Spice and Wolf II

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Sheex's avatar By Sheex on May 15, 2010

Story

After hearing that Spice and Wolf was to be followed by a sequel early last year, I was hesitant to consider a second installment worth watching. Even after having Clannad: After Story blow me away in terms of sequels outdoing their predecessors, I couldn’t shake the feeling that this was just a fluke and I would be setting myself up for a great deal of disappointment if I decided to give it a shot.

Of course, as irony would have it, not even sixty seconds in, Spice and Wolf II shattered all notions of my skepticism - by five minutes I was hooked completely. Be it nostalgia at the charming flirtation between Lawrence and Horo or the flawless, calm pacing of an endearing romance I cannot be sure, but the opening scene undoubtedly had a way of putting all my qualms to rest. Like the first, the second series keeps economics, trade, and barter at the forefront of its story, but subtly shifts the focus to lean more on the romantic aspects of the duo’s relationship. The sequel distinguishes the two as romantic interests much more-so than before, as each major plot point drags their relationship into the forefront of events. In keeping with the series’ unique style of pacing and storytelling, however, these sorts of changes are all subliminal – you don’t see them occurring directly, but the differences are definitely there.

What does this all mean in layman’s terms, though? You guessed it: Spice and Wolf just got better. It builds flawlessly on the foundations of its predecessor, and continues fleshing out Lawrence and Horo’s tale without stagnating the story. As with the first, they continue to move north toward Horo’s homeland as their journey steadily progresses, but the temporal progression of the series does not interfere with its gradual and relaxed feel. All its climatic moments are built up with masterful skill, and the nature of the story makes predicting what will happen nigh impossible. Each episode provides certain twists are revelations that keep the viewer hungering for more while, at the same time, refining and deepening both the characters and the world in which they live.

As I fear I may say too much and potentially twist one’s expectations for what happens, I’ll leave all my commentary on the story at that. Simply put, Spice and Wolf II is structured without any indication that it is even a sequel; it continues where the first series left off without so much as a lapse, skip, or pause in either content on quality.  


Animation

The only noticeable change between the first and second seasons is the appearance of a new animation studio, but this can hardly be considered a flaw. Both studios do a marvelous job at bringing the world and characters to life, and I’d even go as far to say that Spice and Wolf II exceeds Spice and Wolf in visual quality. The attention to detail is breathtaking, from the twilight panoramas of medieval city states to the gentle resting of Horo’s head on Lawrence’s shoulder. As fitting of Horo’s character, body language plays as much a role in communication as words, and every nuance of her flirtation is captured with the flicks of her hands or the twist of her head. Likewise, Lawrence shows a very visible increase in comfort with her companionship, and the dissipation of stiffness and rigidity in his poise follows concurrently with the story.

As such, the symbiosis between the animation, story, and characters makes the series visually spring to life; I can’t think of a single instance where the on-screen occurrences lost their seamless interface with the story. All in all, Spice and Wolf II is an aesthetic marvel, and the animation is a large contributor to this quality.


Sound

All the original seiyuu return to voice their respective characters and, as before, they do a splendid job. Even the secondary and tertiary characters are paid exquisite levels of attention, and there’s certainly not much to complain about. Special detail is given to the situation of speaking as well, with both conversation and narration having distinct and separate feels. Like with the animation, the emotional nuances of the characters are captured through their manner of speech, and harmonize with the visuals quite well.

On top of that, the musical score is fantastic. As with the first series, it synchs mood and story context together with tact and skill, and not once does the music feel out of place or oddly placed.  


Characters

In watching Spice and Wolf II one will already be intimately familiar with both Lawrence and Horo, so I’ll opt not to waste any time going over how phenomenal their characters are. Rather, I’ll simply say that all the new characters that appear in the series to move the story forward are of definite quality. Many characters are introduced by heresay and rumor prior to any formal appearance, and their actual personas tend to blend nominal hyperbole and realistic virtue. As such, they discard any notions of one-dimensionality as events unfold, and seem to always posses some level of mysteriousness as to what their motivations are in seeing events unfold. Each side character has specific interests in seeing Lawerence’s many different business deals to fruition, and the interplay between the many different parties really defines how well the story is told. As much of their dealings are done with strangers, friend and villain are often relative terms depending on what happens, which ultimately drives the series’ captivating sense of mystique and intrigue.


