An Impression Double Deuce on Spice and Wolf and Hatenkou Yugi: The Odd Groupings Are the Best Ones

Written by TheBigN

As stated before and probably forever till the end of time, we all have our preferences in terms of what we want to do, which includes watching anime for example. And as a result of these preferences, you could say that all we need are certain elements that fit them in order to keep up watching and enjoying a show where most other things that the program should have “going for it”, well, aren’t. You might have noticed that one of things that work for me consists of how the characters interact with each other in a series, and if I’m entertained in that way, it doesn’t matter how bad things can get for me. Luckily, both Spice and Wolf and Hatenkou Yugi aren’t bad shows at all and have much going for them besides that aspect, though they still have their problems. But the relationships between the main characters in these pieces more than make up for the rest of what I saw as shortcomings that both had in other aspects.

I think we all felt the same way about Lawrence at the end of the series.

With Spice and Wolf, I’d be perfectly fine just seeing Lawrence and Horo riding on a road to nowhere, with no economics holding them down. Considering that apparently learning about how economics operated back in times like those was a main point of the series, or at least an attempt at a main hook, I felt that things didn’t quite turn out just as planned in that regard. A lot of the time, I was confused, not enlightened about how things worked with coins, bartering and all that microeconomics jazz (and if it’s actually more macroeconomics that they talk about, you’ll have an idea of how lost I was with that :P). The explanations weren’t done well at all for me, as it took two posts from my partner-in-crime for me to understand (or at least understand better than before) what I was supposed to get from the show. Considering that I feel that those posts were more technical and detailed than what the show was giving out says something about how the show’s presentation just didn’t click well.

I don’t think that the intent of the show was for us to piece that info together and come up with something at the end, but that’s how it felt sometimes. Maybe that was the plan all along, but I doubt that was a good idea to apply for something that you could say was a little primer to Olde English economics. I’ve probably said this before too, but I felt exactly like Horo did when Lawrence was trying to explain the coin system to her back then. But apply that to the majority of business-related talk in the show, and yeah.

Lawrence said something silly again, obviously.

What hooked me and kept me waiting for the next episode was the dynamic between our main pair of Lawrence and Horo, and that almost always ended up delivering in spades. I’m a person that’s easily placated/amused with what I see, so the tit-for-tat banter between the experienced-at-life Horo and the experienced-at-business (or so we thought) Lawrence, where each tried to show off to their skills to the other, was definitely fun to watch. And as I watched, I though that the pair worked as an odd couple because of how similar they actually were, despite their differences in knowledge, personality, etc. If not their attempts at one-upmanship, then it was their propensity to get into deep stuff when overestimating their own abilities, to their willingness to sacrifice for the other, and even just for their mutual desire for companionship. We can tell by the “end” (I still need to see the OVA to see how things completely work out) that the tentative agreement at the beginning became a definite bond at the end. It’s strong enough that either character has sdthe other’s back (or tries) when it counts, and also enough for them to be able to poke fun at each other’s foibles with no hard feelings. Seeing Lawrence exploit some of Horo’s uncomfortable feelings regarding Nora, or Horo demonstrating to Lawrence that he’s not the only one who can come off a deal better than initially expected were great times, for example.

Self-explanatory. Only not really.

Hatenkou Yugi just dropped into the thick of… whatever was happening at the start. The show skipped the “getting to know you” part at the beginning for sometime down the road, did not attempt to explain how the world was set up, had mediocre storytelling skills and only divulged a little bit of character backstory throughout it’s entire run. Which is a shame because I felt that the setting was very interesting, especially when considering how magic apparently plays a role in how things work (I mean, how many times can you see hammerspace inside of a stuffed bear, for example), and it definitely would have gotten me more involved with my watching it. I feel that an extra episode or two of the series could have helped with that (among other things), especially considering that it only ran for 11 episodes. That and often spotty storytelling kept this show from being a complete winner for me.

