Traveling merchant Kraft Lawrence continues his northward journey with wolf goddess Holo, in search of her lost home of Yoitsu. Lawrence and his sharp-witted partner continue to make some small profits along the way, while slowly uncovering more information about Holo's hometown. However, the road to Yoitsu is a bumpy one filled with many troubles—Lawrence runs into a charming young fellow merchant who has his eyes set on the female wolf companion, and he begins to doubt if Holo will remain by his side; he and the goddess will also have to consider precarious and risky business deals as Lawrence strives to achieve his dream of becoming a shopowner. All the while, with his determination tested at every turn during his journey, Lawrence must question his relationship with Holo, take on business ventures, and ask himself whether it is time for him and Holo to go their separate ways.
*A surprisingly successful sequel with emphasis on the romance between a man and a (cute) wolf.*
As foreshadowed by the prequel OVA, Spice and Wolf II focus heavily on the romance aspect between our protagonists. By and large, this second adaptation has been regarded as equally successful as its predecessor (if not more successful). In terms of the light novels adaptation, it has been widely accepted for its accurate following of the “actual” story, unlike most anime adaptation. While previous knowledge of the series is not absolutely required to enjoy the show, it is highly recommended for viewers to watch the first season as well as
the OVA, which act as the prelude, before watching Spice and Wolf II. For those who wish to try this series with no previous background, here is a little summary of what to expect. Wordy. To be precise, the show is filled with dialogues from start to end, from episode one to episode twelve.
One common question people tend to have for this series often relates to the balance between romance and (merchant) trading. While there are still a decent dose of merchant-like business talks that may confuse viewers from time to time, the spotlight for this sequel seems to land on the character developments over anything else. Hence Horo and Lawrence fans will most likely enjoy the show much more than those who seek for nothing but story content (ie. business trades in medieval times).
The world of Spice and Wolf can often serve as a history textbook (that focuses on the medieval era in Europe). This is once again proven in the second season as viewers are exposed to the corrupted nature of the slave markets and the power of churches at the time. Although the inspiration of merchant trade has been greatly diminished, the believable surroundings of the medieval setting make this anime still interesting to watch even for those who are not too into the romance aspect of the show.
The character department, without doubt, is the selling point this season. Lawrence, for once, no longer seems like an undefeatable merchant. While viewers may remember him as a successful businessman, particularly when it comes to negotiation during trade, in season one. Many of us will be surprised to see that Lawrence, ultimately, is still a human being and thus he must also have his illogical and “stupid” moments especially when it comes to something he has no experience with. Something called love.
The animation this season is by Brains Base (as oppose to IMAGIN which was responsible for the previous season). There are some very minor changes in the character facial expressions and sometimes their looks at various angles, but overall the quality is similar to the first season and there is no reason for one to be disappointed with it. Re-using a quote from my review on the OVA, “For the most part, one can safely say Brains Base did a great job in taking over the series”.
Seiyu are the same as before with Jun Fukuyama being Kraft Lawrence and the lovely Ami Koshimizu acting as the equally lovable Horo (can’t get enough of that thick “Horo-only” accent). Other notable great seiyu that took part in this season include Romi Paku, and Saeko Chiba. In terms of music, the OP and ED are quite enjoyable and the BGM generally suit the particular scene in the question reasonably well. On the whole, this anime is still unique just like its predecessor. However, the big twist this season is the more intense character relationship developments rather than the merchant trading. In hindsight, there seems to be a certain lack of cleverness in plot development. But then again, the various Horo x Lawrence moments are enough to make up for that.
Perhaps I'm ranting about this, and with the score I'm giving I be expecting a lot of disagreements here. To be honest, I was sorely disappointed in Spice and Wolf (S&W), not because it was plain bad, but I cannot see anything worth remembering at all.
Character-wise Both Lawrence and Holo showed little to no development at all throughout the series, and watching the anime made me question what the hell is going on more than how interested in the anime I am. In the case of Lawrence, it seemed like he's lost in how he views his relationship with Holo and his job.
