Spice and Wolf II – 10
Haha, well I could not have been more wrong about the direction of Abe’s plan! At least, if what is revealed is the absolute truth.
Abe seems to have an answer for all of Lawrence’s concerns about her connection to the church and what led to it being broken. Lawrence has had bad run-ins with the church before, so the local church being a den of corruption probably is not too much to swallow for him. And Abe seems to be totally upfront about her reasons for dealing with a corrupt church — she wanted to goad the bishop into getting the ambition to become an archbishop, so that she would have another high-powered contact as an invaluable resource for her business dealings. The bishop saw through this just as his plans started coming into fruition, so he cut Abe off before she became too big a nuisance. Now Abe wants a way to profit and be out of town before the situation gets too hairy. Seems cut and dry, right?
But there are a couple of unsettling things: One, the apparent nervousness of Abe when she and Lawrence are shaking hands. Is she really just nervous about putting up a strong enough front for Lawrence to accept her deal? Or is she afraid she has let something deeper slip? Then there is the detail about the salt spilling from Abe’s statue shipments, a real Chekov’s Gun moment for sure. Simply an innocuous detail that can be explained away later, or is there something more sinister behind it? There is not enough information available to make a judgment right now, but I cannot feel good about something left hanging like that.
As much as I like Abe, I still find it very difficult to completely trust her. She is a merchant. Her key to success is to have more information than her rivals, bluff and secure the best possible profit for herself. The fact that she is a female merchant says to me that she has especially amazing skill, otherwise she would not be able to survive in a field populated by (mostly) prejudiced men. That is also what bugs me about the nervousness Lawrence can feel in Abe’s hands. I cannot think of any reason why those nerves would be a put-on — so is there something bigger behind this that has even a seasoned pro like Abe shaking a bit? Horo wants Lawrence to charge in unafraid and be gung-ho about this, but if there ever was a time for Lawrence to keep his wits about him and plan for every possibility, this is it.
What makes the plan particularly dangerous is that Horo is such an integral part of it. For Abe to get as much money as possible to buy up the suddenly available stockpiles of fur, she will use Horo as collateral to take out a large loan. Horo will be passed off as a noble, and while the trading company Abe will secure the loan from isn’t up on Horo’s decidedly normal identity (as far as Abe knows), the company is aware of most of Abe’s plan and is willing to get in on it for a decent cut of the profit. Again, appears cut and dry on the surface (although it is undoubtedly a crazy plan), but all sorts of things can go wrong, not the least of which is Horo’s true identity being discovered.
What is most interesting is that Horo does not seem concerned about this — or, at least, she is willing to discard her concerns because she wants Lawrence to go after what he truly desires. Horo is still somewhat plagued by the fears she has about where she and Lawrence are going, but she is also making a concerted effort to add some excitement and spice to the relationship. *is mauled for dumb pun* The only thing that is really keeping me calm about this whole deal is that Horo has proved repeatedly in the past that she has a knack for seeing through bad deals and coming up with swift, logical plans to get out of them. If something goes wrong, she will be able to think of something to get herself out of trouble.
Yet another strong Spice and Wolf episode to ratchet up the tension in this arc. Lawrence is running headlong into another crazy plan, except this time he has Horo’s full endorsement. I like that Horo needs a crazy ass guy to keep her attention. Horo the Wise Wolf doesn’t have time for scrubs. Horo and Lawrence’s exchanges are excellent as usual, too. It’s particularly amusing when they have a chat that ends with Horo approving of Lawrence’s compliments, as if she is saying, “Excellent! You get a cookie.” And the reappearance of the saucy barmaid allowed me to figure out why her voice sounds so familiar — I am almost certain she is played by Ayahi Takagaki, who is currently playing Ein/Ellen in the excellent Phantom ~Requiem for the Phantom~. This has me convinced Ellen needs to be a barmaid. But the barmaid needs to watch out for Horo, because Horo is all “bitch needs to be taught a lesson” when Lawrence tells her about the barmaid’s flirting.