Series Review: Spice & Wolf

Well, this is kind of surprising, huh?

Normally, I focus my time on reviewing books and moving on, while I review an anime as a whole once the simulcast has completed, with only two exceptions, but I got a request one day to help a writer out with getting ratings on Amazon and I kind of had a bit of troubles, since I could not remember too much about that series at the time the request was made.

Because of that, I decided to try and get myself into the habit of doing those kinds of reviews more often, so that I can be better prepared, and I recently finished the main storyline of a series.

Today, I will be reviewing that series, which is called Spice & Wolf.

As have already given a series synopsis in an earlier post and I do not think that I can word things any better than that, I will forego any summary.

As many should be able to tell from my reviews of the individual volumes, which total about 18 volumes where I live, 19 if you can get your hands on the 19th book, I was not exactly a fan of this series when I first introduced to it via the anime, and, like A Certain Magical Index, I did not get why people thoroughly enjoyed the series.

However, when I found out that Yen Press was finally releasing the original series in a digital format, I decided to give it a try, and found that I thoroughly enjoyed.

From the very beginning of the series all the way to end, I found myself being pulled into a slow, but very satisfying, journey with interesting characters and a very engaging writing style, which made it hard for me to want to stop reading many, but not all, of the volumes, as I wanted to find out what would happen next.

This was something that I had never seen from Isuna Hasekura before, even though the Spice & Wolf series was his debut series, unlike the other title from him that I was familiar with, which was neither a manga or a light novel, and it really made me want to change my mind about how he seemed to be nothing but an amateur, even if he really was when he first penned this series, because he was able to pull things off really well, especially because he was able to get me to feel what his characters were feeling and that they seemed to be human.

I also liked how realistic things seemed in this seem.

While this series cannot be considered completely realistic, like many other works of fiction, as myths ended up being true a lot of the times in the universe of the series and there were characters, like Holo, who could change between beast and human form, but many of the situations that Holo and Lawrence encountered seemed like things that we could face in our own lives and the ways that they were resolved were solutions that could very well be used to resolve the same issues that we encounter in our lives.

Now, some of you guys might be thinking that I making this series look like a bible, especially because I have found a few passages that stood out to me while reading through many of the volumes of this series, but I have to remind you guys that I do have a background in computers and some of what I know from that field helped me to realize that nothing is 100% and the understanding of the world and people that I have now, which itself is not perfect, allows me to realize that you cannot delve into these books whenever you have a problem and find the answer to your problem, as it can only show people how flawed they can be.

This realistic feeling comes that the series has comes from the fact that Isuna Hasekura tries to apply economic principles, some of which we all know about, in a fantasy setting and tries to resolve most, but not all, matters through the use of money, which is what causes the bulk of problems that can be found in the world of adults, except for those instances that are caused by greed, apathy, and/or irrationality.

By having this combination be present in a series, it comes off as feeling rather unique when compared to other fictional series out there, even if it might not be, and that unique feeling is what many readers would like to feel.

After all, if nothing had that feeling of being unique, there would not be any stories out there that could survive the sands of time like the works that truly deserve to be called classics and all of the various mythologies from ancient civilizations have done.

Because Isuna was able to deliver in this unique feeling, I feel like he gets pretty every ounce of praise that he deserves.

The best thing about this series though was how I felt like I had fun reading many of the volumes, regardless of whether they were short story collections or part of the main storyline, which I consider finished as of volume 16, since I want to completely forget about the abomination that came after, and helped to improve my initial bad impression from the anime adaptations to the point where I can see why this series is so well liked.

There are many people out there that do a lot of reading for various purposes, whether that be to make living or because they like to read, and they want to be able to sit down and relax, not be experience more feelings of monotony because the book feels tedious or like it is a chore.

Even though Isuna Hasekura failed to deliver in this area in two of the three books that failed to impress me, which were volumes 10 and 17, he was able to deliver quite well in the fifteen books that were actually enjoyable, and helped to make some of the worst aspects of this series be less visible than they were, some of which could be attributed to the staff Yen Press had translate, proofread, and edit each installment, and it actually makes me happy that I gave this a try.

If Isuna Hasekura can keep up with this level of quality, and Yen Press does not test my mercy as much as they did in volume 14, I might actually be willing to continue supporting him, as this is what I wanted to see from him and the translators Yen Press hired did a fairly good job of getting his voice through in this beloved series, and I am looking forward to seeing this happen.

Because the series the series was able to get me interested from the beginning and mostly gave me everything that I wanted to be able to read through each installment, the realistic feel, in spite of it being set in a fantasy world, and that the series itself felt like a fun read, this ended up being one of the best series I have read.

Although I did like the series overall, there are some issues.

However, aside from a few glaring issues that cropped up in three of the 18 volumes, which I talked about in the reviews of the volumes themselves, and other things that are too minor to talk about, nothing seemed to bother me enough that it would have affected my overall enjoyment.

As a result, I will have to say that there is nothing worth mentioning.

Considering that there was quite a bit to like, especially considering that less than a quarter of the less irritated me quite a bit, this series was worth every penny I spent to read it.

I recommend this series to fans of Isuna Hasekura and Spice & Wolf, especially those that are desperately hoping a third season of the anime, those who want to read something that is pretty close to being realistic, though I will warn you guys it is not 100% realistic, and those that want to see how a story with a slow pacing.

As for everyone else, it might before trying out, especially if you are one those people that did not enjoy the anime adaptations too much, since I also did not like the series too much until I read these books, but if you cannot stand stories with a slow pace, you might be better off looking somewhere else.

If you liked this review and would like to see more, please consider supporting me on Patreon or buying one or more of the volumes in the series from Amazon, which has all the volumes in print and digital format, so that I can find worthwhile reads for you guys, and do whatever you do when you find something that impresses you.

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Copyright © 2015 Bryce Campbell. All Rights Reserved.