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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”

To say spring has started in force is really an understatement when you realize it’s leading off with Spice and Wolf. One of the big anime series of old, back with a remake, and promising a faithful return to the nostalgia of the 2000s? That is one impressive set of shoes to fill, and yet Spice and Wolf somehow manages it this spring kickoff. Not to say it’ll last of course, but I’m at least liking what I’m seeing.

As per the Random Curiosity Preview, this Spice and Wolf is a true remake of the original with a (supposed) better emphasis on the source material. Right off the bat there’s not much changes either: we get the quaint rural medieval setting of farmers harvesting wheat, the (spoiler: very important) church dominating local society, and the likes of one Kraft Lawrence (Fukuyama Jun) who connect all the disparate parts through peregrinating merchant trading and the sharing of information. Kraft too shows his skills and role immediately, being a somewhat junior trader who simply gave the town of Pasloe a chance all for the sake of making a name – and money – to grow into the position he ultimately desires. Simple and straightforward certainly, but no denying the premise at play.

The real meat and potatoes (or shall we say apples) however naturally lies with Holo (Koshimizu Ami), the real star of Spice and Wolf. Much as Kraft can be considered the instigator (as will be seen over time) Holo is the agent, the now forgotten deity of Pasloe who once guaranteed the harvest of the village. Time and changing societal circumstances though have slowly invalidated her function, with a combination of church, technology, and Holo’s own need to keep the land productive making simple prayer to her no longer sufficient for a bumper crop. It’s the conditions which causes the wolf-girl to make a literal leap of faith into Kraft’s lap, embracing the opportunity his travelling presents to both let Pasloe carry on along its chosen path while returning to her own ancestral home in the north. Simple if somewhat contrived circumstances, a fairly benign premise, yet one as we’ll see over the coming episodes that has far more depth and complexity than you would think immediately present.

It’s that premise too which finally brings us to the elephant in the room: how does this adaptation compare to the original? Right now, well, I’m not sure it’s all that bad. While the artwork will definitely take some getting used to considering how Holo was designed before, the presence of both original MC voice actors definitely does the trick for smoothing over the edges, particularly when it comes to Holo’s venerable confidence and self-awareness and Kraft’s more moxie-esque merchant talents. What has me as well is just how faithful this adaptation looks to be material-wise. Unlike the original there’s no Chloe, instead we have Kraft’s actual acquaintance in Yarei (Sugita Tomokazu) who serves the exact same purpose, just with less fan service (gender bending will do that) and a better emphasis on realistic societal conditions of the age. Sure, I’m mighty disappointed the OP doesn’t match the emotive impressions of the original’s Tabi no Tochuu by Kiyoura Natsumi, but the banter between Kraft and Holo and the pacing thus far (in part confirmed by the teasing of Norah the shepherd) has me very much looking forward to seeing what comes next. Right now this is one adaptation hitting all the right notes.

Although it’ll take a few more episodes for the unfamiliar to get a good sense of what Spice and Wolf is exactly about, from what I’ve seen so far this is definitely an opener which for franchise fans especially promises great things ahead. Sure art style and the like might take some getting used to, but with two cours to work with and a more faithful story at play, I have full belief this is one adaptation which shall wind up meeting all expectations.


ED Sequence

ED: 「アンダンテ」 (Andante) by ClariS


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