Book Review: Spice & Wolf Volume 19

March 28, 2018

Spice & Wolf Volume 19 cover

I hope you all have been having a good week, even if it is
just the daily grind.

Things have been going fairly well here, while trying to relax,
and I can still do what I like.

Recently, I found out that a series that reached its
conclusion saw another installment released where I live, and even though I had
already written a review of
the series, I thought that I would at least check it out, since I did make
mention of it in the series review.

Today, I will be reviewing that title, which is called, Spice & Wolf Volume 19 by
Isuna Hasekura.

As I have given a series synopsis in an earlier
post
, I will not go over it again.

Lawrence and Holo have living a peaceful life in Nyohhira, but
their travels have yet to end, as they remember the past and continue to
encounter new faces in the span of four stories.

While the Spice & Wolf novels have been vastly
superior to the anime, which would be no surprise to people who think that the
original is always better than the adaptation, things are not always so
great when they are stretched out further.

And after reading this book, I found myself a little
unimpressed.

Fortunately, there were a few things to like, so I do not
need to skip right into I hated.

From the moment that I picked up and started reading the
stories contained in this book, I found myself so engrossed with many of them
that I did not want to stop reading for any reason.

Readers want to be engrossed with whatever book they pick
up, and while there are many ways to accomplish this, from having interesting
characters and plot to making even the most mundane moments one could think of
into something that comes off as interesting, anthologies like this require
that most, if not all, of the stories contained can quickly grab and hold the
reader's attention to want to read each one, which Isuna Hasekura was able to
do quite easy in many of the side story anthologies prior to this volume.

Here, Isuna Hasekura has shown that he is still able to
create that pull that he was able to establish back when Lawrence and Holo
first began their adventure, though not exactly to quite the degree that I
would have liked.

If Isuna had not written things in a way to make me
initially interested in the stories, I would have been even more disappointed
with this installment of the series than I already am, because Isuna Hasekura had
been able to write something so good that a series I was not really interested in
became a series that I really enjoyed, as well as made it look like he was only
doing this because he needed to make more money by milking his best known work
to death.

Thankfully, he was not that bad, and was able to write
something that could pull in the audience quickly, thereby satisfying one of
the things necessary to create a great work of fiction.

Hopefully, Isuna will be able to maintain his ability to pull
in people quickly, especially in his new series, Wolf & Parchment, but
because he is human, like the rest of us, he will definitely reach his peak, if
he has not already.

I also liked how I was able to get some sort of chuckle,
while reading the stories found in this volume.

While the humor in Spice & Wolf probably is not
that unique, when compared to other anime and manga, the thing that I really
liked about it was things were executed well enough that it made things feel
fun and exciting, even when hardly anything was happening.

In this volume, even though things were not exactly as
hilarious as they were before the main storyline ended, this still seemed to be
quite as lively and enjoyable enough that I still that feeling of fun that I had
in previous volume, even chuckling about a few things.

Other than the romance aspect, which has mostly concluded
and only the life of a married couple is all that can be found, the thing that
has been keeping people coming back to this series, and if Isuna had not
included some moments of humor, this book really would have ended up being a
waste of time, as things would neither be enjoyable or believable, thereby
giving fans of the series incentive to not check out any more titles in the
series.

Fortunately, Isuna Hasekura did remember what made this
series so great, and I feel like giving him a bit of applause for doing
something right.

If he can keep this up, he might be able to maintain a
foothold in the industry he seemingly conquered, but I do not really see him
lasting much longer, since he decided to revisit a series that made him famous
and has put out a 20th volume, according to a Wikipedia
page
that lists the website for the Japanese publisher as the source for
the info, as well as a sequel series.

The thing that I liked the most though is how I can practically
pick up and put down this book when I felt like it.

Even though most works of fiction would only seem to be
doing things right if the audience does want to focus on anything else but that
work, which is a definite must, anthologies have multiple stories to tell, and
anthologies are the kinds of things that the audience should not feel like they
need to read in one sitting.

Readers want to be able to stop reading an anthology, so
that they have some kind of break between each story because that will help
them to actually be to read it for the pleasure that they want to have from
reading any other book, without the consequences of being away for too long,
and if an anthology cannot provide that, it has completely and utterly failed
as an anthology.

While reading this book, I did not feel lost by what I was
reading and I did not feel like I was truly missing anything, which made it
quite easy for me to find a place to stop, though the length of each story
could get quite long.

