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Spice and Wolf II Anime Review

Spice and Wolf II Box Art

Spice and Wolf Season Two

4 stars / TV Series / Drama / 13-up

Bottom Line

More smart, sharp-tongued, thoroughly entertaining economic adventures with an added emphasis on substantive romance.

It’s Like...

...Spice and Wolf sells physical drama and buys emotional drama.

Vital Stats

Original Title


Romanized Title

Ookami to Koushinryou II

Literal Translation

Wolf and Spice 2

Animation Studio


US Release By



Economic Fantasy Romance

Series Type

TV Series


13 25-minute episodes

Production Date

What's In It


Look For

  • Fun-loving Harvest Gods
  • Charismatic Merchants
  • Shady, Masked Merchants
  • Speculative Market Bubbles
  • Believable Renaissance Locales
  • "Swords and Sorcery" With Neither Swords Nor Sorcery

Objectionable Content

  • Violence: 1 (mild)
  • Nudity: 2 (moderate)
  • Sex: 2 (moderate)
  • Language: 1 (mild)

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Plot Synopsis

Lawrence is a traveling merchant who until recently didn't factor anything more than profit and loss into his calculations. His life changed, however--he has added the whims of the fun-loving displaced wolf god Holo to his balance sheet, as he travels with her to her distant northern homeland of Yoitz.

When they stop in the town of Ruvinheigen to enjoy a festival and gather information on the location of Yoitz from a heretic chronicler, Lawrence's smooth romantic course hits an obstacle when the dashing, successful young merchant Amati becomes smitten with Holo and openly challenges Lawrence for her affections. Later, in the river port of Lenos, the mysterious merchant Eve offers Lawrence a deal profitable enough to make his dreams of settling down with a shop in town come true, putting the end of their journey suddenly in sight.

Quick Review

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Spice and Wolf II is a sequel with just the right mix of the things that made the original so memorable and new character development. It keeps the same wonderful blend of flirty romance and intelligent, small-scale economic adventure set against a down-to-earth fantasy-Renaissance backdrop. And it's still a series unashamedly built on and around dialogue. But instead of falling into a rut, it exchanges much of the physical drama for more substantive emotional drama, and pushes the central relationship into deeper territory. It evolves into a romance less about falling in love and more about what it means to stay in love. The realism of the characters combined with the increased drama challenges the writing to not break the spell cast on the audience, which, thankfully, Isuna Hasekura succeeds at. With even-better-than-before visuals by accomplished studio Brain's Base, more perfectly-suited music by Yuuji Yoshino, and a stellar Japanese cast, everything necessary to pull it off is in place. The only disappointments are the somewhat open ending, and the fact that there may never be a third season.

In all, Spice and Wolf II is all you could ask for in a continuation of what was already an unusual, thoughtful fantasy romance. It offers much of the same witty writing, playful banter, economic adventure, and flirty interaction, but ups the ante emotionally and refuses to let the plot arcs fall into a rut, serving up satisfying romance and intelligent, dialogue-driven drama with a twist of sharp-tongued humor.

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Full Review

Switch to Quick Review

The first season of Spice and Wolf was a wonderful, unlikely blend of light, flirty romance and intelligent economic adventure set against a down-to-earth fantasy backdrop. This sequel is exactly the right combination of more of the same and not; while the playful wit, reparte, and sense of realism is familiar, it isn't content to let the now-comfortably-established characters of Holo and Lawrence tread water in their continuing adventures together. The increased drama presents some real challenges, but my only significant complaint is that it leaves you hungry for more.

Familiar territory

Spice and Wolf II keeps many of the things that made its predecessor so special. The small scale and uncommonly down-to-earth fantasy-Renaissance setting is still a central feature. It also remains unashamedly built on and around dialogue; Lawrence's conversations--ranging from casual chats to verbal fencing matches--with Holo and the colorful assortment of characters that they cross paths with are the core of the series. And it's still not about a girl with a placeholder male standing in for the viewer; Lawrence, in fact, is even more the main character this time.

New roads

What's new in this sequel is the phase of the romance--rather than a story about falling in love, it evolves into one about staying in love. While it maintains its wry sense of humor and playful mood, the maturing relationship is a challenging and intriguing advancement of the characters, and anything but letting them stand still. There's little action in this season, but, interestingly, the deeper emotional character makes it feel at least as dramatic.

