You may not realize it, but manga readers are currently in a golden age. The quirky titles we’ve been following for anywhere from 3-7 years are finally getting anime adaptations. It’s felt like a lifetime but Spy x Family has finally become an anime.
Spy x Family is the latest eccentric series that has been hyped up by manga readers, following the footsteps of Kaguya-sama Love is War and Komi Can’t Communicate. These series might seem unrelated but all of them have gone through the process of their fans joking their series would never get animated… until they finally did.
So what’s all the fuss about? Can Spy x Family capture the hearts of mainstream anime fans by virtue of being quirky, fun, and having a built-in fanbase of manga readers? History says yes, but let’s check it out for ourselves.
Spy x Family
Studios: Wit Studio, CloverWorks
Publishers: Shueisha, TV Tokyo, TOHO
Director: Kazuhiro Furuhashi
Premiere: April 9, 2022
Just so you don’t get lose, lets lay out the basics of the plot. The notorious spy Twilight is an agent for the fictional nation of Westalis. His latest job? Investigate a foreign politician by infiltrating the school of his son. The only problem is that the he has no children of his own. So Twilight gets to work building a family from the ground up as the young professional Loid Forger. His first order of business is adopting a young child to enter the prestigious Eden Academy.
While at first, his new daughter Anya just seems bright and intuitive (if perhaps a bit clumsy) the truth is that she’s secretly an ESPer and can read minds. A secret which she keeps from her new father. Things get even more complicated when it turns out Eden Academy requires both parents attend the child’s interview for the academy, so it’s not just enough to have a daughter, Twilight needs a wife too.
Luckily he meets an eccentric young woman named Yor Briar who doesn’t have much experience with men. The reason? Yor is secretly an assassin, The two hit it off after Anya convinces her father to make a move.
So we’ve got an ESPer, an assassin, and a spy all in one family. Three disparate characters with secrets kept from one another. What Spy x Family does well is it uses Anya as a central character to focus the story. Since among the three, Anya is the only one who knows the truth about either of them. Yor has no idea that her husband is the spy Twilight, and Loid has no idea his wife is the assassin known as the “Thorn Princess”.
When all three characters are on screen, it’s often Anya doing most of the expository lifting, giving the the intrigues of both her parents life by awkwardly reacting to their internal thoughts and secrets.
While the stakes may seem high, at its heart Spy x Family is a comedy series. The drama tends to lack gravitas and it doesn’t revel in gratuitous violence. But that’s fine, that’s not what the show is about, but I want to temper expectations that a show about spies and assassins doesn’t necessarily mean it’s gritty.
This isn’t to say there’s no action, the first episode features action scenes when Anya is kidnapped by rival spies after she digs into her new father’s belongings.
The show’s star is Atsumi Tanezaki, the voice of Anya. Tanezaki is largely known for her leading role as Chise in The Ancient Magus Bride and more recently for her supporting role as Sajuna Inui in My Dress-up Darling.
Loid and Yor are voiced by Takuya Eguchi and Saori Hayami respectively, both of them industry veterans with dozens of roles. Eguchi is largely known for his role as Shubgiku Koikawa in Mushibugyo while Hayami is largely known for her role as Viktoriya Ivanovna Serebryakova in The Saga of Tanya the Evil.
The animation of Spy x Family keeps the pastel color shown mostly in promotional material and covers of the manga, which is a creative style choice since the washed out colors give a feeling of antiquity to the setting. Which makes sense since it seems loosely based off of the mid 20th century.
The animation thankfully refrains from the overuse of 3D, but as a comedy series there’s nothing spectacular. Action scenes are kind of janky and lack fluid movement but that’s forgivable in a series like this.
Ultimately Spy x Family seems like it will be the hot new thing this season. With its creative premise and stellar voice cast, anyone who’s wanted something more unique than the latest isekai series or shounen power-scaling series will find little to complain about.