Home Spice and Wolf's Remake Brings the Nostalgia With Episode 1

Spice and Wolf's Remake Brings the Nostalgia With Episode 1

If, like me, you watch anime, have a receding hairline, and are going through a midlife crisis, there’s a good chance you have at least heard of Spice and Wolf. The show itself was very popular at the time, and Holo’s design and charm got her into the Waifu Hall of Fame, with artists still drawing fanart of her many years after the anime stopped.

Unfortunately, like many other anime shows of that time, it got slapped with a “go-read-the-source-material” ending, and fans lost hope of any continuation of the anime a long time ago. This is why the new adaptation is such a great deal, and fortunately, the staff delivered in this first episode.

Episode 1 of the remake, which is titled Spice and Wolf: MERCHANT MEETS THE WISE WOLF, starts with an original scene where we hear Holo speaking to a young girl and reminiscing stories about her past. This scene frames the rest of the story as Holo remembering her past, How I Met Your Father Mother style. This scene was unexpected but is also a nice addition. It is a way for the remake team to acknowledge the previous anime, with Holo representing old viewers and light novel readers and recounting the story to new viewers.

From there, episode 1 moves on to the story and follows more or less the same events as the original anime, with a few differences. Most notably, Chloe, the villager who harvested the last wheat strand and an anime original character from the first adaptation, is replaced by Yarei, sticking more closely to the original Spice and Wolf light novel.

Yarei, 2024 Adaptation
Chloe, 2008 Adaptation

Chloe is one of the major differences between the original anime and the light novel, as she was used to simplify a certain plot point down the line. However, the Spice and Wolf remake still paid homage to her, and she shows up as one of the villagers chasing down Yarei as he is holding the last straw of wheat. This also shows the team’s intention to stick closer to the source material, although there are still some differences, such as the scene where Holo transforms into her true form.

Another important difference from the original anime is the art style and design. The remake uses more muted colors, perhaps to accentuate the fantasy aspect, a more modern style. We can also spot some CGI usage that is quite noticeable here and there, but nothing too bad.

However, given Holo’s popularity, most discussions tend to revolve around her design. While her features do not significantly change, she sports a more modern look, and she became more expressive in her new form. Both designs have their charms, and different people will like one or the other more. I personally enjoyed how her new design made her more expressive, which goes well with her cheeky personality.

Spice and Wolf is all about the detailed fantasy world, and this already shows clearly in the first episode. While the economic aspect the series is known for has yet to show beyond the fact that Lawrence is a merchant, episode 1 establishes a lot of different threads, the most important ones being the role of the church in the world and the slow establishment of modernity.

The church is established as the power taking over, looking for the pagans and suppressing them. It introduced new farming techniques, making superstitions superfluous, and Yarei is made to embody this idea in his discussion with Lawrence. He shows clear disdain for old traditions and doesn’t worry about eating the offerings meant for Holo by himself. In this situation, Holo is set up as the chronicler, much the same as Frieren in Frieren: Beyond Journey’s End, where she lives much longer than humans and ends up observing history from a different point of view.

In this case, Holo lived long enough to see herself become unneeded, forgotten, and discarded without an ounce of respect. She meets Lawrence, a traveling merchant who gets lonely enough to be talking to his horse and uses him to run away from her village. They are both in a situation where they need each other, even though they do not trust each other yet. And so they end up traveling together, kicking off the events of Spice and Wolf.

Official Episode 1 Illustration by Mieko Hosoi (Official Twitter)

Episode 1 of Spice and Wolf’s MERCHANT MEETS THE WISE WOLF remake did a fantastic job at introducing the series to a new audience. With a modern look, a script closer to the source material, and a beautiful soundtrack, it promises to be a great adaptation of the great story that is Spice and Wolf. I can’t wait to see how the rest of the season will unfold! It will run for 25 episodes, which will give it ample time to hit its story highs.

Spice and Wolf Official Website
©️ 2022 Isuna Hasekura, Jyuu Ayakura/ KADOKAWA / Rowen Trading Guild

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