I’ve been a fan of Spice & Wolf for quite some time now, since it aired on Japanese television in January of 2008. Since then I’ve experienced and participated in my fair share of the fandom, adamantly supporting whatever position I agreed with at the time. As time progressed and I’ve aged, I’ve come to accept many things that much of the fandom apparently cannot. With years of discussion on the Internet about the series many still feel the need to ask the same questions that have been answered, or argue things that don’t matter. It’s these things that annoy me about Spice & Wolf fandom, and truthfully, probably any fandom suffers from similar issues.
1) Even non-fans of Spice & Wolf will have seen this asked around the Internets, will there be a season three?
Where’s season three? Is there going to be a season three? Where can I find season three? Do you think they’ll make a season three? Why haven’t they made a season three? I wrote a petition for season three, please sign it. Why don’t we have a letter writing campaign for season three? Why wont they make a season three? Maoyu doesn’t count as season three!
Oh for fuck sake. Read the fucking books already. This question has been asked since the moment season two ended, and while it speaks volumes for the popularity of the series amongst those who enjoyed it, a simple Google search would yield the results you’re looking for. You’ve got over five years of people asking the same question and making pointless petitions directed at the wrong parties. Why do you need to ask the same question again and again? Despite Yen Press’ faults on the initial release of the first six volumes with those strange Americanized dust covers. They’ve been excellent at keeping up their release schedule and have even increased it to release more books per year. They’ll finish the series by something like April 2016, which isn’t horrendous for a 17 volume light novel series. And if you can’t wait for that, there are fan translations available for the yet to be officially released books.
The consensus amongst the fandom is that if you continue to purchase the goods it’ll show that there’s still interest in the series. And while they’re not wrong, what goods are there to purchase at this point? The anime has ended, the light novels have ended, though are still being translated into other languages, there hasn’t been any official merchandise that I’m aware of in quite some time (that wasn’t a re-re-re-re-released anime figure from Kotobukiya), there’s really only the manga that’s still ongoing. And while it’s jumbling the telling of the story a bit, it’s more or less telling the same story of the light novels. So while the fandom seems quite strong and focused (albeit small) in the English speaking world (and apparently Russian), I’m not so sure about Japan itself. Since the production companies in Japan predominantly care about Japan and there’s little interest that I’m aware of in Japan, what motive do they have to revive Spice & Wolf?
Whether or not there ever will be a season three of Spice & Wolf, I’m tired of hearing about it. Stop talking about it until it becomes an actual thing.
2) A lesser obvious question but one I’m just as annoyed about is the question of what kind of wolf Horo is.
She’s a Maned Wolf, they even like apples and are similar to Foxes! She’s a Red Wolf. She’s not a Fox she’s a Wolf! Don’t say she looks like a Fox!
The true answer to all of this is of course, fictional. She’s a fictional wolf, she doesn’t have to be compared to wolves that exist currently or have existed in the past. No one really likes this answer, but the truth of the matter is, it really doesn’t change anything at all. It’s so unimportant to the story that the focus on it reminds me of politics. Why talk about the interesting topics when you can focus on the superficial ones instead. Or keeping it more on target, it’s like talking about pink hair in anime. Except we just accept pink hair in anime like it’s normal, we don’t try and find some way of explaining why it’s pink, because it doesn’t matter.
If we’re to actually analyze these wolves they claim her to be and instead of cherry picking the bits of information that fit our narrative, why not do the opposite and see what we find?
The Maned Wolf is a pretty good example if you cherry pick, it has the right fur colour (except when it doesn’t), has a white tipped tail, is foxish which lots of people think Horo is, it even eats apples! That seems like a pretty good fit! But wait, what’s with all that black fur, Horo doesn’t have any black fur. And those apples it eats? Not apples at all. They’re Solanum Lycocarpum, named Wolf’s Fruit (fruta-do-lobo) in Portuguese or “Wolf’s Plant” (lobeira). In English they’re referred to as “Wolf Apples” but if you look at the etymology of the word apple, you’ll see that it was just a generic word for fruit in Old and Middle English, and that similarly applied in other languages (French: pomme de terre, or earth apple). And sure you could apply that to the story of Spice & Wolf and say that what she’s eating is really just ‘generic fruit’ but they’re pretty explicitly drawn and described as apples as we know them today. Lastly, the Maned Wolf comes from South America, so travelling north would get her further and further from home. But good effort.
What about the Red Wolf? Well, it’s a wolf, and has white paws, oh and it lives in the northern hemisphere! It’s monogamous too! Must be a match! Oh, but it lives in the south eastern United States, that doesn’t fit the the narrative of an alternate history Europe. The Red Wolf also isn’t a very large wolf, it’s sized between Coyotes and Grey Wolves. Not that that’s ever been an issue in these discussions, everyone’s happy to ignore the fact Horo in wolf form is huge. It’s fantasy after all, but surely she couldn’t be a fictional species!
Lastly, does she even look like a Red Fox? Well… Yes and no. If we compare her to say, Tod from Fox and The Hound, there’s a definite argument you could make that her wolf form looks like a Red Fox. Heck, most cartoon foxes don’t match real foxes. But at least Tod actually had some of the attributes a Red Fox should have, like black tipped ears, though he’s missing the black paws and mixed colour fur. But that’s understandable in a cartoon, solid colours are far easier to animate. Horo however has none of these hints of black in wolf form, she’s two toned only, white and red/brown/orange (depending on artwork). But since the fandom is comparing to real wolf species, comparing her to a real Red Fox, no she most definitely doesn’t look like a Red Fox. Her ears are too small in relation to the size of her head, she has no black fur whatsoever, and her tail comes to a nicer point than the Red Foxes does, much more like a wolves tail.
