Spice and Wolf (anime)

Imigin/Funimation 2008
Based on the light novel series (11 volumes) by Isuna Hasekura (writer) and Ju Ayakura (ill.)
Rating: PG-13 (A little bit of wolf-girl nudity, and a little bit of violence)


There are two kinds of werewolves in the world. The ones we are most familiar with are the kinds that are people first, cursed by fate or a bite or any number of "causes" these people transform from human into animal and wreak havoc on others. The second kind of werewolf is a different thing altogether a wolf who, through magic or kindness or age or wisdom or courage (there are a lot of stories), becomes a human in order to assist humanity in some way. Sadly, we don't see very many depictions of these kinds of werewolves, but there are cultures (surprisingly, or maybe unsurprisingly, because of isolation and turmoil, my Appalachian culture is one of them) who look to these werewolves as kindred spirits and protectors. I love stories about these kinds of werewolves, so I actually write about them a lot.

The wolf in Spice and Wolf is a god. Holo, the wise wolf, has been blessing the town of Pasloe with abundant harvests of wheat for over 600 years, but times change. Old gods fall, and new religions arise, and new technologies come into play. When the story begins it seems that the need for Holo's blessings have fallen to the wayside and the town of Pasloe is held in suspicion by the new Christian Church for it's pagan ways. Holo knows it is time to go. She sheds her wolf-skin and sneaks her way into the back of a travelling merchant's cart where Kraft Lawrence discovers her, looking all of 16 and naked but for her tail and ears. 

Overall, I'm going to say the story is good, but Holo is weird. And bossy, and drunk, and naked, and kind of all...naughty for apples.
Holo has a thing for apples. 

And Kraft Lawrence is a little strange too. He's a shifty merchant with a heart of gold who I am supposed to feel sympathetic towards. He does seem like a gentle guy, but he's also a bit of a con-man who takes advantage of his customers and his fellow merchants.

Don't you try that innocent look with me. 
Around the middle of the first season I got excited by some brief discussions of Church dogma and pagan persecution, but sadly none of that story line really seemed to pan out at all. That disappointment combined with some rather "odd" discussions about trades, tariffs and monetary exchange rates that were either generally confusing, or way over my head, to create my wishy-washy reaction to the series as a whole. It needed something...more oompf, more direction, less discussion of medieval guild practices, more burning pagans at the stake...something, anything. It was, sadly, kind of a let-down.

But, the animation is pretty, and the series wasn't a total bore. Plus there's the fact that the closing credit song is perhaps one of the cutest I've ever heard (and it's a total earworm). It could be vying with _Furubu_ for cutest ending song ever. Just...just, hit play:

Did you hit play? Okay. Now, can we talk about this? OMG, I KNOW, RIGHT? Supercute! Done.

All in all, I don't know that I'm rushing out to watch the second season, named Spice and Wolf II, but I will share the trailer. The second season aired last summer on the Funimation Channel. 

I wish it were meaner werewolves. 


Mr. Empty said...

I've read the first three or four books of the manga version, and it is kind of a huge pain in the ass. The ratio of almost-naked-Holo does not even close to make up for the amount of weird, sounds-like-it's-made-up trade and tariff bullshit.

I don't know. This might be a series for someone, but it is not a series for me. Plus, the tail makes me think of furries. Literally one of the last things in the world I want to think about when looking at cute-ish naked demigods.

Dr. M said...

The specificity of tariff and trade discussions is a little strange to say the least.

Mr. Empty said...

It's not even that it's necessarily that complicated, I'm sure anyone could grasp the concepts with a little's just like...why focus on that? Why put so much emphasis on boring things when you could have focused on nudity and/or violence???