Spy x Family has been one of the most anticipated anime releases of Spring 2022. The first episode just dropped on April 9, and the internet is filled with mixed reviews.
While some Shonen conventionalists on community forums are dissing the new adaptation, Spy x Family already has a rating of 9.2 on IMDB, and 9.03 on My Anime List.
The ongoing manga series is created by Tatsuya Endo and was first serialized in 2019. It developed such a thick fan following in the past 2 years that an anime adaptation grew inevitable.
Spy x Family, the anime, is being produced by Wit Studio and CloverWorks, and directed by Hunter x Hunter’s Kazuhiro Furuhashi.
With so many new anime options and divisive series reviews, you’re probably wondering whether Spy x Family is worth a watch. Let me help you out.
1. Quick Review
Spy x Family is a supernatural spy action comedy with a simple but compelling plot, and engaging, likable characters. It has something for everyone – from family drama, to thrilling action sequences, to endearing fantastical elements. Definitely worth the hype.
2. Quick Info
Spy × FamilyAir Date: April 9, 2022 Status: Airing Studio: Wit Studio, CloverWorks No. of Seasons: 1 No. of Episodes: 25
3. Overall Review
A renowned super-spy – codename: Twilight – is given a special mission that requires him to create a fake family. He takes on the persona of a certain Loid Forger and begins his hunt for a wife and child who he is supposed to find within the week.
The person he marries turns out to be an assassin, and the girl he adopts is a mind reading psychic.
Spy x Family explores this bizarre family unit in the midst of a natural, realistic setting.
Westalis and Ostania are the 2 rivaling countries in this universe, locked in a kind of cold war. A diplomat from Westalist is murdered by an extremist political party based in Ostania.
The Westalian Intelligence, an organization devoted to keeping peace between the 2 nations, sends out its best agent, Twilight, to investigate Donovan Desmond, the chairperson of the National Unity Party in Ostania.
Twilight aka Loid, is tasked with enrolling his new “daughter” into Eden Academy, the elite school that Desmond’s son studies in.
Sure, the plot seems familiar and straightforward, but it’s totally beside the point. Spy x Family is driven by its characters more than its plot, although the storyline will appeal to all you espionage/spy thriller lovers out there.
Spy x Family circles around the false Forger (check out the pun in the name) family. It includes the legendary spy, Loid, the assassin wife, Yor, and the telepath daughter, Anya.
The 3 of them, of course, are not what they seem like on the surface, and they each harbor secrets of their own.
Loid is predictably stoic. He’s like every suave spy you can think of, live-action, anime, or otherwise. He’s serious and dead-pan but also staggeringly charismatic, a perfect protagonist with a hidden past.
Yor works as a clerk but in her secret double life, she’s an extremely efficient assassin who goes by the codename, Thorn Princess. Although aloof, we see her gullible and emotional side once she becomes a “mother” in this new family.
Anya is easily the show-stopper. This pink-haired 5-year-old is sweet and bubbly, but hides a whole life of trauma behind her innocent smile. She is aware of the secrets her “parents” are hiding, but all she wants is a complete and happy family.
The odd family has a really interesting dynamic that is evolving and growing with every scene.
Although the anime has just one episode out, and Yor’s character hasn’t yet been introduced, I find myself already invested in Anya and Loid because of their bond.
III. Themes and Analysis
It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that the primary theme of Spy x Family is, well, family.
Like the Disney movie The Incredibles, the 3 main characters take on double identities that conceal who they truly are. In the bargain, they end up growing closer together, much like a real family. This trope is pretty common, but the way it’s done in Spy x Family is what is special.
Ironically, the foundation of the family is built on a lie, but this is exactly what builds up the steam in the story.
Loid and Yor are what anime geeks refer to as “tsunderes”, a term for characters that have obvious feelings for each other but mask them under a façade of hostility.
Since Anya is an “esper”, a telepath, she can read the thoughts of Loid and Yor and does all she can to bring them romantically together.
Now, don’t forget that this fantasy-slice-of-life comedy is grounded in rather dark themes that include, war, abandonment, political fascism, sacrifice, and secrecy.
Despite this, I wouldn’t call Spy x Family serious or dramatic by any means. It is comedic in every sense – even Yor’s assassinations are mentioned only in jest.
4. Episode 1 Review
Episode 1 of Spy x Family has been touted as one of the best pilots of recent anime releases. 24 minutes of pure minute by minute exposition.
It manages to set the full premise of the show, give a flavor of 2 of the 3 main characters, and set the tone for the narrative to follow.
The cold opening gives us the background on the Westalis-Ostania situation, the gist of the ongoing information war and the supremacy of spies in both dominions.
The temporary-antagonist, Desmond, is introduced as a social recluse who only attends his son’s school functions. In order to accost him, Twilight must enroll a child into the same school. This is Operation Strix – which is also the title of the first episode.
Twilight is already dating someone for a previous mission when we first meet him. He breaks up with her after he has collected information to use as blackmail; this tells us who he is as a person and what he’s capable of.
For Operation Strix, Twilight becomes a psychiatrist called Loid Forger, and journeys to a super shady-looking orphanage to adopt child. This is when Anya enters the story. She was experimented on as a child and was oppressed by an unknown facility until she ran away.
Anya tricks Loid into adopting her by reading his mind and giving him what he wants. She loves spy anime and when she finds out Loid is a spy, she thinks it would be uber cool to live with him and go on adventures.
The first episode also already sees Anya getting kidnapped and Loid saving her, which strengthens a bond which had earlier been established only as a ruse.
The father-daughter combo is an instant hit – reminding viewers of other grumpy single unconventional dads – like Gru from Despicable Me, and their heart-warming relationship with tiny, cutesy girls that look up to them.
At the end of the episode, Loid realizes that he’s not really cut out to be a parent. Additionally, Round 2 of the school admission process at Eden demands that both parents of the student must be present.
Episode 2, set to release on 16 April, will presumably bring in Yor.
5. Stream or Skip? Final Verdict
Spy x Family is a wholesome, humorous, action-packed spy thriller. Since it has elements and tones from different genres, I won’t classify it as purely Shonen; it has something for all types and kinds of viewers.
Although the animation isn’t spectacular, the emotional expressions betray character nuances beautifully.
The plot and premise is solid, and the story, albeit slightly clichéd, adds a twist by incorporating supernatural traits like Anya’s telepathy.
Spy x Family blends action, comedy, and drama seamlessly while also touching upon sensitive and complex topics. This is why it is sure to appeal to the majority of viewers.
I believe Spy x Family definitely deserves a stream, if not a binge. Eagerly awaiting the next episode!
6. About Spy × Family
Spy × Family is a Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Tatsuya Endo in Shueisha’s Weekly Shonen Jump.
The story follows a spy who has to “build a family” to execute a mission, not realizing that the girl he adopts as a daughter and the woman he agrees to be in a fake marriage with are a mind reader and an assassin respectively.
Season 2 and a theatrical film are releasing in 2023.