Posts Tagged 'spice and wolf'

Spice and Wolf: There Be Gold in Them There Sheep

THE PLAN: smuggle gold in sheep.

THE PERPETRATOR: Sweet, innocent, cute Norah.

THE CHANCE FOR SUCCESS: 10%, but with courage we can make it 100%!

My only question for Lawrence is, how do you plan to get the gold out of the sheep? I mean, I assume the easiest way would be to butcher the sheep, but…they’re sheep. They’re cute. They’re also dumb, but that’s okay, because they’re sheep. They wouldn’t be sheep if they were smart. Sheep are considered smart if they discover the amazing fact that all grass does not taste the same. The Albert Einstein of sheep, however, broke new ground in the field of Grass Research by assigning a name to this phenomenon: “grass” and “tastes-like-grass-but-not-really”.

Sheep jokes aside, this plan is probably going to succeed (natch), and probably Norah is actually a magician, and probably the Church is an evil entity. I’m no anti-religion person, but it’s nice to see that the church in whatever the name of this fantasy-world is isn’t exactly completely upstanding. As was the case in our own medieval times, the church is somewhat corrupt. This doesn’t mean good people don’t work for it, but it does mean that they have an agenda to push, like a kind of independent government that operates in multiple areas at once. And we can’t forget the burning of heretics. Nasty, nasty heretics.

We, or at least I, also gain some more insight into Horo’s character. It occured to me after watching this episode that Horo, prideful as she is, is actu8ally an extremely lonely wolf-person-thing. I think her prideful, self-centered exterior is a way of denying to herself that loneliness. Lawrence, of course, breaks the loneliness, but as he is, well, human, he doesn’t necessarily always suit Horo’s needs. We saw last episode that she got mad at him for accusing her of ruining his chances at finding the money he needed, yet at the beginning of this episode, she’s crying and wondering why he’s such a “softy”, to borrow BSS’;s translation. Being the lone god of that one village at the beginning is certainly a fun prospect at first, but, after a while, even the largest of egos gets tired of constant groveling and worshiping. Fortunately for Horo, Lawrence is a kind person, and no matter how much they may bounce one-liners off each other all day, at the end of the day there’s still a sort of bond between them.

The series gimmick of character interaction and depth mixed with hard-core economics is, as I’ve said before, quite charming. It works well–there’s depth in the characters here, at the same time that there’s economic education of a sort. I like it for both, even though sometimes the economics escapes me.

And Horo. Yes. Wolf ears and tail. Can’t discredit that. Nothing makes economics more palatable than a wolfgirl.

Spice and Wolf: The Little Wolf Inside the Girl is Sad

But not in this picture, she isn’t. :3

I like this arc better than the previous one already. The first arc was needlessly complicated with coinage devaluation and whatnot, but this one is straightforward duplicity. The surging thrill of economics is absent, of course (so far) but I have confidence that no matter what, Lawrence will pull some kind of complicated economic scheme from his hindquarters that will save them all.

Of course, that’s not going to matter much if Horo hates him, which was the capstone of 10. If all those merchants denied Lawrence help simple because he had Horo in tow, then he is in serious straits, and now that Horo is pissed at him, his world has come crashing down rather horridly. The character interplay dynamics I mentioned last time are still in full force, with the viewer left wondering just who, exactly, wears the pants in the Horo x Lawrence relationship. I really wish I could read the original novels and get this direct from the source, but, alas. It’s not like the anime is bad, but I get the feeling watching the anime that the novels are much, much better. Which, considering that Spice and Wolf has the cleverest concept of the winter season (if not the sharpest execution) means that it’s merely a step from regular old “awesome” to “high-quality weapons-grade plutonium awesome”.

The comment about “sharp execution” up there made me think for a bit, and I want to clarify this a little bit. Spice and Wolf is certainly directed well (which, considering that the guy doing the direction is the same as the guy who directed Cosprayers, is not a mean feat) but it’s not directed well, if that makes sense. The strength, rather, as noted above, lies in the writing. I don’t mean this in a bad way. The direction is perfectly passable, but there’s not really anything that stands out for me on the direction front. The writing front, yes–it’s clearly catching the spirit of the original work, and the direction is doing an admirable job of bringing that out. It’s just not impressing me on the level of, say, true tears, which certainly isn’t a problem for me at all. It’s the kind of series that gets by on the strength of the writing, but we should be thankful that it’s directed competently, because poor direction would ruin this series, I think.

