Spice and Wolf: Season Two (a J!-ENT Anime Blu-ray Disc Review)
September 7, 2011 by Dennis Amith
Smart, witty and enjoyable, “Spice and Wolf: Season Two” focuses on the relationship between Lawrence, the human and Holo, the wolf harvest deity. Can these two be together or will their differences keep them apart? Overall, an enjoyable series worth checking out!
Image courtesy of © Isuna Hasekura/ASCII Media Works. All Rights Reserved.
TITLE: Spice and Wolf: Season 2
DURATION: Episodes 0-12 (312 Minutes)
BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, Dolby TrueHD English 5.1 and Dolby TrueHD Japanese 2.0, Subtitles: English
RATED: TV 14
COMPANY: FUNimation Entertainment
RELEASE DATE: August 30, 2011
Originally created by Isuna Hasekura and Ju Ayakura (character designs)
Directed by Takeo Takahashi
Screenplay by Naruhisa Arakawa
Music by Yuuji Yoshino
Character Design by Kazuya Kuroda
Art Director: Toshihiro Kohama
Chief Animation Director: Kazuya Kuroda
Sound Director: Hajime Takakuwa
Director of Photography: Shinya Matsui
Art Setting: Yoshinori Shiozawa
Animation Production by IMAGIN
Featuring the following voice talent:
Ami Koshimizu/Brina Palencia as Holo
Jun Fukuyama/J. Michael Tatum as Kraft Lawrence
Daisuke Namikawa/John Burgmeier as Zeren
Kaori Nazuka/Jamie Marchi as Chloe
Mai Nakahara/Leah Clark as Nora
The journey through the wild countryside continues for the merchant Lawrence and his traveling companion, Holo the untamed harvest goddess. As their winding path takes them from village to village, Lawrence and Holo reap the bounty of an ever-strengthening bond, depending on his street smarts and her animal instincts to lead them to the feisty deity’s northern home.
Smart, witty and enjoyable, “Spice and Wolf – Season Two ” features a more emotional storyline that focuses on the relationship between Lawrence and Holo. Overall, a fitting conclusion to the overall series.
“Spice and Wolf” (aka “Okami to Koshinryo”) is an anime series that is based on a popular light novel series by Isuna Hasekura and character design by Ju Ayakura. A winner of the Silver Prize at the Twelfth Dengeki Novel Price, 13 volumes have been published by ASCII Media Works (via Dengeki Bunko) and have sold over 2.2 million copies.
Part of the allure of “Spice and Wolf” is that its a fantasy tale but its screenplay is quite smart as it incorporates economics and trade. The light novel series has spawned a manga (rel. in 2007) and in 2008, the first season plus an OVA was created and a second season which followed in 2009 along with a light novel release for the Nintendo DS.
The anime series is directed by Takeo Takahashi (“Elle”, “Aki Sora”, “Wife Eater”, “Rozen Maiden”) and features a screenplay by Naruhisa Arakawa (“D.N. Angel”, “Jinki: Extend” and “Blue Seed”), music by Yuuji Yoshino (“.Hack/Legend of the Twilight”, “Brigadoon”, “Marie & Gali”), character designs by Kazuya Kuroda (“Sakura Wars”, “Sora no Iro, Mizu no Iro”, “Vandread”, “Aki Sora”) and art direction by Toshihiro Kohama (“Solty Rei”, “SaiKano”, “Heroic Age”). Anime production for the second season is by Brains Base and Marvie Jack.
FUNimation Entertainment released the anime series on Blu-ray back in December 2009 but now both seasons of the series would be release on Blu-ray in August 2011.
“Spice and Wolf” revolves around a traveling merchant named Kraft Lawrence. Going from village to village peddling wolf fur and wheat, his goal is to make enough money, so he can open his own shop. While stopping at the village of Pasroe, he sees the villagers having a celebration for Holo the wolf who blesses a village with an abundance of wheat. Of course, the tale is so old that the celebration is more for having fun and someone in the village sports a wolf’s mask and gets the last cut of wheat.
While Lawrence goes to get some rest, he hears some rustling in his wagon. When he looks inside, he sees a girl who he thinks is a stowaway but discovers that this girl is much more than she seems. Not only does she have wolf’s ears and a tail, she claims that she’s the 600-year-old Holo. Of course, Lawrence doesn’t believe any of this until he asks her to prove it by turning to a wolf, in which she does.
As a businessman, Lawrence sees this as an opportunity to make some money utilizing Holo’s talents and in return, he agrees to fulfill her wish by promising to return her to the North where she is originally from.
