Anime Contemplation Carefully considering the world of Anime, episode by episode.


Spice and Wolf Volume 4

Spice and Wolf Volume 4 Cover

It's been a while, but Volume 4 of Spice and Wolf has finally been released. It should have been released at the start of this month (June) but all UK outlets had a delay in receiving it. I then decided it would be a good idea to pre-order from two places and cancel whichever dispatched first... but it seems that the first place who dispatched it never told me when they dispatched it and consequently i've now got two copies. I'm already planning to give the spare away to a friend, so no loss overall!

As usual, there are the 3 beautiful full colour illustrations at the front of the book. The 2nd one features Holo lying down, with Lawrence's arm resting on her, extremely adorable! The 3rd one however seems to have Holo putting on a very disinterested face in the background.

Volume 4 picks up where Volume 3 left off, with Lawrence and Holo travelling ever further in search of Holo's homeland. As they stop off in Tereo to find out more however, things are do not seem entirely normal. Indeed, the plot line of this volume takes on a much more mysterious theme. Economics does not play as much as a role as in the previous volumes, but nevertheless it is an interesting plot line with lots of witty dialogue between Lawrence and Holo. There where also many 'sweet' scenes in this volume and I'm curious to see how they've handled this in the anime series, which i'll be catching up on soon. For reference, this volume takes us covers the mid point of Season 2 until the end of Season 2.

Volume 5 is due out on the 6th of December 2011. As usual, my preorder has been submitted since long ago. Hopefully this winter the weather won't delay it's arrival.

Spice and Wolf Volume 4 is available from Amazon.

Note: Most of this post was written shortly after Volume 4 was released in July, it was only in October that I actually got around to publishing it...


Spice and Wolf Volume 3

Original Japanese Cover

Spice and Wolf Volume 3 was released all the way back in mid-December, but due to a combination of snow and Christmas holidays i've not actually be able to read it until now. As a fan of the series and having recently seen the 1st season of the anime I was really eager to get back to reading it again. Yen Press, it would be great if you could speed up the translation a bit - 6 months is an awfully long gap between releases!

As with the previous volumes, there are 3 beautiful double-page colour illustrations showing scenes from the novel. One shows a boy declaring his undying love for "Holo the nun". Based purely off that, I could tell that this would be an interesting read and offer a diversion from the themes of the previous two volumes.

Volume 3 picks up where Volume 2 left off, Laurence and Holo have left Ruvinheigen and are continuing northwards in order to find Holo's home town of Yoitsu. Along the way though, they encounter a wealthy fishmonger called Amati. He takes quite a fancy to Holo and offers to repay Holo's (falsified) debt to Lawrence in order to secure her hand in marriage (the debt being a way to explain why they're travelling together rather than an actual debt). Thus, Lawrence must find some way of managing to prevent Amati from gaining enough money to pay the debt. However, due to questions over Yoitsu's existence the relationship between Holo and Lawrence reaches an all time low. Lawrence soon realises how much Holo meant to him and hence the pressure is really on to stop Amati, but will he manage it alone?

Unlike the previous volumes, this volume was initially was quite light on economics and focused more upon the characters and plot, which was nice change. However, economics did eventually come to play a significant part in this volume and as always it fitted perfectly with the storyline. Unusually, Holo [spoiler]did not have to transform to her wolf-form[/spoiler], presumably because it's Lawrence who has to do the legwork in order to win Holo back.

Overall, Volume 3 was an enjoyable read however I felt that it wasn't as good as the previous two, albeit only slightly. I suspect this is due to the limited direct involvement of Holo compared to the previous volumes - I enjoy like the dialogue that gets going between them. Additionally, some of Holo's actions seemed abnormal to me, such as [spoiler]wanting a baby[/spoiler]. However, I agree that it can be justified given her feelings at the time.

Volume 4 is currently scheduled for release on the 21st of June 2011. Yet again, i'm eagerly anticipating it but frustrated by the long wait!

Spice and Wolf Volume 3 is available from Amazon.


Spice and Wolf Volume 2

Original Japanese Cover

Yen Press recently released Volume 2 of Isuna Hasekura's Spice and Wolf light novel series. The story picks up shortly after the events of the first volume with Laurence and Holo travelling onwards to sell the spice they received as payment previously. I found Volume 1 to be quite 'bright and happy' overall and the initial parts of Volume 2 are also like this. However, things soon take a turn for the worse after a bad decision leaves Laurence extremely close to bankruptcy and he has a falling out with Holo. Thankfully, Laurence and Holo soon resolve their difficulties and Laurence comes up with an ingenious plan to save himself from bankruptcy.

Like Volume 1, there are 3 full page colour illustrations at the start of the book as well as various illustrations thought it. The illustrations are good, but I would have liked to have seen a bit more variation in the first 3 colour illustrations - perhaps there could have been one depicting the city?

Volume 1 attracted a lot of controversy over it's choice of cover, abandoning the original Japanese cover for a photographic equivalent. The publisher, Yen Press, stated that this was due to demands from bookshops. However this time, they've printed the book with the original Japanese cover, but put a photographic dust cover on top of it. This satisfies demands bookshops and also fans - well done Yen Press! I hope they reprint Volume 1 in a similar fashion - if they did I would almost certainly buy it again (despite also owning the original Japanese Volume 1 book which does have the original cover!).

I thoroughly enjoyed Volume 2, the story line feels stronger than the previous volume and is also longer. Economics is still a core part of the story line but like the previous volume it is not overwhelming nor did it detract from my enjoyment of the book. Volume 3 is currently scheduled for release on the 7th of December (2010), i've got it pre-ordered but I really wish that Yen Press would translate them faster - 6 months is an awfully long time! In fact, the author writes each book faster than this if the release dates on Wikipedia's List of Spice and Wolf light novels are to be believed.

Spice and Wolf Volume 2 is available for purchase from Amazon.

Photographic Dust Jacket Cover


Spice and Wolf Volume 1

Spice and Wolf Volume 1 Cover

I've been meaning to watch the Spice and Wolf anime for a while now, but combined with my ever increasing to-watch list and a friend telling me that it was 'all about economics' I didn't think I'd get round to watching it any time soon. So, I did something completely different and ordered the light novel, from which the anime is based off.

I recently finished the novel and I'm happy to report my friend was somewhat wrong! While economics and finance do feature, they are blended extremely well with the main storyline, which sees a travelling merchant (Lawrence Kraft) discover the wolf goddess of the harvest (Holo/Horo) in his cart.  A relationship is quickly formed between the two and Holo's cute charms provide plenty of embarrassment and amusement for Lawrence as they travel around.

While the cover is somewhat ordinary (apparently this was a complaint from many fans), it does not annoy me particularly. As soon as you open the book, you are presented with 3 beautiful double page spread full-colour images of scenes from the novel. Not only this, but thought each chapter there are 1 or 2 images depicting a scene. These where very well drawn and added greatly to my imagination of the scene.

I thoroughly enjoyed the novel and have already pre-ordered Volume 2, which comes out in June 2010. I am definitely bumping the anime version of this up a few places on my to watch list too!

Author: Isuna Hasekura
Bought From: Amazon