Spice and Wolf

Alt titles: Wolf and Spice, Okami to Koshinryo

Reviews

Sheex's avatar By on Apr 3, 2008

Story

If there's any one physical setting that can catch me hook, line, and sinker just about every time, it would have to be romanticized medieval fantasy.  While it may not be the most eccentric of preferences, I find such works (anime or not) to be boundlessly fascinating; yet, while Spice and Wolf proved certainly no exception, it managed to exceed my expectations quite profoundly.  However, while most similar anime within the genre tend to focus on the caustic militaristic trends of the era, Spice and Wolf does anything but.  Instead, its core story elements revolve around the day-to-day travels of a roaming merchant and his companion, which means most conflict comes in the form of economic disputes and not swordfights.  This premise, while simple, emerged as surprisingly effective, as it allowed the series to flaunt a very strong sense of character development in lieu of an ordinarily frail story.

Fortunately, Spice and Wolf's lack of an exceedingly complex story was not a negative.  At its conception, the story begins when Lawrence arrives in a rural farming village at the time of its harvest.  After bartering some of his goods away, he comes into possession of a bundle of wheat which happens to be enchanted by the village's guardian spirit, a wolf goddess named Horo.  With the village's increasing desire to distance itself from its old traditions regarding her, Horo decides to accompany Lawrence on his travels as she journeys to return to her home in the northern forests.  From there on out, both Lawrence and Horo discover just how lonely their respective lives have been, and despite distinctly different personalities, begin to confide in one another's company.

And this certainly is what makes Spice and Wolf shine as much as it does.  Both Lawrence and Horo are absolutely fantastic characters, and their interactions with one another are both endearing and authentic; the series' pacing allows their story to flow very naturally, and lacks any noticeable lapses in quality.  Though the romance only really starts to develop by the time the last episode rolls around, I didn't really find this an inherent flaw, as for the entire duration of the series their relationship is steadily developed.  Initially Horo views Lawrence as little more than a traveling companion and a source for her personal amusement, but his kindness slowly seeps under her skin, and she begins to desire his company in a manner deeper than that of mere friendship.  Ultimately, by relying on each other's respective strengths and covering for each other's weaknesses, they pull themselves through a number of dangerous circumstances, resulting in the development of a very hardened bond between them.

Thus, for those looking for an action-packed thriller, stay as far away from Spice and Wolf as possible.  Its very leisurely pace is slow but cumulative in nature, creating a very serene, relaxing watch that guides the viewer through the story with a graceful hand.  While they are indeed a couple "action" scenes scattered throughout, they tend to lack much intensity, and are designed more as story elements than eye candy.  At its heart, the story revolves around the communal bond between Lawrence and Horo and not so much the external strife that plagued the era.


Animation

The animation captures the medieval setting perfectly.  From flowing fields of wheat to bustling market squares, the world comes across as surprisingly immersive, and the attention to color and lighting really enhances this.  For example, particular attention is paid to clothing colors indicative of the times; most characters wear browns, grays, and whites, yet Horo is dressed in more regal purples, blues, and reds.  These small, but cumulatively noticeable details, along with the music, provide for an enormously potent atmospheric feel, much in the same manner as series like Seirei no Moribito or Haibane Renmei.  All in all, while not the most astounding of quality, the animation more than suits the series, and I can't think of a single instance of it appearing awkward or out of place.


Sound

Both Horo's and Lawrence's voice actors are splendid, and each captures the subtleties in his or her respective character magnificently.  Given Horo's keen disposition for mixing emotional undertones in many of her more serious speeches, this further served to exemplify her character's strengths and insecurities as being hand-in-hand.  Tack on a soundtrack awash with tunes composed with fiddles and other instruments of the times, and it's certainly easy to feel quite at home within Spice and Wolf's world.


Characters

If nothing else, Horo is the incarnation of every guy's dream girl: she's strong and confident, yet simultaneously both charming and feminine.  This duality in her personality functions on a number of levels, and unlike most anime romances which have somewhat brazen females, Horo is much more human and believable (odd, since in actuality she is a wolf.)  Despite her constant attempts to deny her affections, she finds herself continually flattered by Lawrence's chivalry-driven personality, and finds it increasingly more difficult to deny how happy she finds herself when in his presence.  In fact, at many points throughout the series she becomes angry with him simply because he sacrifices so much of his own happiness for hers.  Come the end, her goal of returning home seems to trail off toward the back of her mind, and her desire to continue her travels with him and further develop their relationship takes priority.

And indeed, while Horo is charming, Lawrence is no stranger to the trait himself.  Though his lifestyle of solitude leaves him somewhat oblivious to the subtleties of courtship, his constant care and concern for Horo's well being make him a very respectable lead.  While he finds himself relying on Horo's wolf form for physical protection, he cultivates her emotional needs, which creates a heartwarming quid pro quo between the two.  With so many male leads that tend to flop when placed in such a circumstance, Lawrence's character was enormously refreshing; he maintained his dignity and logic without deteriorating into an emotionally numb idiot.  From the get-go he's able to clearly recognize that he has affections for Horo and she him, ruling out any form of unnecessary drama.


