and trading being done on a daily basis between the economic markets that existed in the past.
Artistically, Spice and Wolf doesn't break any new ground in regards to animation but the backgrounds and the character designs are all done superfluously well. The lush colors in the backgrounds of the mountains and trees, the grimy walls that inhabit the cities and towns they go through, and the darkness that surrounds them really add to the atmosphere that make you feel like you're really looking at a Medieval world. While the animation isn't special, the scenes that involve Holo's wolf transformation were done with good effect in its direction to make it mysterious and dark to let us know that she is a living breathing goddess.
Music and voice acting do their jobs well although the music itself wasn't anything that stood up as highlights of the show. It features music that fits well to the setting that involves a nice orchestral score that adds to the overall feel of every scene. However the voice acting is exceptionally well done, the main contender for being the best one is Ami Koshimizu. Her sultry remarks with her sly voice for an entertaining listen. That and with Jun Fukuyama's straight man personality make for the great chemistry between the two leads even better in that regard.
All things considered, Spice and Wolf is a glorious achievement to witness for anyone looking for great storytelling and a great world to experience. It is near perfect with its brilliant character development and astounding use of political themes to meet a well-balanced character story. It's the type that once you finish you want to experience more of its world but not in a negative sense where they do a poor job of expanding it's plot and world to full effect. Spice and Wolf does the exact opposite where you're fulfilled with joy in being shown this contextual landscape to great effect and you hunger for more exploration. The only way to do that for the creators of shows consistent to Spice and Wolf is to look over the show's horizon and embellish the story to new heights with the setting and characters. There's no telling whether it will succeed or fail but it's the effort that definitely counts.
I've noticed that the vast majority of the reviews for this series are absolutely glowing, which is the reason I decided to give my input. After having watched it (save for that mysterious 7th DVD-only episode), I thought I'd write a review so that people with my tastes might get a little more perspective on the series.
The story is actually fairly interesting and has a good foundation: a merchant happens upon the incarnation of a wolf God while conducting business in a small town. He promises to escort the wolf home to the north and off they go on medieval merchant inspired adventures. It's
original and intriguing, but the execution of the main ideas leaves something to be desired.
From the very start, I feel like we the viewers are left with gaps in the overall story. Horo, the wolf, never really explains how exactly she came to be the wheat God for the village in which she and Lawrence, the merchant, meet. It is somewhat implied, but this is never fully explored. Okay. No big deal. The story is still interesting. However, the gaps in info. don't end there. I'd personally like to know why in the world and how in the world she is connected to wheat. She's a wolf, so how did she become so reliant upon wheat? And can that connection ever be broken? Sadly, this is something that is pretty much ignored. The ending of the series is also very open-ended and ambiguous. Now, maybe there's a second season in the works, but it still seemed like a rather random and unsatifactory ending to me. It sort of tied up some overarching themes and concluded the final subarc, but it just felt unfinished to me because it failed to progress the main plot.
Another thing that I felt was unsatisfactory was how they presented the various economic nuances and dilemmas of the protagonists. It was very difficult for me to figure out what was going on whenever they started talking about debts wrought by miscalculated contracts and the inner workings of bartering businesses. I felt like my confusion could have easily been cleared up had they bothered to add a sentence or two explaining the situation in layman's terms. For example, the movie "The Producers", which also deals with understanding how an economic risk works, I understood because of the scene in which Bloom explains how their scheme could scam the system. For "Spice and Wolf", there was no such equivalent explanation scene. They tried to explain things but did it in a fashion that presumes that the viewer already grasps the basic situation. Hece, confusion.
As has been pointed out by the other reviews, the artwork for the series really is high-calibre, especially in relation to the backgrounds and buildings. So, why didn't this section get a 10 out 0f 10 from me? Two reasons: 1. the way they drew noses for straight-on headshots was pretty shoddy at times by using only a bent line to indicate the nose, 2. they often drew Lawrence in such a way that it looked like he had a double chin. Yes, yes, nit-picky, I know, but the double-chin thing in particular really bothered me and they did it consistently throughout the series. I think they were trying to make it look more realistic (your chin does do weird things when you clench your jaw and/or lower your head) but it just came off looking awkward.
The sound of the series was superb both in the sound effects department and openings and endings department. There was one scene in particular which I was impressed by because they included realistic sounds mimicking how someone's bare feet would sound running on stone. The openning theme is slow and methodic, fits the show well, and was so enjoyable that I only skipped it for one episode. The ending theme is cutesy...and weird. But not uncharming.
