Thursday, October 17, 2013

Spicy Wolf

Spice and Wolf is an anime series with 2 seasons, based off of the light novel written by Isuna Hasekura. It's set in a time when humans still used horses to travel, and begins in a village where the inhabitants worship a local wolf goddess that brings good harvest to the wheat every year - the village's main source of income. Some people find it as a series that is not particularly enjoyable, because most of the plot involves pecuniary topics, as the main character is Kraft Lawrence - a professional travelling merchant. "Spice" from the title is supposed to be him. "Wolf" is the wolf goddess Horo/Holo that he encounters while doing business in the village and ends up travelling with throughout the series. Hence, Spice and Wolf.

In the beginning of the story, Holo decides to leave the village to travel with Lawrence, because she notices that the villagers don't actually appreciate her anymore. The villagers say that they don't need a harvest god. While she initially helped them by making a good harvest, she sometimes had to do the opposite to prevent the village from being struck by the , which caused resentment among the ignorant villagers. When she left, she was portrayed in the village harvest festivals as an oppressive force and a thief... you probably know how it goes.

Holo and Lawrence develop bonds somewhat as they travel on the road and engage in economic ventures; Lawrence doing business as a merchant, and Holo just riding along (and occasionally helping in her own way) until Lawrence can drop her off near the general vicinity of Yoitz - her original home with an unknown specific location (she forgot herself since it's been countless centuries since she left). The two fail to become extremely close at first, however, partially because Lawrence repeatedly shows fear of Holo's true wolf form. After these incidents occur, Holo becomes dejected for a day. Later on though, the two trust each other completely and become an effective team for combating huge economic scandals later from a strategic and physical standpoint.

Lawrence cowering in fear before Holo for the second time, who is just returning something to him after she chased off some muggers who stole it.

Holo and Lawrence later on in the series (after Lawrence becomes comfortable with her true form.)

I was interested to note how this series is kind of like the "literary fiction" of anime, although not quite as hard to get through as books like Wuthering Heights (a big reason that Wuthering Heights is difficult to read is that it uses a different kind of diction than most of us are used to.) It kills me to say this, but I recognized some elements of Catherine's character, although small, in Holo, such as saying self-complacent things at times. Holo however, is much more likable as a person (wolf?) and whenever she realizes that she has does something wrong, she immediately apologizes. She never acts odiously, and only freaked out one time, when she found out that her home was destroyed long ago by huge bear spirit (understandable.) Lawrence is almost the polar opposite of Heathcliff, being shy as well as generally kind - despite being a merchant. Together, Lawrence and Holo make a much more dynamic and interesting pair than Heathcliff and Catherine.

There were some parts of Spice and Wolf when the story got really focused on explaining a certain financial concept or describing an economic system - these parts were a little boring, but still crucial to the plot, helping you enjoy the series to its fullest later on. The author who wrote this story also really understands economics; I learned a lot about macroeconomics from just watching this series.

Throughout the series, Holo and Lawrence are suggested to have feelings for each other, but there are two main problems that prevent an official relationship from developing. First of all, Lawrence is too shy/passive and Holo is too stubborn for them to announce their feelings directly. Secondly, Holo is a wolf spirit who has lived for hundreds of years, and will probably live for many more. Lawrence however, is a human with a normal lifespan, so Holo will probably have to watch him age and die as she remains practically unchanged. This story does, however, have a happy ending.

Season 1:

Season 2:
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