Overall

For a series centered around the merchant dealings of a medieval trader, Spice and Wolf confirms that even the most ordinary and plain of story ideas can be transformed into a splendid piece of work.  I must admit that when first choosing to watch this title, I wanted to prove to myself that much of the credit given Horo's character was mere admiration of the fact that she's a cute wolf girl; once more, however, I've confirmed my initial conceptions wrong.  Through her coupling with Lawrence, Horo highlights Spice and Wolf as one of the more exemplary titles of the winter season; I easily recommend this to anyone looking for a series that wistfully and brilliantly explores the complexities of the romantic interaction between two individuals - this is definitely not one to be missed.

7/10 story
8.5/10 animation
7.5/10 sound
9/10 characters
8.1/10 overall
Thrawn's avatar By on May 26, 2011

The premise doesn't do it much justice, as it sounds dull. A travelling merchant and a wolf deity (A goddess of the harvest) travelling up north, engaging in serious business and economics at a slow-pace. As boring as it may sound, it turns the economics into something compelling and interesting, or at least I saw it that way. This definitely depends on what you find fun, as even though it explains the economics and logic of coinage and currency, this isn't everybody's cup of tea.

Economics is half of the anime while the other half is the banter and dialogue between Horo and Lawrence. Fortunately, it's just as good if not better than the economics aspect. It feels natural and real while remaining fun and serious when needed. And even with other characters it's spot on. How they explain plans and schemes without making it feel like an explanation for the viewer or a lecture. They incorporate it into their world and we just listen to it through them.

There's a second season and unfortunately no third so there's no real conclusion to the tale but the arcs are brilliant, fun and packed with the joys of money and goods.

Right off the bat, you hear the beautiful OP. It is a work of art and one of the best I've heard. You can't talk about Spice and Wolf without the OP.  And the music all-around fits the setting. It isn't out of place nor intrusive but it remains in the background adding atmosphere to it. The VO's are amazing and you can feel the emotion in their voices.

Along with dialogue, you get Horo and Lawrence. Both are stunning together. I simply can't get over their chemistry; once more, one of the best parts. But underneath all the fun they have and their smiles is a darker side, one of loneliness. Horo is just about immortal, and through immortality comes those who are mortal, who die while you still live. It's a curse that she knows all too well. And Lawrence is a travelling merchant, one who is always on the move without a real home to call his own but for his wagon. How they're cured of their loneliness by being together is heartwarming and enjoyable to watch.

I could go on about them as they're both great characters and have wonderful traits and wit, but I'll end it with Horo being the perfect gal, adorable ears and all. And that tail, rawr! Other characters are there for plot and our amusement, with brilliant schemes, aiding and forming them and to bring drama and excitement into the pair's lives.

Just give the first episode a shot. It's slow, relaxing, laid-back with medieval economics, coinage and business. It's not the most exciting stuff but it's compelling if you're into economics and an adorable wolf/girl doesn't hurt either. All in all, one of my favorites.

8.5/10 story
8.5/10 animation
9.5/10 sound
9/10 characters
9.2/10 overall
jypsyjulia's avatar By on Apr 27, 2012

The STORY of Spice and Wolf follows a traveling merchant, named Lawrence, who accidentally stumbles across a naked, sleeping woman.  When she wakes up, she introduces herself as Horo: The Wise Wolf.  The village people believe in a wolf god who controls the harvest, so naturally Lauwrence is suspicious until she shows him her wolf form.  From there, the two agree to travel together to get Horo back to her home in the North.

The story itself was not anything substantial.  There were twists and turns and betrayals as the two characters travel, but the focus is really on the relationship between Horo and Lawrence.  This is not a plot-based anime as much as it is a character-based one.

The ANIMATION was fine.  It was nothing particularly amazing, but I would say it was above average. I wish that some scenery had stuck out.  This is an alternate universe that resembles our medevial history.  I think there could have been some really wicked opportunities to make some of the scenery beautiful, but they seemed to skim over it.

The SOUND for the OP was lovely.  It's not necessarily something I would personally Youtube, but if someone burned a copy for me and this OP was on it, then I would not skip over it.  Also, the voice actors did a great job.  I listened to the English dub of this and I particularly liked Lawrence's voice.  it was very natural and flowed easily.

The CHARACTERS were what really made this anime what it is.  The relationship between Lawrence and Horo is one the viewer knows would never really work out, but you're still rooting for them.  Other interesting characters are introduced as well, such as Chole and Nora - who was my personal favorite.  Each character had a backstory that explained their motives and you could understand why they did what they did.  

My PERSONAL ENJOYMENT of this anime is more of a 10/10.  I had a lot of fun watching this!  I will say that around episode 9 and 10 I got bored and began to websurf, but it caught my attention again by episode 11.  

OVERALL, this anime earns an 8/10.  I would recommend this anime to anyone who loves fantasy.  This is a high fantasy anime with magical qualities and made up lands and all of that neat stuff, so if something like that floats your boat, check it out.

