Monday, August 6, 2018

Spice & Wolf VR

I'm not entirely sure what a virtual reality anime is, but Spice & Wolf is getting one. It's one of my favorite novel series at the moment, for being a generally low key romance about a traveling merchant escorting a wolf goddess home.

There was a proper anime series a few years ago, but the adaptation stopped after the fifth book, whereas the novel series itself is over twenty volumes (and counting, even though by now Holo has gotten home).

So, the VR anime.

The visual is gorgeous and it's being written by the original author, Isuna Hasekura. But being VR, one of the things I figured is likely, is that the player would take on the role of Lawrence and interact with Holo. The reverse would be be unlikely, as would the possibility of the player interacting with both characters.

This is because Holo is the wolf goddess. She's cute and feisty, she's the face of the series, and she's on all the merchandise.

And it turned out that my original prediction was eventually confirmed.

But I think not having Lawrence does him a disservice.

Though I like Holo, I actually read the series for Lawrence. I love him as a male lead because he has very practical concerns and does a lot with what little he has. He can't fight, but somehow finds himself meeting demigods, smugglers, and soldiers, and yet every situation he gets into he (or Holo) manage to diffuse it without resorting to violence. That is, if those kinds of situations arise at all, since this is a low key series and the source of conflict is not always a grand one. Most of the time, Lawrence can solve the book's problems just by using his knowledge of the local economy. And, particularly for anime, he's not a complete idiot about romance.

Though Lawrence is a bit slow at the start, once he realizes that Holo likes him in return the series gets a lot more fun as he and Holo readily flirt with each other. Their banter, and constant trying to one-up each other, is a highlight of the series. Usually Holo wins, but Lawrence gets in his digs, and he's smart enough to realize when it's better to let something go rather than win for the sake of winning (sometimes Holo's comments bite because she's upset and hiding it). He spends a lot of the series trying to understand her and why they might not be seeing eye to eye.

Also, Lawrence has excellent life goals. After all this traveling is over he wants to settle down and open up a shop.

I find Lawrence incredibly endearing, and while he's not the sort of man one would expect to end up with a goddess, I can see why one might fall in love with him.

And that's why I'm disappointed that the VR anime is making Holo while the viewer is playing from Lawrence's perspective. It's clear that it's being made to appeal to heterosexual men, but for those of us who find Lawrence appealing as well, it's unfortunate.

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