Spice and Wolf – Episode 01 Review Random Curiosity

Spice and Wolf – Episode 01 Evaluate – Random Interest

OP Sequence

OP: 「(旅のゆくえ」 (Tabi no Yukue) by Hana Hope

「収穫祭と狭くなった御者台」 (Shuukaku-sai to Semaku Natta Gyosha-dai)
“The Harvest Festival and The Crowded Driver’s Box”

When you consider that Spice and Wolf are leading the way, it would be an understatement to say that spring has arrived in full force. A reimagining of one of the major anime series from the past that promises a true throwback to the nostalgia of the 2000s? Even though Spice and Wolf have a very big pair of shoes to fill, they succeed this spring launch. Naturally, I can’t tell that it will stay, but for now, I like what I’m seeing.

This Spice and Wolf is a real recreation of the original with a (claimed) stronger attention on the source material, according to the Random Curiosity Preview. The charming rural medieval setting of farmers harvesting wheat, the (spoiler alert: significant) church ruling local society, and characters like Kraft Lawrence (Fukuyama Jun), who brings all the disparate parts together through itinerant merchant trading and information sharing, are all present from the outset. Not much changes either. As a very junior merchant who only offered the town of Pasloe an opportunity to make a reputation for itself and earn money in order to eventually advance into the position he aspires, Kraft also demonstrates his abilities and function right away. Undoubtedly clear-cut and uncomplicated, yet the underlying idea is undeniable.

Though, of course, the true star of Spice and Wolf is Holo (Koshimizu Ami), who is the actual meat and potatoes, if you will. As the events of the future will demonstrate, Kraft may be seen as the catalyst, while Holo—the long-forgotten Pasloe god who formerly assured the village’s harvest—acts as the agent. Though time and changing social conditions have gradually rendered her role ineffective, simply praying to her is no longer enough for a bountiful harvest because of the church, technology, and Holo’s own urge to maintain the land’s productivity. Because of the circumstances, the wolf-girl literally jumps into Kraft’s arms, seizing the chance that his travels provide her to both return to her own ancestral home in the north and allow Pasloe to continue on its chosen route. A really innocent idea with simple, if perhaps fabricated, circumstances—but as we’ll see in the next episodes, one with significantly more depth and complexity than you would think is initially apparent.

That idea also leads us to the crucial question: how does this adaptation stack up against the original? I’m not sure it’s all that horrible right now. The presence of both original MC voice actors definitely does the trick for smoothing over the edges, especially when it comes to Holo’s venerable confidence and self-awareness and Kraft’s more moxie-esque merchant talents. However, the artwork will take some getting used to considering how Holo was designed previously. The degree of material faithfulness with which this adaption seems to be made me smile as well. In contrast to the original, Yarei (Sugita Tomokazu), Kraft’s true friend, fulfills the similar function. She is more realistic in her focus on the era’s real-life social situations and less of a fan service token (gender bending will do that). Even though the OP’s Tabi no Tochuu by Kiyoura Natsumi doesn’t quite evoke the same emotional responses as the original, I’m still really looking forward to what happens next because of Kraft and Holo’s banter and the pace so far, which is partially supported by Norah the shepherd’s taunting. As of right now, this adaption really hits the mark.

From what I’ve seen so far, Spice and Wolf is undoubtedly an opening that, for franchise fans in particular, promises wonderful things ahead, even if it will take a few more episodes for those who are unfamiliar with the show to really understand what it’s about. With two courses to work with and a more authentic tale at play, sure, visual style and the like could take some getting used to, but I’m certain this is one adaptation that will ultimately live up to all expectations.

ED Sequence

ED: 「アンダンテ」 (Andante) by ClariS


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