8/10 story
8/10 animation
8/10 sound
9/10 characters
8/10 overall
slakroid's avatar By on Jan 24, 2015

When we think of anime fighting giant robots, supernatural battles and a lot of BOOBS just comes into our minds. But there are a few unique types anime that are much as charming as the others.  . I am your host Bilguun alix and today I will review an anime called Spice and wolf an adventure/romance anime aired in 2008.

Plot

 In the mediaeval century Is a man called Kraft Lawrence, a 25-year-old traveling merchant who peddles various goods from town to town to make a living. One night when stopped at the town of Pasloe, he finds in his wagon a pagan wolf-deity named Holo who is over 600 years old. She appears to be a 15-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 her 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. And that is when our protagonist Lawrence decides to go on an adventure with her.

 The story of spice and wolf involves economical  problems which I like to call “FINANCIAL ADVENTURE”. Holo and Lawrence travel through towns hoping to gain money and information about Yoitsu while getting into trouble in each town. The show’s most unique but bad side is that the anime takes too much time explaining financial problems like trading and marketing. At some point I have to go back and listen to what Lawrence had to say a few more times just to get the picture of it. Also the plot could be sometimes  slow due to building up relationship between our two main leads. But regardless there are hardly seems to be any plot hole, it might be pain in the ass in the beginning but things do go smoothly and some of you might be interested in the financial deals.

Characters

When you watch the first episode you see Holo sleeping in Lawrence’s wagon totally NAKED, you might think of her as a crappy fan service wolf girl. Now I won’t lie, I too thought that it was rubbish and dropped the show for three months and finally came back to know that she was in fact… the greatest female character in the history of anime. You see Holo’s personality is like a wolf. She is prideful, cunning, clever but she also has soft sides too which makes her both charming and a very interesting character. Lawrence himself is a calculating man but he is also kind. And what makes this show worth to watch is that these  characters TALK with each other.

That wasn’t a joke. They tease each other, they talk about economics, about life, about their past and that actually makes this show golden. We click on the next episode button just to know what they are going to talk about.

As for the side characters there were a few characters that had potential like Chloe, Diana, Norah etc. But the main problem about the side characters is that the show just leaves them behind and progresses the story. Well this makes sense since they are travelling but It would be better to know what happened to them.

Animation

The animation of spice and wolf is SPLENDID. The graphics of the nature is really good, the animators never slacked off during each scene and the action scenes are cool but they are very very rare and even if you find one it won’t last for 10 seconds.

Sound

I have to give gratitude for the first opening theme song. Because that song was really good. Spice and wolf could have gotten a childish theme song but “tabi no tochuu” fits the atmosphere perfectly. Like the show itself, the opening had a calming but swaying melody and at the over word the song really gets you. I MEAN LOOK AT THE LYRICS:

If the world we dreamed of  
exists anywhere, 
let's go look for it,  
beyond the wind. 
The freezing dawn,  
the parched midday, 
the trembling night;  
let's go see what's at their end.

As for the ending song it was refreshing and kinda childish unlike the opening. The OST had songs that can make you sad or happy and it truly fits the mediaeval theme.

I really loved spice and wolf. It was an anime beyond my expectation and I hope more and more people would like it. However the only problem I have with this show is that it stopped on season 2. They didn’t finish the stuff they were doing, the show just got stuck on a cliffhanger and it hasn’t continued ever since. I too was hoping for a season 3 but when I couldn’t find one I raged and almost thrown away my laptop. The reason I’m telling you is that if you are going to watch this show be warned that it doesn’t have a conclusive ending.

Recommedations  

Watch it if you like: deep characters, great relationship, economic riddles

Don’t watch it if you: hate a lot of conversation, want more action, hate economical talks. 

7.5/10 story
8.2/10 animation
8.9/10 sound
9.3/10 characters
8.5/10 overall
Yuisen's avatar By on Dec 29, 2010

Story:

Storyline is very unique in my perspective. We always view the past , or at least time's like these in the mid of war, or some sort of family conflict ; however, in Spice in Wolf they take a different approach. The very first thing that was noticeable to me was the presence mythology and religion. Soon enough Lawrence meets Horo a deity that brings wealth to crops and because of the given situation she is able to leave the town. From that moment on they travel together throughout their world. During this time Horo makes an agreement with Lawrence that he will take her back to her homeland, however as the story progresses they develop a trusting and romantic relationship and neither one wants their journey to end.

 

Animation:

Animation is actually quiet good. Nothing overly fancy but very fitting towards the environment. I really just can't think of any time that the animation was a bother so gonna rank this pretty high for a very fluid performance.

 

Sound:

 

Music. I'm a big fan of music in generally, not only does the music have to sound good, it also has to "fit". Spice and Wolf did a great job. Opening songs reflected the story's romantically setting's and during the story it was great music during tense situations. Ending song was kinda random....haha.

 

Characters:

 

OMG it's lelouch! Is what I first said to myself haha. Horo and Lawrence relationship and personality is just awesome. A lot of funny and playful moments, but they get angry at each other from time to time , but mostly in Horo's cute kind of way. Every challenge that presents itself towards them they seem to get through it together.

10/10 story
9/10 animation
9/10 sound
10/10 characters
9.5/10 overall