Spy X Family Season 1: Anime Review

Sometimes you get an anime series that is so tremendously charming that there’s basically nothing bad you can say about it except that you want more of that series. Spy X Family (which I verbally call “Spy Family”) fits that criteria.

Spy X Family follows Loid, code named Agent Twilight, who works in the intelligence service of the country of Westalis (not-West Germany), in a faux-Cold War. He is a master of disguise and all manner of other spy stuff, who is sent to the city of Berlint (as in Isn’t Berlin) in Ostania (which is Not East Germany, complete with the Not Stasi), with a mission to make contact with a reclusive member of the government with heavy influence in Ostania’s industry in general and their military-industrial complex in particular, in order to prevent a war.

And to do this he’s going to need to get a wife and child and get that child to become an honor student at the most prestigious school in the country. Cue a literal spit-take from Loid. Things get more absurd from there. Little does Loid (who has taken the slightly-on-the-nose surname of Forger) know that the girl he finds at an orphanage, Anya, is a psychic who is able to figure out that he’s a spy by reading his mind… and she thinks that’s the coolest thing ever. Also little does he know that the woman he approaches to be his wife (to be fair he tells her upfront that this is a cover identity to get his daughter into this school, and she’s okay with that), Yor, is secretly an assassin. However, Anya, being a psychic, also knows that Yor is an assassin, and she also thinks that’s the coolest thing ever… and she also sees no reason to let either of her parents know about their other secret, or about her own psychic abilities.

Both of these adoptive parents, while they don’t particularly feel anything romantically for each other (at least at the moment), do care about Anya and want the best for her. It’s like that meme from that one episode of Brooklyn 99 with the puppy, except if the people saying it were James Bond and Natasha Romanoff (or Yelena Belova), respectively.

This leads to a tremendous number of great comedic plots over the course of the show so far. Anya is not particularly book smart and is a very mischievous little gremlin (but not in any malicious respect), which leads to bits of hilarity like her (and Loid’s local informant Franky) getting Loid (and his spy agency) to rent out a castle used in an episode of her favorite Spy TV show for an adventure after she gets into Ostania’s Eden Academy. Pretty much every joke in this show just lands, and unlike Science Fell In Love, the jokes provide enough variation that I feel confident that I could binge this without getting tired of the comedy.

Then, on top of all of that, we also have some wonderfully done action sequences that have well done fight scenes, that are also kept just light enough to avoid tonal whiplash problems transitioning from between the jokes and the serious moments. Even the plot beats with Yor’s brother Yuri, who is in the Not-Stasi, are handled tremendously well, as it doesn’t downplay what the Stasi were, while still leading to plenty of comedic moments as Yor and Loid try to dupe Yuri.

My minor gripes with Spy X Family, and they are tremendously minor, that Yuri’s defining character trait, outside of being a member of the Not-Stasi, is that he’s a not just an overprotective younger sibling, he’s a sis-con. Just having him be the overprotective sibling (who also happens to work for the secret police) would have been enough for the joke, but that feels like overdoing it, and it takes up a not insignificant chunk of an episode.

Otherwise, this is a pretty much unreserved recommendation – not only was this one of the best shows in the Spring 2022 season, but it’s a solid contender for anime of the year. We’re getting a second cour of the series in October, so that gives plenty of time to get caught up for the second half of the season.

Spy X Family is currently available for streaming on Crunchyroll. The manga is available digitally through the Shonen Jump service and print versions are available through RightStuf, and Amazon (buying anything through those links supports the site).

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