Anime is a pretty diverse genre (and I use that term very
loosely.) There are shows centered
around sports, fantasy kingdoms, modern school life, and ancient Japan. If you're in the mood for science fiction,
romantic comedy, action, spy thrillers, or a supernatural thriller you
an anime to suit your needs. Spice and
Wolf breaks new ground however. It's a
show about medieval economics. Yes, you read that right.
Given the subject matter it's not too
surprising that the show is slow and deliberately paced, but it is a
unexpected that the show is actually pretty good and not dull and dry.
In a medieval European-like world, Kraft Lawrence is a
peddler, traveling from town to town with his wagon of goods, selling
has and buying local products to sell at a profit in other towns that
visits. His one goal in life is to save
up enough money to buy a store and settle down, maybe even take a wife.
The world is changing around him, slowly but
definitely. Christianity (though it's
never identified by name in the show, it's very obvious) has started to
across the land and with it, the old pagan ways have been abandoned. In the town of Pasloe, for example, they still
their harvest festival, but they no longer worship the wolf-god who
a healthy crop.
When is leaving Pasloe, just after they've harvested their
wheat for the season, Kraft discovers a young, naked, teenage girl
his cart among the furs and wheat that he has for trade.
It turns out the girl is named Holo, and
she's not really a girl... she's the wolf deity (the cat ears and tail
have been a dead giveaway) that has been giving Pasloe good harvests
years. Now that the town no longer
worships her, she feels that her job is done and has decided to travel
her home of Yoitsu in the north. Kraft
allows her to accompany him, just as long as she agrees to pay for her
along the way.
While Holo can be a great asset, she can turn into a giant
wolf at will, there are some problems with her accompanying Kraft. For one thing, she eats and drinks A LOT, and
since she doesn't have any money of her own he's running a tab for her,
main problem is the Church. They have
outlawed the old pagan gods and so if they ever discovered exactly who
Holo is, they would immediately put her to death. For
this reason Holo covers her ears and
hides her tail whenever they're in a city.
The plots, and there are four of them spanning the two
seasons of the show, deal mainly with Kraft trying to make a profit or
out how someone is trying to scam him in a business deal.
In one instance a young man claims to know
which silver coins will soon be containing less silver and offers to
which one for 10% of the profit that the peddler makes buy buying up
to be more valuable money. The deal
sounds too good to be true to Kraft, but how could the younger trader
profit if Kraft doesn't??? In another a
city becomes intranced with iron pyrite, Fool's Gold, and while the
skyrockets Kraft needs to find a way to make a large sum of money
quickly. How can he do that when he knows
bubble can't possibly last?
Throughout these stories there are little economic lessons
thrown in so that viewers won't get lost.
Kraft explains how the monetary system works with each kingdom
its own gold and silver coins, and the concept behind shorting a
One could make the case with some force, if they viewed it
through a 21st Century American lens, that this show is
promoting a laissez faire capitalist point of view.
Merchants are held in high esteem and
anything that they do, up to and including murder, is fine as long as
doing it for a profit. Kraft is often
looking for a way to game the system, and even goes so far as to
the implication being that tarrif on said items is immoral, so breaking
is a moral act.
I don't think that's really what the writer of the original
light novel series was going for though. The aim is more to tell an
story, and this idealized society is way too far removed from reality
present a convincing argument. In this
world, everyone is so trusting it's a bit outrageous.
When a deal goes bad and Kraft's partner
tries to have him killed, he delivers what he promised even after he
the betrayal. He just renegotiates the
Being mainly about trading and economics, Holo rarely turns
into her wolf form, the program is deliberately paced.
The program takes its time setting up the
groundwork so that viewers will understand the deal that is being
so that they'll be surprised by any twist in the bargain that Kraft
didn't see. If you're expecting rock 'em
sock 'em action
with a wolf god kicking butt, you'll be disappointed.
If you're looking for a character driven show that's
appealing and cute, you could do worse.
Kraft and Holo are nice characters and they change over the
the series in a nice way. The world is
well established and logically consistent, and look of the show fits
content well. It's an enjoyable show for
those willing to give it the time.
This complete series combo pack contains both season on four
DVDs and four Blu-ray discs. These seem
to be exactly the same as the individual seasons that FUNimation
The show comes with the original Japanese track in Dolby
TrueHD 2.0 along with an English dub in lossless Dolby TrueHD 5.1. I screened the show in the original language,
which I generally prefer, and spot checked the dub.
I have to admit the dub sounded a tad
better. It was more full and crisp,
though the differences were very minimal.
Since the show doesn't have a lot of action, the surround
aren't called upon very often. Overall
it's a nice sounding show, no matter which langue you choose.
The 1080p 1.78:1 image was very good. The
lines were tight and there wasn't any
aliasing one only very minor amounts of banding. That
said, the palate for the show is very
drab. The colors are a bit muted and
dull. I'm sure that's what the creators
were going for in order to portray the medieval setting in a more
manner, but it wasn't the most exciting thing to look at.
The collection includes two videos that accompanied the DVD
release in Japan
(both without a dub but with optional subtitles): Studying
with Holo and Stretching with Holo,
Yoitz Style. The first of these
shorts has Holo discussing some of the food that they eat in the show,
the second has some stretching exercises that she does, though humans
be able to.
Also included are clean openings and closings (four in
total) and some FUNimation trailers.
A slow paced but enjoyable show, Spice and Wolf is a unique
anime series where making a profit by trading from town to town takes
center stage over fights and action. If
you're willing to give it the time to unravel at its own pace, you'll
nice show. Recommended.