Spice and Wolf (Timekeeper)
Many many years ago, I stumbled upon this series while attempting to find a new series to watch. When I was told by many anonymous users, forum-goers, and various other individuals that it was the best thing since sliced bread, I decided to give it a watch. After watching the first and second season (the latter of which took Funimation a century to license), I'm a bit confused as to what my experience was. Why was this? Let's dive in.
Now before I kick off this review, I will say this: if you like your shows to be fast-paced and to keep you on the edge of your seat...you're not really in the right place. However, with Spice and Wolf, it's more of a benefit than a detriment. It's a show that has slow pacing and takes its time, but it's more or less better to take the show in doses rather than all at once. Once more, the show's pacing certainly isn't a BAD thing seeing that, in my opinion, it contributes more to its ethos as compared to the show trying to rush through plot elements like a pack of cigarettes.
Now again, I'm going to do a bit of nitpicking here with the characters. If you're looking for a series that has a wide array of characters who make frequent appearances in the episodes....you're still not in the right place. With Spice and Wolf, the series primarily focuses upon the two main characters, Holo and Lawrence, with a few pop-ins from side characters who help promote plot elements. However, like with the story, this is more or less an asset than a problem seeing that the interactions between Lawrence and Holo are what the audience is coming to see every episode. You don't go to an amusement park to play the cheap prize games or eat the food, but to ride the big roller coaster looming over the horizon when you first get there. And that's basically what Spice and Wolf are: two main attractions and a few side elements.
Quite frankly, I've never had that much of a problem with Spice and Wolf's artstyle. Studio IMAGIN hasn't had all that much experience in animation production from what I've seen, with the exception of some assistance with the first Fullemetal Alchemist series in conjunction with Studio BONES. But aside from that, the studio did a marvelous job in the series as a whole with no animation issues or texture problems.
This may surprise you (and may enrage a few) quite a bit: if you were to give this series a watch, I would ABSOLUTELY recommend watching the dub. The voices of Brina Palencia and J. Michael Tatum as Holo and Lawrence respectively fulfill their roles in this series as something I would describe as nothing less than one of their finest performances with Funimation. Not to say that the original Japanese voice actors didn't do a good job on their part, but in my humble opinion, I feel that the English voice actors portrayed their characters roles in a way that would make the adjective "stellar" seem more of an insult than a compliment.
As for the music, credit goes to Yuji Yoshino for the creation of the OST. The composer does not have much experience in this sort of field, but honestly, that doesn't not stop him from composing a great number of wonderful, rustic tracks that help contribute to Spice and Wolf's old-world feel.
Really, as I said in the story portion of the review, Spice and Wolf is certainly a gem, but only to the right buyer. The story's pacing is slow and it's definitely meant to be that way. It's more meant for people to enjoy the journey rather than have them speed through. If you're not the person who likes to take their time and enjoy what I feel is a very laid back series, then this series is most definitely not for you. However, if you are, by all means, give it a watch. It'll be well worth it to watch its 24-episode 2 season series, which hopefully will be greenlit for a third season soon.