Friday, December 27, 2013

Spice and Wolf Season Two Anime Review

Spice and Wolf Season Two
Okami to Koshinryo or Spice and Wolf II
Complete Collection - 2 discs
325 mins. - 13 episodes
$69.98 (2011) Blu-Ray
$64.98 (2011) Blu-Ray/DVD combo
$64.98 (2012) Blu-Ray Seasons 1-2
ISBN 704400011825
Japanese/English Audio - English Subtitles
Director - Takeo Takahashi
Studio - Brain's Base

Synopsis: Kraft Lawrence is a traveling merchant who follows a trade route buying and selling goods.  He met up with a supernatural wolf-goddess during a harvest festival and made a deal to take her to her ancestral home in the far north.  She calls herself Holo the Wise Wolf, but acts anything but!  She mostly complains and acts haughty while truly being unfamiliar with the ways of the modern world.  Beneath her playful impatience lies truly magical power.
Lawrence and Holo travel together. It gets colder as they head further north
Lawrence and Holo have journeyed together for quite awhile and shared many adventures.  He is a skilled merchant and impresses Holo with his trade dealings.  He is especially adept at reading potential partners and taking advantage of currents in the local marketplace.  While Holo may seem obsessed with food and drink (mostly drink!) she also develops a good head for business by paying close attention to Lawrence's deals.  She possesses keen senses which come in very handy when assessing local intrigue.
Holo and Lawrence visit a town during a festival which looks
ominously like a scene from the Wicker Man movie!
The two have become very close during their travels and have helped each other greatly, but the end of their journey draws near as they head further north.  While staying in a town where Lawrence has a good merchant friend the two meet a young man named Fermi Amati who is instantly smitten by Holo's looks.  He ends up being a shrewd merchant who threatens to drive a nail between the two traveling companions.  Lawrence's merchant skills are put to the test when he locks wits with the young man.
Lawrence takes care of Holo when she falls ill
Cracks form between Holo and Lawrence as they both realize their final destination means an end to their partnership.  Lawrence seeks information about Holo's origins and the land she comes from, but the news threatens to break them apart forever.  Will Lawrence choose to follow his dream of setting roots and financing a local shop when it means separating from Holo?  Will Holo leave Lawrence behind to spare him from the dangers of her goal since he is a mere human?
The young merchant Amarti challenges Lawrence to a test of
financial skill in order to get closer to Holo.
Pros: Nice animation style, good music and opening/ending theme songs, great characters and story development, simple supply/demand economics of the merchant trade was a rare treat, relationship between Holo and Lawrence was excellent progression from the first season, Holo is great - knowledgeable sage one minute and then capricious drunk the next, good dub
Lawrence attempts to sell his wares, but is Holo working with him or
helping Amarti to teach Lawrence a lesson?
Cons: Slow-paced, practically no action, only two story arcs over the entire season, ending was a bit unsatisfying
Holo takes a morning stretch.  Hmm...I wonder what Lawrence sees in her?
Mike Tells It Straight: I loved the first season of Spice and Wolf and was really excited to watch this second season.  The story and characters were really fresh compared to a lot of recent anime.  Holo and Lawrence are really fun to see interact as she teases him while he tries to get business done.  Their relationship slowly grows across these two seasons and is very touching.  I'm an accountant and it was a treat to watch merchant dealings as a main focus of an anime.  It's highly simplified, but the situations really build in drama until a final resolution.
Lawrence meets a mysterious merchant who has information about the
fur trade - are they trustworthy or attempting to manipulate the market?
The biggest difference between the two seasons is the first was more episodic as Holo and Lawrence get to know each other during their trip while the second had only two story arcs.  Both arcs were fascinating and contained a lot of intrigue, but it really limited the scope of the show to these two major situations.  The pair get closer to their final destination and tensions rise.  We don't know what Holo will do and whether she'll keep traveling with Lawrence to the end.  Great drama and storytelling!
Holo and Lawrence's friendship becomes more strained as they
near the end of their journey
The artwork was relatively consistent with the first season, but I didn't notice the same lush backgrounds as both story arcs were set within dingy medieval cities.  Both opening and ending theme songs/sequences changed and weren't quite as good as the first season's.  I was a bit disappointed at the complete lack of action and only subtle fantasy elements in this second season.  The lack of action was my biggest gripe for the first season and this season had practically nil.  I guess the focus was squarely on the relationship between Lawrence and Holo.  I still loved the show and highly recommend it for viewers looking for something playfully mature and charming.  The ending wasn't very strong and it absolutely begs for continuation of the story.  I really hope a Spice and Wolf Season 3 happens!
Lawrence uncovers startling tales about Holo's origins and where she's from

TO BUY and Recommendations: