Spice and Wolf II Complete Collection
In the two stories that make up Spice and Wolf II, the first involves Lawrence and Holo arriving in a village just in time for a local festival. After meeting a new friend, the pair find themselves in a bit of trouble when he decides that he has fallen in love with Holo and wishes to buy her out of the hands of Lawrence to make her into his wife. In the second story, another plot to sell Holo forms around a city ruled by the church which has placed a strict embargo upon fur trading.
Good and the Bad
Not terribly long ago, I watched and loved the unlikely series, Spice and Wolf. I could tell you that it was the gripping story that pulled me in but we’d both know that was a lie. What makes Spice and Wolf so charming is the world that are filled with such special and fun characters; particularly its leads and it’s such a wonderful feeling to say that the second season does little to betray that initial feeling.
Maintaining the same emotional pull, the world that you loved in the first season remains true with beautiful backgrounds and design that makes you feel as though you’ve been transported to a world from the distant past. The world is filled with rich, lush colors and comes to life before your eyes. Keeping in tradition as well, the world is only aided by the continued lessons in fictional economics from Kraft Lawrence which educate everyone around him on how to make a profit.
As this season unfolds, it’s clear that not all things have stayed the same. One of the nice things about the first season that kept the series constantly fresh was how quickly the series moved from one story to the next. Around every corner there were new twists and adventures which eventually would draw the Lawrence and Holo closer together. In the second season however, this method of storytelling is ditched entirely to tell two longer story arcs which make up the entire season.
This proves both good and bad. On one side, both of these stories are strong narratives which give the audience real chances to feel the tension arising between the leads. Within the first couple of episodes, Lawrence gets himself into quite the mess and will have to work hard in order to get out of it. While the conclusion is a predictable wrap up, I can’t deny that I felt the drama rise as time ticked down to the deadline.
What is unfortunate is that with these longer story arcs, Spice and Wolf shows a major flaw in that it doesn’t know how to fill up time properly. With single stories taking up half a season each, each episode has a large amount of time that it must fill up with simple dialogue that doesn’t always have anything to do with the story. Sometimes these moments are sweet bits of back and forth between Holo and Lawrence as their relationship begins to evolve into a very flirtatious one filled with a hint of romance. These moments were fine and the banter back and forth rose to wonderful new heights that will please anyone who has secretly urged these two on to finally say what is important.
But then there are the moments in which Kraft will discuss business and this takes up a lot of time. It’s at these times when sometimes all you want to do is tune out Lawrence discussing his latest business strategy to win back Holo from their current predicament. It always involves great detail and will always involve complex dealings that were sometimes confusing to follow. The one saving grace to these stretches is the motivation behind the writing, the passion that the character feels in order to win back his personal tsundere and that’s just a nice reminder of why you loved them to begin with.
Being that this is a second season, there is naturally an at least small barrier to be hurdled along the way. While not completely impenetrable, those who are coming into this season without any prior experience are going to find themselves struggling for at least parts of these episodes. While there are plenty of flashbacks to the first season eluding to things that have happened, there is rarely any real elaboration on what those events were at any given point.
While it may sound recycled from season one, the new period tracks on this series continue to make Spice and Wolf one of the best series musically from within the last few years. Matching the setting perfectly, the music composed by Yuuji Yoshino are always a beautiful addition to any scene and match the tone wonderfully. The one place that left me in a small state of confusion came in episode five when a sudden almost saxophone sounding melody began playing which completely threw its particular scene off the rails for a few moments.
Funimation gets so many bonus points here it’s not even funny because they actually brought over the original Japanese extras. Beyond the clean animations, the two notable extras on this set involve education with Holo and stretching with Holo. In the first one, Holo educates the audience on some simple terms used throughout the series and while cute is nothing compared to the latter. An absolutely ridiculous little stretch of animation that involves Holo stretching with the audience. Yups, just plain ordinary exercise stretches. Why? Oh, why not? It amuses me that these extras were ever made to begin with but to have them included on the region 1 release just amuses me to no end.
While it might be a little harder for viewers discovering this series for the first time, this was a series that I never got tired of watching. Worthy of being called a wonderful sequel, this series tells two more stories that fans have every reason to love with all of the charm and wit of the first season. Spice and Wolf II is a hidden gem worth discovering.