Manga Talk: Spy X Family

Hello and welcome back to Manga Talk!

Today we are going over the manga that actually made me want to read and talk about manga again.

I read the first three chapters and I was hooked, and I didn’t want to start with it because I wanted to try some other manga before I got to this one.

Today we are talking about the first volume of Spy X Family and as usual there will be MASSIVE SPOILERS for it, so please read the first volume. Buckle up this is going to be a long one.

Let’s get started!

Synopsis

The story begins with a diplomat being killed in a car accident, however it is assumed that it was an assassination made by the east’s far right wing.

In order to get the information needed to prevent all out war, an agent is put on the case.

Their best agent, Twilight.

Twilight is off on a mission to recover some less than ideal photos from a less than savory individual and he manages to do so without getting caught.

He returns the photos to a fellow agent and receives a coded newspaper that holds his next assignment. His target is the leader of the National Unity Party, Donovan Desmond, who is a danger to any potential peace negotiations between the east and the west.

The best Twilight.

In order for Twilight to get close to Desmond, who has become a recluse as of late, is to attend the social events at Desmond’s son’s elite school. In order to do that, Twilight needs to have a family.

What’s worse is that he has a week to get everything sorted for the school’s admissions exam.

Twilight is not pleased about this, but being a professional he begins his assignment by buying a house and then looking for a child to adopt at rundown orphanage under the name Loid Forger.

He asks for a child that can read and write and he is introduced to Anya. While Loid thinks that Anya is too young and potentially not that bright, Anya says that she is the correct age and manages to solve a complicated crossword puzzle.

Anya is not all that she seems either, for she is a telepath and read Loid’s mind in order to get adopted. Not only that, but through her telepathy, she was able to learn that Loid was a spy.

Loid and Anya go around time trying to bond, but Loid is not necessarily the most ideal father and Anya’s façade of being a brilliant child also begins to slip.

As things go from bad to worse, Loid begins to contemplate if he would be able to accomplish his mission, so he gets some child rearing books in order to try and deal with Anya, which doesn’t seem to help.

After shaking Anya off, Loid heads to an informant named Franky to gather a copy of the admission exam and some details about Anya’s past life, though that information is rather scarce, saying that she been fostered out multiple times.

Meanwhile Anya, bored out of her mind, breaks into Loid’s spy gear and finds a radio. She messes with it, unintentionally calling out the individuals that Twilight got the photos from.

Loid returns home and is attacked, but he manages to knock his assailant unconscious. He checks the house and finds that Anya is missing, which means that she was kidnapped.

As Loid wonders what to do next, the assailant swings at Loid and we cut to the kidnappers as they try to figure out why Twilight had Anya in the first place.

The assailant brings in a head covered individual and as they are about to interrogate who they believe is Loid, they are shocked to see that it was the assailant under the bag. Loid takes Anya and runs, and as Anya cries about not wanting to go back to the orphanage, Loid remembers why he became a spy in the first place.

He became a spy in order make the world a better place where children don’t cry and suffer like he did as a child.

He tells Anya to run away, and Loid does what he does best.

Loid takes out the henchman and when he arrives at the leader, named Edgar, he threatens not only kill Edgar, but also threatens his daughter if they do not leave Loid alone.

Loid walks home and finds Anya, and she manages to appeal to Loid’s soft side and the two continue to live together, even if they do have to move from their current place.

Anya manages to pass the school’s admissions exam and things seem to be looking good, until another issue arises.

An interview with the school heads is next and the mother and father must both be in attendance.

The next mission for Loid is to find a wife, but that can wait as we shift gears to follow a woman named Yor. She works at city hall and there is plenty of gossip going around about a potential pervert in the office and how Yor is getting older, but still isn’t married.

Yor doesn’t really mind, but is coerced into accepting an invitation to a party and promising to bring a date.

Yor gets a call from her brother and the two talk for a bit when the conversation of her seeing someone comes up, and he says that he will have a friend take a look at the guy she’s bringing in order to make sure that the guy that Yor is involved with is actually a decent person.

As she panics she gets another phone call, but not from her brother. She gets a call from her “boss”, someone who goes by Shopkeeper, who has a client for her to meet, or rather for Thorn Princess to meet.

Yor turns out to be an assassin, an effective one at that when she kills a whole lot of people. However in doing so, she managed to rip her only nice dress, which means that she needs to take it to repairs.

Loid and Anya, meanwhile, also go out to get some nice clothes in order to fit in with high society and for Loid to figure out where he can find a wife on such short notice.

