Monday, December 3, 2012

25 Days of Anime - #23: Spice and Wolf

Taking a drastically different approach from the previous two entries on this list, Spice and Wolf is not a series that features any notable fight scenes. There are tense moments of conflict, both internal and external, and Kraft Lawrence finds himself attempting to outrun pursuers on a few occasions. But Lawrence and wolf goddess Holo play wits and economic knowledge to their favor in hopes of besting both rivals in the market and enemies they inadvertently make during their travels.

The two share a highly entertaining relationship, with each understanding how to best exploit their customers for a higher return on their products. Lawrence is more familiar with the value of goods and fluctuations in the market, while Holo has a better understanding of how to influence human emotions - unusual character traits to ascribe to protagonists. But Lawrence is interested only in earning his way and making a name for himself, and wishes to keep on good terms with his customers. At the same time, Holo's role as a wolf goddess who has lost her way makes the two valuable assets in the eyes of more selfish individuals.

Holo and Lawrence butt heads at times, with Lawrence usually feeling guilty as a result (whether he was actually at fault or not) and Holo doing some self-assessment. In turn, her sly behavior results in greater earnings for Lawrence, which she uses as a means of apology. Though Holo believes herself superior to humans, she does find their nature amusing, considers Lawrence among the most impressive people she has encountered, and enjoys her fill of apples and ale (the latter of which brings out her silly and carefree side). Holo develops a strong bond with Lawrence, and while it is never explicitly stated, Holo drops a number of hints - more prominently in the second season - that she may in fact be falling in love with this human.

The world realized in Spice and Wolf is heavily inspired by old world European culture. The architecture of buildings and use of horse-drawn wagons for transportation implies a medieval-era setting. The soundtrack is heavy on strings and vocals, and all of this makes for a very believable world, where magic exists only in its farthest reaches.

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