Spice and Wolf

Alt titles: Wolf and Spice, Okami to Koshinryo

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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
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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
on

I wish I had known this anime was not complete. The ending of this season was not very good in my opinion. The plot however was very good and unique. I enjoyed the characters and the complexity of their interactions. The animantion was great, but the sound was somehow "too mellow" for my liking.  Overall, I liked it but I did not love it.

9/10 story
10/10 animation
7/10 sound
9/10 characters
8.5/10 overall
on

“Life is either a great adventure or nothing.” ― Helen Keller.

Having a goal in your life is, perhaps, the only way to keep going; otherwise it might be too difficult for one to continue. But, at the same time, finding your aim in life is also not that easy. Kraft Lawrence, the main protagonist of Spice and Wolf, never gives up: he knows what he does and he is not afraid of any difficulties. He is a 25-year-old travelling merchant, who is trying to gather enough money to stop travelling and to start his own shop. One day, at the town of Pasloe, Kraft finds in his wagon a wolf-deity named Horo. She introduces herself as the town’s Goddess of harvest, who has kept the lands of Pasloe blessed with good harvest for many years. However, the Pasloe people have forgotten the caring Goddess and now she wants to return to her homeland. The Goddess persuades the series’ protagonist Lawrence to take her with him and the two start a new journey. What awaits our duo and will they be able to reach the homeland of Horo unharmed? Find out the answer by watching Spice and Wolf now.

Adventure has always been one of the most interesting genres; however, it is also very difficult to make a good one. The main problem here is that it might become boring too fast. Spice and Wolf is truly one of the best series in this genre: you will not be able to predict anything, on the contrary, Spice and Wolf will make you relax and then it will dumbfound you. And you know that feeling is amazing, watching a show, where you do not know what might happen in the next episode is truly pleasant. With that being said, I guarantee you that the story of Spice of Wolf is on the level and you will surely like it, but I would not recommend you to marathon this series, to be honest. I also find it important to mention the fact that the anime is unfinished and to know the ending, you will either have to read the novel, or wait for the anime’s continuation, which has not been announced yet. If it does not scare you, you will not have any problems with the story-line.

The animation captures the medieval setting perfectly. Although the anime was made in 2008, I can say that even for 2016 the animation is still beautiful. Everything: fields, market squares, towns, characters’ outfits, and character designs are very beautiful. And it is because of the fact that this anime pays attention to all colors and this alone makes this series that beautiful. But not only the animation, but also the series’ OST helps you to dive into the atmosphere of Spice and Wolf.

The music in Spice and Wolf is simply splendid. No words will ever describe how beautiful it is. I have never heard an OST that will be as beautiful as in Spice and Wolf, it is something you should listen to, or perhaps get a copy somewhere. The OST does its job and it helps you to appreciate this anime even more. Moreover, the voice actors that took part in this anime did one hell of a job voicing their respective characters. I would recommend you to watch this anime in Japanese, but if you are a big fan of English voice actors, you are free to watch it in English, it is also good, but not as good as the Japanese version. 

As for the characters, Spice and Wolf has also many things to offer. Yes, I will not try to hide the fact that this series has weak supporting characters. But in this series there are only two characters, Horo and Lawrence, Spice and Wolf is only about two characters and all other characters do not mean anything. They exist only to complement Horo and Lawrence. That said, let us discuss Horo  and Lawrence. Horo is the incarnation of every guy's dream girl: she's strong, confident, and smart, but, at the same time, very charming, weak, and feminine. Her character is unique, because in most anime romances, females either depend on men in everything, or are just too independent. Horo is independent, but she also looks like a weak creature that you want to protect. I find it also important to mention that Horo does not deny that she loves Lawrence. Her main goal is, of course, to return to her homeland, but she is ready to give up on what she needs because of the fact that she likes Lawrence.

Kraft Lawrence, at first, looks like a merchant that only thinks about profit. But after a little while, the viewer understands that Lawrence is an extremely caring individual, who sometimes sacrifices too much. Horo hates it about him, but she also finds his chivalrous conduct attractive. Although, he relies on Horo in terms of protection and sometimes he cannot express his feelings, later on he shows that he is not only ready to protect what is important for him, but also that he is not afraid of showing his true feelings. Lawrence is not just some emotionally numb idiot: he is both strong and able to express his feelings. All in all, Horo’s and Lawrence’s duo is amazing! It is never annoying, it is never boring, you just want them to stay together forever. 

Anyway, Spice and Wolf is a very enjoyable series. Everything about it is enjoyable and you just want it to never end: from extremely well-written story-line, to very interesting characters. As I have already mentioned it, Spice and Wolf is not just some boring romance, yes, it is there, but this series tells a story of two lonely people and there is also a grain of reality in it: one should fight for what they love and want to achieve. And believe me, in Spice and Wolf, both Horo and Lawrence will have to fight for what is precious for them.

All in all, I would recommend this series to any person that likes anime. I simply cannot imagine even one reason for you to not watch Spice and Wolf. Yes, there is one reason, but even if do not have a desire to read the novel, you can always find spoilers on the internet, which I would not recommend you to do, to be honest, but it is up to you, of course.

I hope that you will enjoy both seasons of Spice and Wolf, its amazing OST, and perhaps you will also read the novel.

?/10 story
?/10 animation
?/10 sound
?/10 characters
10/10 overall
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The story starts out strong in the early episodes, and completely tanks by the end of season one. The characters are very well done, and the world intresting, but the stories rapid nosedive in the last three episodes drops a solid 4 Star anime down to a 3 Star. 

A further note:

Many people have claimed the DUB on this series to be among the best. It isn't. While the Voice Actors/Actresses for the English DUB are good, the recording quality on the Fuimation Dub sounds like it was made in someone's basement, instead of a decent sound studio. As such, I strongly reccommend you save yourself the pain and stick to the SUB. Normally that is sound advice regardless, but in this case I include the warning due to encounting many people/sites that claimed the DUB was good. 

5/10 story
7/10 animation
7/10 sound
8/10 characters
6/10 overall
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