So, the two form an alliance and in the process, Lawrence begins to make good money but at the same time, because of his alliance with the wolf, many villages now want her as well and will do whatever they can to get her.
In season two, the series focuses on the working relationship between Lawrence and Holo. As Lawrence shows interest towards other women, Holo appears to be jealous. When Holo is out of Lawrence’s life…Lawrence feels empty without her.
But with Holo being a wolf in human form and Lawrence being human…can a relationship between human and wolf exist?
“Spice and Wolf: Season 2” comes with episodes 0-12 on two Blu-ray and two DVD discs.
The main characters of “Spice and Wolf” are:
Kraft Lawrence – A traveling merchant who is a bit naive when it comes to women but when it comes to business, he’s good at peddling. He naturally cares for the people close to him, especially Nora. His goal is to make enough money to start up his own shop.
Holo – A wolf harvest deity who is short in temper, flirtatious and loves apples. She enjoys traveling with Lawrence and learning from him but also disciplining him. Very formal in the way she speaks, she learns about the business from him and is willing to help him make money if he takes her to the North where she is originally from. In wolf form, Holo is very dangerous and will kill humans if she has to.
Nora – A shepherdess who joins Lawerence and Holo with her sheep dog Enekk. She is attracted to Lawrence.
“Spice and Wolf: Season Two” is presented in 1080p High Definition. One thing that will catch your eye is how beautiful the artist backgrounds are. There is plenty amount of detail put into the art. From the walls of a building, the trees in the background, lush green or yellow lands, the wood, the ground, you name it…the artist definitely did a wonderful job on this television series. As for character designs, the designs by Kazuya Kuroda are quite faithful to Ju Ayakura’s illustrations.
With that being said, the series is pretty much an upconvert and for those who are quite picky when it comes to anime on Blu-ray, this TV series looks good versus its DVD counterpart but not fantastic compared to other HD native anime series. So, if you are not into upconverts, this is not for you. But if you can get over the upconvert, just know that the series looks a bit soft on Blu, good just not great.
Audio for “Spice and Wolf: Season Two” is presented in English 5.1 Dolby TrueHD and Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0. Voice acting for both the English and Japanese dub are done very well but one thing that I liked about the English dub was Brina Palencia’s take on the character Holo. She gives Holo this mature, serious but also flirtatious style that is really well done. For the most part, the series is front and center channel driven as the series is primarily dialogue driven. “Spice and Wolf” does have its share of action but action sequences happen once in a while, the anime series is definitely more plot driven. There is use of music that plays in the background but its more subtle than anything.
Subtitles are in English.
“Spice and Wolf: Season Two” comes with the following special features:
- Studying with Holo – (2:12) Holo gives brief lessons on bread and wine.
- Stretching with Holo Yoitz Style – (4:03) Learn how to stretch ala Holo’s wolf-way.
- Textless Opening and Ending themes
- FUNimation Entertainment Trailers
I have to admit that when I first watched “Spice and Wolf”, I was surprised by the intellectual nod to economics, business, money-making, peddling, bankruptcy and needless to say, “Spice and Wolf” definitely distinguishes itself from other anime series out there.
But while this does continue in season two, the main focus of the series changes in the fact that it focuses on relationships. Primarily between Lawrence and Holo.
There is no doubt that there is a sexual attraction between the two characters. They care for each other a lot… but one is human and one is a wolf (wolf harvest deity) and so the writers made sure to approach this in a careful manner. Granted, the fact that you see Holo mostly in human form most of the time, aside from having a wolf tail and ears and the fact that she has human emotions, you pretty much know these two are somehow going to hook up or someone is going to get killed.
With season two, the first half of the series explores Holo’s feelings towards Lawrence. She has emotions that she has never felt before and when she leaves him, you know that Lawrence is going to do whatever he has to, to get her back. It’s a predictable storyline but once again, the question for those who have stuck with the series since the beginning will want to know…will these two ever hook up? And that is where you will have to watch and find out for yourself!
Because of its business-driven plot, “Spice and Wolf” may not be a series for everyone wanting a more simpler fantasy/adventure series. The anime series focuses on the business aspect of moneymaking of that time period dealing with bartering and trying to make cash through the items one gets from town to town, the life of Lawrence the traveling merchant with a wolf deity at his side.
But this is what makes this fantasy adventure so unique is that it deals with the business side that anime doesn’t typically cover and I have no doubt that is why the light novel by Isuna Hasekura won an award in Japan. It’s definitely a fresh and unique storyline that I have never seen in my many years of watching anime.
If you are looking for an anime series that is definitely different from what you’ve seen before, enjoyable, witty and smart, definitely give “Spice and Wolf”, both seasons on Blu-ray a try.
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