Spice and Wolf is a Japanese light novel series written by Isuna Hasekura, with illustrations by Jū Ayakura. ASCII Media Works has published 21 novels since February 2006 under their Dengeki Bunko imprint. ASCII Media Works reported that as of October 2008, over 2.2 million copies of the first nine novels have been sold in Japan. The series has been called a “unique fantasy” by Mainichi Shimbun due to the plot focusing on economics, trade, and peddling rather than the typical staples of fantasy such as swords and magic. Yen Press licensed the light novels and is releasing them in English in North America. ASCII Media Works has published three volumes of a spin-off light novel series titled Wolf and Parchment since September 2016.
A manga adaptation illustrated by Keito Koume began serialization in the November 2007 issue of ASCII Media Works’ seinen manga magazine Dengeki Maoh. The manga was licensed by Yen Press, which has begun releasing the volumes in English. A 12-episode anime adaptation aired between January and March 2008, plus a single original video animation (OVA) episode released in May 2008. A second OVA was released in April 2009 as a prequel to the second anime season Spice and Wolf II, which aired 12 episodes between July and September 2009. Both anime seasons were released in English by Kadokawa Pictures USA and Funimation. Two visual novels based on the series for the Nintendo DS were released by ASCII Media Works in June 2008 and September 2009.
Spice and Wolf began as a light novel series written by Isuna Hasekura, with illustrations by Jū Ayakura. Originally, Hasekura entered the first novel in the series into ASCII Media Works’ twelfth Dengeki Novel Prize in 2005 and the novel won the Silver Prize. ASCII Media Works published 17 novels between February 10, 2006 and July 10, 2011 under their Dengeki Bunko imprint. The tagline for the novels is “Merchant meats spicy wolf.”, an example of Engrish. The author of the novels has commented that what “meats” in the tagline really means is kept a secret, alluding to a possible intentional misspelling of “meets”. In celebration of the series’ 10th anniversary, Hasekura began writing a sequel in the 49th volume of Dengeki Bunko Magazine, released on April 9, 2016. In 2016, publication of new books in the series resumed with the release of the eighteenth volume, along with the start of a spin-off series titled Wolf and Parchment: New Theory Spice & Wolf, focusing on the characters Cole and Myuri, Lawrence and Holo’s daughter.
In September 2008, the novels were licensed by Yen Press for distribution in English. The first volume was released in December 2009, and a new volume is released every four months. While Yen Press redesigned the cover of the first novel, a dust jacket retaining the original cover art was released to select online retailers, and Yen Press also bundled the same jacket in the December 2009 issue of their manga anthology magazine Yen Plus. Despite the different cover art, the illustrations within the novels remain unchanged. Yen Press later announced that future volumes of the series and reprints of the first volume would retain the original artwork while dust jackets would carry the new covers, citing that the redesigned covers were requested by retailers in order to appeal to a wider audience. Yen Press has also licensed the Wolf and Parchment series.
Internet radio shows
An Internet radio show hosted by Animate called Ōkamikku Radio aired ten episodes between December 7, 2007 and April 25, 2008. One episode was broadcast every other week on Friday, and the show was meant to mainly promote the anime series. The show is hosted by Jun Fukuyama who plays Kraft Lawrence in the anime, and Ami Koshimizu who plays Holo. The show contains eight corners, or parts to each broadcast which includes news about the series, comments and submissions from listeners, and a radio drama. A second radio show titled Ōkamikku Radio II aired ten episodes between June 10 and October 28, 2009 with the same producer and hosts.
A dating and business simulation visual novel based on the series was released on June 26, 2008 under the title Spice and Wolf: Holo’s and My One Year. The game is made by ASCII Media Works playable on the Nintendo DS. The player assumes the role of Kraft Lawrence as he travels around with Holo for a period of one year in the game. The story differs from that of the original novels or anime and is presented as an additional Spice and Wolf world. Ami Koshimizu provides the voice of Holo in the game. The game was released on the same day in limited and regular editions; the limited edition was sold at a higher price, but comes with a life-sized poster of Holo, among other things.
A second dating and business simulation visual novel was released on September 17, 2009 titled Spice and Wolf: The Wind that Spans the Sea. The game was again made by ASCII Media Works and playable on the Nintendo DS. The player once again assumes the role of Kraft Lawrence.
A virtual reality visual novel titled Spice and Wolf VR made by Spicy Tails, a dōjin group founded by Isuna Hasekura, was released on June 3, 2019 for Microsoft Windows supporting the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive VR headsets as well as the standalone Oculus Go headset. It was later released for the Nintendo Switch and PlayStation 4 on September 5, 2019, supporting the Nintendo Labo VR Kit and PlayStation VR respectively. A port to the Oculus Quest headset has also been announced, as well as a sequel coming at an unknown date.
ASCII Media Works reported that as of November 2009, over 3.5 million copies of the first twelve novels have been sold. The light novel series has ranked three times in Takarajimasha’s light novel guide book Kono Light Novel ga Sugoi! published yearly: first in 2007, and fifth in both 2008 and 2009; in the 2007 issue, Holo won Best Female Character. The first manga volume of the English release in North America debuted at No. 4 on the New York Times Best Seller Manga list, while the third volume reached at No. 3.
In April 2008, the maid café Cafe with Cat in Akihabara, Tokyo, Japan hosted a specially themed event called Cafe with Wolf for a period of three days between April 4 and April 6. The event included three new items on the menu and tied in with the sale of the first anime DVD volume which went on sale on April 2, 2008. People who bought the DVD from the Comic Toranoana Akihabara Honten store (which is on the first floor below Cafe with Cat) and brought the receipt with them into Cafe with Wolf were entered into a lottery to win rare Spice and Wolf goods.