Anime Throwback: Spice and Wolf

Spice and Wolf is an already complicated story, even before you add in the relationship between Kraft Lawrence and Holo.

Spice and Wolf has a unique way of telling its story that we don’t find often in other anime. It’s oftentimes tangled, convoluted, and a messy affair in the journey of Lawrence and Holo. Nothing is straight-forward and obvious. There are always other elements that lurk beneath the surface; conversations that have deeper meaning that the audience doesn’t discover the meaning of until later. Spice and Wolf keeps you engaged through the mystery of it’s story. That is as long as you’re in for the ride of being a merchant in a medieval setting with an adorable wolf girl. 

At heart Spice and Wolf is ultimately a love story. 

But how we arrive at the conclusion of the story is another matter entirely. The narrative begins when a traveling merchant named Kraft Lawrence arrives in the town of Pasloe. Nothing is out of the ordinary, but the time of the year so happens to be the time of the harvest. Pasloe, independent of direct church influence, still celebrates what is considered a pagan harvest ritual that worships the wolf named Holo. She is the bringer of the harvest for the town of Pasloe. 

Already it’s a town in conflict with the ancient ways and the modern ways. And it just so happens that Holo is real, not just a myth. This is where the story gets interesting, when Holo convinces Lawrence to take her with him on his travels. Lawrence, seemingly not of strong religious conviction, is hesitant to take a wolf girl with him on his journey. The obvious reason is that she is bad news for his business. What happens to him if it’s discovered that a relic of the ancient ways is traveling with him? 

Holo presents a conflict between the old ways and the new. 

The question of what happens to Lawrence when he agrees to Holo’s proposal for a traveling arrangement is the crux of the story and inherent conflict that follows. After all, he is just a merchant trying to make his fortune in the world, so he can settle down and set up a shop. But things aren’t going to be that simple, especially when you have a wolf as a traveling companion. 

Once Holo’s existence is known, she is a wanted entity by the church. She is a threat to the way of the world that they have created. She has to hide her true nature from the world in the form of disguise. Even in her human form she can’t hide her wolf ears or tail. Traveling for her is not in general safe. But she is ignorant of the world and the way it has changed since her time in Pasloe. She has no choice but to rely on Lawrence. 

But it’s not just religion that is at stake, or the conflict between the old or new, there is also an element of business involved. Lawrence has to trade along the way to make ends meet as a merchant. As such Lawrence and Holo have to make stops along the way. Spoiler, because this is what raises the stakes in the story, not all of Lawrence’s business ventures are a success. 

Lawrence and Holo make an unusual tag team that have to use their wits and daring to survive the world in which they find themselves. And yes through that process we get the start of a relationship that is more than just a traveling pair. In short love develops between the two. 

If you can manage, Spice and Wolf is an anime worth the time spent watching. 

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