A strange thought occurred to me as Horo talked about listening to the various groups of arguing merchants – does Horo have two sets of working ears? She has the clearly visible and moeblob okami ears, and every indication is that they’re not just decorative. But what about Horo’s human ears? Do they work too? If so, I wonder how her brain is wired. I should really stop thinking about the anatomical workings of a fictional wolf-human god. Anyway, onto another solid episode of Spice and Wolf.
The new town looks much less morose when it’s not raining. Even Lawrence thinks so, as he and Horo share mugs of wine (actually looked more like mugs of frothy beer). But Horo shows off her supernatural listening skills by revealing some of the conversations that are going on between the various merchants by the dock. Apparently, while everything looks fine on the outside, there’s quite a bit of friction between the fur traders and the townspeople.
Horo, drunk once again, heads back to the inn, where she makes a halfhearted attempt at keeping Lawrence from leaving her. However, Lawrence reassures her and puts her to bed, before leaving.
I gotta say, this new barmaid was quite the saucy one. I need to find a bar with gals like her. If women were as attractive back in medieval times as they are in Spice and Wolf, I think history would’ve had a much brighter perspective. Lawrence stops by to get some beaver tail (cue the dirty jokes) and to find some information about what’s going on in the town. The banter between Lawrence and the barmaid is quite crackling in of itself. Definitely to the point where Horo would’ve gotten upset if she’d been around. However, Lawrence learns that the town’s 50-man meeting is a debate about whether they would allow fur to be sold, since the Northern Expedition had been cancelled, but until the meeting is over, all fur sales are prohibited – thus, the gaggle of merchants right outside the town gates. However, saucy-chan lets Lawrence in on a secret – she believes the town will decide to prohibit fur sales. And then tells Lawrence to get drunk and tosses an indirect marriage proposal his way. Seriously, this barmaid is awesome. I guess when you create a character as perfect as Horo, you have to create strong competition to keep things interesting.
The fun of Lawrence and Horo isn’t just the dialogue, it’s the way they’re also able to read each other perfectly. When Lawrence heads back to his room, Horo’s waiting for him, clutching her tail, because she thinks he has a look like he’d sell anything at that moment. Meanwhile, Lawrence responds truthfully and smoothly, telling her he’s not a hunter nor a gatherer, and only sells what’s been sold to him. A perfect read on Horo’s part. Obviously she knew Lawrence wasn’t going to sell her tail, but she sensed from the outset that Lawrence’s gears were turning after receiving the tip from saucy-chan and played it perfectly, but Lawrence provides a more than fitting comeback in return.
The Lawrence x Horo hug/scent scene may have been the sweetest, most endearing scene I’ve seen in Spice and Wolf yet. Whether or not anyone actually says the L-word seems to be a pretty moot point, because their feelings are clear as day. I was also struck by Horo telling Lawrence that he could settle down and start a store if he wanted to. I think the unstated point is that she’d continue on her own, but it was a very magnanimous gesture, even though she knew there was no chance that Lawrence was going to accept it.
Ah, Sheik gets unmasked and… she looks different from what I expected. She looks like a man, although I don’t doubt that she could be a looker if she had her hair up and the right look on. What’s unique about Spice and Wolf is that even when nothing happens, time flies and it’s still interesting. It’s similar to Aria in that sense. A good 10 minutes was spent on Lawrence talking with Harold the innkeeper and Fruhl the somewhat masculine looking, female merchant. And there’s really nothing much of significance they talk about. They talk about life, travels and merchantry, but there’s nothing revealed that you’d consider a possible major plot point. At the end, Fruhl agrees to introduce Lawrence to Rigolo the chronicler, but that agreement was a natural result of their conversation. It wasn’t as if Lawrence spoke to Fruhl for that reason, or vice versa (and Fruhl points that out outright, admitting that she couldn’t just say "let’s have small talk" and used Rigolo’s name simply as an in). I can see how some people might consider this boring, but I think if you’re the type of person who’s ever enjoyed watching people, or just eavesdropping on a conversation just for the fun of it, there’s something about Spice and Wolf that really draws you in. And this episode was as good an example of that as I’ve seen so far.