Finally! Ever since I read and reviewed the first volume of the Spy x Family manga, I have been very excited to sit down and watch the anime when it came out. It did not disappoint!
For those who are not in the mood to read or reread my summary of the first manga volume, here is the short intro into the premise of the show. In a clash between a fictional East and West, one man is tasked to collect valuable info about his rival country. That man has the codename, Twilight. He has to form a fictional family. He ends up adopting a cute little girl named Anya, who ends up being a psychic. He also married a woman named Yor, who works as a government office clerk by day, but is a killer in the service of her country by night. All three of them have suffered greatly. All three of them are orphans who had to move around a lot and create new identities sooner than later. They all crave stability and something normal. Well… Anya also wants some excitement. Their past has given them this vulnerable dimension, which makes us cheer for them and makes us hope deep down that their fictional family becomes a real home full of understanding and loving kindness. The anime manages to capture the essence of the show and translate it from the manga perfectly.
Another thing the anime does well is transferring Anya’s reactions, which are the foundation of the show’s humor. Anya is even more funny in color and in movement. The show does do a great job of dosing her. When you have such a cute and funny character, you really need to do a good job balancing other aspects of her with her more memorable moments. (That is one lesson the Simpsons failed with Homer Simpson, and many other characters as the show progressed, reducing them to a one dimensional characters who’s only point is to say a particular catchphrase at a particular time.)
The anime continues well after the first volume. There are attempts to broaden the humor and not just make Anya carry all the burden. Some of my favorite non-Anya comedic scenes are when Twilight later known as Loid, must pretend save Anya against a castle full of spies, a drunk Yor being out of control is hilarious as well. But Anya remains the biggest comedic asset the show has. Her faces are just amazing, especially the one she makes towards some kids she doesn’t like. There is a dodgeball game towards the end of the season that is hilarious, especially the character they introduce, Bill Watkins, who let’s just say doesn’t really pass the eye test of what an elementary school kid should look like. One thing I do see as a missed opportunity was creating a Rocky parody training montage during the time Anya trains for the dodgeball game. Would have been hilarious.
We get introduced to a bunch of new characters! We finally get introduced to Damian, the target. While he is a snobbish, self-centered kid, there is also humanity and vulnerability in him, especially with the way he sees himself in relationship to his brother and father, and all the burden of expectations he must carry. Anya’s first real friend, Becky Blackbell is sweet and loyal. Yor’s brother is a bit out there. There is some siscon stuff going on with him, and he, like his sister has a secret job on the side that might threaten the existence of the family.
The animation is very well done. Where it shines the most are the fight scenes. Both the direction, the choice of angles and views, as well as the fluidity of the movements are top notch. The only downside is the background CGI characters. Their quality is inconsistent, either hit or miss throughout the show.