Bonus episode microcosm

Spice and Wolf II opens with a bonus episode, #0, that neatly encapsulates everything that makes the series so enjoyable. Serving as both an epilogue to Nora's story from the previous season and an introduction to the tribulations that underlie this one, the entire episode takes place with Holo sick in bed, by turns dreaming and chatting with Nora or Lawrence. In any other series, this would be an excuse for a cheap recap episode. In this one, not only is there very little reused material, the conversations are every bit as entertaining--and funny--as anything else. The fragments of dreams, in turn, reminds us of the realities of a long-term relationship between a wolf god and a human.

Arc one: real people are hard

Once underway, as with the first season, Spice and Wolf II takes its time covering two plot arcs of six episodes each. The first turns the tables on Lawrence, confronting him with the prospect of romantic competition for Holo's attention in the form of an anti-Lawrence: the dashing, confident, boyish Amati. There's an economic component to the competition, of course, but his calculation is now more complicated than simply turning a profit on a speculative market bubble.

What makes this plot arc particularly interesting is a twist that has us seeing Holo genuinely upset at Lawrence for the first time, and asking him questions he's not ready to answer.

I'll mention that there's a bit of a failure in backstory here. As a child, Lawrence heard legends that Yoitz was destroyed, which he's avoided mentioning to Holo; the novels established this very early, something the previous season failed to do. That leaves this season to introduce the plot point a bit late in the game, unfortunately reducing the gut-level impact on the viewer when she discovers his omission.

Getting back to the drama, it's interesting because of how good the characterization is. In a series with broad characters, the writer has a considerable amount of leeway with their actions and reactions without it seeming noticeably out-of-character. But the more real they seem, the more treacherous writing them becomes, because even things that are only slightly forced will stick out exponentially more, and the audience is almost certain to notice any off-note. Spice and Wolf may sound broad, but the players are nuanced enough that they feel that real.

So, as the drama in this season becomes increasingly more emotionally intense, it becomes increasingly more likely that Isuna Hasekura will slip up and have Holo or Lawrence do something out of character. Which will, in turn, break the spell that's been cast on the audience.

Because of the way we're told the story, I was genuinely worried that it had crossed the line in an attempt to force more substantive drama. I don't want to spoil anything, but have faith in the quality on display throughout the first season--Hasekura knows what he's doing.1

Arc two: staying in love

As the series moves into its second arc, it becomes clear that it's about something rather different than most romances--what happens after you've fallen in love. Although Lawrence and Holo's relationship is still young, they're already a couple; they're comfortable with each other, they enjoy each other's company immensely, they flirt, they banter, they have a glow about them. The first, delightfully pleasant episodes of this arc take an uncommon amount of time driving this point home--there's a nostalgic warmth you rarely see given so much attention.

But, as they are both aware, this isn't a relationship meant to last. Lawrence is a merchant by trade and passion who wants to settle down with a shop in a town some day. Holo is a centuries-old, free-spirited wolf god who will outlive him by centuries more. Far worse, she knows from experience that this phase of a relationship, however wonderful, is fleeting.

It's a fantasy setting, but the fundamental questions and conundrums are rooted in real relationships. When passion inevitably fades, what are you left with? What do you do about different goals in life, or when one partner will outlive the other?

This unusual angle, and approach--casual, leisurely, with a focus on dialogue, and colored with both warmth and a hint of melancholy--is both emotionally engaging and thoroughly entertaining. Perhaps it's because I'm entering middle age myself, but the focus on low-key adult relationships that go deeper than simple excitement had at least as much romantic impact for me as any pair of blushing teenage lovebirds.

No such rut

The plot isn't without external drama--there is still some merchanting mystery, rumblings of a trade revolt, and a dangerous deal in the works--but that's secondary until the climax.

