Spice & Wolf: She has pointy ears — get over it

I once put off watching Spice and Wolf because I assumed it was targeted at zoophiles. Then I put off watching the second season because I hadn’t watched the first season. Then I watched K-ON, the worst anime ever, and learned two things:

1. I don’t understand otaku fetishes at all. (Apparently it’s the ears they fetishize, not the the tail.)

2. The zoophilia in Spice & Wolf couldn’t possibly worse than the zoophilia in K-ON.

So I decided to give Spice & Wolf a chance. I started with the light novel for some reason; then I watched both seasons of the anime.

Spice & Wolf follows the mercantile misadventures of Lawrence, a Homo economicus, and Holo, a bitch wolf. At first glance you might think Lawrence is about 80 years old and Holo is about 14 years old (2 in wolf years). In actuality, Lawrence is 25 and Holo is a few thousand years older with giant wolf god transformation powers that have no effect on her ears and tail for some reason.

I totally relate to Lawrence. We’re both the same age, we’re both into old women (zoophilia aside), we’re both trying to save up to buy a home, and we both have rational, self-interested, utility-maximizing mindsets. There are really two major differences between me and Lawrence. First, Lawrence begins to change through the power of love. Second, he doesn’t seem to mind expressing his love in public. Nobody wants to see public displays of affection. It makes you jealous if they’re hot and nauseous if they’re not.

Holo is the most sexist character in the history of anime. I can’t believe everyone’s got their panties in a bunch over sexism in Bakuman yet nobody has ever called out Holo. Males are like this and females are like that. It never ends. Now, before any feminists start to hound Holo, keep in mind that Spice & Wolf is set during a time when women were property. (Literally, she’s used as collateral in the second season.)

As with any story ever told, plot is king. Spice & Wolf would be a pretty shitty tale if Lawrence and Holo just traveled from town to town selling apples all day. Instead we have them lying, cheating, scheming, deceiving, smuggling, gambling, and consistently outperforming all relevant market benchmarks.


Reading sucks, but I must admit the light novel has one major advantage over the anime. The economics gets rather complicated at times. Digesting those pages at your own pace makes for much better entertainment than watching the characters yap through antiquated trading lingo so quickly that even a prodigious economist such as myself was unable to understand fully without the pause button.

I keep running out of trophy polish

The first volume of the light novel is basically the same as the first arc of the first season except they switched the snitch. It doesn’t really make much of a difference, but I guess the studio thought the first arc was a bit of a sausage fest (Holo aside). Supporting female characters figure more prominently into the later arcs of the series, such as the shepherding arc.

Since I’ve had a little free time on my hands after giving up anime for the year, I decided to give shepherding a shot:

Zero wolves attacked while I was on watch. I am the best shepherd ever.

Final Grade: ++

69 Replies to “Spice & Wolf: She has pointy ears — get over it”

  1. Yeah, I gotta get on that second season. Nice to know that Animal-morphication doesn’t guarantee a show that is crap, yes? It only means crap 99.9% of the time.

  2. I never get to finish Spice and Wolf because it phailed to entertain me. I don’t get what the hype with Holo either. She’s rather annoying than anything else. I can’t believe this shit got a second season and OVAs

  3. Proof by example, that’s the best. TBH this would have been tough for me to watch for the economics and “intricate” strategies of trade, but I think what was easiest to observe was the hiss-and-moan, trickster talk of the character chemistry. Might be safe to assume that many get into the story and want the characters to turn into gooey lovemush, but there’s always the mortality aspect with deities (those silly deities, living forever, who the hell..). Sadly, I didn’t find S&W played that tension very much, especially in comparison to the only other story with a similar point that comes to mind; Crest/Banner of the Stars.

    Like most stories, it’s tough to boil down the finite points, and it might have been offensive* in some aspects, but it didn’t f*ck up too often in my opinion. That’s enough bonus incentive to keep watching, so the question goes, is Baka-Raptor going to continue following the series? (third season, further lightnovels, etc)

    *The “women as property” issue was filed under setting for me. Irritating and terrible of course, but it’s not unknown to history or present day. :<

    • The show does have that Akagi factor. Even if you have no idea what they’re doing, you still get a kick out of the way they’re doing it.

