Original Run: April 9, 2022 - June 25, 2022 Number of Episode: 12 Genre: Action, Comedy Based on the Series Created By: Tatsuya Endou
***Warning, the following may contain spoilers for Spy X Family. Reader discretion is advised.***
The tension between superpowers Ostania and Westalis is at an all-time high. With fervent nationalists within Ostania threatening to bring the two countries to war, Westalis concoct Operation Strix. Spearheading this mission is the legendary spy “Twilight” (voiced by Takuya Eguchi).
To complete his job, Twilight takes the name Loid Forger, and he must infiltrate the prestigious Eden Academy. But to do that, Loid Forger must become a family man.
Loid heads to the local orphanage and finds little Anya (voiced by Atsumi Tanezaki). Although Loid is not initially impressed with the child, Anya shows a keen intuition. She can answer even Loid’s most difficult questions. Almost as if Anya can read minds.
It turns out she can. But Anya wants a family too much to let that secret get out.
Still, Loid needs to complete his cover, and to do that, he must find a woman to play his wife. Fortunately, he runs into Yor (voiced by Saori Hayami), who readily accepts the offer. Little does Loid know, Yor needs to get a husband soon; otherwise, she risks exposing her true profession as the infamous assassin Thorn Princess.
With spy, assassin, and telepath under the same roof and with peace in the balance, it is hard to determine the ultimate fate of Operation Strix.
Sometimes you come across a show, and it is clear nothing about it is right. Other times, you find a series that, from beginning to end, knocks it out of the water. Spy X Family is neither.
No, Spy X Family is an anime that states loudly and proudly, “I am this year’s Gold Standard. When you’re competing with me, you’re working uphill.”
Could a show come along in 2022 that surpasses this one? Absolutely, and there are some definite contenders. But from where I’m standing, this year’s heaviest hitters are continuations of well-established franchises, Kaguya-sama and Overlord, for instance. Spy X Family, on the other hand, is just beginning its run (Part 2 is set to release in Fall 2022), and its momentum is unlike anything I have ever seen.
Spy X Family is the definition of an introductory anime. I mean that this series is so solid – so on-point – that people unfamiliar with the medium or who generally don’t like anime can not only watch but also thoroughly enjoy it. That isn’t to say this show plays it safe. Instead, Spy X Family had a unique personality and wasn’t afraid to use it to astonishing effect.
For instance, this series loved to go over the top and be ridiculous. It had a noticeable go-big-or-go mentality. While that can lead to problems, such an attitude is incredibly fun when done skillfully. A great example from Spy x Family was the – most likely – throwaway character, Bill Watkins (voiced by Hiroki Yasumoto), and the entire dodgeball episode. What result was so stupid, but in the best possible way.
And, of course, Spy X Family was a masterclass at facial expressions.
Much of this show’s comedy was the direct result of how different characters reacted to given situations. This series often used a light touch to lead into something more explosive.
There was a scene where Anya Forger was on the receiving end of a barrage of insults from a classmate. Given that Anya wanted to be a good girl for her “dad’s” mission, she did her best not to rise. However, Anya is also five, so her patience can only hold out for so long. While still giving her passive/characteristically derpy face, you can see the moment she snaps. With a very quick – but very obvious – glance to see if there were any teachers around, Anya turns and decks the punk who was goading her.
It is one of my many favorite scenes from this series.
Spy X Family was so good at facial expressions and reactions that it used its ability to deliver both humor AND satisfaction.
Although this show is a comedy through and through, it doesn’t ignore the more serious aspects of its story – mainly Anya’s life before becoming a Forger. This season may not have gone into deep detail about Anya’s previous life, but it did provide a few glimpses.
The best shows know when things can be funny and when things need more reservation.
A clear example of this is Anya’s relationship with her birth mother. The fact of the matter is, we don’t know much. Except, what we do know is that the memory of her – or, more specifically, thinking about how she is no longer around – is painful for Anya. And in my absolute favorite scene in Spy X Family, a character attacked that memory.
Seeing Anya cry as a result of true sadness was a rarity, but when it did happen, it wasn’t fun. And yet, there was a character who kept berating and pushing Anya into more tears – long after the line had been crossed. While this was happening, Yor Forger had already gone into full assassin mode, ready to kill everyone in the room to save Anya – which I wasn’t particularly against. But it was Loid Forger’s actions, which put the entire mission at risk, that got his “daughter” out of there.
The fear Loid put into the dirtbag instigator was beautiful – and the resulting fallout was the icing on the cake.
