Fur in the Ointment

One Is Preferred than the Other

I too thought Wolf Spice (Old Spice’s traditional brand name?), better known as Spice and Wolf, an anime adopted from another light novel series, was spot on.

The right vibe is there at least in the first episode. Someone told me that it makes him think Tony Taka. Must be all that nudity. But I sort of see where he’s coming from. There’s a sense of realism in the way how character art is chiseled out of ink that is most relevant in good anime porn which, coincidentally, was also part of what made Scrapped Princess good (as in, style, feel and suspension of belief rather than “woah can you believe her boobs?”). Honestly nether show really did a great job about character design at this point, when compared to their peer. Classics like Lodoss War OAV still put the typical TV sword & sorcery production to shame when it comes to design and stills. It’s not really a minus for Spice and Wolf, at any rate, but a very good thing.

Anyways, I suppose it’s much more palatable to put human-animal lead characters in a verbal narrative than a visual one, simply because those who reads it exercise their free will to visualize what they read …or not. Put it bluntly, the freedom to selectively ignore things is one of the growing strengths of the traditional print media. I can forget that Horo is practically a werewolf in appearance if I’m just reading a book about Horo, unless the author wants to mention that she has has a tail and wolf ears hanging out to dry every time the imaginary camera in my head (as directed by the book) points her way. In a TV show or movie, I don’t control the camera so I don’t control what I see. And even if I give the show the benefit of the doubt that they want to drive this point home in the pilot episode, it’s a great distraction to an otherwise perfectly fine episode of anime.

In my own experience I think most fantasy authors do make an effort to wow their audience with a hook; but most know enough about the pop knowledge level of their readers to not make a big deal about the setting unless you are doing something really neat. I can’t decide if all that nudity and fur is there to wow the audience, or just to provide exposition and set the tone and theme for the series. I only know that it bothers me a lot. Despite my furry-phobia, I think it’s just not the best take to tell a serious story. It’s not to say that strange fantasy things and nudity can’t make a good first impression (I think Sister of Wellbur is a good example of the right first impression you can make, contrary to my feeling of that show), but it has to be used with a lot of care that I’m not sure I’m seeing right now.

How serious is Spice and Wolf going to be, anyways? The whole”moeblob” thing with today’s anime has never been better treated, IMO, than how Sutepri introduces Suppi-kun. I hope they don’t just stick that aspect of “genre norm” into the characters and rend that feeling of “immersiveness,” the distinction that separates great fantasies from forgettable ones.

9 Responses to “Fur in the Ointment”

  • Solaris

    Mr Omo, I don’t understand your writing… I visit your blog sometimes, but no way, your words never make any sense to me… i’m sorry

    maybe i just have to study better english… sigh!

  • Link

    Watching the first episode of the TV series made me want to the read the novel even more. I think the material would read better as opposed to watched. Which is maybe the same reason why the manga works for me and this animated adaptation doesn’t as much.

  • digitalboy

    according to Cunningham it’s deep and very explorative of Horo’s personality. Which I believed reading the manga but the anime completely trashed horribly just within 1 episode. The dialogue of the manga which got me hooked was entirely absent.

  • VLSmooth

    Personally, I found it enjoyable and soothing. The portrayals seemed consistent, the pacing was fluid, and the visuals seemed clear and defined. It probably helps that I liked the opening song enough to listen to it multiple times :x Then again, this impression is coming from someone unfamiliar with the light novels and is based on a first episode.

    Also, just to make sure, did you mean Horo instead of Noro?

  • VLSmooth

    I also have no idea how I generated a dark gray horizontal bar…

    Aha! after enabling javascript for serenana.info I see the “You may click on your name and/or comment to edit.” bar. Spiffy!

  • wildarmsheero

    I can see the Tony connection too. Mostly because some shots looked like the Sora no Iro, Mizu no Iro anime.

  • omo

    Hmm, maybe same director?

    VLS: yes, Horo. Brain fart I guess. For those of you who are smitten by the manga Horo, did you read a scanlation? I think there lies the rub.

  • digitalboy

    I doubt it’s the scanslation’s fault, I was just enraptured by the art. Horo’s many faces are amazing.

  • TheBigN

    As I’ve said in other places, I wasn’t bothered by the nudity at all, or at least I didn’t do what they wanted me to do (OOH OOH LOOK!)? And I think I’ll have something to look forward to reading the novel/manga if they’re apparently better than this adaptation. Course, it’s only been one episode… :/

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