      For some reason I’ve never seen Crest/Banner. Now I’m even less likely to, since the ephemeral-love-for-the-eternal-being stuff had me rolling my eyes. I had to read a book with a similar theme back in middle school. The whole thing’s been played out for me already.

      I’ll keep watching, but I doubt I’ll keep reading. Reading sucks. I read most of the book on a round-trip, non-non-stop airline flight with no other means of entertainment.

  4. Holo is pretty lame. Horo, however, is awesome, and just one reason why Spice and Wolf is awesome as fuck. Witty merchant banter? Scheming plots? Beer? AWESOME.

    Note: Clearly I prefer the name spelling of Horo to Holo. Seeing as Japan has no “L”s in their language though, I’d like to assume that it’s Horo. Oh sure every site everywhere says it’s Holo, but I refuse to accept it (I don’t like how the word looks and that’s literally the only reason why I don’t like Holo).

    I have no qualms about spelling a word wrong on purpose so long as I like it. I will always spell “glorious” as “glourious” because it just looks way better and shit, it SHOULD be spelled like that. Color? Fuck that, COLOUR. We need to add mour Us to wourds.

    I don’t bow to the rules and spellings of others, they should change their spellings and rules to match mine. I’m the center of the universe.

    • Japanese doesn’t have r’s or l’s. It just has る’s. The translation is all a ruse. You can’t loose.

      Yor spelling bows to the British crown. Those extra yooz are For British Eyes Only.

  5. With luck, the third season will focus on such wonderful issues like quantitative easing and learning how to use options to limit the losses so I can become the best day trader ever.

      • I’m assuming that video was a parody of right-wing memes or something, because it is utterly wrong about pretty much every economic statement it makes. I mean, 45 seconds in and it’s implying that a deflationary wage-price collapse would be a good thing. Good for the laughs though.

        On a more on-topic note, one of the reasons I liked Spice & Wolf was that it discussed economics of marketplaces and small scale economic activity in a way that’d make it interesting, without veering into the gritty macro stuff that tends to get boring unless you’re into econ to begin with. It’s nice to see an anime that has a bunch of conflict, but largely without violence. The one point where Holo is forced to pull the violent wolf trump card, it’s actually kind of unpleasant for her. Not that econ can’t be vicious, just not in a smash-and-blow-things-up kind of way.

  6. Aren’t you giving chance to “organizations” to put you into their objectionable filters by writing zoophilia? (I’m sure they have crappy auto-software to fill that list :D)

    Other than that, the series started with a solid first season and ended up with a not-so-solid second season. Who is going to bet for a third season sooner or later? 😛

    • I haven’t written anything controversial in a while. A little zoophilia once in a while shouldn’t hurt me.

      I’m the last person in the world to ask for industry news. S&W deserves a third season, so it probably won’t get one.

  7. IMO, pointy ears are hot because they represent a pointy attitude.
    Horo’s ears are among the best: they’re fluffy at the tips.

    But I personally prefer short-haired pointy cat ears, because they’re soft everywhere …if you touch lightly. And cat ears often have a nice spring to them, softer yet more springy than most human ears. Especially quick black cats, like Sanya.
    I find bunny ears annoyingly unattractive. They’re all like “Woooo! I’m bouncing and flopping around everywhere!”
    Dog ears can be good if they’re lazy-floppy, like Erica.

  8. I fetishize the US book cover :3 (won the first volume in a twitter contest) So yeah, does Horo have any real ears? Like, under her hair or anything? That’d be a pretty cool anime slip-up but her hair is probably her sideburns or something. Hmmm.

    Anyway, I clicked your K-ON tag and read your Training in the Mountain post. Well, I didn’t really read it, just skimmed, and noticed this:

    One thousand logs were all it took to cultivate the mind, the body, and the soul (and we must always cultivate the soul).

    and was like “OH HEY I KNOW THAT THAT’S FROM TOONAMI’S TENCHI MUYO COMMERCIAL THINGY!!!” So I did a google search that pretty much led me back here… soooo then I was SNOOPING AS USUAL and finally found it (terrible audio but I take it you don’t care about these things) (hope this works!):

    PREPAIIIIR TO DAIIIIII!!! GET OUTTA MAAIII WAAAAAAAAAAAY!!! HYAAAAAGRYAAAAA!!! HUUUUUUUUUURRRRRGHHH!!! CLASSIC!!! I miss those old school Toonami/Adult Swim promo vids. Pure genius (and excellent timing!). Yeah that’s pretty much all I wanted to say.