MORAL OF THE STORY: Direction good, writing also good.

MORAL OF THE STORY, PART THE SECOND: Please do not anger the Horo, she is likely to bite. Hard.

Oh, Horo pranked us baaaaaad.

Damn and blast.

Why does Japan get all the fun thrillers? America would never think about putting in a wolf girl in their thrillers, let alone base their thrillers around medieval economics. But I talked about that last time.

Horo is now much more than a sass machine who happens to be a wolf goddess. It’s a shame this series is only going to be a season long, because, as that pranked moment up there demonstrates, Lawrence (I keep wanting to spell it Laurence, damn you, Naomi Novik…) is developing a certain kind of affection for Horo. Did anyone not  see this coming? It does feel a bit forced upon, but I don’t really mind in this case–they were obviously destined to be a couple the moment they laid eyes on each other, so whatever.

I am somewhat confused by the economical nature of the plot structure, lamentably, but I’m used to being confused on plot elements from my somewhat eccentric reading habits, so it’s nothing new for me. I think they’re mostly confusing because I have difficulties with economics and similar maths, and (while this isn’t exactly as dense as Adam Smith in terms of economic theory) it’s still somewhat hard to follow. However, it’s still admirable that they managed to make economics thrilling and exciting and full of fast paced chase scenes.

And, actually, the thriller elements did seem to be a bit breaking of convention. It’s been my experience in thriller-type things that, when someone is kidnapped by the Bad People and all the other protagonists are getting together a Party to go Rescue Them, normally everyone supports them.  Not here. “No, sorry, Lawrence, we’re too interested in our profit to save Horo.” Of course, it looks like they might help him after all, but I was expecting “Gosh, Lawrence, that’s terrible, let’s send a rescue party out to find her immediately!” because I rarely do the guessing-before-it-happens thing. I think I don’t do that because I get wrapped up in the narrative rather than being a passive, neutral observer, which is what you’re supposed to do when you’re watching something thrilling and exciting, because if you’re just sitting there as a neutral observer you’re just going to hate it.  And people need to hate things less. It’s not healthy for the blood pressure.

That is indeed one Spicy Wolf

Yes. Oh, yes.

Okami to Koshinryo (Spice and Wolf, The Wolf and the Spices, Spicy Wolf, Non-Domesticated Canine Animal and Assorted Herbs) turned out to be exactly as awesome as I expected it to be. I like it when that happens.

The cleverness of the first episode doesn’t really kick in until Horo pops up in Lawrence’s wagon, at which point the episode went from “this is cool” to “this is amazing“. The development! Horo has perhaps one of the best personalities for a wolf goddess to have, ever. The series could have no plot whatsoever and could just be the Animated Adventures of Lawrence and Horo As They Ride In Their Wagon and just feature them bouncing lines off one another and it’d still be awesome. It’s not quite like a screwball comedy, but it’s that same kind of chemistry between the two–it starts the instant they meet, and never lets up.

It’s a shame this series is only going to be twelve episodes, but maybe if it does successfully (and from all the pre-airing hype I remember seeing about it, it seems to be doing quite well in that regard) we’ll get more seasons. And I noticed in the credits that primarily Koreans animated this episode, but it didn’t really look all that bad. Of course, it’s a first episode, but usually studios have Japanese staff animate first and last episodes and Koreans get the stuff in the middle. I hope the animation quality doesn’t take a dive after this episode, but I think it’s got a decently large budget, enough to prevent serious animation problems. It certainly look very pretty. And Horo is, well, spicy. There’s no other word for it. Shugo Chara’s “cool and spicy” Amu has got nothing on Horo.


I cannot understand those that take anime seriously, but I can love them, and I do. Out of my love I warn them to keep clear of this blog.

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June 2023