Spice and Wolf was the anime that proved to be that a well written romance can exist in the anime world, without resorting to cartoony comedic devices and waxy melodrama. Truth be told, even as a hetero male, I have fallen madly in love with this series, and the second season was an incredible thrill ride to compliment the slow-paced romance the first series presented.
Story: 10 out of 10
(Editors note: One of the ONLY series to ever receive a 10 from me) The second season of Spice and Wolf plays out very similar to the first, except some minor changes. For starters, the storyline of the second season takes place in only two towns, and for that, loses the slight episodic feel the first had (I say feel because it was not episodic, the storyline just seemed that way a little bit at times.) It also changes the atmosphere, and adds a more thrilling element. It would also be safe to say that the romance takes a turn for the better in the second season. Holo and Lawrence still carry on with their quirky banter, but there is a deep rooted feeling of mutual love between the two, whereas the first season always hinted at it.
It also becomes much more mature, as the romance adds on depth. Deep-rooted issues of jealousy based on love, and how it can blind a person to even those they trust, and a small device that is infinitely more incredible. Near the end of the series, Holo even tries to push Lawrence away simply on the basis that she enjoys what they had at the time, and the more Lawrence comes to fall for Holo, the more he changes from that. Holo is addressing the idea that everyone craves eternal young love out there, and she as a character isn't as "wise" as she leads us to believe. It adds a sense of human weakness to her, and makes her all the more beautiful of a character.
Animation: 8 out of 10
Spice and Wolf is by no means an ugly show, but it certainly isn't the best out there. Outside of the few action scenes sprinkled into the series, the animation itself is slow-paced and slice-of-lifey at times. The character design is aesthetically pleasing, and the landscapes are well thought out. The animators themselves have a good idea for the hustle-and-bustle of a medieval city, and give all the towns a very strong sense of community.
Sound: 6 out of 10
Sound was only slightly above average for me. The music was always fitting, and always catchy, but never quite memorable. The theme and ending songs were bland in my eyes, and the only saving grace was the voice acting for both Holo and Craft. Absolutely GREAT voice acting, that is wasted by the American Dubbed butchering that was released. If you watch this series, go with subs (or original if you speak Japanese ;)), because dubs is a VERY hard pill to swallow with this title.
Characters: 9 out of 10.
Characters are the axis in which the show rotates on to me. Being character-driven, the already amazing plotline bows only to the progression and actions of its two main characters, Holo and Lawrence. The only reason I give it a 9 instead of a full 10, is because every other character pales in comparison to Holo and Lawrence. There are plenty of side characters along the road, and they are believable, and well written, but they cannot help but stand in the shadow of such brilliant characters. For this reason, I drop it only a single point.
Overall: 9 out of 10.
Overall, Spice and Wolf is a series that can be enjoyed by a very large audience. Comedy, Romance, Adventure, Action, Drama, Business, History, Fantasy. It truly is one of my all-time favorite series, and I would recommend it to any and everyone.
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