    EDIT: okay it didn’t work. Here’s a link:

  9. I liked the show a lot, even being forced to ignore some of the more nonsensical economic explanations (perhaps in the light novel everything was well explained, but the subs I watched didn’t make a great deal of sense no matter how many times they were rewound).

    Anyway, then I watched the dvd specials, and shit got creepy:

    • Reading the book definitely helped when I was watching the anime. I believe all the info you need to figure things out is somewhere in the anime, but they go through it so quickly that I certainly wouldn’t look down on anyone for getting lost.

      Training with Holo? That’ll get the DVDs selling. Season 3 guaranteed. You heard it here first.

  10. Zoophilia in K-ON…. =D

    I understood the economics better in the novel as well. I like Spice and Wolf because of the economics despite HATING economics (as a subject) in real life =P

    Wow so you’re a lot like Lawrence are you? I bet you wouldn’t let a woman walk all over you with her words though…since you’re a lawyer and all ^_^

  11. I watched two episodes, but I kept thinking of Lawrence as Lawrence of Arabia, and then I started to giggle like an idiot, and then I had to stop watching because I was being too much of a moron… so… yeah.

  12. “As with any story ever told, plot is king. Spice & Wolf would be a pretty shitty tale if Lawrence and Holo just traveled from town to town selling apples all day. Instead we have them lying, cheating, scheming, deceiving, smuggling, gambling, and consistently outperforming all relevant market benchmarks.”

    Want to watch this series now.

  13. I have no idea what you’re talking about, I love Holo and her deceitful ways. Oh sure, she gets pissy whenever Lawrence pays attention to other women actually of the same gender, but that’s the price to pay for her chiding him every chance she gets and him responding with perfect quips like a 14th Century cyborg.
    And I’m just a sucker for stories set in the late Middle Ages, cutthroat mercantile operations or no.

    • Holo is literally a bitch in that she’s a female canine. I’d expect someone named Inushinde to appreciate such beautiful wordplay.

      Witty quips are always welcome in any show. It’s her psychoanalytic huffery & puffery that got annoying at times. You know how every woman thinks she’s an expert psychologist? Holo is certainly no exception.

  14. Hmm.. how did I miss this post for so long? You should have known better than to listen to otaku opinion about an anime as soon as you heard “medieval economics”. I can’t believe you watched K-On first.. you raptors must all be masochists or something.

    But I don’t understand otaku fetishes either. I’m just a lowly marsupial, but I have to say that Horo had her priorities straight (and Lawrence caught on surprisingly fast for a species without a tail).

    Anyway, this is one of the few “watchable” romance-themed anime. I love it when the bullshit in a series is “real life bullshit”, told in a semi-fantastical setting with funny plots about boring shit being that’s treated as serious business – literally, in this case. The medieval mercantile fuckery here was at times hilarious. Nothing like absurdly spacious sewers being explained for once, as means for espionage.

    But this is really a romance show about two miserably lonely fucks who are learning to let down their defenses. You can either watch it passively like you take a shit, blaming everything on Lawrence (the male) while pretending Horo (the female) is perfection.. or you can actively pay attention and be entertained by the fact that they are both just lonely idiots. Horo certainly does a lot wrong for someone otaku revere so much.

    All that “god” and “wise wolf” stuff was red herring nonsense. If Horo couldn’t turn into a giant wolf, she’d just be like every other confused, lonely woman who’s finally settled down and wants a “nice guy” to “treat her right”. Her sexism was like Lawrence’s “you’re eating me out of my profits” stuff, just flirty preambles to what should be raw, animal sex.. but that stuff belongs in a doujin, apparently.

    • Don’t blame me; blame the chart!

      The title sounded stupid but not really stupid.

      I didn’t think of this show as a romance at all until the second season. Then…yes, definitely a romance. Now, personally, if I were Lawrence, I would’ve gone for that slutty barmaid in that one town. Apparently she didn’t have ears fuzzy enough for the show to agree with me. But yes, it would be in Lawrence and Holo’s rational, utility-maximizing interest to bang already, if not for the zoophile otaku, then for themselves.

      • Hell, I should have known you were following the chart. I was worried you had drifted too close to the event horizon of otaku opinion. We can’t afford to lose any more raptors, you know.

