Spice and Wolf, season 2, episode 1 – The many faces of Horo

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.

Horo leaning on LawrenceAngry Horo

Happy HoroDisappointed Horo

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.

Playful HoroEars down Horo

Horo snoring in bedMischievous 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.

Fang-tan HoroHungover Horo

Lawrence trades some nailsLawrence eyes a store

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.

Fiesty HoroCute Horo

Disappointed Horo Sad Horo

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!

13 Replies to “Spice and Wolf, season 2, episode 1 – The many faces of Horo”

  1. “Lawrence should just stop being a prude and tie that knot.”
    <-That'd be a hard wedding to arrange. You'd have to avoid anything done by the church. Okay, so it isn't really necessary, but it's fun to think about.
    "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!"
    <-Yes, yes he is. But I think he's being held back by Horo's nature, not so much because of the ick factor, but because of how he would have to hide her from everyone in the vicinity lest they attract a mob determined to burn them at the stake. Alternatively, he's trying to pull together the funds to start a store and doesn't want to do anything before then.

    1. Ick factor, she’s not human but is that really so bad? I think Horo would make a fin mate for Lawrence, and as were coming to the end of season two I really don’t think it bothers him any more. However I think it’s Horo that is scared of truly getting that close to a mortal. Maybe I’m reading to much into it, but I cant help it I really do love this story.

  2. “Lawrence should just stop being a prude and tie that knot.”
    Yes,except any actual wedding would be out of the question, considering the church.

    “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!”
    Yes he is. But he’s probably being held back by a combination of worry that trying to settle down would trigger mobs determined to burn them at the stake (or else require great secrecy) and a desire that he accumulate the money to have a store before he actually settles down.

    1. Ack. Bad metaphor. I wasn’t even thinking wedding. A kiss would be a nice starting point.

      I think Horo could pull it off. No time like the present to plan for the future. 😉

        1. Yeah, I didn’t quite know how to say it without being too wordy, but I was trying to say that they probably wouldn’t want to do anything formal, just be de facto a couple. And has there been any sign in the show of a religion other than the main one and “heathenism” (no religion)? If they really wanted to, they could probably pull off a wedding in one of the heathen cities, though that would still attract more attention than it’s worth.

  3. Just started watching this season.. thought I’d also comment, you know, for kicks.

    “Lawrence should just stop being a prude and tie that knot.”

    I don’t think he acts like a “prude” (except perhaps at the end of episode 1-7). When she jumped into his bed in episode 1-4 it’s not like he pushed her away! If she wanted some, she just had to ask for it. But she’s too proud to ask, and he’s understandably too timid.

    He just doesn’t want to take advantage of her. Every chance he’s had, she’s been sick, drunk, or emotionally unstable. It’s clear he has real feelings for her, especially after episode 1-11.

    But even when he tries, like in this episode, she brushes off his advances as pathetic (which they are). She’s intentionally setting the bar too high for him. Does she expect him to just club her like a caveman? If he can’t romance her, yet won’t take advantage of her, then it’s not looking good.

    Besides, we know he already has confidence issues. Twice this episode, it becomes obvious (he’s not a knight, he’s only selling nails). The dude’s been out of the game 7 years, and by nature he’s already not romantic in the slightest.

    “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!”

    Tying her down after she just spent 200 years in Pasroe village? She clearly doesn’t want that.. she wants to travel and see things, then go home. And he’s supposedly serious about getting her there. Besides, he has to make some money to be able to settle down, and as a traveling merchant he has to keep moving like a shark to be able to make money.

    Also, hangover Horo automatically elevates this episode even higher 😀 She can be as vague, cruel or unfair as she wants to be, as long as she’s that adorable!

  4. 🙂 😀 🙂 😀 spice and wolf has to be my fav anima i just wish i could get ahold on the second season!!! 😥 😥

  5. Touka koukan may fit pre-Industrial Revolution economies like in Spice and Wolf, but it’s not very relevant for modern economies. Until the 1800’s it was true that a society’s wealth was largely static, but the explosive increases in efficiency that followed did more than just move wealth between individuals. The value that is created out of thin air comes from thinking of better ideas, which allow you to use the same set of resources but produce more than ever before. Which is why so many people today live better than any king in history.

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