Director – Takeo Takahashi
Animation Production – Brain’s Base
Brain’s Base is getting a lot of attention now with the excellent Durarara!!, but before this have done some other well-regarded series such as Baccano, Kurenai and the first season of Spice and Wolf. If anything Spice and Wolf is an interesting premise for a show that on the surface seem dull. With Brain Base’s excellent ability to craft a story they are able to make the life of a merchant trader in the medieval times full of drama and suspense. The second season of Spice and Wolf continues the same formula with merchant Kraft Lawrence and companion wolf god Horo going town to town making high risk trades. In this season there is an overall plot of Horo wanting to return back to her home town of Yoitsu, but this doesn’t happen in S2 so expect at least another season in the future. In fact in this season there are really only two arcs each 6 episodes which surround two different towns and trades.
I found that one the biggest draws of the show for me was the medieval fantasy setting. Seeing the architecture, churches, roads and the lifestyle in this time period is always interesting. It is all beautifully animated and has great detailed still shots every so often (some included in the screenshot gallery). Unlike other shows with a fantasy setting you get a different perspective of the period as you are following a merchant and not a warrior. You get a view into the lifestyle of merchants which is full of bartering, relationships, tricks and opportunities. In particular you get a good sense of the mind games that are played between merchants. For example they talk about future contracts in episode 4 along with some basic economics principles and market manipulation.
The romantic element of the show involving Lawrence and Horo is genuinely played out with enjoyable dialogue and dynamic between the two. Lawrence is less awkward this season as he has more confidence and ability to make quick comments and remarks.
Overall an enjoyable show, nothing that stands out as unbearable but also nothing spectacular.
Rating – B+
Year – 2009 Length – 12 Episodes
Genre – Adventure, Drama, Fantasy, Romance