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Spice & Wolf, Vol. 02 (Spice & Wolf: Manga, #2) by Isuna HasekuraStuff I Read – Spice and Wolf Vol 2 Review
So despite volume one not exactly knocking my socks off, here comes volume two of Spice and Wolf. I was hoping that the second installment of this series would amp up the action a bit, and luckily it comes through to some extent in getting and keeping my attention, though it does suffer from some of the same problems that bogged down the first volume. Mainly, the volume has a tendency to get fairly exposition heavy, giving huge stretches of text that are meant to show just how complicated a plot the characters are working with. And while I appreciate to some extent the way this series is trying to take something as oddball as trade negotiations and make it more exciting, there is a lot of this volume that comes off as a bit forced and falsely exciting, I guess. It’s a bit hard to explain, but the effect is a bit boring. On the plus side, the series does show some good interactions between the characters and Holo in particular is a fun person to be around. Seeing her interact with the male main character is interesting and more fun than the actual plot of the series so far.
But first my problems with the volume. As I said, it does go through a large amount of text, and mainly with the aim of convincing the reader that the plot that the characters have found themselves in with the changing of silver and all that is very complex. And so the volume pauses in many places to make this seem very exciting, like an elaborate game of chess that the characters are playing. But part of it just comes off as supremely boring, because we’re not actually seeing anything happen. This is all theory and maneuvering without action. So yes, we see these dramatic images of chess pieces being moved around the board but the actual motion this conveys is more like something out of a Phoenix Wright game, with the characters gesturing wildly and yelling over things that really seem more somber and restrained. And these scenes tend to drag, with diagrams and such to make sure the reader is aware what’s going on. And it does make things clear, but almost unnecessarily so, as in the end I really stop caring about these machinations because they seem so easy for the characters to figure out.
At the same time, the action of the story is increased, as the characters are attacked by members of a rival faction and Holo is captured. This does nicely raise some tension, as now we have Holo being threatened with being turned over to the church and such. This adds another wrinkle, but here again a lot of the actual action of these events aren’t shown. The main male character never really does much but explain things and wait. At least Holo is also upset that it’s not even him who risks his life to save her. But that the complaint is brought up in the text itself doesn’t make it less valid. It would have been nice to actually see what happened there instead of being told vaguely about it through more diagrams and plans. It takes a lot of the tension out because there really isn’t a whole lot that the reader has invested in the escape from captivity.
At least the character moments with Holo are fun. The art and the dialogue does a great deal to teach us more about this character, who is at the same time wild and vulnerable, mercurial and sensitive. The moments with her and the main male character are normally quite good, often at the man’s expense, because she is just obviously more comfortable than he is with everything. The reader can really get a sense for what she wants and who she is by her reactions to events and by what she chooses to say. She is definitely the star of the show, and the reason why I’ll continue to read this series for the time being. She cannot truly bring the series back from where it’s at, but she does provide for a lot of entertainment. She adds some much needed excitement into things, an element of fun. Otherwise the volume doesn’t do a whole lot, though it shows some promise of what the series could be if it concentrated less on the minutiae. That it could be better only warrants this volume a 6/10, however.
SPICE AND WOLF (MANGA) story by Isuna Hasekura, art by Keito Koume
With his carthorse as his only companion, the young merchant Kraft Lawrence slowly wends his way through dusty back roads in search of profitable trade. But this monotony screeches to a halt when, one night, he encounters a harvest goddess in the guise of a beautiful young girl…with wolf ears and a tail! Longing for the northern lands of her birth, Holo the Wisewolf joins Lawrence as he follows the ebb and flow of trade through the countryside. Newly arrived in Pazzio, the traveling merchant Lawrence and his companion, Holo the Wisewolf, are poised to turn a huge profit on a currency scheme. Or can this meek merchant devise a new strategy to rescue both his profits and the girl before Holo is delivered to the hands of the Church?
Based on the light novel series of the same name , the series follows Kraft Lawrence, a traveling merchant, who meets and begins traveling with a pagan wolf-deity named Holo after he unintentionally frees her from the village she has been bound to for hundreds of years.
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