Which is more dangerous: attempting to assassinate a world leader while keeping your tracks covered, or trying to raise a family? When you’re a spy, you know what sorts of dangers you may come across in the line of fire. But raising children can be like an atomic bomb that drops on your head without warning. Author Tatsuya Endo seems to grasp this fact quite well, in his new series (and first to be published in English) that brings a new meaning to the term “family comedy”: Spy × Family.

Only known by his code name, Twilight is one of the top secret agents in the world. But his career takes an unexpected turn when tasked with a new mission: taking down the leader of a threatening Party. However, he must do so by infiltrating an elite grade school where the target’s son attends. To achieve this, Twilight must marry and have a kid. Did I happen to mention that he must achieve the family part in seven day’s time?

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After taking up an alias as psychiatrist Loid Forger, Twilight visits an orphanage and picks a smart girl named Anya. When he finds that a mother must attend the school’s interview meeting, he has a chance meeting with a cute single woman named Yor, and the two wed after a very interesting first date. Unbeknownst to Twilight, the two new people in his life have their own secrets, with Anya being a mind reader and Yor an assassin-for-hire. With everything on the line, Twilight aims to create the perfect family facade for the sake of the mission.

It’s easy to see a lot of Luc Besson-like influence Endo had when creating the story. There’s this vibe that glows through Spy × Family that gives off a level of both cuteness and badassery on every page. On one hand, Twilight winds up being an unexpectedly doting dad. And yet, Anya and Yor become quite the allies to have in his corner regarding his mission. All of this brings together a level of excitement, where you have no idea if a cover will be blown or what sort of trick these three might pull to bring them closer to their goal.

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Anya is the stitch that brings Twilight and Yor towards a strong family outlook, thanks in part to her mental skills. Because she knows what’s really going on, she has a keen idea on how to behave, how to adapt to a situation, and even lend an unexpected hand. These three key understandings come into play when she, Twilight, and Yor witness an elderly woman being robbed. To Twilight, it’s a cute coincidence that she points out the culprit; to Anya, it’s a cunning ploy to get his attention.

Where Spy × Family shows its brains and funny bone best is during the first part of the school’s entrance exams. Literally every scenario that would cause a failure grade to be given is thrown at the newfound family. With a keen level of elegance and cool factors, the three attempt to pass every hurdle with perfection. Using their skills as such, it leads the faux fam to not only shine brighter than the other candidates, but it hilariously moves the head examiner to tears.

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This mixture of family comedy and spy action manga makes for a killer combo, bringing together a tale that I’ve never really be seen done in such a fashion. I want to say that I’ve seen a story like this being told before, but in all honesty I cannot think of a single one that handles it so well! Endo’s art style plays a key role in its appeal, too, with its fantastic attention to detail in Twilight & Yor’s combat scenes and the adorableness of Anya’s moments. (Kudos for some of the hidden jokes the author placed in the background, which I don’t wanna spoil here so readers can have their own “A-ha!” moment.)

Spy × Family is like the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup of manga storytelling: two totally different kinds of genres meshing together to create the perfect brain candy. It knows when to excite, it knows when to be sweet, and it knows to give its audience what it wants, and then some. While the Forger Family may be a family forgery, one cannot deny the good-natured and wonderful bonding moments this series creates, even if it’s at the cost of the lives of some really bad men. If there’s one new series that every lover of manga, comics, and spy thrillers should put in their bullseye, it’s Spy × Family!

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FINAL GRADE:

Promotional consideration provided by Gabrielle Dyer of VIZ Media

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