I can see the confusion in human form as well, as Horo only has two attributes with which to derive her species, her ears and her tail. The white tipped tail suggests fox, and her hair colour and fur colour also suggest fox. Most anime foxgirls share these attributes which definitely adds to the confusion. It seems all you need in anime to be a foxgirl is a particular shape of ears and a particularly fluffy tail. In fact, colour isn’t even that big of an issue there either, as they come in all kinds of colours. The differing factor between foxgirls and wolfgirls is actually rather subtle. In general foxgirls have larger ears than wolfgirls, that’s it. And that fits, foxes have rather large ears in relation to the size of their heads, and wolves smaller ears. So using that information, Horo is definitely a wolfgirl, her ears in general are smaller than the average foxgirls.
What I don’t get in the comparisons however is how fans will do the same thing non-fans do. They’ll compare Horo’s appearance in human form to the species of wolf they’re trying to match her up with. Non-fans do this by saying she’s a foxgirl and just comparing with other anime characters known to be foxgirls without knowing that she has a wolf form with which to actually compare. But actual fans should know better, so why do they compare her hair colour to a wolf species’ fur colour rather than her fur colour to a wolf species’ fur colour? Yes, her fur and hair colour are the same but only to a point, she has tons of white fur, but only a white tipped tail and ears in human form. This becomes misleading and you get people ignoring all that white fur and just comparing tail tips and the cherry picked fur colour.
At the end of the day however, none of this matters. The author says she’s a wolf, she’s a wolf. She lives in a fictional alternate history or perhaps even universe, her species of wolf never existed and comparing her to those that did is meaningless. Everyone accepts pink hair in anime without question, why not just accept Horo’s a wolf and that the specifics aren’t important? Seems simple to me.
3) Name correction Holo/Horo/Korbo/Jolo/Whoro
Her name isn’t Horo, it’s Holo!
I understand that I’m on the wrong side of the fence here calling her “Horo” still. I understand that officially it’s “Holo”, but you’re still wrong. The argument of “Horo” vs “Holo” isn’t valuable, both parties know who’s being referred to in the conversation, and to different persons ears one sounds closer to the original pronunciation than the other, and which that is is up to the listener. I think of it the same way I think of “color” vs “colour”, I type it colour, Americans type it color. We’re both right. Besides, we all know she spells her name Korbo anyway. So stop correcting me on how I spell her name.
Update: As it would turn out, a Russian fan contacted Isuna Hasekura asking him what the proper spelling was. Was it “Horo” or “Holo” and the answer is … BOTH! He agrees with me then. Proof can be found here in the form of a screenshot, and here in Russian which translates quite well into English via Google Translate.
As an aside, “Horo” is far more searchable than “Holo”, if only for the fact “Holo” has other meanings. And while that’s not a defense of correctness, I’m also not very fond of photos of peoples finger nails, or holographic cards for various card games. That said, when searched in Japanese, ホロ, yields Horo, the finger nails, and the cards. But that’s mainly because Japan doesn’t have a separation for ‘r’ and ‘l’ hence all the confusion in the first place.
A little bit of trivia, if you type ‘holo’ into your Windows PC using Japanese input set to Katakana you’ll get ホォ. If however you type ‘horo’ in you’ll get her actual name, ホロ.
Both illustrations are by Tenmu Shinryuusai.
This of course isn’t the first time a name has had various spelling, and certainly wont be the last.
- Tohsaka Rin/Toosaka Rin/Tōsaka Rin
- Nora Arendt/Nōra Arento
- Fermi Amarti/Ferumi Amāti
- Anya Earlstreim/Anya Alstreim
- Arisa Iriinchina Amieera/Alisa Ilinchina Amiella
- Barnarge Lynx/Banagher Links
- Cloche Laytheal Pastalia/Chroche Latel Pastalie
- Teresa Testarossa/Teletha Testarossa
- Gamagouri Ira/Gamagoori Ira
- Fang Lin Yin/Huang Lingyin
- Murata Range/Murata Renji
Of course this list isn’t exhaustive, it’s but three of the most annoying things for me within the fandom. Most of the other annoyances really relate more to any anime fandom rather than Spice & Wolf specifically. Such as “waifus” and getting upset when someone else claims “yours” as their own, or insults yours, or being upset that someone has already “claimed” her before you, or whatever. Or the best character polls because you need others to validate your opinion. Who fucking cares? Honestly, it’s so pointless. And how delusional do you have to be to take the waifu thing seriously? And I can definitely see how that might sound hypocritical coming from me, who’s devoted considerable time, effort, and money towards a specific character I like a great deal, but it’s really not. It sometimes makes me wonder, how is it that I can share the same strong connection or desire for a specific fictional character, yet manage to separate fiction from reality and function as a relatively normal person on the Internet as well as in society? Am I just taking them too seriously? Do I come across as delusional here on Tailgrab? I’ve always thought I did a pretty good job of making it obvious in posts that I’m joking or facetious or sarcastic, but perhaps I don’t. What do you think?
Minor annoyance in Spice & Wolf fandom, same damn quote over and over: “All men are jealous and stupid, and all women are stupid to be happy about it, idiots are everywhere you look…” There are so many quotable moments in the series, why only quote one?!