It’s amazing to me how much nudity the censors allow Horo to get away with just because she has no nipples (or they choose not to draw them). Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining. But apparently even the censors bow down to Horo-sama.
So I said I was going to write about the second season of Spice and Wolf in my summer preview. Unfortunately, this means I need to think of some angles and provide a little more effort than I put in for my occasional Hinagiku picture-dump fanboyism posts. This is tough. A very tough task. Because as much as I fanboy over Hina, I may be an even bigger fanboy for Horo. She’s such an emotive character – the twitch of the ears, the shuffle of a tail – that it’s hard to resist. But I’ll try to, and I’ll try to put together some coherent posts… starting from my next post, because there were too many adorable Horo moments to not capture this week.
The episode picks up soon after their travails in Rubinhaigen, and using some crafty thinking and supernatural okami transformations to fend off the goons from Remerio and salvage Lawrence’s destitution (btw, I know I’m going to mistakenly refer to Lawrence as Welkin at some point this season, so bear with me). The banter between the two are as sharp and fiesty as ever, and the flirting is even more blatant than it was in the first season. For a non-couple, they’re very friendly. Lawrence should just stop being a prude and tie that knot. He’s never going to find someone half as awesome as Horo.
After much traveling (and subsistence on hard bread and gruel, to Horo’s dismay), Lawrence and Horo arrive at Kumerson for the Radora festival, only to find out that all the rooms are booked solid. Luckily, they run into a young merchant named Amati, who’s part of the same guild that Lawrence is, and promises to pull some strings to get the two a room together.
Once in Kumerson, Horo pigs out on fish, meat and wine, leading to another Horo face we’ll likely see much of this season: hangover Horo. This gives Lawrence to venture around the town and make some deals. In this case, meeting an old colleague to sell nails to.
Feel free to skip down to below if you find the economics in the show boring. But let me take a step back here. It’s this simple economics which I’ll probably focus on when I’m not gushing over Horo. This may kill any traffic to this blog dead on its tracks, but I must admit, I find economics interesting. If the financial collapse had happened while I was in college, I probably would’ve been inspired to become an economist. One of the few principles I believe in, from a thematic perspective, is "touka koukan." Yes, the principle of equivalent exchange that is so central to FMA. I think anyone involved in monetary or fiscal policy should be forced to watch FMA (original version) just to get that principle pounded in their head. So how does touka koukan apply to economics? Well, in simple terms, it means you can’t create money (or value) out of thin air. You can move money around however you want, and certain people may become better off, but it’ll be at the cost of others, and society as a whole will be no wealthier.
So long story short, how does that apply to this specific instance? Well, Lawrence is trying to sell nails for $16, the wheat merchant wants it for $9, because there’s a surplus of armor in the market creating a glut of raw materials to create nails and the higher supply of nails, means lower price of nails. But Lawrence Craftily (see what I did there?) notes that while that may be true down south, it’s not the case up north in Kumerson, because melting the armor to create the raw materials would create a higher demand for firewood. Higher demand for firewood, means regular people need to pay more money for firewood, which would make people angry. So in Kumerson, they don’t burn down the excess armor and there’s no glut of materials to create nails. Thus, Lawrence can demand a higher price.
Touka koukan. Blacksmiths are better off down south, but firewood buyers are better off up north, while nails salesman buy low down south, to sell high up north. In the end, certain people are better off than others, but the cities as a whole are no more or less richer. However, through this efficient allocation of resources, the cities are better off than if this didn’t occur, because everyone was able to maximize what they had. So there’s no unnecessary poor blacksmiths down south, and no firewood-less people up north. This is obviously a very simplistic view, but that’s sort of what I like about the economics in Spice and Wolf. You can follow the chain in your head without getting too confused.
Anyway, if you made it this far, congratulations. Any future economics discussions I’ll put in a sidebar or something, since we’re all here for Horo anyway. Or at least that’s what I thought, because Lawrence floats the idea of Horo finding her hometown, Yoitsu, from the nearest city on her own, Niohira. Horo’s split second reaction when she heard that really caught me. It lasted just a second, and it was really subtle, but that was a real nice bit of animation. You could really grasp the emotion from her eyes. Why Lawrence doesn’t just ask Horo to settle down with him, so they can open a store together, I don’t know. You’re a fool Lawrence!
Anyway, this was a nice reintroduction to the show, and it looks like the drama for the season is set as well. The animation is solid, and the show looks great. All hail Horo!