Spice and Wolf II – 8
I really hope Lawrence has learned to be a bit more wary by now, or else he is going to be in trouble, haha.
Our female friend from last week’s episode is a fellow merchant — Fruhl “Abe” Boland, who goes by Abe for business purposes. Her reason for concealing her identity makes sense (not too shocking to hear of prejudice/bias against female merchants in this time period), but this of course means there is already an element of secrecy with Abe. She is used to hiding behind a disguise, and as a merchant, she is used to concealing as much of her true intentions as possible so that she can make the highest profit. The fact that she is so eager to speak with Horo raises many red lights for me. Is she simply curious about what sort of woman would journey with a merchant, or does she really sense something deeper about Horo? It is tough to believe Abe wants something as simple as wanting just to speak with someone without having to worry about disguises. Then again, doesn’t that give her something in common with Horo? There is that same sense of loneliness Horo has, the same pride that covers it up and the need to hide oneself in a group with which one is completely different.
But if Abe wants something more, Lawrence at least seems to be on his toes. He takes special care to make sure his face is unreadable to Abe (though who knows — she may be able to read it anyway), and while Lawrence is up front with Abe about what he wants, he also makes sure he is aware of what it will cost to get information for himself before getting too chummy with Abe. However, Lawrence has been careful in the past before running headlong into crazy schemes, so I won’t praise his negotiating too much right now!
What makes me especially hesitant is that I don’t know what Lawrence could be thinking about in regards to the furs. There are rumors that the Northern Expedition (whatever the hell that is!) is canceled, which puts a big dent into the demand for fur. It wouldn’t be prudent for this town to swoop in and buy a crapload of fur to make into clothes that may not even sell, so there’s a vote going on about whether the town should allow the fur to be sold there. The saucy barmaid tells Lawrence she believes the town will vote to prohibit the sale of fur in the town. So I guess Lawrence — and perhaps the other merchants waiting to sell their equipment — thinks he can buy the fur from the sellers on the cheap, and then turn a nice profit on it later? I dunno. Even after a season and a half of Spice and Wolf, I still don’t have an eye for economics!
Aside from all the hub bub about fur and taxes and whatnot, I just generally enjoyed the conversations in this episode. The random barmaid (who has a familiar voice I cannot put my finger on) would be an awesome character if she decided to tag along with Lawrence, but Horo would inevitably end up insanely jealous and probably gobble her up. But, yeah, she is an experienced flirt, haha. She gives Lawrence some helpful information and an indirect marriage proposal on the side. Now that is some good service!
And however suspicious I may be of her, I immediately adore Abe. Love how she immediately sees through Lawrence’s method of verbal attack and declares that while she knows she can be pretty, she does not want nor need compliments about her beauty, so Lawrence should go right ahead and stfu. <3 My kind of woman right there! Gotta say that Romi Paku has kind of a hot voice. She plays a lot of dudes, so it goes unnoticed much of the time, but her characters have this great toughness about the way they speak that just works for me. The way Abe just jumps right in and does this verbal dance with Lawrence is fun, too. I really enjoy seeing them slowly pick away at each other with their words and try to gauge each other’s strengths and weaknesses.
Also can’t write about this episode without mentioning Lawrence and Horo going all moe moe for each other! Horo and Lawrence’s extended hug is one of the sweetest moments in both seasons. Horo also willingly brings up the subject of Lawrence opening a shop, which was a slightly sore subject for her in the beginning of the season. She has made some strides, that Horo. Don’t think Lawrence is going to open his shop until he gets Horo to where she needs to go — and that’s also assuming they go their separate ways once that happens, which I don’t think they will — but it’s still a nice gesture on Horo’s part to be like, “Look, don’t be afraid to settle down and open a shop just because of me.”
A good episode, I say! There is some solid potential to this arc (there are certainly awesome characters, anyway), just as long as Lawrence does not immediately fall into the same trap he has fallen into with every storyline so far. A tall order, maybe, but I still have a little bit of faith in our old boy.