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「狼の知恵と商人の口車」 (Ookami no Chie to Shounin no Kuchiguruma)
“Wisdom of a Wolf and Smooth Talk of a Merchant”

I did say things were about to get slightly hectic in Spice and Wolf, and indeed this week emphatically indicated why. From the depths of despair to, well, something on the other side of elation, Kraft and Holo are gearing up for a shot at redemption and what is arguably their biggest gamble to date. It’s going to be one wild ride – but it’s also going to be a fun ride.

As so (no so) slyly teased last episode, the Hail Mary moneymaking move from Kraft is smuggling gold into a church-dominated town. Arguably shouldn’t be hard to see why: the gold trade is heavily controlled, insanely profitable, and also blatantly ignored by others thanks to getting caught leading to a long, drawn-out, and very bloody death. It’s the sort of thing that can rapidly turn fortunes around, and is why Kraft was so willing to jump on it right away. He has nothing left to lose, his debtholder too is in a serious bind, and succeeding once is enough to pay off the debt and then some. In a sense it’s the ultimate gamble, but a gamble made with a measure of intelligence behind it.

Part of the rationale behind the move after all comes from who’s doing the smuggling in Norah. This one, while not as well-teased as some other aspects – the original adaptation did a better job I think at showing her dissatisfaction with the church and its treatment of her – was at least foreshadowed, and much like Kraft discussed is something fully in line with what the girl is after. Norah doesn’t want to be a shepherd forever nor does she want to be seen as the church’s black sheep. Putting up with whispered abuse for veritable pennies isn’t the life anyone wants to live, and Norah especially wants to see it end sooner rather than later. What’s particularly neat about this moment for me too is how it’s handled by both Kraft and Norah: it’s a direct violation of church doctrine, but both interpret it of mortal doctrine rather than the rules imposed by God Himself. It’s a succinct indicator how even at the height of religious influence plenty could discern between faith and worldly loyalties and act accordingly.

Of course all of this scheming wouldn’t be possible without the true MVP in Holo. This moment I think is one of her best in the series because it really highlights both how shrewd she is behind her playful moxie and just how important Kraft has become to her. Holo after all blames herself for Kraft’s predicament given his inability to rectify the debt with another debt; fair maybe, but also as Kraft notes a situation he wouldn’t be in if he wasn’t blinded by greed. It’s that bit of vulnerability though which leads Holo to open up, to all but admit she’s smitten with the guy and wants to complete her journey with him and only him. Don’t mistake that sucker punch for simple teasing, Holo definitely has feelings at this point, yet isn’t at the stage where she’s ready to out them or even fully admit them to herself. Kraft is going to have to be one who makes that move, however as Holo’s suggestion of smuggling gold in the first place indicates she’ll ensure he has as many opportunities as needed to do so.

Considering it all starts with the riskiest of trips for all involved, Kraft might get such an opportunity sooner than he thinks.



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