But even just being thrown into the adventures of Rahzel, Alzeid and Baroqueheat more than compensated for the show’s shortcomings for me. Rahzel especially is one of the more refreshing characters I’ve seen in anime in a while, even if you’ve seen her . From her cocky attitude and optimistic outlook on like, to her ability to take care of herself, her propensity to (almost) never back down from a challenge, and of course her kickassability (I need to make up a random word every couple of posts or so, or at least show off one that someone’s made before) and bold and justified self-confidence, she brings her own je ne sais quoi to the mix, and the result ends up captivating me. I’m probably not describing her character as well as I want to, but if the series was just about her solo adventures, I would definitely be fine with whatever came out. But while Rahzel could shine by herself, she isn’t brought down by her dealings with the two main males she travels with.

Though she is still awesome.

While I don’t find Alzeid or Baroqueheat as interesting as Rahzel (much like looking at Horo for Spice and Wolf), they aren’t bad people to focus on either. Alzeid’s seriousness regarding vengeance of a mysterious situation that they only really vaguely hint towards belies his own playful side (which you wouldn’t expect with his “type” of character) and a concern for his comrades that he rarely and indirectly shows. And Heat, while playing the fool who knows more than he lets on, is the icebreaker, the enabler (when Rahzel isn’t it herself) and often the cleaner of loose ends for the group, often with a smile on his, and our, face(s). Because each person can move and live by themselves well enough, the relationship between the three main characters is one of much more convenience and congeniality than necessity and serious business, like a group of friends hanging out for no particular reason. Only in this case, these friends just so happen to be traveling around and beating up on people that stray from the law every once in a while. This relationship certain takes my mind off of other things that bugged me about Hatenkou Yugi. I mean, just looking at the card game they play in episode 6 (that moment is pure filler for those who worry about spoilage) is a good example of what makes up the trio and the relationship that they have.

So basically, if character interactions between the main characters are your thing, especially of the odd-couple/group variety, than these shows would be good things up your alley. Whether you’re looking for a slice of sunshine pie or for someone to take you as you are, you can’t really go wrong with either show if you have the time. But you could if you’re looking for something else entirely. 😛

And the obligatory afro pic.

5 Responses to “An Impression Double Deuce on Spice and Wolf and Hatenkou Yugi: The Odd Groupings Are the Best Ones”

  1. 1 Shin May 30, 2008 at 10:54 am

    I watched that DVD only episode on nicovideo, and can safely tell you it was more or less a waste of time and does not have any real impact on the story.

    (╬ ಠ益ಠ) <– My face after I found out it wasn’t a H-OVA.

  2. 2 Kabitzin May 30, 2008 at 11:42 am

    I think part of the problem with Spice and Wolf is how the economic foibles didn’t really flesh out the characters very well. All I learned was that Lawrence was actually kinda dumb and prone to get-rich-schemes. This makes the boring economics discussions even more unbearable, because they are not setting up brilliant schemes.

    I didn’t completely hate Spice and Wolf, but I did feel that it was poorly directed. I have heard rumblings about future seasons, and I might watch them if someone else takes the helm.

  3. 3 TheBigN May 31, 2008 at 12:31 am

    Shin: I did wonder why it was that an episode was DVD only, since Spice and Wolf, no matter how much nudity we see, isn’t really that type of show. As I’ve said though, if it’s just Lawrence and Horo talking while the horse carries them wherever, I’m fine with that. :3

    Kabitzin: Indeed. For all of his posturing, Lawrence lost several points when he lost me, as well as losing himself a lot, when talking business. As I’ve also said, if there were no more economics, I wouldn’t lose any sleep over it. Though more Nora would be great. 😀

  4. 4 bakaraptor June 1, 2008 at 1:31 am

    Rahzel always struck as too much of the perfect shoujo idol type: confident in everything she does, whipping men around etc… You can see it all in the shape of her eyes.

  5. 5 TheBigN June 1, 2008 at 12:59 pm

    I never thought about it that way, mainly because I’ve never really heard the term “shoujo idol” myself. And I didn’t see her as whipping around men, though she is forceful in trying to make life interesting for others around her. And she can definitely hold her own against men, which is not a problem at all. And we do see that she wasn’t confident or sure of herself all the time, especially with the last episode. But I agree that you can definitely see the cool and spicy fire in her eyes. 😛

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