Home Spice and Wolf Episode 5 - The Fluffy Economics of Trenni Silver

Spice and Wolf Episode 5 - The Fluffy Economics of Trenni Silver

With episode 5 of Spice and Wolf: MERCHANT MEETS THE WISE WOLF already out, the new adaptation is starting to take shape and we started some of the strong story beats. This new episode brought new economic plot points, romantic drama, and more gif-able Holo moments.

The State of the Spice and Wolf’s Economy

No, this is not about the Next Economic Crisis™, but you can draw some parallels between Spice and Wolf‘s episode 5 and what is happening in the world today. The mystery of the coin scheme was touched on briefly at the start of the episode, but perhaps a more detailed explanation is needed for those who are not economy nerds (a.k.a people with a life).

The core of the plot is that the silver content of the Trenni coins is going to decrease, and many actors will be trying to take advantage of that. We do not how the Medio trading company obtained this information, however, this is extremely useful info in the right hands, and the king would likely behead whoever was responsible for leaking it, as you will see it puts him in a very precarious position. To explain that, we would first need to explain why he would do it in the first place.

Sometimes, governments need to raise money for necessary and important expenses such as the king’s third summer estate. They have in general 4 ways of achieving that:

  • Raising taxes, thus making people angry.
  • Raising tariffs, raising prices of goods, and thus making people angry.
  • Cutting expenses, making nobles angry in the process.
  • Creating new money out of thin air, creating inflation with some delay, which will make people angry later.

Governments who run out of goodwill capital often find themselves forced into taking that last option. The biggest drawback of this method is that it will destroy confidence in the currency in the long term, which is incredibly hard to fix even if you stop doing it, but it has the advantage of giving you funds that are available immediately for spending. This is commonly referred to as money printing in our age of fiat and paper money, but in the medieval era, like in Spice and Wolf’s setting, it was harder to achieve and was usually referred to as coin debasement.

From a technical perspective, this is achieved through the process of reminting currency. That basically means that the king will discreetly gather, for example, 20 silver coins, melt them, and then make 25 coins out of them by reducing the silver content of each coin. The king then puts back 20 coins in circulation, and he can keep the extra 5 coins for his treasury.

But let’s assume, however, that a rich merchant company learns of this happening, and buys up all the silver coins before the king can do it. This puts the king in a very disadvantageous situation as he has to buy from that specific company to get his funds. The company knows the king is desperate as he would not have used this scheme otherwise, so they figuratively hold him by the nuts.

This can be used to get money out of him (sell 20 silver coins for the price of 22 coins, for example, cutting into the king’s profits from debasement) but is especially useful to get concessions in matters of power, like obtaining exclusive usage rights and other shady business practices. This is the reason the trading companies basically got into an all-out war to secure the funds, as it would bring them huge profits should they be able to secure the deal.

Fluffiness of the Wolf Goddess

Spice and Wolf episode 5 did not spend much time explaining the economic aspect, focusing instead on the story developments and the relationship between Holo and Lawrence. Plenty of cute moments happened starting from their reunion, where Holo somehow was very disappointed in Lawrence, but we discover later that was actually hiding her embarrassment. She did or said something to her savior that is left to our imagination, but something that should have been reserved to Lawrence.

Another adorable banter scene happened a while after where Holo acted like tsundere, Lawrence tried to respond in kind, only for Holo to act like she’s hurt and be all cute, which completely disarmed Lawrence. This display of female privilege was of course completely calculated on Holo’s part.

On the opposite end of the emotions spectrum, Spice and Wolf episode 5 also included a scene where Holo and Yarei interacted, which was simply heartbreaking. Yarei does not believe in the pagan gods and is an enthusiastic proponent of the church and its teachings which include that all traces of pagan gods should be made to disappear. Meanwhile, when Holo realized she was talking to someone from Pasloe who knew her, she was very happy for a moment just for that small recognition alone. This of course turned into utter sadness as soon as Yarei started talking about his ideals.

These scenes served as a display of the animation capabilities of the studio, with a few scenes of Holo being very expressive with her ears and tails. These were very cute and super satisfying to watch. Another noticeable point in this episode was how good Holo’s VA, Ami Koshimizu, was. Her performance, especially during the banter scenes between Holo and Lawrence, was very well acted and we noticed her professional growth from her role as Holo in the original Spice and Wolf adaptation compared to now.

As we are getting close to the conclusion of this arc, it is nice to see such good execution on this adaptation from the team behind it. I do, however, think that the economic aspect should be getting at least a bit more attention, as casual viewers may not understand what is going on clearly and how big of a scheme the Trenni silver plot is, for example, without at least a bit of exposition.

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Spice and Wolf is streaming on Crunchyroll
©️ 2024 Isuna Hasekura/ KADOKAWA / Rowen Trading Guild

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