The range of emotions Horo displays in this episode is incredible. From the flirty, teasing moments in the beginning when she finds out about Amati’s contract, to the playful exuberance during the festival, to her complete emotional breakdown at the end – all of it exudes such an intense and energetic vibe, it’s part of what makes Horo such a great character.
The episode is as follows. Amati’s desire for fool’s gold last week wasn’t due to ignorance, in fact, he recognizes a tremendous opportunity to profit and jumps on it, fueling the frenzy. When Lawrence races out to meet Amati, he finds that Amati has pulled somewhat of a double-cross. He’s made an offer to relieve Horo of her debt, in order to make a love proposal to her. And he’s done it in a way where it’s almost impossible for Lawrence to turn down without losing some respect from the crowd (as Horo so sagely guesses). So Lawrence makes the deal with Amati, confident that he’s going to get the 1,000 trenni from Amati, and that Horo will choose to stick with him anyway. This is what you’d call a scheme. Amati’s proven himself to be a smart cat, but I’m surprised he didn’t tread a little more carefully. But as they say, if you want to get a man to stop thinking, put a woman in front of him. But now there’s a wager on whether Amati can come up with the 1,000 trenni, and another wager on whether or not Horo will stay with Lawrence.
Lawrence explains the situation to Horo, who’s amused and figures to play along. The scenes in which she pretended to act out her response were just a perfect mix of cute and funny. I was actually chuckling for the first 1/3 of this episode at Horo’s reactions and Lawrence’s scheme. I’ve mentioned it before, but the Horo-Lawrence chemistry is so fun to watch.
Later Horo soaks in the sights and sounds of the festival, dancing and getting drunk off red wine (again). After the festival, Lawrence is on his way out the door to meet his merchant friend, Mark, when he receives a letter from Deanna with more information about Yoitsu. Horo asks about the letter with the "female" scent in his jacket pocket, at which point, Lawrence comes clean about meeting Deanna and finding more information about the location of Yoitsu.
He leaves the letter behind with Horo and heads out. Once he meets Mark, he learns that the fortune teller’s story and the Church’s subsequent demand for the pyrite has skyrocketed the prices for it. Mark has already made a large profit from it in a short time, so he concludes that Amati’s probably raking it in. Lawrence, who repeatedly shown himself to be a mistake-prone merchant at-best, and disastrous at-worst, curses himself for not recognizing that fact and getting in on it soon. He gets a small pouchfull of pyrite and heads back to the Inn with it. This is where the fireworks begin. Probably the most intense scene in Spice and Wolf history so far.
If I was chuckling at the earlier lighthearted part of the show, I was completely mesmerized by each and every one of Horo’s words and actions during the final scene of the episode. Lawrence comes back to find Horo standing in the shadows, holding the letter in his hands. The moment he realized that she could read, the atmosphere just went *POP* and drove into crazy intense.
Although Lawrence didn’t read the letter, he’s not surprised to hear from Horo that Yoitsu no longer exists. Horo’s fury at his deception could burn a hole through a thousand suns. As Hashime writes, Ami Koshimizu gives a tour de force. She starts off with sadness at finding out that Yoitsu no longer exists. Then berates herself for not knowing this and acting so freely. She then attacks Lawrence, accusing him of misleading her all this time. Letting her believe in a lie, only to laugh at her pitiable ignorance behind her back.
I don’t know that Lawrence ever really knew how deep her fear of being alone was. If it wasn’t clear before, it should be clear as day now (unless he’s an idiot – which he is). Because she becomes totally unhinged, driven insane by her fear. Going as far as asking Lawrence to mate with her so that they could have a child together (I’m curious if this is even possible) until Lawrence cuts her off. At this point, she’s furious with Lawrence, because she knows that he’s going to get 1,000 trenni for her anyway.
The animation was uneven throughout this episode, but they did a great job animating Horo’s expressions in this last scene. Although there’s darkness shrouding all her movements, the intensity of her face, the erraticness of her movements and the sharp, glowing red eyes all add such a layer of depth to Koshimizu’s performance. You could feel the burning fire from every one of her emotions. Normally, Horo asking you to mate with her would be a turn on. But I was so startled by the shakiness of her voice and the strangeness of her movements, that I was really disturbed by that part. I’m not gonna give Lawrence much credit, but it was a good decision to cut her off there. Although it was harsh, she was headed down an insane path.
A couple other thoughts popped into mind.
One: F— Amati. There wasn’t technically anything wrong with what he did. But it felt very underhanded. Little punkass.
Two: LAWRENCE IS A DUMBASS. Why is it that every time he tries to scheme something, it always backfires disastrously in his face? Furthermore, what kind of idiot just walks out of the room after all that? I mean yeah, maybe there’s not much he could say, but the least he could do is sit in silence with her. She’s just spilled her heart out about her fear of being alone, and he just walks out? Geez, I don’t think even Welkin is that daft.
All in all, great, great episode. Horo’s clearly not going to end up with Amati, even the preview featured the faded Horo imagination colors, but next week’s episode can’t come soon enough. I hate leaving arguments hanging, and I just need to see how this gets resolved.