Several years back now, I promised a friend of mine that I would watch one of his all-time favorite shows, Spice and Wolf. It was a series that was generally really well received and with perhaps one of the most renowned female characters of the late 2000s. I saw no reason not to give the series a try and try I did. Three times in fact. There was just something about the premiere that held me back from getting into the series proper and so the show was put on the back-burner for good while. This year I finally followed through on this extremely long-standing promise of mine in a way that was, in hindsight, probably the easiest way to get me to try any sort of series – through the light novels. In October of this year, with work slowing down just a touch, I blew through almost 8 volumes of the series in a fortnight.
I’m sure it goes without saying that I really enjoyed the series. The combination of the semi self-contained story lines of each volume in the travelers-on-a-long-journey type format really delighted me and pushed several of my nostalgia ridden buttons. At the risk of retreading some very well-worn ground, what I loved the most about the series was the dynamic between the main pair and how it progressed from volume to volume.
Lawrence is a lot of ways the sheep to Holo’s wolf and that rarely ever changes as the series progresses. As the primary perspective, we only really see his thoughts and impressions of the various conflicts and hairy situations the pair runs into. The beginning of the series to me primed him as the primary source of direction, knowledge, and resolution in the story. Though admittedly, my experiences with male protagonists in other light novels may have painted my expectation quite a bit here. Fortunately, this was not really the case and even a point of conflict in the story itself. Lawrence is incredibly fallible, and we’re shown this from the very first arc. It’s only through swallowing his pride, admitting his weakness, and cooperating with Holo that things worked out. And ever since this initial breakthrough, the series has progressed with him learning to trust, communicate, and understand his snarky wise-wolf companion.
On the other side of the equation, we only ever get a single side story from Holo’s perspective but every bit of described body language and conversation between the pair has built an image of the proud wolf that she claims to be. Holo is selfish, calculating, curious, proud, occasionally lonely, and kind. She takes every opportunity to get the upper hand on Lawrence while also taking every opportunity to try and support him on his journey and growth as a merchant. Casual conversations between the pair generally consist of shallow provocations disguising their feeling or desires bouncing back and forth before usually splatting like an egg on Lawrence’s face. This fervent dance of their everyday contrasted with their occasional honest heart to hearts make their relationship very cute and extremely fun to follow.
I’m a little mad at myself for not starting this series sooner but having almost passed my super-fan friend in the novels at this point, I think I’ve more than made up for the years of delay. Spice and Wolf is a series that I can see making its way on the shortlist of ‘series that I’ll be following forever’ and I’m very looking forward to the next 10+ volumes left.
If you, like me, had put off the anime for an unreasonable amount of time, maybe the novels will be as good an entry point for you as it was for me.
Thanks for reading,
This is post five of twelve that I’ll be writing as part of this year’s 12 Days of Anime. Be sure to check out all other amazing writers that are participating in this year’s event here.