May 06, 2010
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Title: Spice and Wolf
Genre: Fantasy, Romance, Thriller
Rating: 8.2/10

Spice and Wolf

Summary: Spice and Wolf’s story revolves around Kraft Lawrence, a twenty-five-year-old traveling merchant who peddles various goods from town to town to make a living in a stylized historical setting with European influences. His main goal in life is to gather enough money to start his own shop, and he already has been traveling for seven years while gaining experience in the trade. One night when stopped at the town of Pasroe, he finds in his wagon a pagan wolf-deity girl named Holo who is over 600 years old. She appears to be a fifteen-year-old girl, except for a wolf’s tail and ears. She introduces herself as the town’s goddess of harvest, who has kept it blessed with good harvests of wheat for many years. Despite having the responsibility to watch over the town, she wants to go back to her homeland in the north called Yoitsu; she believes the people have already forsaken her and that she has kept her promise to maintain the good harvests. Holo wants also to travel to see how the world has changed while she has remained in one place for years. She manages to bargain her way out of the village by making a deal with Lawrence to take her with him. As they travel, her wisdom helps increase his profits, but at the same time, her true nature draws unwanted attention from the church.

Review: Spice and Wolf was far from what I expected.  When I originally picked up the series I didn’t think I would see any character development or suspense. Reading the summary I figured the business deals would have small bumps and turns, but in the end go smoothly. This was far from what actually happened. Spice and Wolf revolves a lot around trust, deception, and small details. Business deals turned into a life-and-death matter. The first season is rather difficult to follow if you don’t have a grasp of economy. I had a feeling that the creator was quite into business, and he did have a good business sense. I’m not saying that Spice and Wolf should be looked at as an economic lesson, but it wasn’t too far off either. The biggest problem in the series was the fast dialogue. During crucial moments when tricks of the deal were being explained it was very difficult to keep up. It wasn’t so much the complexity of wording (but that didn’t help either) rather than trying to tie everything together.  The series didn’t do a great job when it came to helping the audience understand the situation thoroughly. I’m guessing the creator believed viewers needed some level of competence, and that over explaining the situation would be boring. One field that was well thought out was character development. Holo and Lawrence made a great match. As the series progressed, you can watch their feelings slowly changing. The relationship built between a 600 year old God and slick merchant felt very natural. Neither had a sudden change of heart, or spontaneous confession of love. I was astonished that the series successfully kept the story thrilling and characters relatable. The art style was very standard. The characters had definitive lining, and the backgrounds weren’t heavily detailed. The lighting effects weren’t bad, but it didn’t have a natural feel to it either. Although I didn’t mind the art since the story was where the real action was at, I can’t say it was anything to take note of. The soundtrack consisted of a slow pace opening and ending theme. The opening had a melancholy tone with a brilliant piano, whereas the ending was fun and playful. Background music during chase scenes and fighting helped set the mood.

Final statements: The anime did a great job with character and story development. Some of the best I have ever seen. I would guess that most people who don’t really find much interest in business would have trouble following the little details that make the story so thrilling. I love the world of business, but i still had a little trouble following what was going on due to the quick dialogue. Even if you don’t have much interest on how the economy works I still consider this a preferred watch because  the connection between Holo and Lawrence is a story of its own.

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