Overall

Spice and Wolf II isn’t so much a sequel as it is a continuation, so viewing the two series with disparate eyes will give the wrong impression of how they relate. When viewed sequentially, there are no noticeable differences between the two – the story continues to progress in its charming way, the characters grow with heart-warming satisfaction, and detail occupies every square inch of its content. Needless to say, watching Spice and Wolf necessitates watching Spice and Wolf II, and the capacity for disappointment just does not exist. Splendid all the way around.

7.5/10 story
9/10 animation
8/10 sound
9/10 characters
8.5/10 overall
AnimeAmateur's avatar By AnimeAmateur on Jul 31, 2014

Story 8/10: Interesting, most of the time. My mind tended to wander during the portioned with heavy information filled merchant-y stuff. The romance was sweet, charming, and reasonably paced. :)

Animation 8/10: It was okay. Holo and Lawernce are drawn true-to-character, as are all the other characters. I was not a huge fan of the backdrop styling, and have seen prettier animes.

Sound 9/10: I loved Holo and Lawernce's voice actors, and felt that the rest were casted reasonably well. I mostly liked the musical scores, but they occasionally became repeditive, and were often distracting to the story.

Characters 9/10: Holo and Lawernce are wonderful and well developed. Most of the side characters are also well done.

Overall 8.5/10: Decently interesting, rather charming, and the high point is the voicing and characterization of Holo and Lawernce. :)

8/10 story
8/10 animation
9/10 sound
9/10 characters
8.5/10 overall
Garyuu's avatar By Garyuu on Oct 6, 2009

Pretty good, but not much more than that. Like the first season, I thought it was interesting 40%, but it bored me to tears for the other 60%. I liked the characters, but not the merchant stuff.

8/10 story
8/10 animation
6/10 sound
7/10 characters
7/10 overall
LeGo's avatar By LeGo on May 31, 2010

¡¡Por fin terminada la 2ª parte de Spice and wolf!!

No hay mucho que decir,hay una ligera mejora en la animacion(ya de por si muy buena)y la historia avanza mas que la anterior,ademas de ser algo mas oscura y sin tantas subtramas.

Esta vez son 12 episodios mas un OVA lo que hacen 13 igual que en su primera parte

La historia sigue con Lawrence y Horo intentando descubrir como llegar a Yoitsu,aunque por el camino se enfrentaran a una terrible verdad sobre el pueblo de Horo.Quizas algo mas dramatica que la anterior,con momentos mas tristes y con 2 tramas a lo largo del anime muy buenas,sobretodo la primera por sus sorprendente desenlace ^^.

Apostaria a que va a haber una 3ª parte,el final pese a quedar mas cerrado que en suprimera temporada sigue estando abierto a una continuacion,ojala sea asi

HISTORIA

Continua el viaje de Lawrence y Horo,algo mas oscura que la anterior.Horo y Lawrence siguen su camino hacia el norte,en busca de pistas o informacion de la ciudad natal de Horo.El factor comercio/mercader/negocios sigue siendo el eje de la historia nuevamente y es donde,para variar,acabaran metidos en mas de un lio :).El final sigue quedando abierto a una posible continuacion.En general mejora a su 1ª parte,tramas mas largas,mejor resueltas y mas oscuras.

ANIMACION

Se nota una mejora,asi que si antes ya era notable ahora es sobresaliente.Lo he notado sobretodo en las facciones de los personajes.Las tomas que a veces empañaban el conjunto en su 1ª parte aqui apenas aparecen.Sigue estanto perfectamente ambientado en la edad media,paisajes,ciudades,iglesias y taberanas,un gran trabajo.Como curiosidad no anima el mismo estudio,es otro distinto,pero se mantiene fiel a la primera parte.

SONIDO

Igual de bueno,las melodias siguen siendo perfectas,algunas repiten y otras son nuevas asi como los efectos.Las voces de los personajes principales siguen siendo las mismas por supuesto y siguen estando genial.El tema del opening me ha gustado menos que el 1º(que no quiere decir que sea malo,es que el 1º era sublime),el ending si que me ha gustado bastante.

PERSONAJES

La relacion de Horo y Lawrence avanza,se ve que tienen mas complicidad y que confian mas el uno en el otro.Realmente parecen una pareja de hecho ya que comparten momentos bastantes "tiernos" y si que se nota que sienten algo mutuamente.No digo mas no sea que haga algun spoiler :P

CONCLUSIONES

Como ya dije con su 1ª parte,Spice and Wolf es una joya,esta 2ª parte mejora en practicamente todo y hace avanzar la historia un peldaño mas que la anterior.Una historia mas "profunda",una animacion aun mas brillante y una OST que se mantiene al gran nivel de la 1ª parte.ademas de que Lawrence y Horo siguen siendo entrañables.

