Spice and Wolf – 03
On their way into the port of Pattsio, Lawrence wonders if it’s okay for Horo not to hide her face because people might know about her human form. Horo, however, reveals that the villagers keep secret about that in exchange for a good wheat harvest. Still, she doesn’t think that anyone will notice her because they’ve forgotten about her. Once the two enter the city, Horo is thrilled to see all the food in the market – particularly the apples – but Lawrence doesn’t pay her any heed and talks about business until she specifically says that she wants to eat apples. Horo ends up nearly filling their cart with apples from the single coin that Lawrence gives her to spend, but she refuses to let Lawrence have one even though it was his money. After Horo finishes off the apples and the two get a room at an inn, they head to the docks to a trading company so that Lawrence can sell his furs. The trader initially offers Lawrence 132 silver coins for the 70 furs, but Lawrence manages to convince him to bump that offer up to 140 silver coins. He’s ready to accept that amount, however Horo stops him and takes over the negotiations.
Horo first points out that there is a fruit smell to the furs, and she then has the merchant pull on the fur to show how strong it is. She spins stories on both these points, and so the merchant raises the offer to 200 silver coins. Horo gets him to go up even further to 3 silver coins per fur for a total of 210 silver coins. Lawrence is flabbergasted by this and later questions if Horo has been a merchant before, so she reveals that it was due to a smart merchant who was passing through the village a fairly long time ago. As for the fruit smell, Horo admits that it was from all the apples she bought earlier. That night, Lawrence meets with Zeren about the silver coins deal and questions if the story about the silver revaluing is true. Zeren nervously reveals that he heard about it in a mine, but Lawrence decides to accept his reassurances and moves on to talking about Zeren’s share. It turns out that Zeren wants just 10 silver coins on top of 10% of the profits, and Lawrence accepts. Afterwards, in their room, Lawrence tries to teach Horo the difference between the coins of various countries, and though she insists on learning them, she soon falls asleep.
The next morning, after finalizing the deal with Zeren, Lawrence shows Horo a foreign coin that has a high purity of silver and is quite popularly used. It’s the rival of the coin they use, and Lawrence goes over how, when a foreign currency dominates the market, it’s the same as losing a war. As Horo realizes, this means that a country could defeat its rival by raising the purity in its silver, and that’s why Lawrence thinks Zeren might not be lying. The two then pay a visit an acquaintance of Lawrence’s who is in the money exchange business, though this man Weiss is more interested in Horo than anything else. Lawrence gets pissed off at how Horo blushes at Weiss’s advances, but Horo uses it to get Weiss to pass her some coins so that she can listen to the sound of them jingling against each other. She claims not to be able to tell a difference, but when speaking privately with Lawrence afterwards, she reveals that the new coins have a slightly duller sound, making Lawrence realize that the purity actually went down. As Lawrence tries to figure out what to do, he wonders how Zeren profits from this, and Horo laughs at him for being deceived. She points out that Zeren gets 10 silver coins no matter what, and so he can’t lose even if Lawrence doesn’t make any money.
To help Lawrence, Horo tells of how wolves climb trees because it allows them to see the hiding places of their prey. She thus suggests that Lawrence look at this from a new point of view: what if it wasn’t Zeren scheming and someone else had asked him to do this? Lawrence quickly figures out that there is indeed a way to profit by buying silver coins that are declining in value, and he decides to pay a another visit to the trading company.
I wish I had a Horo who could sell things at 50% markup. I’m not too surprised by this though since it fits perfectly with the mystique of her character and how confident she is sometimes of her abilities. Being alive for so long means that she probably has a lot of skills Lawrence doesn’t know about yet. Lawrence, on the other hand, seems a bit naive in his dealings with Zeren. I don’t think the stuff Horo suggested was that hard to figure out, especially since they had already previously talked about someone scheming.
On the whole, I still think that this show has a lot of interesting aspects, but it also hasn’t really grabbed me yet (I feel like I’m using that word a lot these days). That is to say, I don’t find Horo’s character and the entire silver coins plot to be enough to carry the entire show, so I keep wondering if there’s going to be something a bit more compelling (maybe exploring Horo’s past or having the couple encounter some bad situation). As I mentioned last week, I’m not too keen on the Middle Ages economics aspect and it feels like there’s a lack of energy sometimes in this show. Still, there’s nothing better to watch on Tuesdays, so I’ll probably keep up with this.