Spy x Family, (pronounced with a silent “x”) is an action-and-comedy-packed series with romance and slice of life sprinkled in. It’s a show that balances its genres well, where one doesn’t outweigh or block interactions that lean more towards the other genre, and the author has written it in a way that makes the audience stay just for the ride.
There had been some anticipation for this adaptation of the popular manga, seeing as how the two animation studios working on this project are WIT studios, famous for animating the first few seasons of Attack on Titan, and Cloverworks, who’s worked on The Promised Neverland. I was looking to see if Cloverworks would mess up Spy x Family, as they infamously did with season 2 of The Promised Neverland. They had cut out an entire arc that was quite important to the series’ plot.
When I watched the first episode, I was watching very closely to see whether or not the studios would change something so drastically that it would affect the show negatively. However, they did the manga justice. Overall, the animation is smooth, and characters are clear and detailed, and so far the show is staying with the plot from the manga.
The main character is a spy whose alias is Loid Forger. He’s a very interesting character who’s usually serious and carries himself with an air of superiority and confidence, but in a way that somehow draws the audience towards him. To complete his current mission, he plays house and starts a family.
Loid adopts a young girl named Anya, who is a telepath; however, he is unaware that Anya can read minds and that she knew his true profession from the moment they met. Although she’s aware of his dangerous life, she’s been kept in an isolated lab for the majority of her childhood, so she’s desperate for any sort of adventure, which gives her fun character a sad side too. She acts like a child that grew up too fast, trying to be mature and altering herself to fit her guardian’s desires so that they will keep her for longer, which is something tragic to see in such a young child. Her character is silly and amusing to watch, since she’s only around 4-6 years old, but she also carries a lot of tragedy, similar to Loid. She’s naturally charming and she draws the audience in, making you immediately like her on her first appearance.
Despite Loid acting cool towards others, we see that he’s actually a soft person, when he says his reason in becoming a spy was to stop the cries of children and to prevent them from going through the same tragedy he went through. He’s a sweet character who starts to genuinely care for Anya as the show progresses.
Yor is the female lead who’s introduced in the second episode. Like the others in this unique family, she has a secret: she’s an assassin. Her goal is to simply use the excuse of marriage to stop her workplace friends from questioning her home life. Although she’s a fierce fighter, she’s quite naive and gullible, believing every lie Loid tells her about his cover job as a psychiatrist. She’s very amusing to watch, acting sort of like comedic relief. However, some of her interactions with side characters are more painful to watch; it’s very clear to the audience that the people who work with Yor don’t mean well, and they’ve also gone as far as actively trying to make her look bad. Yor isn’t very aware of how people act, so she doesn’t catch on and instead thinks they’re friends. In the end, she’s a very gullible but badass character, making it fun to watch the difference between how she acts at work versus when she’s fighting.
Loid and Yor start off acting as parents and lovers only when necessary; from acting like distant friends, to doing extra things just to please Anya and each other, eventually getting attached even if they are actively trying to do the opposite. The characters are very fun to watch; they each have their own goal but it doesn’t dictate their entire personality and how they act. Their interactions with each other are also very entertaining. They go from being distant, seemingly holding each other at an arm’s distance, to them doing things out of care rather than necessity. The characters are well written as they have depth, and their growth and interactions are relatable and amusing.
The animation in their day-to-day activities are as smooth as the animation in action scenes; the character movement and camera panning is really well executed, where close ups still include key points and features from other characters, and the camera angle in fight scenes captures the whole scene in a way that the audience is able to feel the tension. Budget cutting in scenes is a pretty big issue in a lot of other anime. For example, in a volleyball anime, Haikyuu, casual character interactions had lower quality frames and extremely pixelated characters, and Yuuri! On Ice ironically had the lowest quality skating scenes even though it’s a skating anime. But budget cutting wasn’t as prominent of an issue in Spy x Family.
The animators also blended the characters into the background in a way that the difference between background and character isn’t extremely obvious. You can see the difference in art-styles between the two, but the characters are still incorporated into their surroundings in a way that isn’t awkward and chunky.
Character lighting is also done really well, and animators highlight the character’s emotions in a hilarious but fitting way. They highlight shock and fear with exaggerated emotions, shading, and highlights over a character’s face, building atmosphere while the exaggeration also makes light of the scene. Anya’s face is largely exaggerated, and although it’s a bit much I enjoy it. They animate her facial expressions and the transitions between them really well, and since it’s something she does in the manga and that she’s known for, it’s nice seeing it being properly animated with sound effects.
The show uses a jazz-based soundtrack, which adds to the show by blending the animated elements and characters together, especially when played during fight scenes. The chosen soundtrack adds to the scenes, where the climax of the music highlights tension; the introduction of the music into scenes isn’t abrupt, and the music isn’t suddenly cut out when removed.
Spy x Family is a very fun show; the characters are emotionally relatable, and the family dynamic is charming and draws the audience in. That along with the outstanding animation and the well-blended elements creates something audience members can both actively watch with their complete attention, or just having it play in the background but still be able to catch the punch lines.
Cover image credit: Crunchyroll on YouTube (SPY X FAMILY main trailer)