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 is a Japanesemarker light novel series written by Isuna Hasekura, with illustrations by Jū Ayakura. The first novel was released on February 10, 2006, and as of November 10, 2009, thirteen volumes have been published by ASCII Media Works under their Dengeki Bunko imprint. ASCII Media Works reported that as of October 2008, over 2.2 million copies of the first nine novels have been sold in Japan. The series has been called a "unique fantasy" by Mainichi Shimbun due to the plot focusing on economics, trade, and peddling rather than the typical staples of fantasy such as swords and magic. Yen Press licensed the light novels and will be releasing them in English in North America.


A manga adaptation illustrated by Keito Koume began serialization in the Japanese seinen magazine Dengeki Maoh on September 27, 2007, published by ASCII Media Works. The manga was licensed by Yen Press and will be releasing the volumes in English. The obi strip on the fifth novel announced the anime adaptation which aired between January 9 and March 26, 2008, containing twelve aired episodes, plus a single original video animation episode. The anime will be released in English by Kadokawa Pictures USA and Funimation. A second season of the anime series titled Spice and Wolf II premiered on July 9, 2009. A visual novel based on the series for the Nintendo DS was released on June 26, 2008 by ASCII Media Works, and another visual novel for the DS was released on September 17, 2009.

Plot

Spice and Wolf's story revolves around Kraft Lawrence, a twenty-five-year-old traveling merchant who peddles various goods from town to town to make a living in a stylized historical setting with European influences. His main goal in life is to gather enough money to start his own shop, and he already has been traveling for seven years while gaining experience in the trade. One night when stopped at the town of Pasroe, he finds in his wagon a pagan wolf-deity girl named Holo who is over six hundred years old. She appears to be a fifteen-year-old girl, except for a wolf's tail and ears. She introduces herself as the town's goddess of harvest, who has kept it blessed with good harvests of wheat for many years. Despite having the responsibility to watch over the town, she wants to go back to her homeland in the north called Yoitsu; she believes the people have already forsaken her and that she has kept her promise to maintain the good harvests. Holo wants also to travel to see how the world has changed while she has remained in one place for years. She manages to bargain her way out of the village by making a deal with Lawrence to take her with him. As they travel, her wisdom helps increase his profits, but at the same time, her true nature draws unwanted attention from the church. Throughout the novels, the two slowly fall in love.

Characters

Kraft Lawrence, who chiefly goes by his surname, is a twenty-five-year-old traveling merchant who goes from town to town buying and selling various things in order to make a living. When he was twelve, he became an apprentice to a merchant relative, and set out on his own at eighteen. His goal in life is to gather enough money to start his own shop, and he has already been traveling for seven years while gaining experience in the trade. He meets Holo one night and eventually agrees to her traveling with him. She helps him by providing her wisdom which helps to increase his profits and get him out of jams. As the series progresses, both Lawrence and Holo demonstrate a growing affection toward each other. Lawrence mentions he has been attacked by wolves eight times.


Holo is a wolf harvest deity originally from a land in the north known as Yoitsu. She made a promise with men from a town called Pasroe where she would ensure the town would have good wheat harvests year after year. However, as time went on, the townspeople slowly started to forsake Holo and did not rely on her as they once did. As such, Holo escapes from town in Lawrence's wagon and started traveling with him to see how much the world has changed since she has been in Pasroe. Holo has chosen the form of a girl younger than Lawrence, though she still retains her large white-tipped wolf tail, and ears. Her true form is that of a very large wolf which many people revered and feared.


She refers to herself as the . She is typically very haughty and self-sufficient, though due to her isolation for hundreds of years in Pasroe, she came to feel very lonely, and sometimes shows a more fragile side of herself. She relies on Lawrence for company as she fears loneliness, which is something that Lawrence is very aware of and tries to comfort her in his own way. Holo is also very aware of the different time spans that she and Lawrence have, as a human lifespan is like a blink of an eye for her kind. Holo is shown to be quite scared of that fact but hides it with jokes. She has a peculiar way of speaking, modeled after that of the oiran high-class courtesans. She is fond of delicious food and alcohol, but especially loves apples. She takes pride in her tail and takes special care of it, constantly combing and maintaining it.


Concerning the spelling of Holo's name, Yen Press has stated that they "were instructed that the proper spelling of the character's name is indeed Holo" by the Japanese licensor.


Chloe is an anime-original character. She is a villager of Pasroe and has known Lawrence for a long time. In fact, Lawrence taught her how to be a merchant. She had a slight interest in Lawrence, but tries to push the feelings away. Despite still not knowing how she should feel about him, she respects him as her teacher and a good friend. They later break off their friendship when Chloe allies with the church to capture Holo and kill Lawrence.


Nora makes her first appearance in volume two of the novels. She is a skilled shepherdess from a church-town named Rubinhaigen. Her companion in this profession is a well-trained sheep dog named Enekk. She entrusts Lawrence with a task after they meet.


Amati, who just like Lawrence mainly goes by his surname for business, makes his first appearance in volume three of the novels. He is a young man who works as a fish broker. He has a crush on Holo, and proposes to her. Due to Holo's good acting, he believes her to be gentle, kind and a soft spoken, polite young lady.


