Having completed a mini-Vampire series it seems appropriate somehow to move on to werewolves (as silly as that sounds). The Spice and Wolf series could technically be considered a furry rather than a werewolf, but it could also be considered one of the best story driven light novel adaptations of all time. Certainly in my humble opinion it ranks in the top ten best of all time…OK, maybe the top 20…no, as I think about it, definitely the top 10.
Our protagonist, a young merchant named Kraft Lawrence (His name is NOT reversed in traditional Japanese style according to the references I could find.) travels throughout the land brokering deals and trying to turn a profit by purchasing goods and selling them in better markets. He is a dedicated and conscientious merchant with a talent for finding a good deal. Having purchased wheat from a village where he is well known, he interacts with, and rejects the confession of a young lady who is also a merchant and leaves carrying his wheat to the next market.
Unbeknownst to Kraft Lawrence, he has also picked up a stowaway. The local deity of the land has decided upon a change of venue and is able to hide in the wheat which Lawrence has purchased. Her name is Holo, and her title that of Wise Wolf. This local kami can take the form of either a gigantic and fierce wolf, or an attractive young lady in her late teens with a luxurious tail and wolf ears. The meeting between Kraft Lawrence and Holo is some of the best dialog in anime (depending on which translation you are listening to). While a cute girl with animal ears might cause some viewers to think of cat-girls and fan service, this anime is dialog driven like no other I have seen. The great majority of the story involves extended conversations between Lawrence and Holo over various business deals, including the debt that she has incurred for traveling with him. While this might sound boring in the extreme, the repartee between the characters as they verbally spar is very entertaining. The author, Isuna Hasekura, is a master of dialog and witty double entendre. The interaction between Lawrence and Holo as their relationship develops and deepens is an example of truly creative dialog and plot development.
While the story is dialog driven, it is by no means boring. There are plenty of thrills and chills of all kinds to hold the attention of the viewer. Kraft Lawrence and Holo are forced to rely on each other more and more as the series progresses and eventually grow into a force to be reckoned with in the business world. They learn from each other and come to respect each other and, in the end, realize that their similarities far outweigh their differences.
The animation is well drawn if not remarkable. The music is good, with the exception of the closing theme of the first season. I find that song annoying for some reason. The colors are, for the most part light and airy, leaning to pastels and Earth-tones and the palette is saturated. There is minimal violence but it is present and the first two episodes contain a modest amount of nudity. Holo is naked when Lawrence discovers her though it is handled tastefully and is in no way gratuitous or explicit. After the first two episodes the series would be appropriate for middle to older teens and adults. In fact this story would hold the interest of anyone who is a fan of dialog driven anime. The story can be legitimately viewed at the following sites: