I hate cold. I’ve already grumbled about my cold weakness, which makes me as slow as a slug, but I’ve managed to get enough strenghts to post again.
And what’s better to warm ourselves than a naked female anthropomorphic wolf? It makes you wonder why scientists haven’t created yet Neko girls….
In a country similar to Middle Ages Europe, Craft Lawrence is a travelling peddler who jorneys from town to town on his cart, trading merchandize and saving up cash to open his own shop. His latest business takes him to the village of Pasroe, the current home of his aprentice merchant, Chloe. Unfortunely, Pasroe is in the middle of the harvesting festival in honor of Horo, the wolf god of harvest and Chloe has the person to cut the last bundle of wheat, so now she is stuck to play the role of Horo and be locked up in the barn for a week.
Since his apprentice is unavaliable for the moment, he decides to leave the village but after some kilometers he sense something inside his cart. What he finds among the furs is a naked young girl with wolf-like ears and tail. She calls himself Horo and supposely is the real wolf god who was helping the harvests of Pasroe. But the villagers started using recent agricultural innovations and she is no longer needed, so she decided o leave and go back to her homeland on the far frozen north, Yoitsu. She was able to escape because Lawrence had a bundle o wheat on his cart bigger than the last bundle cut by Chloe, and she traveled from one bundle to the other.
Lawrence, suspicious of the story as anyone would be, asked for a proof of the story, which Horo provided with morphing of her left arm into a massive wolf paw (after a small payment in wheat). Lawrence got terrified by the transformation, and during his temporary state of panic Horo dissapeared. After these events, Lawrence returned to the village to spend the night. Meanwhile, chloe snuck out of the barn to spend some tme with Lawrence and chat. During the chat, Chloe revealed her admiration for him and her wish to make a store together along with some innuendos that she cares mores for Lawrence beyong the master-apprentice relationship, which Lawrence dodged the questions feigning ignorance. After leading Chloe back to the barn and returning to the room, Horo reappears and reveals that she was staying in the village due to a favour she was making to a man, but the ungratefulness of the current generations has lead her to her decision of leaving. Lawrence finaly agrees to help Horo with her jorney back to Yoitsu, leaving behind Chloe withouth warning her.
The next day, Horo finaly get’s dressed, “borrowing” the finest dress that Lawrence had as a trade good and both shake their hands, sealing the deal of helping each other.
This was a show I was expecting since I took notice of the manga through the IRC. Normally I’m not a fan of furry characters, but the plot of Spice and Wolf and Horo’s background made me a fan of her. Her interactions with Lawrence have a tone of provocation and challenge, derived from the years of life she has compared to Lawrence. But the skeptical merchant is a interesting character; he managed to deal with a unpredictible situation (Horo) with a amazing calm and managed to avoid a complicated situation who could spoil his friendship with Chloe.
It will be fun to see how Lawrence cooperates with Horo in the deals that will surge. Speaking more in detail about the soundtrack, you got to admire the OP song, “Tabi no Tochu”, who has a nostalgic feeling on it. “Ringo Hiyori”, the ED song, is also nice in spite of the Engrish but the producers got lazy with the ED animation. The animation is smooth and with high quality but the naked scenes don’t have the same impact as the ones shown in the manga. About the red headed girl Chloe: she is a new character added on this anime version which is not present in the novels and in the manga. How much will Chloe affect the original plot?
Like Extrange, I had experienced The Spice and Wolf in a different form before the anime. But instead of reading the manga, I had read the original novel. As a reader of the novel, I can only express my disappointment in the anime, because it has taken a lot away from what I liked about the novel. The depth of characterisation found even in this opening chapter of the novel is no where to be seen in this episode, and the realistic world of a travelling merchant life is also sadly missing. Lawrence’s encounter with the knight was given a lot more time to show us Lawrence’s cunning and resourcefulness, and removing that essence made that whole knight encounter seem unnecessary to me in the anime. Furthermore, his reaction to Horo’s front leg was vastly different in the novel – this makes me worry about how else they may change Lawrence’s character. The reaction is perhaps justified in that situation, but then how will Lawrence act when Horo shows him her entire true form? That extra trip back to the village changes the dynamic between the two characters greatly. There was another subtle change; Horo’s requirements for changing form was originally stated as “Wheat… or fresh blood.” Having the two changed around actually makes a profound difference on Horo’s personality. The novel’s rendition painted Horo as mischievous but without any malice, but by stating “fresh blood” first, the anime Horo seems outright malicious, trying to shock Lawrence, playing on his perception of her as a demon. Then there was that trip back to the village – Chloe’s existence changes a lot about Lawrence’s original motivation in letting Horo travel with him, which is loneliness. If he could’ve taken Chloe, someone whom he had known for a long time, and who would willingly travel with him, why would he take Horo instead? It also makes it less believable for me that he could sympathise with Horo’s loneliness, especially in light of how the villagers all welcome him to their festival, instead of not allowing him to stay in the novel. That is also what I mean when I said a believable world is missing. The novel makes lots of reference to the weather and how Lawrence must deal with them as a travelling merchant. Removing that and changing the villager’s attitude to Lawrence has made a lot of the believability crumble for me.
Yes, it’s the first episode, and I’m nitpicking. I understand that some of that may still make an appearance in the anime in another form, but as a reader of the novel who was drawn in so deep right from the prologue, and proceeded to love every word printed, I can only say that the anime is disappointing. I’ll still watch it and try to judge it as a stand-alone work, but I know I won’t be able to stop myself from making those comparison. Hopefully by the time of the third episode I will no longer find the anime lacking.
For all the unwelcoming predictions about how this series would turn out, if you base it on the first episode, it could turn out to be quite nice. The animation quality was mostly solid, with nothing spectacular, as the transformation scene seemed a bit rushed. The age gap between the 25 year old Lawrence and the 15 year old Horo (Even though she’s actually 350 or something) is a bit much, but it doesn’t show too much when they are side by side. Lawrence looks quite a bit older than he actually is,looking more like a father with the white hair and stubble.
It appears there will be some rivalry between Horo and Chloe, as there was a very fanservicesque scene with Chloe laid out on the hay. She basically is head over heels for Lawrence, and I think he realizes it, but he brushes her off. When he begins his travels with Horo, I’m wondering why Chloe didn’t just ride with him before. It’s probably just to move the plot along I suppose, with some conflicts arising between Chloe and Horo later.
As a first episode, it’s considered good in my book, as I didn’t have to stop halfway through due to sheer boredom because of the lack of explosions/fires/nice boats. Horo is very well drawn and is surprisingly cute. Lawrence is probably one of the stronger male leads I’ve seen, as he appears to be in control of himself at all times, even when a naked girl is standing in front of him.