This is the section in which I deviate most strongly from what the other reviews have said. Horo is a nice enough character, but I found myself usually more annoyed by her than engrossed. There were just a couple of things that she did that really grated on my nerves, and had she been a real acquaintance of mine, I would have smacked her. For example, the scene in which she uses Lawerence's money to buy apples, hits him when he tries to eat one, and when he points out that she bought them with his money so he's entitled, she claims, "I can get money whenever I need it." I would have kicked any friend who did that to me off the cart. I don't find such behavior endearing or cute, but selfish and bratty.
She also had the tendecy to always act superior and constantly say "I am Horo the wise!" Aside from scamming a merchant, concocting one plan, and determining the validity of one or two things, she doesn't really do anything "wise." In fact, when it comes to relationships and helping Lawrence out of tight situations, she's pretty useless. Or at least, that's how it seemd to me. Her arrogance just bugged me. Oh! And as I just stated, she scams this one merchant and that reeeeeaaallly bothered me considering said merchant had done nothing wrong and originally offered Lawrence a really good price for his wares. The merchant takes it in stride, but that doesn't make conning honest business men out of their money any more right. Okay, so it's the game of merchanting to get the most money you can, but that doesn't mean that every merchant should sink to the corrupt system's level.
Other than Horo, my main beef with the characters is that they weren't very dynamic or developed. They're realistic enough but all rather flat and forgettable.
Two other things to note: 1. the dialogue at times is somewhat nonsensical and doesn't flow particulatly well, 2. there should have been more Horo in wolf form action. I gotta say that Horo in wolf form was awesome. I liked her in wolf form (for all the things I dislike about her otherwise), and I really wish they'd focused more on that.
Overall, it's not a bad series, not at all, but it's not fantastic either. It's decent and seems like it's more of a work in progress waiting for some more touching up. Hopefully, people interested in watching it will take the time to read all the reviews and compare their lists with the users who left them to determine whether or not it's for them. Then again, if you've got time to burn anyway, giving it a chance won't be detrimental.
I saw this anime because of a few recommendations online and several glowing reviews, however upon watching Spice and Wolf I have to wonder how old the writers of these reviews are that they can find this enjoyable. If you've read any other review on this show, you'll know it is praised for its "character depth" and its use of economics. Let me warn you ahead of time, I have seen puddles with more depth than these characters. They are extremely 2 dimensional, the dialogue might as well have been written by a junior high student, and the monotonous tone of the voice acting is
appalling. As to the economics so heavily praised by viewers, it is hardly a fair trade for a good story. When the subject is brought up, it sounds more like the characters are reading from a textbook rather than furthering the story. It basically consists of an economic buzzword being said, followed by the definition, in other words the show is extremely full of parrot expositions.
The sound of the show also leaves something to be desired, as there is little to no music, almost exclusively dialogue and ambient noise, which I understand was the intent, and could be quite powerful if done correctly. Unfortunately, it was not. Instead of using this tactic to emphasize important and deep scenes, the entirety of the show is treated the same and the viewer is quickly desensitized to the effect and no emphasis is ever placed on anything. When music is actually used, it tends to be poor quality and rather obnoxious, typically played over conversation which was clearly intended to make the conversation seem fun and uplifting but ends up causing the opposite.
The art style of the show is average quality and I really have no comment on it.
Right off the bat, we are greeted by both Lawrence's friend provocatively discussing a business transaction and Holo explaining nonverabally how comfortable she is nude, and how frequently you can expect to see her that way. At this point you would expect that fanservicing will be the downfall of this show but overall what ruined the show for me was the abysmal dialogue and utter lack of real character depth. As I continued to watch I noticed that the closest thing I could compare this show to, both in character and in dialogue would be Twilight. The obnoxious amount of exposition tropes is also reminiscent of your typical shonen.
I expect the crowd who actually do care for this show are coming from a background in Naruto or One Piece, which were also not my cup of tea.
TL;DR: If you are below the age of 16 and have never seen anything with a more dynamic story than Naruto, you may enjoy Spice and Wolf, you may even praise it for the greatest characters ever written. But for the adults reading this article who are looking for a show with legitimate character development and an enthralling story, look elsewhere.
It's an anime about economics. And cheating out of economics with a giant wolf.
