Jun 25, 2018
I feel like my review may be somewhat biased by my nostalgia for Spice and Wolf - which is my favourite LN/manga. When I found out there was going to be a spin-off with Col and Myuri, I was pretty pumped. So my expectations were probably a little high. This review is based on the first two volumes of the series.
The story feels very much like a Spice and Wolf story - Col and Myuri travel to a new town and become embroiled in some big, complicated mess. The primary difference is that Lawrence and Holo used to end up in some sort of
mess focused around trade and politics, while Col's messes tend to be of the religious variety - given that he is travelling as a religious scholar or priest-in-training. But there's a similar style and sophistication to the writing and the solutions. This isn't your average dumbed-down shounen story where the power of friendship or love or whatever saves the day. There are actual rational and intellectual steps taken to arrive at solutions or conclusions that make sense. This was always the strength of Spice and Wolf's plots, and it continues in Wolf and Parchment.
The major factor for likability is, of course, how well Col and Myuri stack up to Holo and Lawrence - the relationship between Holo and Lawrence is what made Spice and Wolf the wonderful story that it is. And I feel like there are glimmers of potential with Wolf and Parchment. Two volumes in, it obviously isn't at the same level. But I can see it growing in the right direction. The bottom line is that Myuri is not Holo, and Col is not Lawrence. Holo had the appearance of a teenage girl, but she was actually 600 years old. Myuri is actually still a child, and learning about people and the world around her. It provides a different perspective and a different angle to the relationship than the one that Holo and Lawrence enjoyed. Still, Myuri's innocence is infectious and she's a joy to read - it's interesting to wonder if this is what Holo was like at that age. I love her character. My issue was more with Col and his character/personality. Col worked in Spice and Wolf as a side character. Forcing him into the protagonist role now, years later, doesn't work quite as well as I'd hoped. Lawrence was always a bit of a straight man to Holo's more mischievous character, but with Col the author has gone a little too heavy on the "straight man" idea. As a religious student, Col often comes off as being too good, which requires Myuri to often go overboard on the silliness side to try and balance the fun. We'll see how these personalities develop as the series progresses, but it's not quite there yet.
I might be doing Wolf and Parchment a disservice by comparing it so directly to its predecessor, but I imagine a reader new to this series without ever having read/watched Spice and Wolf probably wouldn't get as much out of it. The first two books are solid, enjoyable reads, but the real joy is immersing oneself in the familiarity and nostalgia of the past series. I'd probably give this an 8/10 as a stand-alone series, but I'm bumping it up to a 9 for the feel-good nostalgia I felt while reading.
What did you think of this review?