Spy×Family Season 1 Review (#SPY_FAMILY)

Spy×Family Season 1 Review

Note: When I wrote this, I didn’t know that the announced new cour of the series would still be considered part of Season 1. As such, I’m rewriting my original post to reflect the additional episodes.

When the first promo images for Spy×Family hit my Twitter feed, I thought it might be a take on the 1993 comedy movie Undercover Blues. In that movie, a husband and wife spy team are taking their toddler girl on vacation, only to get caught up in some terrorist plot. As such, I imagined Spy×Family to be something similar, only the kid is now a bit older and beginning to realize what her parents are up to.

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However, Spy×Family didn’t turn out to be like that at all. In fact, it was even better!

S P O I L E R S !

The Story, in Brief

The story is set in a ~1960s fictitious European country of Westalis. They send their top spy, code named Twilight, to Ostania. There, he is to spy on a recluse, political leader named Donovan Desmond. In order to get close to Donovan, Twilight becomes Loid Forger and adopts a young girl named Anya from a terrible orphanage. Unbeknownst to Twilight, Anya is a telepath created from human experiments. Anya is desperate to be adopted and has learned to keep her powers a secret.

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Twilight’s goal is to get the young Anya into the prestigious Eden College so she can get close to Donovan’s son, Damian. To complete the illusion of having a family, Twilight comes into an agreement with a woman named Yor. While Twilight’s agency has some information on Yor, they were unaware that Yor is actually an insanely good assassin. Because Anya can read minds, she knows both of their secrets and finds this all exciting.

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Anya barely gets accepted into the school. She fails to get close to Damian, and her grades are terrible. Anya hates studying and basically wants to skate through by reading the minds of others to cheat on the tests. She manages to make one friend, Becky, who’s the daughter of the CEO of the major military equipment manufacturing company, Blackbell Heavy Industries. Becky comes to believe Anya has a crush on Damian and thus wants to help her. And thanks to her telepathy, Anya saves a boy from drowning, earning her a prestigious Stella Star.

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Twilight struggles with being a father to Anya, his main mission, and the side missions given to him by his organization, WISE. As time passes, his growing comfort level with Yor make him a bit vulnerable to her.

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As to Yor, she quickly comes to love Anya, and will all but kill anyone who attempts to harm her. However, Yor struggles with romantic feelings she’s apparently never felt before. As such, she gets jealous over Twilight’s underling, Fiona (Nightfall), but doesn’t recognize it as such.

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The Outstanding: Anya

Let’s face it, Anya is the real reason to watch Spy×Family. (Or to read the manga for that matter.) If not kept in check, Anya would steal every scene in every episode. In the initial part of the series, Anya is still fun, but there’s such a tragic element to her character. She’s the product of genetic experimentation (as I understand it). Anya was put into a terrible orphanage. And her previous foster families couldn’t wait to get rid of her due to her powers.

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Once Anya knows what she has to do to help Twilight in his mission, Anya’s star rises high. She already had a nice range of facial expressions based on her reactions to reading people’s thoughts. However, when Anya enters first Eden Academy, her range of facial expressions go off the chart. The chief one of these is the smug smirk. It is Anya’s attempt to force a smile when talking to Damian and it is hilarious.

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While Anya sucks at academics, she really is quick witted and clever. For example, when Damian goes off on her for various things (including Anya’s smug smirk), Anya uses her training from Yor to not only cold-cock him, she also made sure the coast was clear before she did it. And then Anya had a good cover story to lessen the negative impact of her actions.

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Another time, Anya secretly warns her adoptive father about a bomb-booby trapped door by using ketchup to draw a crude picture on the door.

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Later in the season, Anya confronts Damian when he’s about to chicken out and not meet with his father, Donovan. Anya knows this is important to Twilight’s spy mission, though in typical Anya fashion, she quickly forgets her purpose.

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As such, Anya ends up helping Twilight quite a bit without him knowing it. And then if muscle is needed, Anya gets Yor to help. Despite this, Anya doesn’t get annoying. Her actions make logical sense as a child longing to belong, craving excitement, but fearful of her telepathy being discovered.