Especially the 'Prioritise Profits' part, I cannot fathom why the anime needs to bring itself to mention that time and time again, and then act the opposite. Lawrence's relationship to Holo is even more confusing. In the start of Season 2, the Amarty-Pyrite Arc was the most captivating arc yet, and it ended so, so badly. It was when the tension was the greatest, and yet it was resolved so damn easily. The most disgusting part is that Lawrence seems to have learnt nothing from the ordeal. Slow pacing with the already awkward ending in Season 1 made this a turn-off.
The characterisation of Holo herself was a mess as well. I cannot fathom a centuries old demigod to be, of all things, a tsundere. Despite being the Wise Wolf, Holo has not shown her wisdom, using her instincts at best and failing to grasp the situation she is in all the time. In the last episode. One simple sentence from a person she barely knows can affect her that much? What the actual F*ck? If you want to showcase Holo's behaviour to be a result for her centuries in suffering solitude, at least make some effort to emphasise on it. Similar to Lawrence, its seems that Holo has learnt nothing from all the ordeals she faced, and her ever-changing mood made me question whether she is bipolar.
The music itself was extremely refreshing at first, with the Openings and Endings to be rather good. Then comes the OST... Is it me or several episodes start with the same music? the lack of variety itself was very obvious as well, and it was as though I was listening to a broken radio.
Overall, I acknowledge I might be 6 years late for this anime. But considering the fact this anime is so highly rated confuses me. To me, S&W is a mess, that tries to add the intelligent elements of trade and romance with a questionable storyline and extremely confusing and bipolar characters. It was as though the anime tried very very hard to seem intelligent, but backfired extremely hard. Then again, I might be wrong and have interpreted the storyline line wrongly, but for me to question almost every single segment of this anime? There should be a lot of questionable segments about Spice and Wolf we can agree on.
Verdict: Don't watch*
1. Still, watch Season 1
2. Move on to light novel
3. Pray Season 3 (If it ever comes out) can redeem this mess
For those reading this review w/o finishing the first season will be spoiled so be forewarned
This anime continues where the last one left off, Horo and Lawrence slowly make their way to Horo's hometown. Along the way they happen upon various opportunities for profit and gain useful knowledge. All that while trying to keep a strong relationship between a human and a goddess. Some also might wonder if this can stand up against the hype from the fame of the last series. I can easily tell you it does, but with one Achilles heel....
Its definitely not story or the cast that brings this show down
from a perfect 10, its the bad decision to use a completely different production companies to fill in place of the original greats Imagin (animation) and Studio Bihou (Background art). But at the very least keep Studio Bihou as this is what made Spicy Wolf 1 extra special. The animation in S&W2 would appear perfectly the same as before except you will notice many mistakes upon viewing, such as awkward angles, skinny limbs turn to fat limbs, back ground characters, and other minor/major details. Albeit not as exact as the original, it still provides that spice and wolf feel.
If the story of Horo and Lawerence are the heart of the show, the background art would have to be the soul of the show. Amazing amounts of detail were made in S&W1. If you rewatch it, you WILL see things that you haven't seen before. Sadly, the 'soul' of the show appears to be bland, lifeless, and uninhabited. So many angry feelings bubble up when i saw how many simple angles and lines are in one show. Towns don't look like towns. They more resemble a horrible copy paste job that does not fit any point of view angle at all. Small intricate details like wheat in wheat fields or cobblestones appear to be nonexistent. It indeed does hinder the experience considerably. But I am confident you will oversee all the faults once you realize that this story is after all, Spice and Wolf 2.