Which is the other truly impressive thing about Spice and Wolf II--how much it defies the expectations of a series about a girl who can transform into a giant wolf. The first season might have you expecting that each story arc will involve a trade deal that goes wrong and, at the end, requires Holo to assume her wolf form to salvage things. Without getting into detail, this sequel pointedly avoids slipping into any such rut. That simply isn't what it's about.2

Unexpected end

There is, unfortunately, one big down side to Spice and Wolf II, which is how it ends. Avoiding spoilers, I'll just note that, in comparison to the cheerful punctuation mark at the end of the previous series, the closing sequence has an... unusual feel. It's not unsatisfying emotionally, but it feels very inconclusive. While it isn't exactly a liability, be prepared.3

Even better looking than before

The visuals this time are handled by Brain's Base, the accomplished studio behind Baccano! and Durarara!!, among other very attractive series. Their style here is close enough to Imagin's that, while it is subtly better, the studio change isn't obvious--which is to say that the series is still understatedly beautiful. As before, while the backgrounds tend toward spare, the various medieval towns, taverns, and country roads are full of character and ambiance. The elaborate festival that serves as the backdrop for the first story arc is portrayed with a blend of energy, culture, and realism that very nicely captures the descriptions in the novel. The sense of the weather is also memorable--you can see the chill in the autumn air, and feel the contrasting warmth of a cozy inn hearth. Speaking of which, the series is exceptionally good with medieval lighting--candles, lamps, and firelight are all that's available, and realistically dim. Most importantly, the character animation is full of life and nuance, perfectly capturing the personality and flavor of Lawrence, Holo, and the rest of the colorful cast.

The voice acting in Japanese is, as before, exemplary. Jun Fukuyama is charismatic and genial as Lawrence, while Ami Koshimizu is smooth and comfortable with Holo's razor-tongued, archaic dialogue, and believable in the increased emotion required for the drama this time. The assortment of secondary characters are all cast fittingly and voiced with plenty of flavor, but enough reserve that they're not unnecessarily broad. I haven't listened to the English dub.

Yuuji Yoshino returns to compose the background score that completes the package. Consisting of a similar selection of chamber-music-style themes that are just right in scale and flavor to enhance and complement the action and mood, it couldn't fit or flow better. The new opening theme is a nostalgic, lyrical song by the esteemed Akino Arai--if you're going to get someone to sing a lovely fantasy song, it's impossible to do better than Arai. The ending is another playful ditty by Rocky Chack (this time in Japanese) to close on an upbeat note.

The glowing conclusion

In all, Spice and Wolf II is all you could ask for in a continuation of what was already an unusual, thoughtful fantasy romance. It offers much of the same witty writing, playful banter, economic adventure, and flirty interaction, but ups the ante emotionally and refuses to let the plot arcs fall into a rut, serving up satisfying romance and intelligent, dialogue-driven drama with a twist of sharp-tongued humor.

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Related Recommendations

As with the first Spice and Wolf season, Twelve Kingdoms is the most obviously similar fantasy series, despite a very different mood, scale, and level of supernatural influence.

Notes and Trivia

Spice and Wolf is a relatively large franchise based on a series of light novels by Isuna Hasekura, with illustrations by Juu Ayakura. The story was declared complete after seventeen novels, published between 2006 and 2011; Yen Press is in the process of releasing them in English, with the first six available as of this writing.

The novels spun off two single-season anime TV series, of which this is the second. There is also a manga adaptation written by Hasekura with illustrations by Keito Koume; it is ongoing as of this writing, and is available in English, again from Yen Press. There are also a couple of DS games that combine dating sim, economic sim, and visual novel.

This 13-episode series covers the third and fifth novels. The fourth novel, interestingly, was skipped entirely in the TV adaptation. Since the outcome didn't have any major effect on the subsequent story, no real adjustment was required; in fact, its events could still be assumed to have occurred offscreen between plot arcs.

The first episode of this series (episode 0), which serves as a segue between the two TV seasons, was included with the DVD release, and doesn't appear in the corresponding novels.

The entire series can be watched free, as of this writing, on Funimation's Spice and Wolf page.

Holo's Japanese dialogue is quite colorful; she uses archaic terms and generally speaks differently than everybody else, reflecting her age and centuries of isolation. Funimation's English translation (subtitles and dub script both) does almost nothing to capture this. In particular, she uses the archaic "you" pronoun "nushi," which would have mapped perfectly to "thou" in English. She also uses a made-up word for "I," "wattchi." Since it sounds similar to "washi," a dialect pronoun used almost exclusively by old men, it was probably intended to come across as old-fashioned but not masculine.

Footnote 1: This is a spoiler, but the clever trick, as always, is telling the story entirely from Lawrence's perspective and luring the viewer into thinking the same way he does. Holo's behavior seems out of character because it is.

