Lawrence is a wandering merchant traveling from one town to the next, expertly dealing goods for a profit with the goal of opening his own shop. Though he enjoys his profession, the life of a traveling merchant is a lonely offering little opportunity for companionship. Soon his life is inexplicably altered when late one night he discovers a peculiar girl stowed away in the back of his wagon. Possessing a wolf’s ears and tail, the girl claims to be the wolf god Holo, having escaped imprisonment in part thanks to Lawrence’s unwitting help, she decides to join him on his travels, hoping to make it back to her home land.
Originally conceived as a series of novels by Isuna Hasekura, Spice and Wolf has achieved success in various forms of media, having been adapted into a manga and later an anime, the series has gathered itself a respectable following thanks to its engaging characters and unique blend of fantasy and business set in olden times.
Volume 2 of the manga follows closely to the second half of the first novel. Lawrence and Holo find themselves caught up in what at first appears to be a lucrative business venture, later on turning into a deadly game of life and death. With Holo captured and set to burn at the stake, Lawrence is forced to rely on his skills as a merchant in order to turn the odds in his favor and save his newfound companion.
The artwork is exceptional, with expressive lines and detail oriented backgrounds rendered beautifully within each panel. The character designs remain faithful to the novels, given an extra twist to conform to the artist’s style and are pleasing to behold.
Whereas volume 1’s key focus was introducing the characters and their setting, volume 2 flashes the spotlight on the growing relationship between Holo and Lawrence. Their personalities play off each other to great effect from their teasing of one another to the different approaches they take when hatching business proposals. Things take an emotional turn later on when the two find their lives placed in the other’s hands, with both expressing not only complete trust in their companion but burgeoning feelings for the other.
Spice and Wolf volume 2 carries on the momentum of the introductory volume, building on the relationship between Lawrence and Holo while also delivering a uniquely suspenseful story. For anyone looking for quality storytelling with relatable characters and a pinch of fantasy, Spice and Wolf will more than satisfy.