We’ve arrived at the first Side Colors! I know there’s at least two of them since I have up till volume 11 on my shelf, which is Side Colors II. These volumes consist of side stories that aren’t a part of the main storyline but still involve Holo (and Lawrence) in some way. At least in this one, maybe in the next one our protagonists aren’t present at all. There are three stories in this one, so let’s look at each of them and I’ll give you my thoughts on them.
The boy and the girl and the white flowers
Our first story is also the longest of the three stories. It follows Klass and Aryes who have had to leave the comfort of their home. The noble’s brother kicked them out after the noble died. At the very least that’s how the story goes, Holo does question the legitimacy of it but we never really find out. Aryes is a very sheltered daughter who has spent her entire young life inside. Klass is a servant boy who is a bit more knowledgeable about the world albeit only just barely. Aryes often asks Klass about things they find and Klass has to make up things on the spot based on the limited knowledge he does have. And it’s on that premise the two come across a familiar face.
That’s right, it wouldn’t be a Spice & Wolf story without Holo. She is the bread and butter of the franchise after all. We see her when she’s younger and before she ever settled in Pasloe. She helps the two kids travel to the next village because they have no idea what they’re doing. Throughout this they get chased by the people from the manor and find themselves in a dense forest. Here they come across a stag spirit. Similar to Holo in a sense, this creature eventually attacks the party, sending Holo flying through the air and losing a fight to Klass.
It is then that Holo reveals she was in on it all along and they were just playing a prank, supposedly to make Klass more manly. Either I’m missing something here, or they literally made a 10 year old kid fear for his life just so he can man up a little bit. It seems a bit weird to me if I’m honest. Not a big fan of this story at all.
The red of the apple, the blue of the sky
Seven apples in a wolf’s belly. Or how did the song go again? Close enough right. This second story is a lot shorter than the first but that does mean it doesn’t overstay its welcome. It shows Holo and Lawrence having a little bit of downtime after their encounter with the church in the very first volume. This short story, as well as the novella before, were published on the Dengeki website. This story tells the tale of Holo and Lawrence buying warm clothes to prepare for the journey up north as well as Holo trying to eat a hundred apples in a short time. Now in my experience, apples actually stay decent for a lot longer than most fruits. It helps even more if you store some of them in the fridge. I ate an apple today actually, as of writing this, which we bought a week ago and it still tasted perfectly fine. Meanwhile the plums started to turn worse after like three days. But eating a hundred apples in a couple days? That’s madness. The story does get to a point though, as they need to exchange some money at the local cambist, which we met in the first volume and goes by the name of Weisz. Weisz and Holo have some fun at Lawrence’ expense, which is the moral of the entire series, and the three end up going drinking together. Also, Holo learns about Apple pie during this volume, which I don’t really like because I have a thing against warm fruit (or fruit that was warm at some point), but a lot of people really love it. Holo definitely loves the sound of it at the very least.
This story was very cute and short and I enjoyed it very much. I find some of the plot points in this series quite contrived. Maybe it’s because when I first saw Spice & Wolf I was still fully in love with economics and even working on my degree in business economics, whereas at some point later in life I got jaded and started seeing how much of a scam the system is at times. I do think the mercantile capitalism we’re shown here is much more palatable than modern day capitalism, but it does irk some part of me. It’s the quieter moments in this series that I really enjoy and this short story was just that.
Wolf and amber melancholy
For this last short story we return to Holo and Lawrence just after they completed their travels with Norah all the way back in Volume two. They’re celebrating in the inn and for a nice change of pace this story is told from Holo’s perspective. The previous two stories were still told from Klass’ and Lawrence’s perspectives respectively. That’s a sentence and a half.
Unfortunately, Holo is feeling quite unwell throughout this story. The story even revolves around her dealing with both being ill and Lawrence sharing his attention between herself and Norah. We see from her perspective how she likes to tease Lawrence and also have revealed to us that Holo has already fallen for Lawrence at this point, pretty early on. We see her lament some of her past and think back to some old memories from both Pasloe as well as her hometown. Eventually we see her recover a little bit and make up with Norah, who she didn’t like for being interested in Lawrence as well. She sees that Norah never stood a chance. We end the volume still in town waiting for Holo to recover.
And that brings us all the way to the end of volume 7. What a journey it’s been. I have to say that although I certainly enjoyed the story up until here, too much of anything will spoil it eventually. I know that’s not true for better stories than this, but I am feeling like I’m reading too much of the same. So I will take a break from reading and reviewing Spice & Wolf. As I posted a little while ago, I also went to a book fair and bought some books there, to add to the ever growing list of stuff I need to read one day. As of writing this, I’m still far ahead on my reading schedule. By the time the next entry of this would be due (late September) I might have found the time to read it. But until I know that for sure, this series might be on hiatus for a little bit. Maybe a month or two. I do think it’s kind of interesting that at a time this anime was my absolute favorite and although I still hold it dear, I do think that having read more of it has changed that opinion. There’s many stories that I think are better and although I believe Spice & Wolf is one of the more unique fantasy stories I’ve consumed, I don’t think it’s the best. But that’s my thoughts on the matter, and they could be different from yours. Let me know in the comments down below how you feel about Spice & Wolf and as always; thanks for reading!