What it’s about: Kraft Lawrence is a travelling merchant making his living by trading between towns in a facsimile of medieval Europe. One day, as he passes through one of his regular stops during a traditional festival, the local harvest deity (a “wolf-goddess” named Holo) uses the opportunity to take her leave. The show follows Holo and Lawrence as they engage in a series of mercantile adventures while making their way north to Holo’s homeland.
Why you should watch it: Generally it’s sold as a “slow-burning romance” but, honestly, it’s more about relationships in general. The protagonists act like a bickering/flirting married couple from the start; it’s not a “When will senpai notice me?” dynamic. Faithfully adapted from a hugely popular series of Light Novels, Spice and Wolf’s heart is in the friendly banter between Holo and Lawrence, and seeing each of them play off the other never fails to entertain. The show takes an unusual approach to establishing the necessary tension and excitement for the episode-to-episode storylines. Where many anime fall back on swords and shouting, the conflicts of Spice and Wolf arise from Lawrence’s life as a merchant – impressively, it manages to make the concepts of short-selling and arbitrage both interesting and relevant to the plot.
Caveats: While many enjoy learning basic economic theory, it’s not for everyone. And if, after two or three episodes, you find that you can’t stand either of the two protagonists, drop the series. They’re the core of the show and if you don’t like them, you’re not going to enjoy the rest of it. While it doesn’t end on a cliffhanger as such, the show is deliberately left open-ended to encourage watchers to pick up the light novels (which are highly recommended).
Themes: Trust. Relationships, both business and personal.
Similar works:Maoyuu Maou Yuusha has the same director, similar setting and theme, and even uses the same two actors for the lead roles.