“Spice and Wolf” presents a merchant and a wolf god’s hardships and struggles on a road trip to the north in 13 extraordinary episodes.
For an entire show about financial hardships and near bankruptcy, “Spice and Wolf” makes economic supply and demand exciting. The great appeal of this series lies with an unusual duo of protagonists surviving over poverty in a world resembling Medieval Europe.
The main character, Kraft Lawrence, is a wandering peddler who hopes to start his own business. However, he puts his plans on the backburner when he discovers a naked girl hiding in his carriage, with the ears and tail of a wolf.
This young woman, Holo, was the harvest goddess of the town of Pasroe. However, nowadays the villagers grow a bountiful harvest. They have converted to Christianity and they no longer need her help. She asks Lawrence to take her to Yoitsu, her homeland in the north. Although Lawrence was down on his luck, his luck may have changed upon meeting his new friend.
This series at first presents a romance for secularism. By the fourth episode, however, it becomes a plot of desperation against all odds. Lawrence discovers that someone named Zeelen cheated him out of his money with a deal to trade old silver coins for new ones.
Lawrence joins the Milone Company to safeguard his collection of old silver, but when Zeelen’s associates capture Holo, the story turns into an undercover rescue operation to save Holo from the confinement of the Catholic church.
The show covers plenty of ground in just six hours. For a nearly convoluted story of mercantilism and avoiding bankruptcy, “Spice and Wolf” holds an extraordinary amount of spiritualism. Holo may bare all for her fanboys for much of the series, with explicit parts conveniently blanked out. However, she can transform into a humongous wolf in a matter of seconds. In spite of her immense power, she tries her best not to scare people away, by remaining in her human form.
The artwork brings back wonderful memories of “Princess Mononoke,” with its huge wolf gods and remorseless violence during some important moments. Yet, this is a romance story at its heart. Holo and Lawrence hit it off with dialogue as compassionate and playful as the Woody Allen film “Annie Hall.”
There is a humorous story arc at the end where their partnership turns into a love triangle, making for some subtle wars with words. The relationship remains as strong as ever, with two characters who grow ever closer as the show progresses.
“Spice and Wolf” is a rich story of creative conversations, love and financial retribution against corrupt companies. Certainly the plot can get convoluted at times, but “Spice and Wolf” remains the best and most consistent show for winter of 2009.
(English dub review)
Of course, a series about Medieval Europe doesn’t sound as authentic without solid voice actors. Funimation’s dub delivers on all levels. Not an ounce of playfulness or urgency is wasted from the characters. Holo sounds every bit as boastful and vivacious as her Japanese counterpart and Lawrence’s English voice retains his cleverness and laid-back mannerisms.
It sounds every bit as good as you’d want a English dub to sound. This is voice acting at its best.
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