Un Must see en toda regla..Recomendada!!

8.5/10 story
9/10 animation
9/10 sound
9/10 characters
9/10 overall
Szwagier's avatar By Szwagier on Oct 12, 2009

I was somehow annoyed, that I've  put a lot of work on reviews of shows that I found boring, but only written a very short note about my favorite show. Hence I rewritten this review. 

Sequels can easier find a fanbase (since if the first show is good, the base is already created) but there is a price for that - higher expectations. If a show was good, than the second season have to be as good as the predecessor, or else it will be deemed a failure. Of course it can't copy what happened in first season either - fans are always demanding something new. So taking the harsh conditions under consideration - did Spice and Wolf II succeed? The answer is strong and loud - YES.

Story 9/10

The story never tried claiming to be groundbreaking or original. I've seen tons of immortal being + human pairings in the history of the anime. The girls with animal tail and ears also aren't a rarity. Yet  Spice and Wolf managed to refresh those patterns, and bring us something really appealing - very sweet romance in medieval setting. This season follows the footsteps of it's predecessor and continues the tale of Sage wolf Horo, and her pragmatical companion Craft Lawrence. Amazing execution of this pretty simple setting makes this show a real feast for both eyes and soul. We are given two story arcs, filled with romantic and economical problems those two have to face. As they struggle against trade challenges, sneaky plans and unexpected betrayals, their feelings toward each other grow stronger.

Growth of Horo and Lawrence relationship was portrayed really well - not only in outcomes of  the story arcs, but also in small, heartwarming scenes. Whether it was during their conversations on the road and in their room, while eating an enjoyable meal, attending cheerful festival or feeling lonely due to nostalgic memories - we could observe how much they cared for each other. Still - simlarily to first season, their romance wasn't mushy and cliche. It was an affection between two adult characters, both with realistic and slightly cynical approach to the world. Thanks to that approach they can not only show embarassment, but also tease each other and joke about the situation.

Animation - 9.6/10

I can't really stay objective at this part, since animation is one of the strongest point of Spice and Wolf II. Detailed and appealing character design brought out the unique characteristics in every single person. Also  in case of Horo the fact, that her emotions were showing in the state of her tail and ears, was on of the cutest patterns ever. If you love the whimsical wolf god of first season, than you will also feel very strong about the "wolf in love" feel this season has.

Of course the main dishes of this eye-candy fest are the landscapes. Clear and original medieval views were not only splendid but also unique in each place they visit. I find it really impressive, when a show manages to bring a world to live through shear quality of animation. And that is exactly what S&W II did.

The only thing I can have some issues with is the kiss, since it looked totally uninmpressive.

Sound - 9/10 One of the best male seiyus, Jun Fukuyama lends his voice to the witty merchant Craft Lawrence. His easily recognisable voice is a perfect fit, for the slightly cynical personality of the male lead. Ami Koshimizu is also doing great job in voice acting as Horo, and drawing out the wolfs emotions.

Calming opening and cheerful ending are good tracks. Nothing that I will keep listening to, but something that I enjoyed while watching S&W II. And of course the aweomse background music greatly amplified the medieval theme. The combination of flutes, violins and some medieval instruments sets up the mood in really awesome way.

Characters - 9/10 Lawrence while still being as cynical as ever, finally learns there are things more important than buisness deals. Even though he tries to stay composed, we can see how hopeless he becomes when Horo isn't there. And thankfully, he realises this himself as well. He is no longer just a merchant - he is a merchant in love now, and that risky combination is sweet to watch.

Horo also grows more fond of Lawrence - she isn't honest enough to show it often in her behaviour (especially since the pride gets in the way ) but in the few scenes she becomes more open, and in the movement of her tail and ears we can see her growing affections.

Minor characters, as expected, didn't disapoint - each ot them was unique, with their own goals, beliefs and personalities. Whether it was noble rival, reliable friend, eccentric informer or treacherous partner, each was believable. And even though each of them was introduced in order to push the plot into certain direction, they still left the impression of simply living their live in the world setting. Thanks to that the plot could be uncovered slowly and skillfuly, and the pace felt right. 

Overall 10/10

As I mentioned in my profile - 10 is a fanboy score. I believe that both first season and the sequel are unbelievably awesome. If you like slow-paced romance slice of lifes, or have some slight interest in medieval politics and trading mechanisms, or simply find Horo unbelievably cute - go watch this show now.

9/10 story
9.6/10 animation
9/10 sound
9/10 characters
10/10 overall