Spice and Wolf

Arguably this beautifully animated series, and its sequel Spice and Wolf II, fall within the "magical girlfriend" subgenre of seinen romance.

For us oldsters who somehow got into anime, the series is a joy. The lead characters are both much more mature than is typical for this genre: the twenty-something itinerant merchant Craft Lawrence and the lupine fertility goddess Holo, the Wise Wolf of Yoritz, with six hundred years of observing humanity and our foibles, who soon becomes his traveling companion and business partner, appearing human by hiding her ears and tail under a hat or wimple and a long skirt or robe.

The underlying plots that supports the unusual romance is also unusual, no school story, no warfare, just commerce, unrelenting commerce. Currency speculation, commodity short selling ("selling on credit" as it's called in the subtitles), speculative bubbles, margin purchase, government interventions in markets, all provide the basis for story arcs as we watch Craft, wise enough about commerce, but clueless about women, and Holo, emotionally fragile for all her centuries of wisdom, grow closer.

The series often uses the plot device of showing a verbal interchange without letting the viewer hear it, then revealing the content later in a flashback. This is at first disconcerting, but one gets used to it.

The opening and closing themes of both seasons are a delight. The incidental music is fitting and carries the series nicely, but is nothing special.

The only standard parental warnings on this one is that Holo is naked from time to time, including in the opening credits of the second season, and several subplots in which there is fighting and people being left for dead.

Children, on the other hand, are unlikely to have the attention for the intricate twists and turns of the commerce driven plots, and likely would not be interested anyway.

Ratings (out of 5, 1 being worst, 5 being best)

Plot 4.9
Voice-Acting (original)4.9
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