Spy x Family and the Exploration of Familial Bonds

The Family that Fights Together…

Spy x Family wallpaper

Spy x Family (Supai Famiri in Japanese) is an anime based on a popular Shonen manga, created by Tatsuya Endo. It has sold 25 million copies so far. A second season is forthcoming soon.

Spy x Family is the funniest anime I have seen in years. An action comedy of errors that indirectly explores family as a concept.

I went in based on hype and publicity alone expecting an anime about a family of spies who fight bad guys and go on adventures together. That is not the premise of this anime.

The premise of Spy x Family is two nations at war, Westalis, and Ostania. One secret agent, Twilight, is given a new mission: to infiltrate Donovan Desmond, the leader of the National Unity Party.

Anya and Damian, Spy x Family

Twilight is a master of disguise and expert in hand-to-hand combat, as well as a sharpshooter. But his next mission might be the hardest for Westalis‘ best.

In effect, Twilight would have to become a family man. So, where to find a fake family?

First, he adopts Anya, an orphan little girl who had been returned to the orphanage several times. Second, he marries a gorgeous woman with low self-esteemed, Yor. And he rents a home in Ostania.

Except, unknown to him, his adopted daughter is a telepath and his wife is an assassin.

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Indeed, not only is our family of spies a pretend family; they are all keeping secrets from each other. Will all the secrecy impaired his mission?

To be honest, the premise seems quite pedestrian compared to what you think when you hear the words “spy family”.

And the fact they spent many episodes shopping, getting ready for Anya‘s school entrance exam, meeting Yor‘s brother whose coming to visit, going to the aquarium, celebrating Anya‘s birthday, etc. Hardly espionage stuff.

Nevertheless, there will be plenty of action and explosions. Trust me.

Meet the Forgers

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Spy x Family is an action comedy anime that embraces the concept and plays with it in hilarious ways. However, it does so charmingly.

Although we must question if Forger is the right alias for a pretend family. Kind of obvious, no? Still, what a family they make.

Yes, Yor is a hired assassin known as Thorn Princess, but she is sweet and only becomes a hired killer to support her brother.

Twilight (who goes undercover as psychologist Loid Forger) has a sad past that makes him become a spy so no other children have to go through what he went through.

Anya we learned was the product of scientific experimentation (with a hint of child abuse?).

Anya, Spy x Family

Broken people becoming a surrogate family? Seems like the premise of another popular anime, Tokyo Revengers. But whereas Revengers is harsh and violent, here the tone is light and fun.

Moreover, despite they being a fake family, you see small hints they will develop affection for one another as a real family.

But will it happen? Can it happen?

They are living in a fascist state, and if they were to be discovered, it would mean death or imprisonment.

A good plot is driven by conflict. What better conflict than when we learn that Yuri, Yor‘s baby brother, is a State Security Service officer for Ostania? And a vicious and effective one too? Scary.

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And how come Damian Desmond (Donovan’s second son) and Anya seem to dislike each other? So much for infiltration.

And the anime has yet to introduce Bond, their dog…

There is so much humor, physical and situational. Any panel with Anya is priceless with all her facial expressions. Not that the other Forgers aren’t either.

Also, unsurprisingly, expect lots of spy gags and jokes. Frankie acts like Twilight’s own Q, creating gadgets and giving him information. With Sylvia Sherwood as his M.

So, what makes a family? Especially a spy family?

It Runs in the (Spy) Family

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An oppressive state, an exclusive school, a stern headmaster, military police kidnapping citizens, and did I mention big brother (Yuri) is watching literally and figuratively?

Who said it was all fun and laughs? Granted, for an espionage anime, most of the plot is mundane and played for laughs. Still, danger lurks, and the mission is the priority.

They say family is the base of society. And yet, our definition of family has evolved.

Conversely, this anime challenges some of those old stereotypes in subtle ways.

Loid and Anya, Spy x Family

Why can’t Loid be a single dad?

Why does the school require there to be a “mom” to accept Anya?

Why do Yor‘s coworkers judge her badly for still being single?

Why does her brother have to approve and bless her marriage?

Isn’t this the 21st century?

Furthermore, how cruel and inappropriate was the school entrance interview when the Board asked Anya who did she love more, her dead mom or her new stepmom?

Moreover, behind all the secrets the Forgers keep from each other, there is genuine affection and admiration. As Anya loves to remind us, “papa is a big liar, but he is a cool liar.”

By the way, I read an interview with the author where Tatsuya Endo says his editor forced him to “surrender to the mainstream” and write a lighthearted story.

Considering how commercially and critically successful both the manga and anime are, he should not complain. (Can I smack him?)

Spy x Family wallpaper

Furthermore, I give them props for embracing the premise and running with it wholeheartedly, with all its silliness and whimsical hijinks.

Considering all the popular anime these days is dominated by demons and goblin slayers, exorcists, espers, biker gangs, isekai, and a certain superhero academy, it is refreshing to see something different.

Nevertheless, despite all the humor, I wish this action comedy would have more action. I will rate it a 9.4/10. Perhaps we will get more in the second season.

Likewise, I highly recommend Spy x Family. We need to laugh while fighting for world peace. Don’t you agree? Now hurry up and bring on the dog.

Reader, are you a fan of Spy x Family? Who is your favorite character? And, would you like to be a spy?


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May 2023