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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
im very new to anime but regardless this is my fav anime yet the feels the charecter dev. its all great.
Absolutely amazing show, the characters are so loveable and some can truly make you despise them. The show is mostly in a medieval fantasy like world where a peddler named Kraft Lawrence meets a strange companion, a fox girl named Holo, who was a fox deity of the harvest. She is a very interesting character and very loveable for being a bit sarcastic, witty, and a bit of an alcoholic. I'm the type of person who mostly likes fighting and not romance but this show was something I couldn’t shy away from. Some parts are about the economy of their world and they may bore you, but don’t shy away from the show completely, its not entirely economy based. The openings are very well done, same as the endings. The music adds onto the medieval like atmosphere. Holo and kraft are kind of like oil and water at some points but that’s what seems to pull them closer to each other. I honestly stayed up very late at night sometimes watching because I couldn’t stand waiting to watch later. Finale is a bit abrupt and being there is no 3rd season (hopefully there will be) its kind of a downer, but that just leads you to think of your own parts. I honestly loved this show and if there was a third season announced, I would probably squeal loudly. Highly recommend this show.
I will say this: Spice and Wolf II does Spice and Wolf justice. I like the opening and ending themes a bit less, but every good word I said about Spice and Wolf holds true here as well. If you liked Spice and Wolf, then you will feel the same about this - and in this case, that is a glowing recommendation.
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. :)