Spice and Wolf tells of the adventures of Kraft Lawrence, a travelling merchant and Holo, the deity appearing as a young girl with wolf ears and a bushy tail. They met in the first season (as reviewed here) when Lawrence inadvertently provided her a way to leave the fields of Pasloe that she had been tied to. After some initial hesitance and somewhat in conflict with his simple desire to settle in a town and open a shop, he decides to help her by taking her back to her home, a place she can’t quite recall the location of.
The first season was quite the surprise as whilst it set itself up as a journeying story against a European medieval-ish back drop, vast swathes of the plot revolved around the economics and merchant dealings of small towns that the pair kept getting wrapped up in. This was complimented by great interplay between the two as they became more comfortable travelling companions and had something of a ‘will they/won’t they?’ romance develop.
All of this returns in spades for this season. There are broadly two arcs, the first revolving about a wedge being driven between our protagonists by another merchant wishing to woo Holo and the economics of iron pyrite (fool’s gold) speculation (more fun than it sounds!). The second arc comes about as Lawrence continues to try to find information on where Holo’s original home is and then getting caught up in the machinations surrounding a new towns fur trade with foreign merchants. The second story brings in more intrigue with the vaguely defined Church and really tests the characters feelings and desires for their lives.
This season is really ‘more of the same’ when compared to the first, so it’s great, but not better. There are fewer interesting recurring minor characters and most importantly, nothing even close to a resolution, which is rather disappointing. Guess it’s time to track down the light novels…
The animation of the series remains the same as for the first season in that it shows character designs that are fairly standard, but are set upon some lovingly painted backgrounds. The dub cast (returning for the protagonists) all put in excellent performances.
This is fairly barebones release once more with only a couple of shorts, one on the food and drink of the Spice and Wolf world and one on Holo exercising (which is amusing and doubtless less fanservicey than you’re imagining) accompanying the standard textless opening and closing.
Although not absolutely amazing in any one area, its disparate parts come together to weave a thrilling tale. New viewers and fans of the first season will be delighted with what’s on offer here, but fans of the first season will enjoy it all the more for having seen how things developed to this point. If you like the idea of an interesting story, taking on the unusual subject matter of economics as a plot point amidst the relationship drama, then this is a highly recommended series.
Spice and Wolf season 2 is released on 6th August and is available to order now on Amazon.