Reviewed by: Dallas Marshall
Released by: Yen Press
Publishing Country: USA
Author: Isuna Hasekura,Keito Koume
Age Rating: Mature
Page Count: 192
With his carthorse as his only companion, the young merchant Kraft Lawrence slowly wends his way through dusty back roads in search of profitable trade. But this monotony screeches to a halt when, one night, he encounters a harvest goddess in the guise of a beautiful young girl...with wolf ears and a tail! Longing for the northern lands of her birth, Holo the Wisewolf joins Lawrence as he follows the ebb and flow of trade through the countryside. And when the two come across a compelling but suspicious opportunity for profit, will Lawrence with his mercantile chops and Holo with her ancient instincts be able to separate the truth from the lies - and make some coin while they’re at it?!
Lawrence is a young travelling merchant living in turbulent times. The pagan way of life is dying off and Christendom is beginning to leave is mark all across Europe. Being unconcerned with either faction of belief and only bothered with achieving his goals as a merchant, Lawrence is given a rude awakening one night when he finds a naked "wolf-girl" stowing away in his carriage. He soon finds out that she is the once revered wolf-goddess of the harvest named Holo. Reluctantly, due to her talent in economics (who'd of thought), Lawrence takes her along as his business partner and their adventures begin.
Spice and Wolf's is sketched in a way which portrays a homespun charm. It has a simple art style, there are no intense battles or in-your-face graphics instead Spice and Wolf depends on calming surroundings and an appreciation for the ways of old to see itself through. This really does act as a double edged sword though.
For every part of charm that resides in Spice and Wolf there is equal parts of exposition and drudgery in terms of dialogue. The journey of Lawrence and Holo is a quaint pleasure to read but when Spice and Wolf veers off into economic endeavors it becomes somewhat of a pain. Reading Lawrence explain about how the currency system works as well as go on and on about how money changes in value was somewhat of an aggravation. Unless you are person who enjoys crunching numbers or hearing someone else talking about rudimentary economics or accounting, Spice and Wolf might not be your cup of tea.
The dynamic between Lawrence and Holo is pleasing but it never tries to make it seem like they will become lovers. Holo is cute but never does the story depend on this to pull things through, which has been seen in other manga. She's feisty and speaks her mind but never does it to the point where she comes off as annoying or mean-spirited. Lawrence is perfectly level-headed and a realist but has it's insecurities as a merchant and his future concerning his trade. Most of the time the two are just talking about either what is going on around them or about Holo's past as a once worshiped deity. This gives the whole story a realistic tone, despite that one of the two main characters is a goddess.
Spice and Wolf is a good diversion. There is nothing spectacular in here but it is worth the time to sit down and read it. Being one part slice of life, part fantasy, and another what I would deem economic drama Spice and Wolf spends most of its time drawling on about harvests, profits all the while fulfilling its own Moe quota within its pages concerning the wolf-girl lead, Holo.
As for actually buying it with it's somewhat hefty $12.99 price tag in a market where most manga does not surpass $10.99. It is more of a rental worth work, and I would say that it would be in your best interest to borrow it from the library or a friend.
Why this was rated Mature and given a parental advisory sticker is beyond me. Aside from the few times where Holo is naked there is nothing explicit going on and in terms of violence it is almost non-existent.