STORY - Seriously. It's a show about medieval economics and how the church influenced businesses at the time. The series thus involves a lot of talking heads, and there isn't a whole lot of action, making it a potential turn-off for people who dislike long-winded explanations. Despite this, there is an actual story beyond the educational rambling which, surprisingly, isn't really exposition at all. Spice and Wolf can almost be considered a semi-historical slice-of-life in that it follows the day-to-day activities of a traveling merchant... and his wolf girl companion. It follows
their monetary triumphs and losses and explores the difficulties associated with traveling with a pagan deity when the church is as strong as it is.
I definitely found this to be a very original concept, but even though it's a short series, it took me a while to get into it. The first four or five episodes moved incredibly slow for me and consequently, it took me several months to move past them. Economics is a topic I think schools should cover sooner and in more depth, especially in today's economy, but if you already know your economics, then a lot of the explanations can be irritating and hard to sit through. After the first few lessons though, the story really picks up with drama and tension and serious business and it's easy to finish the second half of the series in one sitting.
Interestingly enough, the relationship between the church and business is really stressed throughout this series, and at times, Spice and Wolf felt very anti-Christianity -- or at least, anti-church. It exposes the power and almost dictatorial authority the church had over the people, their lives, and their businesses. For any religious folk planning on watching the series, I think it's important to keep in mind that this is a historic time period and the corruptions inside the church system were very real -- the series isn't bashing Christianity so much as its giving an accurate critique of history.
CHARACTER - The depth of the characters is always an important aspect of any series, but I think they become even more important in a character-centered and otherwise relatively simple story like this. Lawrence and Horo are really the only characters of consequence here, and honestly, Lawrence is a pretty typical protagonist -- he's a nice, down-to-earth guy, but a shrewd businessman (it's his trade, after all). Horo, however, balances out his normalcy by being generally unpredictable, cheeky, and stubborn. Her antics and mood seem to change suddenly and abruptly at first, but after a while, you get used to it, and you understand why she is the way she is.
Horo's past is not particularly intriguing or original, but the character she is because of it is incredibly interesting in its realism. Horo is definitely a character I can imagine as an actual person; her emotions, reactions to events, and most of all, her relationship with Lawrence reminds me a lot of the dynamics between real people. They way they bickered and they way they looked out for one another was stupidly simple sometimes, but that showed that their creators weren't trying too hard to be something amazing, and that simpleness really worked. ...It's hard to explain, and I'll be the first to say that I wasn't all that impressed with Horo at first, but as the story progressed into that dramatic second half, the depth of her character and her relationship with Lawrence just pulled everything together.
ARTSTYLE & ANIMATION - I don't really like the art in Spice and Wolf. It's exceedingly plain for the most part, and I was bothered by Horo's larger-than-need-be eyes in some scenes. Well, duh, it's anime, you say, but... I don't know. I've seen plenty of other big-eyed styles, but this particular one bothered me? Something was off with the proportion of her face (and other female faces) and I didn't like it. It also always, always annoys the hell out of me when an animal is supposed to be a wolf, but they give it a fox tail. Wolves don't have long bushy, white-tipped tails, sorry. I also wasn't impressed by Horo's wolf form, but I've yet to be impressed (artwise) by any anime wolf. That's probably just me, my affinity towards wolves, and my resulting grumpiness though.
The animation was also about average.
MUSIC - Excellent. Both theme songs are both deliciously fitting for the series, and the end theme in particular is absolutely adorable. The music during the series is also wonderfully appropriate, and it's one of those soundtracks that I'd definitely recommend picking up.
VOICE ACTING - Also excellent. Jun Fukuyama has a really versatile voice, and despite the fact that I was watching Code Geass R2 concurrently with some of Spice and Wolf, I never really got the impression that Lawrence sounded anything like Lelouch. Like I said though, Lawrence is a pretty typical protagonist and thus had a pretty typical-sounding voice. In those rare moments when his emotions were at an extreme though, Fukuyama really shines through. Ami Koshimizu was a little more recognizable, but it's also not hard to shed previous perceptions of her voice. I really love that these voice actors actually act instead of just providing one typecasted voice that's recycled for similar characters over and over again. I really loved Koshimizu's performance as Horo -- it definitely had a big hand in enhancing the wolf's overall character.
OVERALL - Spice and Wolf is a unique little series, and if you're patient and up for something a bit different, I'd definitely recommend it. If you're up for some lessons in basic economics, great! The beginning feels a little generic and unimpressive, but it definitely gets better. This is also probably the only series I've seen in recent memory where an add-on, unplanned second season doesn't seem like such a bad idea. The conclusion of the series here is plenty open-ended, but works well enough as an ending if it needs to. Then again, Spice and Wolf was adapted from light novels, and I'm not sure whether this original season touched on the entire story -- regardless though, I'm looking forward to that second season. :3
Spice and Wolf is a long journey filled with heaps of dialogue and economics, just keep that in mind when deciding to watch it.
