01 Aug 2012
When one can live forever, the only constant is loneliness. This is true amongst all of the literature involving immortal beings and because of this, immortality is rightfully treated as the curse that it is. Who wants to live forever? Not I...
Spice and Wolf's second season is based on the third and fifth novels (excluding the fourth, which was a surprise) written by Isuna Hasekura and released in the UK by Yen Press. In fact, UK Anime has even reviewed these books for your enjoyment here: Volume 3 , Volume 5. However, as the anime is an adaptation of these books, the above novels will serve as a bit of a spoiler for the series which is elegant and enjoyable on its own merit.
This release of season two of Spice and Wolf includes a single episode OVA as the opening to this second season. This OVA episode continues where season one finished, with Nora the Shepherdess parting ways with Lawrence and Holo over a nice dinner (note that this scene is not in any of the books...). As they all part ways, Holo succumbs to a fever leaving Lawrence to care for her using the power of medieval medicine. As she sleeps, Holo reminisces of her past and her glorious time with her male financier - when she recovers, and as the merchant couple moves onto the next town, she realises that she truly is lonely.
This feeling of loneliness drives Holo and Lawrence into conflict, and when Lawrence discovers the truth about her home town of Yoitsu, foolishly keeping it from Holo, she finds herself another suitor, one who is more than happy to give her the commitment she craves. This foolish boy does not know what he is in for as the wise yet crafty wolf controls the situation to her liking, stringing both of her lustful suitors along for the ride.
“You will have me for your nurse, when the time finally comes”
The quotation above is from the final half of season two, and while I won't say anything about the story, the outcome of it all is quite satisfactory and unfortunately highlights the end-game for all relationships with immortal beings: 'Til death do you part. At least they were both honest with themselves in the end.
After revisiting Spice and Wolf since the publishing of the books, it is my opinion that the series is significantly more absorbing than their source texts, as I personally found volumes three and five to be quite hard work - not because of the quality of the writing, but because of the stories themselves. Both stories are quite emotionally fraught especially when, like me, you have so much invested in the relationship between Holo and Lawrence. To see them act foolishly, make rash decisions even in the heat of the moment, breaks me. During a couple of episodes in season two I found myself shouting at them to take a breather and step back, but alas, they couldn't hear me. The novels did not do this for me. Instead, I found myself avoiding the situation when the stories were written on paper. Rather than turn the page and find myself broken, I walked away. This is something you can't do quite as easily with an animated feature.
The second season is unfortunately left with no satisfactory conclusion (at least, not the kind that those fan-fiction authors endlessly pray for) and the series simply finishes at the end of its story arc without a promise of more. It is also unlikely that as I write this, there will be more animated adventures of Lawrence and Holo as there is no season three in the works at present, even with the novels translated beyond the end of season two in the English speaking world. Will there ever be a conclusion to the story? Will Holo ever get to Yoitsu and find the truth behind her homeland? Will Lawrence ever get his dapper little shop in a busy town, with his sexy wolf-girl wife and her cubs? Who, in the English speaking work knows for sure? With only 6 novels out of the 16 translated into English thus far, it is unlikely that any of us will know any time soon.
Spice and Wolf's second season continues along the same steady course as presented by the first, with improvements to the art quality (handled by a different animation studio to series one as Brain's Base take up the reins here) and the acting visible when compared to earlier episodes and highly evident throughout the second season. The previous formula of mixing medieval economics with a romance story works well, and with the second season this only improves as the stories are more emotionally taxing when compared to the couple's adventures in Pasloe and Ruvinheigen in the first season. That said, the outcome of this improved story telling comes at the price of us being left without a satisfactory conclusion. What Spice and Wolf has left us with, however, is an appetite for more of the story, which is thankfully progressed further in subsequent volumes of the light novel release by Yen Press. For those Holo fan boys like myself, it is going to be a long journey to find out what happens to our fair-tailed maiden in the end.
English and Japanese audio with English subtitles. Extras on this release are made up of the "Episode 0" OVA, video shorts - Studying with Holo, Stretching with Holo, Yoitsu style - and text-free opening and ending credits.