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The Great: Yor

Another great character in Spy×Family is Yor. On one hand, she’s a kind, loving, gentle, attractive young woman. On the other hand, she’s an insanely strong, tough, efficient assassin. Normally, I have issues with women characters who weigh a buck-twenty easily kicking the arse of men weighing 200 pounds or more. But Yor is so great, I carved out an exception for her.

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Outside of Yor’s initial introduction, the series doesn’t spend a lot of time on her secret life as an assassin. As such, we don’t know what the ultimate purpose of her organization is. I suppose it could just be a pay to assassinate group, like an assassin’s guild. That aside, I think things could be a bit more interesting if her role as Thorn Princess was known to WISE, only they just don’t know who she is.

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I liked that the story crafted a logical reason for Yor to accept Twilight’s fake marriage proposal. As a housewife to a supposed psychiatrist and step-mom to an adorable child, who would suspect her of being a master assassin? It makes the perfect cover. But as I said, I just wish there had been stories about her missions.

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The thing I really enjoy about Yor is seeing her embrace her role as Anya’s step-mom. The only action we see from Yor after her marriage is when Anya is in trouble. This is when Yor goes full Mama-bear and it is awesome! Further, she has been willing to train Anya, both in fighting and in volleyball. She’s just the perfect wife!

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The Good: Twilight/Loid

Twilight, aka: Loid Forger, is another good character in Spy×Family. He’s more of the straight man in the series. As a spy, he has a job to do, and he’s going to do it to the best of his abilities. Since he needed a wife and child, he “acquired” them. When Anya wanted to celebrate getting into Eden, Twilight spent a massive amount making her dream come true.

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As a character, Twilight’s arc has been an enjoyable one. Sure, it is a fairly predictable path. The stoic spy comes to care for his fake wife and adoptive daughter. Assuming the story goes where we all expect, eventually, he marries Yor for real and makes their fake family a real one.

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While the destination seems clear, it is the journey that is enjoyable. For example, when Twilight decides to calm Yor’s fears of Fiona replacing her, he turns on the charm. He is about to propose actual marriage, only to have a panicked Yor kick him in the chin and knock him out. Sure, it is a funny moment, but it leads to a poignant one. When he comes to, instead of putting on an act, he opens up to Yor, telling her a bit about his past. And thus he’s able to assure her that he won’t abandon her.

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I kinda hope that the Forgers can become a real family while allowing the story to proceed from there. But we’ll see where Endo-sensei takes the manga for the anime to follow.

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The Good: Story and Comedy

I really enjoyed the story and comedy moments in Spy×Family. The parody setting of a fictitious Eastern Europe vs Western Europe is interesting. I do wish this was delved into a bit more in the anime. Twilight’s mission to get close to an enemy political leader is also interesting. The first season ends with Twilight getting to meet Donovan and that was a good stopping point.

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As I stated before, seeing Twilight, Yor, and Anya come together as a family is an enjoyable story. Throughout the season, Twilight struggles to understand Anya. He also works hard to make sure Yor is assured of her role as Anya’s mother. Despite being a good assassin, Yor struggles with her insecurities, both as a mother to Anya, and a fake wife to Twilight. But the cement of the unit is Anya.

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As expected, since Anya is the show stealer of this series, the stories centering around her tend to be the best. Further, they tend to be the funniest as well, though Yor comes in a close second. It is clear that the writers (primarily manga-ka ENDO Tatsuya-sensei) did an excellent job crafting a unique situation with unique characters and create a story that is both fun and funny. It was a sheer delight returning to the world of Spy×Family and I cannot wait to do so when I start reading the manga volumes.

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Bottom Line

If you are looking for an uplifting (after episode 1), hilarious, fun, adventurous romp balanced with a slice of family life on the side, then Spy×Family is certainly worth your time. And this is aided by the fact that the anime adaptation is very faithful to the source manga material. Thankfully, we have more of this coming to anime form in 2023!

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Oh, I did a video review. I’ve learned that I don’t read a script out loud that well. But I wanted to practice as I plan to do some game reviews and maybe other series reviews on video.

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2 Responses to “Spy×Family Season 1 Review (#SPY_FAMILY)”

  1. Anime Lover says:

    In my list of favorite anime series, SPY x Family is at the top.

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