Story: Spice and Wolf is set in the medieval in a land that appears to take inspiration from European countries. Our story begins with the introduction of Kraft Lawrence, a travelling merchant who while on his way from town, is approached by the wolf goddess who goes by the name of Holo the Wise Wolf. Who asks to accompany Lawrence on his travels so she can return to her home in the snowy north. From here on out this
is a journey filled with heartwarming and fun filled adventure between the two as they ride together selling goods and getting into trouble. All around a great, interesting and inventive concept.
Characters: This is partly Spice and Wolf's most charming feature. The interactions that take place between Holo and Lawrence will keep you engaged and smiling throughout the entire series. The quirky and witty conversations that take place at any given chance in this show is the icing on the cake, easily creating a lively and warming atmosphere. Along the journey we will meet a couple of characters who will be introduced and have an important role in certain story arcs. While it could have been done slightly better if was by no means bad and each character was great fun to watch.
Sound: while I am a big fan of the opening song for this show it should be said that while the sound is far from anything below average for this excellent show, they are not the strongest aspect of the anime. Never will the sounds be lackluster for this show, with its solid OST filled with nice tracks and great background noises. This anime has good solid sounds which will help immerse you into the world.
Art: Spice and Wolf has a nice and very suitable art style. It has plenty of detail on both the characters individual designs, as well as the background artwork. The style of art chosen for this show reflects well with the time period set, helping to make the show feel more relaxed and alive at the same time. The colour pallet chosen for this show was also nice with a deep lively green and beautiful autumn oranges for the leaves, which absolutely caught my attention.
Enjoyment: Throughout the show I was entertained by both the story and the dialogue which helped keep the show alive. It's important to however mention that economic speeches and context are used on a regular basis, while to the large majority of people it is simple and quick to grasp, some may find it can make the show rather stale and boring. That opinion will change per person and is up to you to find your view on it.
Overall this show was a beautifully executed piece of artwork which will keep you entertained and excited for the whole show. Probably leading you to both watch the second season and then read the light novels and manga.
When watching this show I ponder on what it really means to “Falling into the Hype”.
It is naïve to think that when a show is popular that it doesn’t effect your mood going in.
But on that same thought is there a difference in “Falling into the Hype” and just seeking understatement on why something is popular.
I didn’t come into this show hyped but throughout this experience I was always search for that special something.
Something I never found. All I was left was this indifferent feeling.
When you are stuck in an indifferent feeling is a good indication that the show is average.
is tasked upon you at that point to go through all the aspects of the show and see what would you say is above average and if that is enough to warrant putting up the score.
When I asked about this show before I started watching my comrades noted there was a lot of mentioning of economics.
That is definitely something that caught my attention and was the most enjoyable plot about the show.
I actually wrote a paper in college all about merchant guilds and having an anime that covered it was satisfying but only to a certain extent.
We saw glimpses of the trade warfare going on but it wasn’t a full-fledged dive into the economic wars of the world.
I would personally like to see a show about merchant guilds that would operate more like 91 Days.
There was no individuality given to any of the guilds.
The merchant guilds were primarily there to only put hardships on our main character Lawrence.
A character that I have to say am disappointed in as he was fairly bland the entire entry.
There were glimpses at the end that showed he could improve in the second season. But he needs to drop the White Knight act.
Then even as a businessman I can’t respect him as I don’t know who in their right mind would put all their money in one basket instead of building up a contingency.
There is no time in this show where I can definitively say I felt bad for him.
When Holo calls this guy a loser. She isn’t wrong.
Holo is the best character of the show by default but still isn’t exactly my type of girl.
I have seen a lot of individuals deeming Lawrence and Holo to be one of the best couples in all of anime.
Yet the romance in this season has barely even been scratched. I would hope in the second season there would be much improvement.
But as for the first season we’ve only seen Tsundere flirting. That is nowhere near enough for me.
Then we move on the supernatural element of the show.
I really liked the opening the show and the world it was attempting to create in episode 1 about Holo’s origins.
But all of that was downgraded to a side story and an unfulfilling one at that.
There was all this talk about the people believing they didn’t need Holo anymore to bless their crops.
But because of everything else going on in the show the climax to that just fell flat.