If Isuna had not provided a good break between the stories,
I would have probably been very disappointed in him, as he seemed to do a great
job writing anthologies before, and if I had to read each story as soon as I
finished the other just to make sense of things, instead of just be enthralled
with the stories, that would have shown shown me that Isuna Hasekura had really
lost his touch.

Thankfully, Isuna Hasekura remembered what makes a great
anthology, and that makes me want to give him another good round applause.

Hopefully, his future anthologies will be able to remain
constant in this area, as that will be the only way that he would really be
able to maintain his image as a good writer, though not giving off the
appearance of milking his most successful work would help even more.

Outside of those things, I cannot think of anything else
that I particularly liked, at least that stood out as much as what I already
talked about.

Because many of the stories were able to quickly capture my
attention and hold it to the end of each one, the humor was that one of the
draws the series had was still present, and I could pick and put book this book
when needed, this book was kind of decent.

Although there were things that I liked, there are some
issues.

However, aside from things that are too minor talk about,
there was only one thing that bothered me.

The last story in this volume felt really dull.

When I got into Spice & Wolf, I was made aware,
by how the first book flowed, that this series is not necessarily fast paced,
and I knew that it would take a while to become truly interesting, but I do not
really remember being incredibly bored with things too often in the series as a
whole, as the mundane events still came off as rather interesting, and I was
expecting the last story to be like that.

However, the final story did not really give me too much
excitement, other than the brief mentions of what Col and Myuri were up to,
some of which occurred in the first
book
of the Wolf & Parchment series, and things just went back
to be dull, because the mundane moments just came off as mundane.

This is not the Spice & Wolf I know and have come
to love about the series, and really disappointed me, as I was hoping that this
anthology would end just like it begun.

Just like how a book ends up being great if it can have a
great start and a satisfying end, anthologies are at their best when they end
just as well as they started, and while Isuna has done a great job in the past
of writing a great anthology, he completely failed to deliver that here, since
I more of felt relief that everything was over.

If I had to say what the biggest reason for this
disappointment was, it would have to be its length, which came in at about
fifty pages, in addition to how the mundane stuff just came off as mundane.

What the heck, Isuna? People liked these stories because
they were fun and did not feel dull, and by providing a story like this, you
think that people will still be able to enjoy this, just because they like
Lawrence and Holo.

Right now, it really does seem like Isuna Hasekura is just
milking his cash cow, like how Toei Animation has milked the Dragon Ball
franchise to death once before already.

Now, some of you guys might be rolling your eyes, saying
that this is a smart thing to do, as it make sense to go after what makes
money, but if one keeps trying to push things out just because it makes now, the
fans of the franchise series will eventually get tired of it and stop handing
the businesses money, thereby exposing how fragile that company or writer is.

If Isuna Hasekura had done the right thing and left the
series alone after either the 18th or 16th installment, this
series could have left on a high on high note, and let fans remember great this
series once was.

Unfortunately, according to the afterword of this volume, he
plans to release more volumes of Spice & Wolf after this, and seeing
how disappointing this story was makes me regret giving this book a try.

Hopefully, Isuna Hasekura will be able to make up for this
in the future installments of Wolf & Parchment, but, as far as I can
tell, this might be the beginning of end of his career, and probably will not
pick up any more installment of this series.

Thankfully, this was the only thing that really bothered me,
so I can at leave some room for the possibility of the Spice & Wolf
novels to become again, instead of putting it back in the same trash bin I
would have put it in when I was only familiar with the anime adaptations.

While the only thing that was not really enjoyable was the
final story, that story was so disappointing that it turned an otherwise decent
read into a piece of garbage that I wished I had ignored.

Despite the fact that there were a few things to like, such
as how I felt like how I could read this book on my schedule and a few things
made me chuckle, the fact that one of the stories ended bring the whole thing
done made this book a waste of time.

I would recommend everyone, including fans of Spice &
Wolf
and Isuna Hasekura, to avoid this book like the plague, because it
gives off the feeling that Isuna Hasekura and the Japanese publishers just want
to milk their cash cow, but you are free to check it for yourself.

If you liked this review and would like to see more, please
consider supporting me on Patreon,
so I can find more worthwhile reads for you guys to read, though I most likely
will not get any more volumes of Spice & Wolf.

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