Sunday, February 24, 2013

Anime Review No. 51-Spice and Wolf Season 1

"It's About the Journey, not the Destination"

Spice and Wolf, 2008 TV Series

Studio: Imagin, Director-Takeo Takahashi

Genres: Adventure, Fantasy, Romance

Well, February ends with a review on another series I like: Spice and Wolf. I watched this back in college when it first came out. Around Christmas 2010, I got some money to spend and after going to FYE, bought the whole first season on DVD. Unfortunately, I have yet to get the second season mainly due to it being only available on Bluray/DVD combo. So this review will focus on the first season.

Anyway, Spice and Wolf tells the journey of Kraft Lawrence, a traveling merchant in a world not much different from Medieval Europe. One day, while at a village, he runs into Holo, a wolf goddess who can take human form. She yearns to go back home to the northern lands, as the villagers have grown tired of the old pagan ways and are moving towards the all-powerful Church. So, Holo enlists Lawrence in joining her on the journey as she needs a companion after being lonely so long.

Now, based on that premise, one would swordplay and fast adventure in a fantasy world, would you not? Not really, as the focus of this series is on ECONOMICS, ECONOMICS, ECONOMICS!! Mostly it involves characters talking about and doing economic activities, including trade deals and doing networking with other people. Thus, the main drive of the series comes from dialogue and characters' interactions, as opposed to action which when that occurs, it is sweet and succinct. Of course, there is nothing wrong with this, as the attention to detail with regards to historical detail makes the world of Spice and Wolf rather believable.

This leads to the other draw that this show has for me: the characters, mainly Kraft Lawrence and Holo. Kraft Lawrence is a very complex character. Being at times confident and brave to being angry and defeated. But, the highlight character for me is Holo, who practically steals the show every scene she is in, which is most of them anyway. She's feisty, sarcastic, energetic and prideful on the surface, but there's also a lingering sad softness underneath. I like that. The supporting cast are mostly one-off characters that are a bit one-note, with a few exceptions (Nora the shepherdess for instance).

In terms of production, it is very solid across the board. Animation is very nice-looking, with some quite lovely backgrounds and consistent character designs. Music is traditional Medieval music, mostly strings and percussion. Not too different from what one would hear from a Ren. Fair. I especially like the ending song, which is a jolly energetic and all-engrish music. The english dub is done by Funimation, who do a very job with it, as usual. J Michael Tatum and Brina Palencia, as Lawrence and Holo respectively, are the knockout V.A.s for the dub. The rest of the dub is filled with Funimation regulars which upon hearing some of them you will recognize at an instant.

So, all in all, Spice and Wolf is a very good fantasy series. I highly recommend it.

Next time is well, back to Saturdays.

March 2nd is the next review, I am keeping it a surprise. See you then!

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