Dian, who first appears in volume three of the novels, is an alchemist. She is in the process of chronicling pagan tales and beliefs so as to print them in books. She carries information about Holo's birthplace Yoitsu. Since Dian sounds like a masculine name, she asks Lawrence to call her Dianna. According to Holo, Dianna is not human, but a bird even bigger than Lawrence. She fell in love with a traveling priest and spent a few years helping him build a church but left because he noticed that she never seemed to grow old and became suspicious.


Media

Light novels

Spice and Wolf began as a light novel series written by Isuna Hasekura, with illustrations by Jū Ayakura. Originally, Hasekura entered the first novel in the series into ASCII Media Works' twelfth Dengeki Novel Prize in 2005 and the novel won the Silver Prize. Afterwards, the first novel was published on February 10, 2006, and as of November 10, 2009, thirteen volumes have been published under ASCII Media Works' Dengeki Bunko imprint. The tagline for the novels is "Merchant meats spicy wolf.", an example of Engrish. The author of the novels has commented that what "meats" in the tagline really means is kept a secret, alluding to a possible intentional misspelling of "meets".

In September 2008, the novels were licensed by Yen Press for distribution in English. The first volume will be released in December 2009, and a new volume will be released every six months. While Yen Press is redesigning the covers of the novels, a dust jacket retaining the original cover art for the first novel will be released to select online retailers, and Yen Press also bundled the same jacket in the December 2009 issue of their manga anthology magazine Yen Plus. Despite the different cover art, the illustrations within the novels will remain unchanged.

Manga

A manga adaptation illustrated by Keito Koume began serialization in the Japanese seinen magazine Dengeki Maoh on September 27, 2007, published by ASCII Media Works. The last four pages of chapter one were in full color. The first bound volume containing the first six chapters was released by ASCII Media Works under their Dengeki Comics label on March 27, 2008; three volumes have been published as of July 27, 2009. Yen Press licensed the manga series at New York Comic Con 2009, and will be releasing the series in English in North America.

Internet radio show

An Internet radio show hosted by Animate called began airing on December 7, 2007. One episode is broadcast every other week on Friday, and the show is meant to mainly promote the anime series. The show is hosted by Jun Fukuyama who plays Kraft Lawrence in the anime, and Ami Koshimizu who plays Holo. The show contains eight corners, or parts to each broadcast which includes news about the series, comments and submissions from listeners, and a radio drama.

Anime

An anime adaptation produced by the animation studio Imagin aired in Japan between January 9 and March 26, 2008 on the Chiba TV Japanese television network; twelve of the thirteen episodes were broadcast, with episode seven being a DVD exclusive. The episodes are being released in six DVD compilation volumes in Japan; volume one contains three episodes while the subsequent volumes contain two episodes each. The volumes were released between April 2, 2008 and August 29, 2008 by Pony Canyon in Japan; volume three contains an original video animation (OVA) episode in addition to episode six of the television broadcast. A Blu-ray Disc box set of the series was released on January 30, 2009. The series is directed by Takeo Takahashi, written by Naruhisa Arakawa, and character designs are provided by Kazuya Kuroda. Takahashi was quoted as being a big fan of the novels. The opening theme is by Natsumi Kiyoura, and the ending theme is by Rocky Chack; both maxi singles were released on February 6, 2008. The anime's original soundtrack was released on March 12, 2008. The anime is licensed for release in English by Kadokawa Pictures USA and Funimation Entertainment, and a complete thirteen-episode DVD box set will be released on December 22, 2009.

A second season of the anime titled Spice and Wolf II aired twelve episodes in Japan between July 9 and September 24, 2009. Most of the staff from the first season returned, except for Toshimitsu Kobayashi replacing Kazuya Kuroda as the character designer and chief animation director, and Spice and Wolf II is animated by Brain's Base instead of Imagin. The voice actors from the first season retained their roles. Another OVA, animated by Brain's Base, was released bundled with a picture book entitled written and illustrated by the same creators of the light novels and was released by ASCII Media Works on April 30, 2009 under their Dengeki Bunko Visual Novel imprint.

Visual novels

A dating and business simulation visual novel based on the series was released on June 26, 2008 under the title . The game is made by ASCII Media Works playable on the Nintendo DS. The player assumes the role of Kraft Lawrence as he travels around with Holo for a period of one year in the game. The story differs from that of the original novels or anime and is presented as an additional Spice and Wolf world. Ami Koshimizu provides the voice of Holo in the game. The game was released on the same day in limited and regular editions; the limited edition was sold at a higher price, but comes with a life-sized poster of Holo, among other things.

A second dating and business simulation visual novel will be released on September 17, 2009 entitled . The game will again be made by ASCII Media Works and playable on the Nintendo DS. The player assumes the role of Kraft Lawrence.

Reception

ASCII Media Works reported that as of November 2009, over 3.5 million copies of the first twelve novels have been sold. The light novel series has ranked three times in Takarajimasha's light novel guide book Kono Light Novel ga Sugoi! published yearly: first in 2007, and fifth in both 2008 and 2009; in the 2007 issue, Holo won Best Female Character.

In April 2008, the maid café Cafe with Cat in Akihabaramarker, Tokyomarker, Japanmarker hosted a specially themed event called Cafe with Wolf for a period of three days between April 4 and April 6. The event included three new items on the menu and tied in with the sale of the first anime DVD volume which went on sale on April 2, 2008. People who bought the DVD from the Comic Toranoana Akihabara Honten store (which is on the first floor below Cafe with Cat) and brought the receipt with them into Cafe with Wolf were entered into a lottery to win rare Spice and Wolf goods.

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