Story: Isuna Hasekura
Art: Jyuu Ayakura
Translation/Adaptation: Paul Starr
What They Say
Lawrence and Holo take a respite from their travels north, but a true businessman never rests! It isn’t long before an opportunity for profit in the town of Lenos presents itself to Lawrence; one that could fulfill his dreams of owning his own establishment. But as always the promise of great reward carries with it great risk – and risk is never greater than when one plans to use a werewolf as collateral!
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
The adventures of Lawrence and Holo continue with their arrival in the fur trading town of Lenos. As always, Holo is on the prowl for clues of her homeland, and while they do find records about her origins (including a story specifically about Holo), the focus is less “which way” and “how to get there” and more on their growing anxiety at the thought of parting at journey’s end. Unfortunately, the emotional tension plays out as cryptic conversations interspersed with Lawrence’s thoughts, which are so confused they don’t actually provide much clarification. Fans of Lawrence/Holo will find the ultimate resolution sweet, but trying to interpret the meaning behind certain conversations felt like work.
Spice and Wolf would not be complete without some business finagling, and this particular arc centers on a trade war resulting from the canceled military campaign that nearly bankrupted Lawrence. Of course, politics and the Church have a hand in the economic maelstrom, but this time, Lawrence doesn’t interact much with the clergy. Instead, Hasekura-sensei introduces Eve, a female merchant, and those who like female characters tough, clever, and mysterious will find her fascinating.
Unfortunately, the actual particulars of Lawrence’s latest moneymaking scheme are, like his conversations with Holo, difficult to follow. Figuring out all the players in the trade war took some mental effort as did understanding the multiple steps of Eve’s proposal and the rationale behind them. In addition, during Lawrence’s investigation of Eve, there were a few places where he’d get a piece of information and draw a conclusion that seemed to skip a few steps of logic. As much as I love Hasekura-sensei’s characters, I felt a bit exhausted at the end of this journey.
This light novel includes the title page, three two-page spreads, and the table of contents printed in color as well as eight black-and-white illustrations. It also comes with a dust jacket that doesn’t match but mimics the cover illustration. (Ayakura’s cover illustration depicts Holo in peasant clothes, and the dust cover features a Holo cosplayer.)
This arc is a more difficult read than previous installments of Spice and Wolf, both because of the complex business deal featured and the clumsy portrayal of the emotional awkwardness between Lawrence and Holo. Still, romantics who stick it through will be rewarded by a bit of Holo/Lawrence fluffiness at the end.
Content Grade: B-
Art Grade: B+
Packaging Grade: B+
Text/Translation Grade: B-
Readers Rating: [ratings]
Age Rating: 16+
Released By: Yen Press
Release Date: December 13th, 2011