MANGA REVIEW | "Spy × Family" - Volume Two
Sometimes the perfect family doesn’t form naturally. It can be a tactical thing, where the precise sorts of people can come together and mesh into the vision of happiness and bonding. The Forger Family is a prime example of a perfect family that’s built by chance rather than by natural growth. A master of disguise, an assassin, and a telepath make up this father/mother/daughter trio, giving way to the sheer brilliance that is Tatsuya Endo’s Spy × Family.
In the second volume, Twilight’s plan to take out his target grows challenging. Anya struggles to befriend Donovan Desmond’s son, while at the same time dealing with the hard work that comes with going to a prestigious school. Yor attempts to become a better mother for Anya, which includes facing off against certain kidnappers. But a greater challenge arrives at their doorstep, in the form of Yor’s brother Yuri (who is also a member of the Secret Police).
The anxiety of starting a new school not only is presented well with Anya’s experience, but also Twilight’s stress level over what his assassination plan needs to have happen to be accomplished. Either become an Imperial Scholar to get close to Desmond’s older son, or befriend the younger son and initiate a play date of sorts to bring the two families closer. As hard as she may try, Anya doesn’t have either the brains nor the patience to get either plan to come to fruition. Her special telekinetic powers make it all the more difficult, leading her to be riddled with panic over her predicament.
That’s when Twilight takes fatherhood into second gear, delivering a shocking heartfelt form of fatherly pride in order to ease Anya. He may be faking it — and Anya knows this — but the effort put in makes her feel slightly better. Whether it’s a simple form of coddling or via playing a game of pretend that involves renting out a freaking castle(!), Twilight puts in more energy being a good dad than any past mission ever has. It’s not only funny, but it’s also adorable!
As for Yor, she shines through when presenting an abundance of motherly love. Although her internal monologuing may scare Anya at times, how she nurtures her demonstrates how she is the better half in the relationship. Of course, it’s when she switches to assassin mode to protect Anya when she’s showcased in the best light. Needless to say, certain punks learn very quickly why they should never mess with a mother and their love for their child!
With the introduction of Yuri, Spy × Family presents possibly the first true threat to Twilight’s mission. Readers quickly will learn that — like Yor — he has two different personalities. In one instance, he’s caring and endearing, praising Yuri whenever he has the chance; on the clock, he’s an instigative monster, with skills that’ll make the toughest individuals cry uncle. One wonders how he and Twilight will interact (which we’ll see in the third volume), but odds are, it could get pretty tense.
It’s in Volume Two where Endo’s art style shines, especially when it comes to character expressions. The buildings and surroundings look great, but nothing can light a candle to the multitude of faces Anya makes throughout here! Her eye-popping shocked face, her sobbing face, and — perhaps the best of the bunch — her forced smile towards the Desmond child are hard not to laugh out loud at whenever it graces a page. (Note to VIZ: put her smug smile on a t-shirt! I know a guy.)
Spy × Family could’ve easily gone down the same paths as many of those Hollywood comedies about secret agents protecting kids. Fortunately, there’s enough uniqueness showcased here in its second volume. Borrowing from past comedies would not only be unnecessary, but it would dilute the flavor Endo has crafted with his story & characters. Not only is Spy × Family a smart dark comedy, but it’s also a heartfelt one that fans of strange family scenarios will no doubt eat it up like an omelet with the word “Sorry” written on top.
Promotional consideration provided by Gabrielle Dyer of VIZ Media