But disregarding the glorious satisfaction, this scene demonstrated what raises Spy X Family to a tier above the rest – the Forger “family.”
Yor is a bit of a ditz. She can be clumsy, airy, and naïve when it comes to normal, everyday life. By that same extension, she is kind and sweet, especially to Anya. Although she agreed to join Loid as his wife because it was in her self-interest, Yor wants to be a good partner and mother. That said, she is also the deadliest assassin alive, a quality she often overlooks. Therefore, she sometimes forgets her strength, and things tend to break when she does. Plus, it doesn’t take much to set off her bloodlust. Only by pure happenstances has Yor not killed everyone in sight when angered or nearly cornered.
Also, there is nothing funnier or more dangerous than a tipsy Yor.
Then there is Loid, who is typically calm and collected. He thinks several dozen steps ahead of everyone else and has everything planned to the tiniest detail. When he was working as a lone spy, this diligence allowed him to become the greatest agent in the field. But now that he must rely on others for Operation Strix, Loid deals with the unexpected almost daily. And he usually doesn’t take it well; there’s defeat, and then there’s Loid Forger when he believes all hope is lost.
Still, as the series progressed, you see that Loid isn’t an unfeeling robot. He has a strong sense of justice and is doing everything he can to ensure the world is at peace. His genuine caring nature lets him fall into the role of a true father; on many occasions, it’s not an act.
Now, you would think a highly experienced spy and a top-rated assassin would suspect something is up with their respective partner. Loid and Yor were in several explosion-filled fights together, and neither commented on how the other was so adept at combat. Hell, you would think they didn’t even notice.
Part of me believes they haven’t. Since both Loid and Yor keep their identities a secret from one another, I’ve accepted the idea that they’ve not allowed themselves to dwell on their partner’s odd behaviors. Since neither of them asks any awkward questions, why bring it up?
That dynamic alone could have been enough to carry a show. But this is Spy X Family, and Spy x Family has Anya.
Good luck to any new characters getting their introduction this year because Anya is the best. She is hilarious, enduring, and freaking adorable. Anya is phenomenally expressive, her voice actress – Atsumi Taneaki – completely kills it, and she is the heart of this series. And let’s not forget, Anya has the smuggest smile in all anime.
Anya is also a kid, and she acts like a kid. She’s not overly mature, she doesn’t think like an adult, and her imagination has gotten the better of her. It doesn’t matter that Anya is a telepath and knows the identity of her parents, is aware of Loid’s ultimate goal, accepts that Yor has killed many people, and understands that the whole “family” aspect is a front. Just because she has all this information doesn’t mean she can use it strategically. If someone makes her mad, Anya will get mad, regardless if such behavior jeopardizes everything.
Anya is a character who you love the moment she steps onto the scene. She is a rarity and the crown jewel of an already brilliant series.
If you didn’t pick up on it, I love this show. And yet, I could help notice a few things.
First, animation-wise…Spy X Family was fine. Heck, during some of the more action-oriented scenes, this series was quite stellar. Since this is a production from Wit Studios and Cloverworks, that is no real surprise.
However – and many shows still do this – whenever there was a large crowd of people walking, CGI. Oh my word, anime hasn’t figured out how to have a massive moving group look good using CGI. It stands out and is a shame to see, especially when Spy X Family does have quality animation in other areas.
Be that as it may, it isn’t something to get worked up over.
Now, rather than criticism, I do have a concern. One I hope Part 2 will correct.
Spy X Family had several episodes focused on Loid and Anya growing closer as “father and daughter.” But between Yor and Anya, there were only ever moments. Where was the quality “mother-daughter?”
When there were one-on-one instances between Yor and Anya, they were cute; the two played off each other well. There is no reason to think they couldn’t carry the length of an entire episode.
By that same extension, Yor did feel like the odd person out. Thankfully she got some development time – they introduced us to her brother. But compared to Loid and Anya, Yor is heading down the path of a side character and not one of the leads.
I fully expect Spy X Family to continue to be exceptional in Part 2. There are certainly places it has left to explore.
There are so many anime coming out in 2022 that I can’t wait to see. However, they are all now competing against this undeniable powerhouse.
This show is a win for fans of the medium, newcomers, and even dislikers. It is thoroughly funny, remarkably heartfelt, and a total good time. This series boasts one of the best implementations of reactionary humor and timing.
Plus, it has a core cast that is impossible not to enjoy.
Spy X Family has earned a recommendation.
But these are my thoughts; what are yours? Have you seen this show; how would you advise Spy X Family? Leave a comment below because I would love to hear what you have to say.
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