Japanese anime is very insidious with slipping in “education” into places you are not expecting “learning” to be lurking. Who would expect a history lesson from a show that sells itself as a show about cutesy anthropomorphic personifications of countries? And yet learn we do and have a good time getting unnoticeably edu-ma-cated to boot!
On the surface, it looks like it could possibly fall into the moe cess pit that most shows are cast into these days. You know the ones: the story is blah, yet the character designs are almost teeth-hurting, saccharine-laden cuteness incarnate. After digging a bit deeper, we soon realize that Spice and Wolf is a surprisingly accurate lesson on medieval economics and the merchant classes of the time period!
The whole set up of Spice and Wolf is impressively atmospheric. I don’t know if I can even explain it right, but I will try. When most anime take place in a historical or fantastical setting, the background really isn’t that noticeable. Not so with Spice and Wolf. The whole background is immersive; it does an excellent job of transporting the viewer into a typical medieval fiefdom. It feels old and it feels real. I struggle to remember another anime of the genre that has done such a good job of transporting the viewer into a world just by scenery alone.
The story of Spice and Wolf is the typical boy-meets-girl set up that most anime have in common. Girl turns out to be centuries old harvest wolf god, boy gives lessons on economics, hi-jinx ensue…Okay, and here it deviates from the norm. Lawrence, our main character is a traveling merchant and is very likable as main characters go. One day on his travels, Lawrence meets a lovely young woman with certain wolfly traits about her person. She explains that she is the region’s harvest god, but since the people of the region are turning from the Olde Ways she is looking to retire back to her homelands to the north. Lawrence, being ever the gentleman, offers to escort her to the forests of the north as long as she doesn’t eat him…I mean, as long as she pays her way.
I was completely charmed by this anime. Who knew medieval economics could be so enthralling or romantic! Don’t worry, the romance really isn’t the main point of it. The animation is gorgeous, the characters likable from the moment they first appear and the historical details make me drool.
Michelle Tsuki is an avid Anime fan and writer for ForYourAnime.com. ForYouAnime.com is an active and fun Anime community for fans to participate in writing Manga and Anime reviews, forum discussions and contests. For more Anime news and views visit: http://www.foryouranime.com.
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