  15. Spice and Wolf is awesome, but I can’t wait until they ramp up the romance. I love well-written romances, after all.

    P.S. I read Opal Mehta and it wasn’t as bad as you said it was, although there were some quite obvious Satanic Verses references. I wonder why she threw away her life for plagiarism.

  16. They let Raptors become shepherds, these days?! Now I’ve seen everything. (Also, that last pic! You big softie! Reminds me of the sheep and goats I used to play with when I lived abroad for about six months when I was six years old. At least, I thought one of the particular goats was mine. Guess there was another reason why my dad and gran so happilly ‘gave’ him to me and let me fatten him up with so many mango leaves. *Sighs*)

    I’ve only seen the first season of S&W, but I liked Lawrence’s character development and his interaction with Holo, though I often found her annoying (except for her brief ‘cameo’ in the first ep. of DRRR!!, so watch out for that, if you haven’t seen it yet ^ ^ ). The economics-/ boy-language was a bit hard to keep up with for me, but, as you suggest, the verbal trickery was still fun to watch unfold, and certainly a more refreshing method with which to tell a story.

    • I only ate one of them. Seriously.

      Even if you don’t know much about economics (not “boy-language” you sexist), I imagine still has that Akagi factor. Even if you don’t know the rules of the game, it’s still fun to watch the game unfold.

      Based on DRRR! reviews I’ve read, I’ve decided not to watch it until a second season comes out, or is at least confirmed.

  17. I for one liked the show both seasons. I’m not even sure why I loved it so much, but sadly I have to admit I liked the ears. I liked the acerbic banter between Rawrance and Horo (hohoho). I like the setting.

    What I didn’t like was that the economics stuff was just too hard to follow for an anime. I had to rewatch stuff a few times and actually have to think about it to get it to make sense, and even then when it got down to it, all of Lawrence’s schemes were actually just that… petty schemes. It wasn’t like he was actually using some awesome tricks, they were just petty tricks that he ends up using, dressed up in complicated talk.

    I would have liked more usage of actually complicated manoeuvres if that’s what they were trying to do, but the show unfortunately was not so deep.

    • What impressed me more than the bare-bones economics was the setting-based factors Lawrence had to take into account. For example, the motivations of the church, the companies, and the other traders. Stuff like currency devaluation isn’t all that different today, but the parties had some motivations that were unique to the medieval setting.

  18. Holo is the shit. She’s like 1000 years old and still cute, gets drunk on weekdays, and can transform into a big ass wolf. The only way she could be cooler is if she could transform into a raptor as well lol.

  19. Haha, I didn’t see it that way, but you are right in saying that Horo is a very sexist character. Nice pictures by the way.

  20. Dear Baka-Raptor,

    it has been quite a while since i’ve written some blatant filler comment to you.

    i am ashamed by my bad behaviour, i’m so sorry.


    I need to tell you, i started to watch something very interesting which should catch you off guard.

    I am speaking of Steins Gate.

    Let me save you the trouble of finding the myanimelist link:;Gate

    Let me tell you i didn’t watch its adaptation/spin off, chäos head. so i’m not biased.

    And it has an interesting plot, the spoiler word of the moment is TIME TRAVEL,

    hell yeah, i am talking about time travel,

    but not the standard time travel we’re used to see everywhere.

    I’ve to spoil them,

    There’re other types of time travel: like eating a banana and sending it back to a point where it was not eaten, sending text messages from your cell phone to the past, performing a “time-slip” and finally, the REAL and STANDARD time travel with a time machine.

    This show is really good, the plot is very interesting and its theme is a non-standard time travel. It has a little drama and thriller, which is good. And its protagonist is a self proclaimed mad scientist.

    Do i need to say more to convince you?

  21. Lol mad shepherd skills with the fence 😛 And its holo because she writes her name in the anime duhhhhhhhhhhhhh mass and its not sexist you pervs but i have to agree … that tail is hot 😀 And she is a badass xD

  22. And the pictures are dumb because clearly wolves only attack white sheep not ugly brown sheep or both mixed. Haven’t you seen the anime!!! D:

  23. I enjoyed the Anime, not cause of Nudity, but because I am big into Deities and The old times and all that crap. You don’t like, that’s your opinion. Who am I to say you’re wrong?

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