If you’ve never seen Spice & Wolf, stop reading this and go watch it. For real. Go, right now, and correct this grievous error.
You back now? Good. See what I mean about how missing Spice & Wolf is a grievous error?
Okay, for those of you who didn’t take my advice, Spice & Wolf is the story of a traveling merchant named Lawrence in a quasi Middle Ages world, who encounters a God named Horo, and reluctantly agrees to help her find her way home. along the way, the two run into all kinds of trouble, have adventures, and are generally amazing.
It’s explained pretty early on that a very long time ago, Horo was wandering the world and encountered a young man who pleaded with her to help his village during a rough season with their crops. She agreed to do so, and has continued doing so every since. However, as the world has changed, and a new monotheistic religion has slowly taken over, belief in her as an actual God has waned, becoming more of a folk tale. Irrigation techniques have also made her irrelevant to the villagers, so she wants to go back home to her people. Only problem is, she can’t remember where that is, or how to get there.
As it happens, traveling merchant Lawrence is passing through during a festival that was once meant to honor Horo, so she decides to hitch a ride with him, since he travels the world. At first very reluctant to get involved with such a supernatural being, since he’s a level headed man with a plan, he eventually agrees to help her out, and the two set off.
While the anime only lasted two seasons, the source manga went on a great deal longer, and both are well worth your time. One of the greatest things the anime accomplished, besides being awesome in general, was to have an amazing opening credits sequence, set to “Tabi no Tochuu” by Natsumi Kiyoura.
What makes this work so well is the excellent balance between the music and the visuals. It’s a perfect example of how the two can and should compliment each other. Really, I wish every anime opening managed this kind of balance as well as this series opening did.
Check it out below, and under that, listen to the full length version of “Tabi no Tochuu”, which is a fine example of the full song actually being even more impressive. It still holds a special place on my favorite playlists, and has been on my mp3 player for years.