Footnote 2: It's only a bit of a spoiler to give away that Holo never once transforms. To illustrate how conscious of a decision this was by the creative team, note that this season actually adapts the story of books three and five in the series. Book four, in contrast, has more physical drama and concludes with Holo transforming into a wolf--and, in fact, displaying one other impressive supernatural ability she possesses. Had they ended the series with that story, it would have been flashy, dramatically satisfying, and comparatively noncommittal emotionally. Instead, they intentionally skipped it in favor of the next, which is more emotionally substantive and has little action and no supernatural elements at all.

Footnote 3: I again point out the interesting decision; had this season adapted books three and four, it would have ended on a dramatic, upbeat, satisfying, somewhat noncommittal note. Instead, the more substantive book five was chosen, despite the far-less-satisfying end. Reading the subsequent books reveals that the incomplete end of this series is the starting point of the next adventure. On the plus side, you can rest assured that the lack of closure on what happens next was not some kind of artistic omission. On the negative, it leaves you begging for a third season that may never materialize.

US DVD Review

Funimation's initial DVD release is, somewhat unusually, one and the same with their initial Blu-ray release--the combo pack includes both formats at a reasonable price, with no individual release of either. It comes in a single-DVD-sized case with two discs of each type. There was also a limited edition that added an artbox that has an extra slot to hold the season one DVD set, if you have it, so it'll blend in on your shelf if you don't have a Blu-ray player.

The DVDs include all 13 episodes on two discs, with Japanese stereo and English 5.1 soundtracks, an English subtitle track, and anamorphic widescreen video. Bonus material consists of clean opening and endings, plus the slightly educational "studying" with Holo short and silly, pure-fanservice "stretching" with Holo bit. The discs are coded for both regions 1 and 4, so they're good throughout the Americas.

The series was later re-released as part of the Complete Collection box set, another Blu-ray/DVD combo pack, this time including both seasons one and two in the same set. The DVDs list the same features on that version, and are presumably very similar if not identical.


Funimation's initial Blu-ray set, as discussed above, is a combo set that also includes the series on DVD. It comes in a single-DVD-sized case (full height, not Blu-ray-case height) with two BDs holding the whole series and special features, plus both DVDs.

There was also a limited edition that added an artbox that has an extra slot to hold the season one set, if you have it. It's a bit awkward, since the season one Blu-ray box looks undersized in the artbox, and if you're like me and keep your Blu-rays on a separate shelf, the season two set will look oversized on your Blu-ray shelf as well.

As for the actual content, this one is much better than Funimation's season one set with its inferior video. The video this time is 1080p and not upscaled, and being a Brain's Base production is highly attractive throughout. The artwork in the series is relatively simple in terms of linework, and the backgrounds aren't hugely detailed, so there's not a dramatic benefit from the high-def resolution, but there is noticeably more detail in the more detailed scenes or shots with distant characters. More of an advantage is the reduction in noise and banding in darker scenes (which, with a lot of candlelit rooms, there are many); I didn't notice much of either, and at the least it's a very clean picture. You can check out our screenshot gallery for a couple of close-up examples of exactly what you get in terms of resolution in comparison to the DVD version.

Audio is encoded as Dolby TrueHD, stereo in the Japanese and 5.1 in the English (although honestly, there's very little that would make use of the 3D soundstage in this show due to the focus on dialogue). Subtitles are soft-coded English.

The special features on the Blu-ray are also in 1080p, and consist of the slightly silly "studying" with Holo edu-tainment bit (she gives a bit of info on the food they eat; the most useful note is that the burnwine they're drinking is what we call brandy), and the very silly "stretching" with Holo short (which is shameless fanservice), plus textless openings and endings. The Blu-ray, interestingly, is region A and B, so it'll not only play in the Americas, but Europe, Australia, and Africa as well.

This season was re-released in September 2012 along with the first season in a Complete collection; the features appear to be more or less identical.

Parental Guide

Rated TV-14 by Funimation, which is if anything a bit strict.

Violence: 1 - Only one scene of physical violence.

Nudity: 2 - Holo is rarely unclothed, and tastefully covered by hair or tail when she is.

Sex/Mature Themes: 2 - There are generally mature themes discussed and implied, but nothing physical.

Language: 1 - The occasional mild expletive.


Available in North America from Funimation on a bilingual Blu-ray/DVD combo Complete Collection set that also includes the first season. Was also previously available on a bilingual Blu-ray/DVD combo set, available alone or as a limited-edition version that included an artbox with enough room to hold the season one box as well.

The series was also available streamed free from Funimation and Hulu at last check.

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