Spice and Wolf II – 9
Not at all surprised to see I was correct in being highly suspicious of Abe. (Though I think anyone with a brain watching this would also reach the same conclusion!)
I didn’t quite get what Abe was aiming for at first (maybe because I am as thick as Lawrence), but blackmail is her game. The mention of the church is ominous, since Lawrence and Horo have had troubles with them in the past. Could Abe know Horo’s true identity? That would explain why she was so eager to speak with Horo in the last episode. Abe has also been keeping close tabs on Lawrence almost since the moment Lawrence and Horo entered town. Would not be at all shocked to know Abe figured out Horo’s secret even before Abe and Lawrence met for the first time.
Abe needs money because the cancellation of the Northern Expeditions means she cannot sell the stone statues she stockpiles; no expedition means no customers. And if Abe cannot sell those statues to the church, then that means she is pretty useless to it as far as the church is concerned, so even though she is a loyal saleswoman, the church drops her like she’s Rosemary’s baby. But when she sees ol’ pagan goddess Horo walkin’ around — and since she is so familiar with the church, I guess she knows that they aren’t such great fans of other gods — Abe spots an opportunity to profit greatly and/or get back in the good graces of the church.
Blackmailing Lawrence directly would get her some quick cash, but I don’t believe Abe thinks Lawrence is going to pay up. While he is not exactly poor, the fact that Lawrence still has to go village to village as a merchant would tell me that he is probably not rich either, if I were Abe. No, her line at the end shows where she think the real profit is: With Horo. Abe casually mentions that the southern church’s reputation has been steadily declining. But what if they were to capture a pagan god and eliminate it from the world — people would probably go for that, and perhaps a corrupt enough church would pay a pretty penny for the opportunity to restore its reputation. Whatever the situation, Lawrence and Horo are in some trouble now. There is also the wild card of Rigolo. Could he have been a part of this, too? Not so easy to trust a guy as observant as he is. Plus, he smiles just a bit too much.
This episode is also filled to the brim with Lawrence and Horo flirtations. Score! Horo has Lawrence wrapped around her finger the whole time, which is quite entertaining to watch, especially since Lawrence had been tipping the scales ever so slightly to his side as of late. I guess Horo just needed to flex her moe muscles a bit and remind Lawrence exactly who is in charge here. Funniest part is Horo absolutely shutting Lawrence up by pointing out that he likes girls who are possessive of men and then hate themselves for being so selfish. Poor little Lawrence is so red because Horo hit the jackpot with that bit of wisdom. If Lawrence were around today, he would fall head over heels for Nagisa from Clannad. All she would need is a tail and some ears (maybe make her a Nagisa x Makoto mash-up), and Lawrence would be in moe heaven, the dirty old man.
All this lovey-dovey happiness is starting to frighten Horo, however. She does not want to tell Lawrence exactly what is scaring, but I think it is clear what it is, since it has been a theme from the very beginning, and was really pushed by the ep00 OVA: Lawrence’s mortality, and the inevitable fact that Horo will likely outlive him and become lonely once again. Horo’s “sweet and salty water” simile states it perfectly. The time she spends with Lawrence is the happiest she can remember in her long life. She loves him just as much as she possibly can, and he loves her in return. But this happiness also hurts her because she knows it cannot last forever. Horo enjoys this happiness, and at the same time she fears the day it will be gone forever.
Lawrence and Horo’s conversation about the heart hits on this, as well. Lawrence has clearly affected Horo’s heart. It has been pounded, hurt and rebuilt again into what it is today. But what happens once that influence is gone forever? I think Horo fears that, just as a tool abandoned by its master no longer has any use, her heart will never be able to recover once Lawrence is gone from this world. That is the danger she faces in partaking in this happiness — that she will one day have to face life without Lawrence at her side. With that in mind, that shot at the end is a heartbreaker, because it shows Horo on her own even though she doesn’t know it yet. What if Lawrence is not able to save her? Then she is all alone, in that big, wide space in the world.
Really good episode, I think. Loved the exploration of Horo’s fears of heartbreak and mortality, and the arc seems to be getting really exciting now that there is an element of danger involved. And, surprise, surprise, Lawrence did not bring it upon himself with a dumb scheme! (Although he should have been a bit more suspicious of Abe than he was.)