Yor manages to slip past Loid, which catches him off guard and Yor is caught off guard when Loid calls her pretty. Anya returns from getting measured and Yor has second thoughts about pursuing a married man, which starts leading her down a trail of murder thoughts.

Anya, reading Yor’s mind, manages to make a scene saying how much she misses her mother, and when Yor asks about it Loid says that his previous wife had died some time ago, which puts Yor’s mind at ease.

Yor asks Loid to attend the party with her and Loid asks in exchange if she could attend the family interview with him, to which the two agree to the other.

When Loid gets another coded cipher from a secondary mission, he realizes that he needs to accomplish the mission at the same evening that Yor’s party is.

Loid then recruits Franky in recovering valuable artifacts while Yor attends the party alone, thinking that Loid stood her up.

While the artifact job goes off with some interference, Loid manages to make it to the party with a bloody head and accidentally says that he and Yor are in fact married.

The host of the party, who this entire time has been trying to embarrass Yor, tries to do so with Loid present, but him and Yor manage to avoid any further conflict.

As the two leave, Loid apologizes for saying that the two were married and just before Yor says anything, some stragglers from the heist job managed to find Loid and Yor.

While the two are escaping, Yor asks if they can continue on with being married, partially for the sake of camouflaging in society for being an “older” woman who isn’t married, and so she can continue her contract killing in secret.

Loid accepts and instead of giving her a ring that he had prepared, they make due with a grenade pin.

Norman Rockwell eat your heart out!

Yor moves in with Loid and Anya, and they all begin working on how they are going to ace the interview.

As expected, things don’t go smoothly so Loid decides that a “family outing” would be the best way to get their story straight.

They try various high class activities like going to the opera, going to an art museum, going to a political rally, and eating at a high end restaurant. The results are mixed and Loid is not feeling confident about his mission.

The family goes outside to get some fresh air and while they enjoy their peace and quiet, a man takes an old lady’s purse from the street. Yor immediately jumps into action and just misses catching the crook, but she reassures the old lady that she will find the purse.

Loid and Anya are waiting and Anya, using her telepathy, manages to find the purse snatcher and under the guise of wanting cake, points Loid to the direction of the purse snatcher.

Loid easily dispatches the man and returns the purse to the old lady, who thanks all of them for helping her. This takes Loid by surprise, because he is a spy and usually never gets any thanks for the things he has done.

When the family returns home, they attempt another mock interview with better results and while not perfect, things do appear to be looking up for the family.

The Forger family then heads off to the interview and Loid is very much anxious about how everything will go.

When they arrive and see the wave of people at the school, Loid notices that everyone is being watched.

Not by some spies, but rather the staff of the school. The interviewing process has already begun, and Loid immediately makes sure that the family is working their best to look the part.

A man with a majestic mustache, later identified as Housemaster Henry Henderson, notices the Forger family and when he finds out that Anya only barely passed and Loid is on his second marriage, he goes out of his way to see if the Forger family is the real deal.

This includes saving a kid trapped in a gutter, them being prepared with extra clothes when they get messy, and dealing with the kid that was trapped (who is in on testing applicants because he needs the extra credit) in an elegant way.

Henderson is certain that Loid is putting up an act because of Anya’s low score and correlating that with children emulating their parents must mean that Anya’s poor score must mean that Loid and Yor are not good parents.

Suddenly farmyard animals that the school owns start stampeding the area and Loid believes that this is still part of the evaluation process. However, it turns out to be a legitimate crisis that the Forger family manage to deal with.

Loid rescues an endangered child, Yor hits the pressure points of the lead cow, and Anya seems to communicate with the lead cow that they should return to which the cow complies.

Henderson goes to the Forger family and admits that he has been bested and that they will move on to the actual interview.

The interview is intense, as the Forger family are interviewed by Henderson, a likeable teacher named Walter Evans, and an unlikeable teacher named Murdoch Swan who only has a job because of nepotism, and is an outright dick.

Murdoch starts grilling Loid and Yor for how unorthodox their family life is, berating Loid’s second marriage, Yor not cooking for the family and how he finds it odd that Yor married a man who already had a child.

When Anya is questioned by the adults, she screws up some of her answers but speaks very highly of Loid and Yor, saying that she wants to stay with them forever.

Murdoch, not liking the sentimentality asks if Anya prefers her old mother or her new mother, which causes Anya to start crying.

Murdoch relishes in this outcome, and Yor is prepared to kill him, right until Loid beats her to the punch by punching the solid wooden table in the room in half, covering it up by him saying he was killing a mosquito.

