a review by Nalini Haynes
Producer: Kadokawa Pictures
Holo is the Wolf Goddess who has brought rich harvests but also allowed poor harvests from time to time to rest the soil. She was worshipped by the villagers for centuries, but now they feel they no longer need her. Lawrence is an itinerant merchant often trading spice who drives his horse and cart from town to town seeking to make enough money so that he can buy a shop and settle down. Together they are Spice and Wolf.
Spice and Wolf begins like an inversion of The Wicker Man; in Spice the wicker wolf is prepared for the harvest festival at the beginning. The festival is obviously a celebration of hard work and no longer a thing of worship. The church that worships the ‘one true God’ has taken over the country, with increased security in place as a reaction to the harvest festival.
Holo is usually in the form of a young woman but she has wolf ears and a tail. If she is captured and given over to the church there will be severe retribution. Occasionally Holo takes the form of an extremely large wolf in order to protect herself and Lawrence. A romance develops between the two, but it is awkward as Holo is vain while Lawrence is defensive.
The animation is good, being more on the realistic side than some, although all the girls have over-sized eyes. The stories are intelligent if sometimes a little overly verbal in order to explain Machiavellian politics and currency trading in this medieval era (a few episodes at the end of disc one). Generally well-paced, a good story arc and some character development.
This is intelligent anime recommended for mature teens and adults.
This article was previously published in Dark Matter issue 3, April 2011, and predated on this website to reflect the original publication date.