Entry #7: Ookami to Koushinryou (Re-Watch)

(Season One)

I’ve realized something about myself. I despise writing about all of these series when I have basically nothing to say about them that really stands out from other entry descriptions. Many of them just consist of “Oh, it’s really stupid. Funny joke. lol.” It’s truly a maddening process. On a brighter note, once I start writing, I immediately don’t care anymore. I love writing!

Spice and Wolf, or Ookami yadda la doo-dah, was the eighth anime I ever watched (in regards to my recent anime renaissance). I remember thinking the economic doohickies of th first season got in the way of the development of the relationship between Horo and Craft. I don’t believe that anymore. I have the transitional skills of a turtle.

The beautiful thing about this series is that it isn’t cliche. It is, from what I could pick up, completely devoid of cliche, except for maybe the premise of a young man traveling with a beautiful, “young” deity. That may be the only zing. Otherwise, this story is riveting based purely on its refreshing take on the romantic progression of a couple’s road to freedom. It genuinely feels like a fantastic viewing, only because of how realistic everything feels, despite the pseudo realistic setting.

I once told a friend of mine that the only thing anyone desires in an anime is good chemistry between characters. Spice and Wolf is one that takes full advantage of this statement. The way Horo and Craft get along is unlike any relationship I have ever seen in anime, and like many I’ve seen in real life. The teasing, the fights, the genuinely sappy moments all feel as desired due to this pair’s strong bond, which is only strengthened by the pair’s personalities.

Horo is a wise wolf. She is also beautiful. She is also like any other human being, which contradicts her position, granted we aren’t comparing her to the Greek Gods. Horo is the one anime character that I can recall teaching my life lessons. I can even recall learning something new after this most recent re-watch. When you learn life lessons from anime, you know you’re watching something spectacular. Her emotions are on her sleeve, except when she’s being sly. Like a wolf… wait, no, that’s a fox. She’s just a well rounded character, through and through. Craft is a nice guy. But aren’t all people nice guys? Craft is also an analytic businessman. But aren’t all people analytic businessmen? No. That’s the one thing he has going for him. If his personality were any indicator, he might’ve been just as cliche as any main male character. Fortunately, he grows as a person all throughout the series, seeing as Horo is so wise. But that’s not to say Horo is always the one doing the teaching. Their relationship grows from each other, as they get to know one another through their quirks. The little things are taken into consideration, as they blossom as a couple by the end of it. They both are good characters to begin with, with Horo having the clear edge early on. However, their development through each other is what makes both of them great.

Bah. Art is fine. I really don’t care about writing about art, it seems. Unless it’s bad. I should appreciate what I have. Ho-hum.

So, to check it off, amazing chemistry between characters… yeah, that’s it. That’s really all that needs to be said about this title. Their relationship alone is something that needs to be highly praised. Though, I will admit, the economic side to the story is interesting as well. It’s also a nice supplement for emotional distress and a producer of drama. Wow, I’ve realized that there’s a lot more to be said about the plot than I’m giving it credit for. Bah, I’m lazy. Perhaps next season.

(Season Two)

Normally, I’d be upset with a lot of unneeded writing, but this series makes it excusable. So good.

The second season of Spice and Wolf is spicier than the first, which may be why I enjoyed it more on a personal level. However, one thing I will admit is that the relationship between Horo and Craft feels a lot stronger in the firs season than the second. There are distinct differences, and they certainly seem closer by experience, but it seems as though Horo takes more of a back seat role in the second season compared to Craft. There are instances of this in the first season, but this season does it more frequently. What fun it was to see Horo hold her own during contract negotiations and sales pitches. We see more love quarrels than good ol’ economic fun.

I couldn’t even count every arc of the first season, because it all seemed to blend in so perfectly. In the second season, there are two arcs. Two. Each comprising of six episodes. I wonder if each of these arcs covered one whole volume of the source story. If so, that’s impressive. However, seeing as I was able to count them, it makes the story feel somewhat fixed. The first season had this adventure-esque quality that allowed you to immerse yourself within it and forget about silly arcs and what not. While I can’t say this changes for the worse in the second season, it certainly becomes noticeable.

What I believe the second season does better than the first is addressing the tough questions between Horo and Craft’s relationship. This is where a lot of that “unneeded drama” comment stems from, but it’s not unneeded. It’s perfectly natural. Too natural. I almost think this is real life. These issues also present an interesting take on relationships between strangers, or stranger beings. It feels natural, I can guarantee, as the emotions flowing through me at the time were emotions of dread and discomfort. It stings the heart and the mind.

Why does it seem like the closer two people come together, the less they can have fun with each other? This certainly becomes an issue during the second season, and it follows up into the end of the season. Horo seems more stout in the first season. Craft seems more stoic in the first season. In the second, the become more complacent. The experience together made them softer, more accepting of things that occurred. However, this complacency is also their downfall. I thoroughly enjoyed their relationship to the fullest extent, but their bond didn’t seem as strong as it could be. Even at the end, it didn’t seem as strong as it could be. I’m no nomad of love myself, but that doesn’t stop me from questioning.

Horo the wise wolf actually taught me more about life than… er… school? Her teachings seem more relatable in this season, even if her personality doesn’t. As I’ve stated before, Horo loses her composure more often during this season. She isn’t as stout, and her playful banter is only used to a certain degree. The carefree, loving bond between man and wolf that was present in the first season is put under trial during this season. Craft as a character, I feel, improves during this season. He becomes more of a human being. He thinks with his heart instead of his head. And with love at stake, what more could we ask for? His playfulness has increased. His cunning as well. He’s come full circle from being the ultimate merchant to the ultimate human being, full of every emotion ever conceivable.

Art is fine. Like I said before, nothing special is ever said about art unless it’s fantastic or fantastically bad. One thing: Horo and Craft’s first kiss looks odd.

When I first finished Toradora, I was thrown into a funk that lasted the entire day after. I didn’t want to do anything. I just wanted to lay in bed and think about my life. Finishing Spice and Wolf for the first time, I experienced similar symptoms. However, I believe the open ending gave me more hope for a more fulfilling finale… but alas, the anime does not care to show it. Even after this most recent re-watch, Spice and Wolf’s open conclusion left me with a sort of melancholy that reminded me of the past. It was a fitting emotion; one that I’ve felt many times after viewing such wondrous anime such as Spice and Wolf. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Personal Score: A-

Critical Score: A-

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