I was somehow annoyed, that I've put a lot of work on reviews of shows that I found boring, but only written a very short note about my favorite show. Hence I rewritten this review.
Sequels can easier find a fanbase (since if the first show is good, the base is already created) but there is a price for that - higher expectations. If a show was good, than the second season have to be as good as the predecessor, or else it will be deemed a failure. Of course it can't copy what happened in first season either - fans are always demanding something new. So taking the harsh conditions under consideration - did Spice and Wolf II succeed? The answer is strong and loud - YES.
The story never tried claiming to be groundbreaking or original. I've seen tons of immortal being + human pairings in the history of the anime. The girls with animal tail and ears also aren't a rarity. Yet Spice and Wolf managed to refresh those patterns, and bring us something really appealing - very sweet romance in medieval setting. This season follows the footsteps of it's predecessor and continues the tale of Sage wolf Horo, and her pragmatical companion Craft Lawrence. Amazing execution of this pretty simple setting makes this show a real feast for both eyes and soul. We are given two story arcs, filled with romantic and economical problems those two have to face. As they struggle against trade challenges, sneaky plans and unexpected betrayals, their feelings toward each other grow stronger.
Growth of Horo and Lawrence relationship was portrayed really well - not only in outcomes of the story arcs, but also in small, heartwarming scenes. Whether it was during their conversations on the road and in their room, while eating an enjoyable meal, attending cheerful festival or feeling lonely due to nostalgic memories - we could observe how much they cared for each other. Still - simlarily to first season, their romance wasn't mushy and cliche. It was an affection between two adult characters, both with realistic and slightly cynical approach to the world. Thanks to that approach they can not only show embarassment, but also tease each other and joke about the situation.
Animation - 9.6/10
I can't really stay objective at this part, since animation is one of the strongest point of Spice and Wolf II. Detailed and appealing character design brought out the unique characteristics in every single person. Also in case of Horo the fact, that her emotions were showing in the state of her tail and ears, was on of the cutest patterns ever. If you love the whimsical wolf god of first season, than you will also feel very strong about the "wolf in love" feel this season has.
Of course the main dishes of this eye-candy fest are the landscapes. Clear and original medieval views were not only splendid but also unique in each place they visit. I find it really impressive, when a show manages to bring a world to live through shear quality of animation. And that is exactly what S&W II did.
The only thing I can have some issues with is the kiss, since it looked totally uninmpressive.
Sound - 9/10 One of the best male seiyus, Jun Fukuyama lends his voice to the witty merchant Craft Lawrence. His easily recognisable voice is a perfect fit, for the slightly cynical personality of the male lead. Ami Koshimizu is also doing great job in voice acting as Horo, and drawing out the wolfs emotions.
Calming opening and cheerful ending are good tracks. Nothing that I will keep listening to, but something that I enjoyed while watching S&W II. And of course the aweomse background music greatly amplified the medieval theme. The combination of flutes, violins and some medieval instruments sets up the mood in really awesome way.
Characters - 9/10 Lawrence while still being as cynical as ever, finally learns there are things more important than buisness deals. Even though he tries to stay composed, we can see how hopeless he becomes when Horo isn't there. And thankfully, he realises this himself as well. He is no longer just a merchant - he is a merchant in love now, and that risky combination is sweet to watch.
Horo also grows more fond of Lawrence - she isn't honest enough to show it often in her behaviour (especially since the pride gets in the way ) but in the few scenes she becomes more open, and in the movement of her tail and ears we can see her growing affections.
Minor characters, as expected, didn't disapoint - each ot them was unique, with their own goals, beliefs and personalities. Whether it was noble rival, reliable friend, eccentric informer or treacherous partner, each was believable. And even though each of them was introduced in order to push the plot into certain direction, they still left the impression of simply living their live in the world setting. Thanks to that the plot could be uncovered slowly and skillfuly, and the pace felt right.
As I mentioned in my profile - 10 is a fanboy score. I believe that both first season and the sequel are unbelievably awesome. If you like slow-paced romance slice of lifes, or have some slight interest in medieval politics and trading mechanisms, or simply find Horo unbelievably cute - go watch this show now.