If you’re a fan of the Spice and Wolf series, you surely must have heard about the release of the 17th volume which marks the epic conclusion of Holo and Lawrence’s travel. Having heard of it last month spurred me to dig into 2-feet deep of digital copies of Light Novels, anime, and other stuff (which reminds me I need to organize my files soon). I piled Spice and Wolf a year ago into my ever growing mountain of backlogs due to work and personal reasons. Finally catching up in this 12th volume, I can’t help but feel how I missed our characters, the settings, and their adorable interactions — which leads me to this post. I love Spice and Wolf. And I think it deserves a volume per volume review in this blog. It’s one of the first anime I’ve watched that stirred the inner geek in me along with Eden of the East. Unfortunately, we were left hanging after 2 seasons. A lot of people have been asking and pleading for a continuation. 7 years and counting, the adaptation hasn’t gotten the justice it deserves. Left with no other choice, I finally decided to read through the source material which isn’t that bad of a choice considering that I’m a bookworm myself.
Before we start, I think a short introduction is apt here. Spice and Wolf is a fantasy-romance series written by Isuna Hasekura. It’s a mild and perfect balance between medieval commerce, religious conflict, and drama. We follow the journey of Kraft Lawrence, an experienced travelling merchant, and his travelling companion named Holo. Holo is every bit the dream girl you can think of; the catch is that she has wolf ears, a tail, and can transform into a giant wolf that can swallow a human whole in one bite (the author — or perhaps the translations — love to reiterate this description volume by volume). The duo set off together to find Holo’s home place, Yoitsu.
Fast forwarding to the 12th volume, the gang (plus Col) are nearing their destination. Of course every travel is easier with a map. Problem is, they didn’t have one. This led them to seek the aid of Fran Vonely, an eccentric silversmith who is well versed in the field of art. Now, we didn’t really get much of a development here between Holo and Lawrence considering that it’s one of the most charming point of the series. Perhaps this is attributed to the fact that their mutual intimacy is solidifying, and that their feelings to each other are starting to feel perfectly “normal” to both parties. It’s kinda like the banter you get from lovers who understands each other so much, that one look or one gesture speaks sentences. I think this is a cute touch, actually, and allows the author to shift the focus from the Holo-Lawrence interactions, to the obstacle we have at hand. Having said that, the stage light focuses on Fran Vonely this volume and her parallelism to Holo.
I found it funny at how Lawrence managed to persuade Holo into helping Fran. Simply, he asked if she’s willing to abandon a girl who is just like her. Fran, just like Holo, are both searching for something that ties them back to their roots. Holo is Yoitsu’s, and Fran is searching for the legend of the angel, which is her bestie’s last message to her. Aside from that, they are both cunning and arrogant to a fault. Yet still, those who are tough on the outside are unexpectedly soft in the inside. I can somewhat sympathize with both of them. Not that I have directly experienced lost, but the longing for something tends to mount walls of defences in order to compensate for that deep sadness. Tear those walls down and you’ve got a bawling Holo, and a softer side of Fran. Sense of meaning and purpose is one of the core story and lesson you’ll get familiar with as the volume gets deeper (see Eve Bolan). I guess my only qualm here is that the Holo-Lawrence interactions we came to expect felt a bit short here. But, hey, too much of something can be bad — and this applies to romantic relationships.
As expected, the 12th episode manages to deliver that sweet and gentle flavor Spice and Wolf offers. It’s a good read in a way that it easily got me back in track of who’s who and what’s what. Lawrence and co. finally got a map that will lead their road to their end goal, and I kinda feel sad that the series is nearing last hurrah. We still have 5 volumes to cover but 2 of those, I believe, are Side Colors (side stories). I’m starting the 13th volume soon, which is one of those side-stories that doubles as a back story for the recurring charactes. I’ll be posting my musings per volume after reading it, but don’t expect it to be every week. I’m flipping the pages as fast as I can! Well, see ya!