Loid gathers Yor and Anya and they begin to leave, saying that if this is the sort of treatment that they can expect at the school, then they aren’t interested in coming anymore.

This riles Murdoch up, and Henderson says that he went too far. Murdoch disagrees and says that while his father isn’t a headmaster anymore, he still has enough pull to do whatever he wants.

This pisses Henderson off and he punches Murdoch straight in the face, knocking Murdoch unconscious and saying to himself that he can face Loid with the pride of an Eden Academy educator.

The Forger family is down, thinking that they have bombed the interview. Anya blames herself saying that she does want to go to that school. In her mind she vocalizes that she wants to go to that school so that they can all stay together as a family.

Loid, annoyed at himself for letting emotions get the better of him and how a spy should only rely on themselves and expect the worst outcome.

He remembers Anya saying that she wants them to stay together forever and decides to relax, at least for a moment, and the family does celebrate the fact that they got as far as they did.

The volume ends with the family photo falling to the ground and the three looking at the fallen photograph ominously.

Mission Success

This manga is excellent.

To start off with the small stuff, the art is really well done, combining the serious moments of Loid doing his spy missions and Yor doing her assassination jobs with the silly moments of Anya reading people’s minds and her reacting to what they are thinking about.

The action is also really well done, my favorite action panel being the moment right before Loid punched the table.

It actually looked like Loid was going to punch Murdoch, and that was a fantastic moment of suspense for this manga.

It combines serious action and spy themes with a family slice of life in a way that blends almost seamlessly.

Loid as a character is very much a no nonsense kind of character, which fits in well with him being a spy, but the moments of him being vulnerable like when he saved Anya and during the interview, really show more about him.

He is a good spy, but his reason for being a spy is because he doesn’t want children to suffer like he did, and he reacts very strongly whenever Anya cries.

Loid’s deadpan humor and agreements to Anya’s ridiculous want of a silenced pistol and a castle really adds to the comedy.

While Yor, in my opinion, is the weakest of the trio, she still has plenty of things to like about her. Her having a fixation with death and murder is an interesting character choice, as well as the fact that she has a brother the we don’t see and a boss we don’t see.

This could be one and the same or a red herring, but that’s the intrigue that will keep a reader interested in future chapters.

Yor also gets along very well with Anya and Loid, fitting in with the wacky family dynamic perfectly. It also seems like she has some sense of justice, as she immediately went to help the old lady when her purse snatched and was determined to help.

Again, this leaves plenty of interest for what her character has in store in future manga, which is exciting.

Then of course we have the star of the manga, Anya. She is an interesting on the telepath trope, since usually you see telepaths being almost super geniuses who is detached with society.

Anya is three or four year old girl who can read minds, she isn’t an academic super genius and she is very much empathetic. She wants to have a family more than anything else, and she finds the fact that Loid is a spy and Yor an assassin amazing and she wants desperately to keep the family together.

It makes her reading other people’s minds interesting because she is a curious child. While it does lead to some hilarious scenarios and expressions, like how she reacted when she heard Yor think how she accidentally crushed two of her brother’s ribs by hugging him too hard.

Even the side characters of Franky and Henderson are amusing in their own right, Franky having to deal with some of Loid’s requests and Henderson’s obsession with elegance.

This especially goes with Murdoch, who is such a bastard that I was happy that he got punched in the face for how much of an asshole he was.

The story as a whole flows together so well, one event leading to another fluidly and cohesively that even when the story slows down it feels deliberate and necessary.

Mission Failed…?

Honestly my criticisms are minor in the grand scheme of things.

Like I mentioned earlier, Yor is in my opinion the weakest character, so far only showing a few defining character traits. That isn’t the worst thing because it leaves more for development down the line, and I’m actually kind of grasping for straws on things that I dislike.

I would say that the stampeding cows was an abrupt addition to provide stress during the interview. It was fairly unnecessary, but it didn’t last long enough for it to be too major of an issue.

That’s really all I have in terms of negatives, and I honestly was looking for anything, even minor, to have a complaint, but this is all I got.

In Conclusion

I would highly recommend this manga to everyone, especially if you like a variety of comedy, well drawn action, and a solid story filled with solid characters.

If it wasn’t apparent, I really like this manga and I am definitely going to be continuing this series. Out of all the series I have read so far, this is probably the strongest so far.

I really hope to continue the trend with the manga I’ll be talking about on Monday, but before that, tomorrow will be the first official Saturday Special, a series where I dive in on topics related to otaku culture.

In fact, it will be me talking about what an otaku is in the first place, which will be helpful down the line and hopefully an interesting read.

So until then,

Heiwa to sayonara!

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