Manga Monday, 2016 Reads: Spice & Wolf

SpiceAndWolfAs we move into 2016, the next few issues of Manga Monday will give some quick highlights of the manga and light novel series I’m currently “reading”, i.e. the ones that I’m still buying new volumes for, either because they are on-going, the US licensors is still catching up on releases, or just that I’m catching up on buying them.  😉 The final post will note some that I’ve caught my interest and I may start reading this year.

While I love light novels, at this point the only company translating and releasing them is Yen Press (which is doing an awesome job, to be sure!).  Some other companies have tried it, but they usually drop series before they even finish, as happened with Kino no Tabi (Kino’s Journey) and Ballad of a Shinigami, Momo: The God Girl of Death.  I keep hoping Yen Press will rescue them, but they’ve also said they don’t do license rescues 🙁  

Spice & Wolf by Isuna Hasekura

With a single producer, even one that is fairly prolific, it leaves a shortage of offerings for light novels, making Spice & Wolf the only light novel series I have in progress at the moment.  Spice & Wolf is a series chronicling the journey of and the relationship between Kraft Lawrence, a 25-year-old travelling merchant, and Holo, a wolf god and forgotten god of the harvest, who cajoles Kraft into letting her join him on his travels, with the eventual goal of being to return to her home of Yoitsu.  The chronicles of their travels include detailed and complex discussions on economics and trading, which is not something you’d normally find in a fantasy romance/journey story. 

I am currently about halfway done reading volume ten, but I’m slow with reading it these days because the story has gotten pretty bogged down and in some ways just bloated.  Three of the series 17 volumes are volumes of “side colors”, which are all extraneous vignettes and shorts with the characters unrelated to the central plot points.   Some of the main story lines are stretched out or unneeded, to me, which dilutes the experience.  The first few volumes were tight, but the introduction of Cole, for example, seems pointless and a way to just keep it going longer.  Kraft and Holo’s relationship moves at glacial speed, and while the economic discussions can be interesting, they can also be convoluted and confusing as heck and just go on for way too long.

Still, saying all that, whenever I think about giving it up, I’ll read a bit more and it ends up pulling me back in and keeping me trudging along, determined to find out just what happened in Yoitsu and how the two characters will deal with the feelings they have.

Volumes 1-16 of Spice & Wolf are available in paperback format pretty much anywhere; the final volume, 17, is slated for release in April