Oh, Spice and Wolf. I feel bad for never writing a review of the first season, but as soon as I finished watching it I heard about the second season coming out. So I thought it’d be pointless… anyway, it’s looking like there might end up being a THIRD season too, but I can’t fall behind anymore! And let’s not jinx that 3rd season.
It feels silly reviewing a show in parts, but that’s how I’m gonna do it.
I watched this over a really long period of time, almost like I would if it were airing weekly. And maybe that’s part of the reason why like 60% of the plot went over my head… or maybe it’s that it was in a different language and fan-subtitled… or maybe it was that it was about medieval-esque merchants and I know absolutely zero about buying and trading and deals and that. But the fact that I was stupid about the trading parts definitely did not mean I didn’t enjoy it!
For one thing, the music was amazing. It really lent to the whole atmosphere of the show. Plus I loved the opening song. It had a nice melody that switched back and forth from major to minor. I’ve heard mixed opinions on the ending song, but I got to like it.
Ok, I REALLY have to rewatch season 1. I think watching it a second time would help understand those little details that I forgot about and that later became important. I ended up having to accept that I was never going to have a full and exact understanding of what just happened. The second season was actually better about making the plot clear. But I’m really going to have to watch season 1 twice, and this time in a marathon so I can remember what’s happening.
That said, the premise for Spice and Wolf is really quite unique, I mean for anime. Especiall since it’s set in a Medievel Fantasy World. When you hear the words “Medieval Fantasy World” in the summary for an anime, do you run farrrrr away, expecting cheesiness? If so, then this is the Medieval Fantasy World anime for you! Aside from the fact that one of the main characters has that wolf deity thing going (Smells cliche, right?) Spice and Wolf is extremely realistic and serious, even more so in the second season. But if you don’t like talking and being puzzled, and you want action and exaggerated comedy; this will probably bore the pants off you.
Another strong point of this show, Horo and Lawrence are a very interesting pair. They both seem to actually be rational! Hurray. The other characters are all solid as well. Though again, this part was done even better in the second season.
Art and Animation.
Faulted, but not abysmal. The fact that the animation isn’t stunning should NOT keep you from watching this.
Okay, so “atmosphere” is kind of a weird subheading, but I was trying really hard to think of what it was about the first season that I liked better than the second. And “atmosphere” is what I came up with. Though, it might have just been created by the music. Or the OP.
Overall: Spice & Wolf season one was enjoyable, and worth a rewatch if only to grasp the plot twists better. And I liked it enough to be excited for the second season…
At this point, direction/animation was handed over to a different studio, Brains Base (beloved by jeanniex for animating the lovely NATSUME YUUJINCHOU *Review coming soon… eventually…* despite their unusual and zombie-like name) and I must give credit to them because they did a fantastic job with continuity. It was like the original Spice & Wolf, which kept fans happy, only WAY BETTER, which kept them ecstatic. I did miss the black around Horo’s eyes, though, from the first season. But overall the outlines were thinner which really made it easier on the eyes. It’s pretty! Season 2 also felt even more solid than season 1, and it seemed to get more serious but without losing its charm.
Still excellent, but more understandable. It may have been that I switched to a different fansub group, though. By the way, thanks Mazui ~ for getting Spice and Wolf II out in awesome quality and like 3 hours after it aired in Japan even though it takes a lot to sub such a wordy series. Very few mistakes and they released version 2’s when there were. Back to the plot, it just gets better. The first arc was suspenseful! I did not see that coming. Amarty was one interesting character. The second arc was good too. All very solid.
The same zippy dialogue between Horo and Lawrence; plus the side characters became even more interesting and solid this season. Another bonus is that even thought the studio changed, the characters remained their same old rational selves and didn’t start going all moe and dramatic on you.
As I mentioned in the first paragraph, the art and animation only gets better, but the character designs stayed the same (this is a good thing). Of course they were also drawn better.
Music and Atmosphere.
The BGM was different but still nice and medieval. The OP was also pleasant, but I still like the first one way better. However, applause for Brains Base for giving both the OP and ED the same feeling and style as the OP and ED in season 1. The only thing was the OP felt too happy and in-a-major-key for the slightly more serious second season. What happened to all the interesting switching between major to minor?! Eh?! They could’ve kept the original OP, like Saiunkoku Monogatari… they had the same lovely OP for 78 episodes. But that’s just me griping, and considering that such a small, insignificant complaint is my only gripe, I’d say that’s a very good sign, wouldn’t you?
The atmosphere was mostly the same except a very slightly difference, which is probably just in my head. Either way, it’s totally fine and understandable. I mean, new season, new studio.
SPICE AND WOLF IS GOOD. Just thought I’d throw that out there. =)
Please don’t watch it if you hate realism and dialogue, though.