I wouldn’t even put that into the importance of the currency wars that was noted throughout the season.
Having rivaling currencies was very intriguing aspect to follow.
But when the economics changed over to just being there for hardships on Lawrence we lost that flare there as well.
What it comes down to is can I say that anything about this show was fulfilling? The answer would be no.
The OP and ED are good but nothing I would put in my top 20.
The Art is good but nothing I’d rave about.
I’m giving those 8 out of 10 but there is nothing amazing there for me to want to bump up the score.
I will also note that I felt the pacing was rushed for the plot. There was also time for more plot that was taken up by slice of life episodes.
Finally I do find it ironic that even in the moment of writing this review. My feeling on this review of the show reflects my opinions on show. Indifferent.
Personally I did not especially enjoy “Spice And Wolf” for what it was originally advertised, its dealings and plots involving medieval economics. Those sounded promising but proved to be a bit too difficult for me to fully grasp and really enjoy. Sure, the various aspects of economy, trading and business were interesting and quite unique to see portrayed in an anime series like that, but in the end they did not seem to be able to bring it in such a way that it provided grasping plot material. The fact on most occasions they resorted to standard action events (double-crossings, betrayal, attack by wild wolves,...)
to spice up -pun intended- the plot and various business dealings did not really help either.
What made “Spice And Wolf” a real joy to watch for me were the characters, Horo, Lawrence and their relationship, especially their conversations were terrific.
Both Horo and Lawrence were interesting characters by themselves with the necessary depth to make them more three dimensional.
Horo may be the wolf deity aged over several hundreds of years who proclaims she's known as “Horo the Wise” and often portrays insight and wit into humans and their many dealings, regardless of that, she is shown to feel lonely, vie for Lawrence's affection and to be jealous when she'd think his eyes would stray. Lawrence on his end may be an experienced merchant, he still has much to learn and even though he seems to be a kind person that firmly believes in his principles, he does not shy away to condemn that -or those- which he disapproves of.
The pairing of the two leading characters and their interaction make for the bulk of interesting scenes and plot the series has to offer, next to Horo being an enticing leading character, they end up carrying the entire series.
Horo and Lawrence's budding relationship is especially interesting and deserves further development as their love has unique implications since Horo does not only age differently, she simply isn't human, her human appearance is merely a disguise. Seeing them both attracted and attached to each other regardless of those facts is not only romantic but interesting to see. (Similar plots arose in series such as “Chobits” and “Ghost In The Shell: Stand-Alone Complex”, although it involved androids and humans in those series.)
The animation was good and consistent throughout the series, it did not especially excel but never dropped either. Backgrounds were nearly always lush paintings which aided to give the series its medieval atmosphere.
Characters such as Horo and Lawrence received a lot of attention and Horo was always well animated which helps in showing the different facets of her character. The first episode may give off a wrong impression since Horo is drawn 'naked' throughout most of it but her nudity is never really used as a fanservice medium but oft as a plot device to show that with her being a wolf and not a human being, she deals differently with her human appearance. The absence of clothes for her is not an absence of defence or a means to gain advantage through the sensuality of the naked human form.
The soundtrack supported the scenes well and was able to convey a medieval touch with its abundant use of violins. I personally didn't care much for the ED song though, it sounded a bit too odd.
If you are looking for an interesting series that deals with serious economic principles, I'm not sure “Spice And Wolf” will really bring you what you seek. Instead, I'd recommend it more if you want to see a nice character pair interaction that thrives on its dialogues and developing bond.
And if you like cute wolf girls, you can't afford to miss this series!
At first I was baffled what kind of anime is S&W and would it leave an impression on me when I watched it. Happily enough, it did and with a fresh genre that it introduced for today's generation.
Making a breakthrough using "economy" and "trade" as the main theme, it is a fresh approach that was injected to the mostly underrated medieval theme anime series without the fancy mahou or sword-and-damsels-in-distress approach. The story would be slow at first but will pick-up for most 1st time watchers.
IMAGIN studio did a great work in making this series to suit a medieval atmosphere for the viewer.
The graphic and art is very good with the golden fields of wheat to the dark forests of the countryside that makes one to be fully absorbed into it.
As I expected, orchestral music was used to simulate the theme for the anime and it was very good although it was a bit tedious that they would re-use them most of the time as the series progresses. The OP and ED theme fitted the theme and gives you a mellow and warm feeling.
HORO~! Well, who could love or hate her? Lawrence too and some of the other characters in the series. Although character development was not much of a factor, their expressions and attitude are enough to entice us to either love OR hate them in a way. ^__^
I rarely enjoy a SHORT anime series such as S&W but it did for me. Most of the feeling comes from Lawrence and Horo arguing to each other and of course the trades of being a merchant. What lacks maybe is more romanticism since medieval themed ones like this is all about romance.
A great series BUT TOO DAMN SHORT, Spice and Wolf is definitely a very good series to watch not because of its exquisite art or marketing, but how the author was able to create a fresh genre of "economic anime" that would surprise even for me who watches them for a long time.
Usually, when one thinks of fantasy, sword-wielding heroes and epic battles are the first things that come to mind. Indeed, these are the norm for the genre. While there are some great stories that fit into this description, such as Lord of the Rings, or Berserk (to name an anime), the genre can feel quite stale. In this sea of monotonous tales, Spice and Wolf provides a refreshingly different take on the genre. It is a charming, laid-back tale that treads in territory scarcely explored in fantasy: Economics.
Kraft Lawrence is a traveling peddler. Traveling from place to place in order to make a profit, he
leads a rather lonely life. That is, until he finds he has picked up a hitchhiker. A girl, with the ears and tail of a wolf. She claims to be Holo, the harvest god of a near by town, and requests to travel with Lawrence until they reach her homeland in the north. Though hesitant at first, Lawrence decides they could travel together, as he figures that traveling with a deity could benefit him. However, his new companion may be more trouble than he expected.
Though the concept of a fantasy revolving around economics seems disastrous, Spice and Wolf pulls it off amazingly well. Despite being 90% dialogue, this anime is always involving and never dull. It creates a rich medieval world full of interesting and likable individuals, and turns the seemingly boring topic of economics into something truly fascinating. This is due, in no small part, to the fantastic characterizations and chemistry of the leads.
Holo is one of the most endearing female leads in recent memory. She can often be fickle, flirtatious, jealous, vindictive, and a real tease; throughout it all she is always charming and a joy to behold. However, she also has a more sensitive side, and a strong desire to not be alone. This is usually masked by her self-assured demeanor, but it gives her character genuine depth, and her moments of vulnerability are some the the show's best. Though he does not quite have the star power of Holo, Lawrence has perfect chemistry with his companion. His market-savvy outlook balances Holo's more primal outlook incredibly well; plus he can match her in wit. On top of that, there is Holo constantly teasing him and sending mixed messages. The result of this chemistry enthralling. Most of the time in any given episode is dedicated to Holo and Lawrence in extensive conversation, but it never becomes tedious to watch. It's just as fun to watch Holo tease Lawrence as it is to see her fight off a gang of thugs in wolf form. The rest of the cast fall firmly into supporting roles, none can hope to steal the spotlight from the leads. This is not to say they are bland or boring, quite the contrary. It is that they are all just people who Holo and Lawrence come across, and as such it is hard to really attach to them.
The theme of economics is used very well, and is the driving factor in the show. Most of the conflict does not come from Holo's identity of a wolf deity, but from Lawrence's business dealings. This is good because it makes the whole idea of economics part of the plot, instead of just some gimmick to distinguish itself from other anime fantasy. The flip side to this is that the story arcs can be quite predictable: Lawrence makes a business dealing, it turns out to be more than it seems, he and Holo work together to solve the predicament; occasionally Holo uses her wolf form. That's about the extent of what happens in a story arc. This is likely due to the plot's laid-back nature, it is simply about Lawrence and Holo traveling to Holo's homeland in the north and the business dealings they have along the way. Make no mistake, there are some deeper themes about Lawrence and Holo's mutual loneliness, and the difference in their live spans (Holo already being a few hundred years old), but these are merely brought up rather than dealt with. This laid-back approach may be a bit off-putting to those looking for a more gripping plot, but there is just so much to enjoy that it hardly matters.
On the technical side, Spice and Wolf is superb. The both the character designs and backgrounds are appropriate to the show's setting. The lively cities, small towns, and vast undeveloped land illustrated create a convincing Middle-age European style world. Not a single character looks out of place in this world, their designs reflect the setting of the story as well as their social status. From modest town folk to regal lords, each character is designed accordingly. Then, of course, there is Holo's character design; never before have ears and a tail looked so good on a character. It is not just that her character design is attractive (and it certainly is attractive), it is the unique way her personality is expressed. Whether Holo is being a flirt or having a more vulnerable moment, her mood at any given moment can be seen clearly through her ears and tail. It is a brilliant use of body language, and a surprisingly seldom used one (considering how many anime characters are running around with animal ears and tails). The music also fits the setting incredibly well, sounding like something that would be played during the era. It is usually light-spirited, pleasantly supporting the long stretches of dialogue between characters. However, when called to do so, the music can tenses up to build excitement in the more dramatic moments; it can also be heartrending during the more tender moments.
