Thursday, 30 July 2009

Spice and Wolf II - Episode 4

After the last episode of Spice and Wolf II, one of the replies to my entry posited that said episode's closing scene would go down as an epic one in anime history - While I think that may have been over-egging the delicious pudding of this series, the scene in question did nonetheless light a fire under this normally sedate show.

So, at the start of this fourth instalment, we have Horo still sulking in her room while Lawrence paces the street in a state of abject misery - However, if there's one thing to be said for this particular merchant, it's that he's not one to wallow in his own self-pity. Thus, with his wits regained, the rest of the episode sees him racing around town as he looks into every possible way in which he can force Amati to break his contract with Lawrence.

Lawrence's plan turns out to be an "assault" on Amati from several directions - Looking to crash the market for pyrite upon which Amati is reliant in his deal with Lawrence, while also creating another contract with Amati to give Lawrence the credit he needs to enact some of the other phases of his plot. I'm not going to try and sound smart here, so I'll come straight out with it and admit that the vast majority of these medieval economic manoeuvres fly straight over my head like a giant, enraged wolf - Still, I love to see a bit of cunning and devious behaviour from my anime characters from time and time, so generally speaking I rather like the cut of Lawrence's jib.

While part of me feels a little disappointed at the lack of Horo in this episode, and of course that chemistry that we're so used to between herself and Lawrence, this change of pace to the dynamic of the series is arguably much-needed in some ways. For starters, it really shows the strength of Lawrence's character as both a man and a merchant; something that can easily be forgotten when set against the wiles of Horo. Even more importantly, it also allows us to reflect upon the importance of friendship in more general terms, with Lawrence turning to fellow merchant Mark as a source of help and advice, and indeed almost taking things too far as he ends up asking Mark to take risks which would jeopardise his standing in the town. In a way, this is almost a pastiche on Lawrence and Horo's relationship in microcosm, with the two both engaging in give and take as part of their daily life, but occasionally one party simply takes or assumes too much.

Even with Horo largely missing from this instalment, she still manages to make a huge impact for the small amount of time afforded to her - Her reactions when watching both Amati and Lawrence from the window seem to speak volumes (and her reaction to the latter in particular felt uncomfortably realistic; I've seen that kind of look a few times post-argument), while the letter and contract she leaves for Lawrence at their hostel speak volumes for the kind of mixed messages and teasing in which she loves to partake. Regardless, at the end of it all I'm left impatiently waiting once again for the next episode, which will hopefully treat us to more Horo and a happy ending to this heart-rending little tale - I keep having to remind myself not to get too wound up about it all, so easy is it to become over-invested emotionally in these characters.


kadian1364 said...

I'll try to explain as best as I can what I understood of Lawrence's strategy, without resorting to elaborate diagrams and charts, and admitting my comprehension might be lacking.

The deal from Amati's perspective is simple: he buys Pyrite from Lawrence. If the price of pyrite rises, he profits, if it fall, he loses. Lawrence's challenge is to make pyrite prices crash.

I think the key is that 500 silver is a huge amount of money, large enough to affect the overall pyrite market, something Lawrence intends to use.

Anyway, he wants to spread a rumor about wheat buying so that all the pyrite dealers sell out their pyrite stocks to buy what they originally came for: wheat. Additionally, his accumulated 500 silver worth of pyrite gets sold off at the same time, flooding the pyrite market and crashing prices.

The problem is if the chain of events don't happen quickly enough, Amati can just sell off the pyrite he already owns before he incurs huge losses. Yet, Lawrence has already anticipated this possibility, going as far to tell Mark that "Lawrence" (actually Amati) would be selling 1000 silver worth of pyrite.

Well, we'll probably see all this go up in smoke anyway, as Spice and Wolf is wont to do. LOLeconomics!

kadian1364 said...

Oh yeah, I want to add that since Lawrence is using Amati's money, he's banking on the pyrite market crashing, so he can just buy some cheaply before he needs to fulfill his part of the deal with Amati. That way his own financial cost during all the proceedings is minimal.

5camp said...

I'd say it's a 50/50 chance this entire thing will blow up in Lawrences face and he'll end up bankrupt again, wandering around the town in boxers. Or whatever type of underwear they wore in those days

Haruka123 said...

I just want this arc to end already...It's pretty set and stone that Lawrence and Horo are going to be together. The producers just keep pushing this situation further and further. Ending it in one fell swoop in the next episode with Amati's defeat is all I wish for. I mean this arc is very intense but it's really just too depressing and killing me inside to see the couple like they are... If it doesn't end by the end of episode 5, there will be much raging v_v

Indigo said...

Horo so bad T_T
He don't like me now

Kexiu said...

No matter how much I'm crying on the inside I have to think optimisticly, Basically we have ourselves two problems: firstly the gamble between Lawrence and Amati is showing no noticeable odds and silver-linings are taken away as fast as they are given. Secondly we have the Horo & Lawrence situation. Where Horo is in a state where she... well lets just say her feelings for Lawrence have been completely supressed by the utter shock of losing her home.

Now, we have to consider these problems and think: this is a merely a climax and season two of Spice and Wolf has only started. A happy ending for this will come shortly. Horo has yet to recuperate her feelings for Lawrence.

Economically looking at this I believe Lawrence will pull through the gamble by an inch, like what we've always had in season 1. After all bankruptcy for Lawrence can never be determind, only suspended.

Now that I've shouted out my vague predictions and comforted myself like the greedy bastard I am, I will now conclude with a trump card: Amati's contract with Lawrence is based on lies. Thats right. Amati thinks Horo is a fair maiden and thusly has fallen for her (how Shallow of him). He has no idea that she is a wolf god, he has no idea that she has ears and a tail. He also has no fucking idea that she can turn into a fearsome creature the size of fucking Texas! So no matter how you look at it we have ourselves a happy ending. :) now that cheered me up considerably.