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)