The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

Spice and Wolf

Title: Spice and Wolf aka Ōkami to Koshinryo
Genre: Drama
Company: Imagin
Format: 13 episodes
Dates: 9 Jan 2008 – 26 Mar 2008

Synopsis: In a world where wagons and horses are still the primary form of transportation, commodities can be bought and sold for huge profits merely by changing towns. Craft, Lawrence is a businessman by trade and he spends his days wandering the land trading his wares. On a routine visit to a farm town, he meets a wolf deity in the form of an enchanting young girl who asks Lawrence if she can join him in his travels.

The Highlights
Animation: Average.
Characters: Quite interesting, but they don’t get much development.
Seiyuu: Fukuyama Jun and Koshimizu Ami are amazing as Lawrence and Horo.
Music: Beautiful; be sure to see the OP!

I find that shows that are as atypical as Spice and Wolf are the hardest to review. Without some defined body of material from which I can make comparisons, it’s hard to describe what the series is really about. To keep things brief, this anime essentially follows the story of two foreplay lovers as they deal with their emotional differences, the fact that they are from two different species, and the ultimate conflict producer: money.

When I began watching the show I was worried that the crash course in Medieval business 101 would be an exercise in keeping myself awake, but the show really isn’t about the business bit. This anime is about the interactions between the prudent yet clumsy Lawrence and the coquettish Horo. Sure, the financial endeavors do create the conflicts, but they really are intellectual tests that allow Lawrence and Horo shine. While Horo has the wisdom of the ages, Lawrence has the connections and the subtle know-hows. Lawrence offers his opinion by lifting his lanky frame and bombastically announcing his intentions; Horo usually pouts like a naive child before slyly revealing her true cards with a cute smile. While few of these exchanges can truly be considered comedy or heartfelt drama, they are just plain fun to watch.

Where the show starts to fall apart is when it tries to go anywhere significant. You see, this is a “status quo” anime. No matter what happened, happens or will happen, almost nothing about the characters change except they get to know more people. A lot of meaningful development does get ironed out, but at the end of the day, nothing substantive comes out of it. Too many conflicts feel conveniently resolved, and both Lawrence and Horo act more maturely than my suspension of disbelief allows. All this would have been fine if the means made up for the lackluster ends, but many the story arcs are not impressive.

If you want an interesting time waster about the travels of a merchant and his cute, female companion, then I must highly recommend Spice and Wolf. It’s not great, but it’s one of the few shows that can put a pleasant smile on my face.

The Rating: 6

Reviewed by: Shadowmage

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