Though seeming a bit to laid-back at times, Spice and Wolf is a fascinating take on a genre that is dominated by trite sword-wielding adventures. It has one of the strongest couple of leads in recent memory, and the world they explore is well detailed and wholly believable. For those looking for something out of the norm for the fantasy genre, this is one show not to be missed.
The driving force behind any action we take can be attributed to the profit as a result of said action. Whether that profit is tangible or intangible, our lives are loosely based on a "avoid punishments and collect rewards" mentality. Yet, it is strange. We sacrifice our health in order to acquire wealth only to spend that surplus to recuperate our well being. In that sense, it is seemingly irrational for us to work without pause in with the hope that our efforts will be handsomely rewarded.
However, people continue to do so, sweating tears and blood in the process. Ookami to Koushinryou, also known as
Spice and Wolf, explores this theme with a supernatural, medival, and romantical flair. Through the utilization of cleverly written dialogues and exchanges, a memorable cast of characters, and intriguing arcs, Spice and Wolf presents fundamental financial concepts and human relationships in a witty and interesting way.
The premise of the show is built upon the relationship formed by chance between Kraft Lawrence, a traveling merchant, and Horo, a wolf deity who oversees the harvest. Under the agreement that Lawrence guides Horo to her homeland in the north, the two begin to travel together, creating fond memories, facing hardships, and of course, conducting business together.
Many consider money and love as the two primary forces behind the demeanor of any person; the tangible and intangible reasons, if you will. It is unusual for these two forces to work together resulting in a ideal life for any person, and this is what Spice and Wolf primarily focuses on. Casting aside the aspects of the show that are based in fantasy, the conflict between the two is a very real struggle that Spice and Wolf explores. The relationship between Lawrence and Horo is far from ideal: it is tested in many ways, by adversaries that take many forms, and exhibits the fundamental concept of risk versus reward. It has been said that there can be only one great love in your life. The question is, is it the prospect of great fortune and the happiness that comes with it, or the fortune of a person that cannot be bought at any price? Spice and Wolf presents both sides of that coin.
Spice and Wolf's strength lies in the personality of the characters and the discussions about life, love, and profit between them. The merchants who act based on logical thinking and appraisal of facts; Spice and Wolf takes us into their world and shows us how a bit of cleverness and wit can go very far, and how any lack of information or foresight can cost someone more then they could ever imagine.
Lawrence and Horo make for an interesting combination to watch. On one hand, you have your wily traveling merchant who is a respectable man in his field and gets by making profit through calculations and predictions, and on the other, we have a wise wolf who has seen many a years pass and many a person met who is an expert at manipulating emotions and expectations. This duo, as expected, are able to use their talents to make a greater profit than your run of the mill peddler. However, as intelligent and cunning as they are, they are not perfect, and run into their fair share of troubles, and makes it that more interesting to watch. There is a lot to be said about a romantical relationship between a man and a deity; however their relationship does not follow the natural paradigm of such a situation. It is surprisingly ordinary, as each try to deal with their feelings for the other, and how they express their affections and emotions concerning the other.
The art is tastefully done and with accordance to the time period. From the well drawn towns that the two visit, to the scenery in the background while they are traveling; everything serves to enhance the atmosphere of a true adventure and the concept of traveling freely. The music is appropriate; ranging from lively violin pieces to somber folk songs, the tune more often than not fits the mood very nicely. Whether it's a relaxing scene in a pub where Horo and Lawrence are sharing a drink in high spirits, or it's a high tension situation between merchants, the music accompanies the scene appropriately.
Spice and Wolf weaves a tale of finance with hints of fantasy and romance in a endearing and intelligent way. For those who like a show to be stimulating, witty, and emotional, Spice and Wolf is an excellent choice.
Spice and Wolf is a peaceful journey through a stylized, medieval Europe. The story follows Lawerence Craft, a successful merchant, as he travels a winding path North to take his companion, the wolf-god, Holo, back to the home she has nearly forgotten.
