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Spice & Wolf: merchant meets the wise wolf
Episode 10

by Steve Jones,

How would you rate episode 10 of
Spice & Wolf: merchant meets the wise wolf ?
Community score: 4.2

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Now here's some spicy Spice & Wolf. Tempers and passions flare as Holo and Lawrence devise a way to save their relationship and checkbook. This balance of hot-headed melodrama and cool-headed wheeling and dealing also strikes an ideal balance for this series. While the first arc had some bumps along the way, this arc is much surer in its construction, and the results are much sweeter, like honey-pickled peaches.

I'd anticipated Holo to be angry with Lawrence about his curt dismissal of her earlier, and apparently, Lawrence anticipated the same. We were both surprised, then, to see Holo much angrier with herself. My kneejerk response is to focus on the unfairness of it. Obviously, it's not Holo's fault that all of those merchants and tradespeople looked down on her and down on Lawrence by association. That's a manifestation of culturally ingrained misogyny that Holo has no responsibility for. The writing doesn't dig any deeper into that aspect, but that's to be expected. Spice & Wolf's priorities right now are twofold: flirting and economics. There's not a lot of room for complicated social commentary in there, although this is still a good iron to keep in the fire.

Holo's reaction makes sense if we consider her personality and how much it overlaps with Lawrence's. They truly are birds of a feather because both want to assume the entirety of the blame for the situation. That's the heart of their argument. Holo, obviously, is much louder about this, and Lawrence is more deferential, but what's really on display is their mutual stubbornness. They're stubborn out of kindness, though, so once they both recognize that, they settle down rather quickly. That opens Lawrence to fumble yet another one of Holo's invitations, and they return to their regular bickering, as it should be. All in all, it's a good scene with dialogue written by someone who understands how easy it is for two people on the same page to talk past the other.

I want to emphasize that last point because I've seen people (i.e., I foolishly glanced at the top few comments beneath the Crunchyroll video) come away from this episode spouting the rhetoric of "women, am I right?" That's a disservice to Holo's character. The crux of this scene is that both Holo and Lawrence are equally irrational and tunnel-visioned on what they thought they did. They're both in dire emotional straits, and more importantly, they both come to an understanding rather quickly. That's a sign of maturity, not evidence of the fickle interiority of womenkind. The writing only brings up traditional gender expectations when Holo wants to get a rise out of Lawrence, and she riffs on them with the appropriate playfulness.

I've used a lot of e-ink on the anime's adaptational foibles, so it's only fair I praise a visual when I like it. And in that spirit, I love everything they're doing with Holo's tail. It's a part of her body that Holo reveres enough to keep in her human form, so naturally, it's become a key part of her character design. That also means it's a perfect accessory to her body language, and this adaptation has consistently utilized it. Pay attention to how it bristles and sways throughout their argument, punctuating her sentences and following the ebb and follow of the conversation. It seems like in every episode, they draw her tail bigger and bushier, and that's a flavor of accelerationism I hope everyone can support.

Cooler heads and a reforged relationship culminate in the episode's coolest scene, in which Lawrence and Holo coax Nora into a life of sin and debauchery. At least, that's what it looks like from the outside (there are some powerful "my wife and I saw you from across the tavern" vibes, too). In reality, though, Nora isn't an innocent flower being plucked by a pair of scheming entrepreneurs. She's an aspiring businesswoman frustrated with an employer who wants to use her up for everything she's got. Lawrence is shrewd to capitalize on her situation, but he also knows a comrade when he sees one. She wants a chance to flip off the Church, and he's giving her a (literally) golden opportunity to do so. And it's nice to see Holo also acknowledge Nora's conviction, stopping just short of calling her a wolf in sheep's clothing. After all, there's only room for one of those in this series.

Rating:

Spice & Wolf: merchant meets the wise wolf is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

Steve is on Twitter while it lasts. He still knows "The Wolf Whistling Song" by heart. You can also catch him chatting about trash and treasure alike on This Week in Anime.



Disclosure: Kadokawa World Entertainment (KWE), a wholly owned subsidiary of Kadokawa Corporation, is the majority owner of Anime News Network, LLC. One or more of the companies mentioned in this article are part of the Kadokawa Group of Companies.


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