I loved this show about as much as I was expecting (which is in fact kind of surprising). At times it felt like a sophisticated, insightful Kino's Journey focused on economy in the different cities, and other times I felt like watching a traditional version of Kaiji, full of intrigue, plotting and a constant search for profit in the most effective way. Were it either of them, or both, every moment of the show was enjoyable and the freshness of the concept very much helped to it.
I also liked the fact that this didn't have such an episodic structure as the aforementioned Kino's Journey, but instead a linear travel in which pretty much every installment was linked to the next story-wise. An episodic show is not necessarily bad (actually KJ is fantastic), but I find it much easier to get hooked to a continued, more developed storyline.
And of course, here's the main treat of the show: the two main characters and their wonderful, wonderful dialogues. Their chats are always full of saucy questions, amusing rebuttals and elegant mischiefs. When you think the conversation can't keep going any longer and it's going to wrap up soon, either the composed but kind merchant Lawrence or the playful she-wolf Horo will keep the clever responses and punchlines coming, which actually results in great character development for both and a frequent source of hilarity. The growth in the relationship of the two throughout the journey is well-paced and charming, plus it constantly avoids hackneyed clichés with its nonchalant, skillful narrative.
The protagonist duo aside, the members of the secondary cast (Chloe, Noora) are certainly much less enticing in comparison, but interesting/entertaining in their own right. Generally speaking, character interactions in this show ooze deftness and fun.
The animation is nice and does its job, and the soundtrack has a delightful folklore flavor to it that sits very well with the show's thematic. The opening and ending grew on me too.
Great anime indeed. Now I'm also watching the second season along with my buddy - we're six episodes in and it's definitely as good as the first. I can't wait to watch the rest, although later I'll be cursing the fact there's no more. Give me the novels!