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

14Jun/110

Spice and Wolf Manga Volume 4

Spice and Wolf Manga Volume 4 Cover

Volume 4 starts around where Volume 3 left off, with Holo and Lawrence finishing up their deal in Poroson. This volume stays mostly true to the original light novel, but adds a few minor things in here and there.

There is one full colour image in this volume, right at the start just like in Volume 3. The image itself is quite a nice one of Holo and Nora together, although Nora looks somewhat uncomfortable with Holo's sudden presence! The bonus track in this volume is a small Nora side story which I found slightly confusing to follow towards the end, the artwork depicting Nora and Enek together though is adorable! Indeed, this volume continues the same high standards of artwork seen in the previous volumes.

Oddly enough, this volume still carries the explicit content warning, despite the fact there is absolutely nothing explicit or even questionable in this volume at all, unlike the previous volumes.

Volume 4 of the manga covers the end of chapter 1 to the end of chapter 3 in volume 2 of the light novel. It would be nice to think that Volume 5 of the manga, set for release on the 25th of October 2011, would cover the remainder of Volume 2 of the light novel but i'm doubtful that they'd be able to fit 3 chapters of content and the epilogue into one volume of manga. Perhaps the recently released (in Japan) Volume 6 of the manga will end Volume 2 of the light novel?

Volume 4 of the light novel is set for release later this month, on the 28th of June 2011. As usual, I can hardly wait. It's always such a long time between each volume's release and this is perhaps my favourite novel series!

Spice and Wolf Manga Volume 4 is available from Amazon. ISBN 9780316178266

10Jan/110

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.

4Dec/100

Spice and Wolf Manga Volume 3

Spice and Wolf Manga Volume 3 Cover

Volume 3 picks up where Volume 2 left off, with Lawrence and Holo in Pazzio's sewers attempting to escape the Medio company after figuring out their plan. It continues all the way through to the sale of the pepper in Poroson. While mostly true to the original light novel, this volume of the manga adds in scenes of Nora, the shepherdess, before Lawrence and Holo have met her. This works fairly well as we're able to understand her background and previous life as seen by her, rather than as told by her.

Volume 3 has one full colour page right at the start of Holo partially covered by a few furs. I find this a little strange, as they sold the furs all the way back in Volume 1! I would have much preferred to have seen one of the scenes in full colour instead of a picture. The "Bonus Track" chapter in Volume 3 really is a bonus, in the previous volume the bonus track simply continued the story. However, this time we've got a short story set in Japan's Edo period where Holo is a courtesan and Laurence is (still) a merchant. The bonus track was an amusing, if somewhat different, read. As with the previous two volumes, the artwork is extremely detailed thought the manga.

Volume 3 of the manga covers chapter 6 and the epilogue of Volume 1 of the light novel and chapter 1 of Volume 2 of the light novel. Volume 4 of the manga has no release date on the Yen Press website, but Amazon lists it as the 31st of May 2011. Volume 3 of the light novel is set for release very soon, on the 7th of December 2010 - I can hardly wait!

Spice and Wolf Manga Volume 3 is available from Amazon. ISBN 9780316102346.

10Aug/100

Spice and Wolf Manga Volume 2

Spice and Wolf Manga Volume 2 Cover

Volume 2 of the Spice and Wolf Manga was released a few days ago, after reading Volume 1 a few months ago and being amazed at the quality of the manga I instantly put volume 2 on pre-order. Like volume 1, it has a  small parental advisory imprint on the cover but if anything, volume 2 is far more 'safe' than the first volume. Like volume 1, the artwork is superbly detailed - Keito Koume is an outstanding artist.

Unusually, volume 2 contains no full-colour pages - unlike volume 1 and almost all other mangas. I was somewhat disappointed at their absence but nevertheless I thoroughly enjoyed reading volume 2.

In relation to the light novels, volume 2 of the manga covers volume 1, chapters 4-5 of the light novel. Considering that volume 1 of the manga covered volume 1, chapters 1-3 of the light novel I was expecting volume 2 of the manga to finish off volume 1 of the light novel. However, it seems like we'll have to wait for volume 3 of the manga to see the ending of volume 1 of the light novel! I suspect the reason for this is the extra content that volume 2 of the manga has added to the story. While the story line in the manga stays true to the original, there is an extra scene of Holo conversing with her [spoiler]captors[/spoiler] - something that isn't in the original light novel.

Volume 3 is set for release on the 16th of November 2010 Update: Amazon now lists it as the 20th of January 2011, not heard confirmation from Yen Press about this yet Update 2: Amazon dispatched this on the 23rd of November 2010 so I can expect it soon (and Volume 3 of the light novel is set for release on the 7th of December 2010) - i've got my copy pre-ordered in anticipation!

Spice and Wolf Manga Volume 2 is Available from Amazon, ISBN 9780316102322.

1Jul/100

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