Art – 7
Artistically, Spice and Wolf succeeds in its panoramic intake of the various environments Lawerence and Holo travel throughout the series. The show is very drenched in the authenticity of its time, from the rickety wagons to the stone inns. The colors are mute wheats, somber blues, cloudy grays, and lots of brown, a palette that sets the show apart
from most other series. With that in mind however, the show becomes a bit of a bore when the focus is not on new sights, but on the bland character design, or even once the town of the moment has worn its welcome. None of this is helped by the very stagnant sense of animation that contributes to a bit of Spice and Wolf’s mustiness.
Sound – 8
As with much of the natural, and researched feel of the art, a lot of the music helps contribute to the realism of the time period. A score of wonderful strings and woodwinds greatly contribute to filling in the emotional backdrop of Spice and Wolf. Music aside, the aural focus of the show is clearly in the performances of stars, Jun Fukuyama, and Ami Koshimizu. In an almost traditional male/female comedy pairing, the two perform their roles with more charisma, wit, and depth in one episode than most casts manage to accumulate over a whole series. For all intents and purpose they are the shining focus of the show.
Characters – 8
So, of course, because of the skilled performances of Fukuyama and Koshimizu, Lawerence Craft and Holo are brilliantly characterized solely because of the nature of their interactions. With very little to go off of from the script—Lawerence is a crafty merchant with lofty goals while being a bit inexperienced in meaningful human interactions; Holo, a wizened and free spirited wolf-god, has lived so long she can’t manage to remember her roots—the two are fully realized because of their relationship with one another. This is enhanced by the clever and flirtatious dialogue use to dance circles around each other, the hallmark of Spice and Wolf. That aside, every other character introduced seems wooden and unnecessary compared to the partnership of the leads.
Story - 6
Perhaps the main weakness of the show is that the story is an uninspired adventure that is ultimately very forgettable. Craft and Holo travel from town to town and encounter some sort of problem that, with high school level economics, they must scheme their way out of messes. Insert a twist and a mysterious young girl for the sake of strengthening Holo and Lawerence’s relationship, and you have the jist of the plot. That said, I think the show was successful once in combining those elements to create an entertaining amount of tension. Beyond that, as a viewer, I tended to yearn more for the fantastic dialogue and a stronger sense of development in Holo and Lawerence’s relationship than what was witnessed onscreen.
Enjoyment – 7
Though the on-screen team of Lawerence and Holo is one of the best relationships this side of Banner of the Stars, it wasn’t enough to carry a lot of the staleness of the overall production. In conjunction with a heartily disappointing ending, the viewer is left either totally mystified by the luminous performance of Fukuyama and Koshimizu, or with a slightly bitter, “That was all?” taste in their mouth. My feelings are of the latter.
Ookami to Koushinryou, or Spice and Wolf as it is called in English,and as I will call it from here on out in this review,is a very interesting experience that I would recommend to anyone.
Okay,Spice and Wolf is not a very story heavy show.
Travelling merchant Kraft Lawrence,while passing by a town that worships the goddess of the harvest Holo,awakens one night to see a girl with wolf ears and tail in his cart. This girl is Holo,who sees no purpose in helping the town with its harvest,since they now have the expertise to care for the crops themselves. She wishes to go to her
home in the North,and has chosen Lawrence to be the one that takes her there.
And,that's it. The series is essentially their journey through the land,and all the interesting characters they meet along the way. Like I said,not a story heavy show,but that's not what makes it enjoyable. It's more about the characters than anything else.
Spice and Wolf is a gorgeous show to look at. All the characters have wonderful facial animations,the backgrounds are perfect,and the designs are nice. Why give it a 9? Well...there's the occasional instance of "Not showing legs while walking to save animation money" which is very noticeable,but not a deal breaker.
Spice and Wolf's soundtrack is a pleasure to the ears. It fits the setting of middle age Europe that the show is going for,and knows exactly how to set the mood.
Also in the case of sound is the voice acting,I watched it dubbed (Please don't kill me.) and it sounded great,there was never a character that sounded "off" at any point.
The characters are what carry this show.
Holo and Lawrence have some of the best chemistry I've seen in a show. They FEEL like real people. The acting,writing,animation culminates together to form these wonderful characters.
The people they meet are also very interesting. You'll find yourself incredibly interested in a new character's issues and problems,and actually care about what happens to them,even though you only see them for a few episodes.
Spice and Wolf is a show in which the rather weak story is made up for the characters and the art and music. I'd recommend this to anyone who just wants to take a breath,relax,and see your favorite characters get out of their new predicament.