Lawrence is still very 'crafty' (heh) and Horo is still foxy as ever. Now that their feelings are more established, we will see more character progression this time around and this alone trumps anything a bad artist can draw up. Most of their emotions are still worn on their sleeves, but now they start to rely on each other implicitly. It's just a wonderful thing to see Lawrence and Horo interact with each other. Like a young boyfriend and girlfriend scheming to do things their way no matter how crazy it may seem. You will also notice how much these two characters have grown from before. For better or worse it does make the chemistry between them much more intense. The acting between the two is something of pure win as you will laugh, cry, and everything in between. Such a play on emotions is also a clever way of dissuading the viewer of thinking one way or another when a choice or problem arises for the fearless duo.
This will definitely lead the viewer to varying degrees of thinking about the outcome. Its a formula that definitely works great with a mercantile anime. These situations that they face definitely appear to be more difficult than before and it is apparent through the first story arc. It might be because the stronger relationship between the two or just the trading is more intense. Either way, it will leave you wanting for more. Not in a shounen anime sort of way but more like a good book you just can't put down.
Everything pertaining to the light novel appears as anime gold and everything pertaining to animation production (sans the seiyuu cast) seems to have slipped considerably. Do not let the downgrade fool you though, this is till a very solid iteration to Spice and Wolf.
As a side note: you will love Training With Horo (S&W2 special #2)
Continuing a beloved series and making it greater or just as great can be a challenging task to take. This is not much of a problem for anime that are step-by-step adaptations of any type of original source medium. Spice and Wolf, if you don’t know, is one series that won me over from the previous season. Likewise, I was hoping that this 2nd season would have the same positive impact that the 1st season did for me. While it is not better than the first season in many aspects, it definitely possessed the same fascinating qualities that the 1st season had, with a few
improvements to the original.
It is impossible to review a the sequel to a show you’ve already reviewed before without writing similar thoughts on certain aspects. For the sake of being thoughtful, it is important to note these aspects from the previous title and determine whether they improved overtime or not. These include how the character progression has matured over time and if the plot arcs are just as entertaining or thought-provoking as before.
To start out, our lovable duo, Kraft Lawrence and Holo, continue their journey in order to besting the world of mercantile and business ventures in order to survive the political landscape. In the beginning, we see these two start out their relationship as people who don’t immediately have one that is romantic. It was one that still had a sense of distrust, but they still wanted to have a friendship in order to work out each others’ problems they are having. Now with the 2nd season, with the amount of development both Kraft and Holo had together, they flourished into blossoming partners that have a great connection to one another. It all works because the pacing of their growth is logically slow and based on realistic expectations.
That connection seems inseparable in hindsight, due in part with the brilliant dialogue both Holo and Kraft share between one another. Then that connection soon fades when, in one plot arc, they go there their separate ways because of a fierce argument amidst each other. What makes this significant to bring up is the fact that the relationship is powerfully written that when you see these two break off from that connection, you can feel nothing but despair watching it fold through. Emotional investment from observing characters in a show growing into fleshed-out characters is important to achieve when you want the audience to care for them in the first place. Spice and Wolf did it brilliantly in the first season, and yet they managed to mold it into something riveting that pulls our emotions without the need of manipulating them.
As far as the plot is concerned, there is no sense of improvement or decline in quality in terms of writing. In season 2, there are definitely higher stakes in the amount of depth they put into the troubles of mercantile that Kraft has to face head-on. Kraft uses language that people, who are not necessarily experts in economic lingo, might have some trouble wrapping their heads around. It is here where we finally see some critical progress towards a romance in Holo and Kraft’s relationship. The only negative that came of this is how they executed it in a rather out-of-character moment that didn’t feel in line with the tone of the show as a whole.
Yes I know, this review ends on a rather short note, but that is only because of the fact that I reviewed the first season in great detail. So it would be pointless to rehash similar arguments I have on the art and music because they have no change in quality whatsoever. In other words, they are all magnificent to experience whether you started on the 1st season or not. However, you obviously have to start with the 1st season to gain any sort of preconceived notion of what is going on. That is, unless, if you want to watch it for the glorious Holo cuteness, which I can’t blame anyone who has that reason.
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