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Sunday, June 5, 2016

77% of Swiss Reject Utopia:

The basic income came up for a vote today and failed miserably.  Apparently people do not want free money, they'd rather suffer and starve.  What a world we live in.  The Swiss are pathetic for a vote like that, considering elsewhere in Europe the basic income enjoys 64% support in polls.  Now we can expect this outcome to be used to deny other people the chance at a basic income, saying 'the voters have spoken,' for many years to come.  A horrible setback for the whole world.

Meanwhile, I finished Spice and Wolf.  The later books were all bad.  Holo came off as just a rude, greedy, shallow, selfish hedonist who only ever held Lawrence back.  The only good book in the series that wasn't animated was book IV, which the anime strangely skipped over, despite being the best part of the whole series.  In the volume 17 epilogue, we learn that Holo isn't really doing anything all day every day.  She has no interests, no friends, no job, and just wiles away her time eating and bathing.  She even has a domestic servant to do all the chores.  She's pregnant, which would be an excuse, except that this is the first time she's had any role as a mother and it's already been six years married to Lawrence.  What was she doing all this time until now?  Apparently just eating him out of house and home.  While Lawrence is still deep in debt and trying to start a new business, she's ordering up lavish feasts with quails and peacocks.  Thanks, Holo!

As the series continued, Holo grew more and more dependent on Lawrence, who ended up doing everything himself.  In the anime they were much more of a partnership, sharing the risk and working together to find solutions.  It was a much healthier relationship back then.  The books are just a warning to all men -- 'don't fall for girls based on looks alone or you'll end up with someone like Holo!'

In the end, they never did reach Yoitsu.  They went nearby but decided the destination was pointless given there was nothing and nobody actually there anymore.  The whole story was rather anticlimactic as a result.  They did visit this Ayn Randian merchant town which had no licenses, no moral regulations and no taxes, minting its own coins and paying mercenaries to protect them from outside barons.  It was rather neat to have the author suddenly making a campaign speech for libertarianism, but it had nothing to do with the actual story and thus just felt like one more annoying detour from the supposed destination we had been promised.

They met many more people on their journey, but none of them were as cool as Norah the Shepherd, so again the books fell far short of what you would expect from having watched the anime.  Many events in the book just seemed contrived to slow their journey down and keep them from ever reaching their destination.  Like God Almighty stood in the path of that dumb wagon.

Making matters worse were the endless short story collections about random people no one cared about or random events that didn't matter.  One short story was about Lawrence trying to bring Holo to a picnic spot but getting lost and having to give up and turn back.  Wow!  That's exciting!  I'm so glad I know about that event in their lives now!

Despite the books being so bad, and despite the uninspiring ending that never even delivered on its original promise, Spice and Wolf is still a laudable series.  If you take the first five books as a story alone, especially book four, it was actually quite good.  It's just that the author for some reason decided to make the series 17 volumes (with more still coming, sigh.)  The anime took that beginning which was so good and multiplied its value with White Fox's glorious art and animation, great voice acting by Ami Koshimizu, Mai Nakahara and Jun Fukuyama, and a gorgeous soundtrack that brought the medieval world alive.  The anime couldn't have been so good unless the books they were following were also good, so I still insist that the Spice and Wolf light novel series is one of the best ever.  I just wish I hadn't had to read on, and on, and on, about things as desultory as waiting for a map to be delivered in the mail.  Spice and Wolf was almost as difficult to read as Kant's Critique of Pure Reason.  Reading a few pages feels like you've run a marathon and you're ready to throw up, but there's still thousands more to go. . .

If I can read it, though, so can everyone else, and I fully think they should.  After all, why should I have to suffer alone? 

Do I want another season of Spice and Wolf anime to cover these wretched books, though?  Yes, I still do.  I want to see volume 4 animated, after which they could go ahead and skip to volumes 15-16 without any loss, where they adventure in libertarian land and reach the end of their journey.  No one would even notice a discrepancy due to the time skip since nothing ever happens in this series.  At four episodes a volume they could do it all in one cour.

Next up is Hataraku Maou-sama! I suppose.  I can't read Baccano until volume 10 is finished translating, because it's all part of the same arc that starts in volume 8, so reading volume 8 now would just leave me at a cliffhanger.  Juuou Mujin no Fafnir is a serious alternative, but seeing as how I'm already at volume 6 of Hataraku I may as well finish this series first before I load myself down with new work.  As long as these literary works can tide me over to the Olympics and the new WoW expansion, they'll have served their purpose perfectly.

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