MANGA REVIEW | "Mission: Yozakura Family" - Vols. 1 & 2
If a premise begets a hit, then surely an army of imitators will show up sooner or later. With the popularity of Spy × Family, it seemed like everyone wanted to try to copy their formula. Sakamoto Days has done this with a hint of John Wick’s recipe, while P.A. Works’s upcoming anime Buddy Daddies goes the My Two Dads route. For Mission: Yozakura Family, author Hitsuji Gondaira mixes together a bigger quantity via a large cast with their own set of quirks. But is there enough originality in it to make for an entertaining read?
Mission: Yozakura Family starts out with Taiyo Asano, whose family dies tragically in a car accident. His only friend and comfort in life is Mutsumi Yozakura, whose private life she keeps to herself. That is, until her brother Kyoichiro tries to have Taiyo murdered at school. Thankfully, the rest of the Yozakura clan saves Taiyo, but warns that Kyoichiro has painted a target on his back. There’s only one way out from being killed: have Taiyo marry Mutsumi, and become one with the family.
However, simply sliding wedding bands on these two kids’ fingers won’t stop the bloodshed; it only escalates it! As Mutsumi is the tenth head of the family, everyone is gunning to kill or kidnap her. Alas, she has no supercool spy skills like the rest of her family, meaning that she’s a much easier hit than the rest. Upon hearing this, Taiyo swears to train to be a top-tier spy, so as to protect Mutsumi with his life.
The first two volumes of Mission: Yozakura Family sets Taiyo up with his brand-new life. On top of going on a mission or two, much of these sixteen chapters has Taiyo training with the rest of the family. And despite wanting to just get rid of him and keep his sister to himself, even Kyoichiro lends a hand in training the kid. But if an opportunity arises, the older brother will have no problem teaching a different kind of lesson to Taiyo to satisfy his anger.
Even though Taiyo learns to be a good spy early on, it’s a long road towards becoming first-class. Learning to tolerate poisons, sleep with one eye open, hack nuclear weapons, and survive massive explosions is only the tip of the iceberg that’s floating toward’s Taiyo’s current predicament. It gets even tougher when Mutsumi is kidnapped by a deadly botanist, resulting in Taiyo and Kyoichiro working together to save her. Although his emotions tend to keep Taiyo from flawlessly completing missions, his tactics do find a way to discover new solutions.
It’s this aspect that makes Mission: Yozakura Family a fun read. Even though other manga have gone down this route a few times before, there’s something about Taiyo that makes him a unique protagonist. This is a kid who lost everything at a young age, only to regain that loss in a way he could never imagine it. While nothing will ever replace his real family, the Yozakuras are finding ways to mend his wounded heart one stitch at a time.
But it’s not just his heart that’s in need of stitches. In the span of a few chapters, Taiyo experiences every sort of cut and burn one can experience. While he’s yet to break a bone (unless you count dislocating a shoulder to climb through a small air shaft), the insurmountable amount of pain this kid goes through in a small period of time is both funny and horrifying. Considering he’s doing this for Mutsumi, a person he truly cares for, every scar that Taiyo gets is worth it if it means it’ll make her safer.
Thankfully, Mission: Yozakura Family never rests on its laurels, especially during the missions. Gondaira’s art style showcase these objectives, explosions, and one-on-one fights with beautiful detail. Even when things look to be happening in a split-second motion, the attention to both bodily harm and a character’s facial expression is never half-assed. Not only does this manga tell a good story, but it looks good while doing so.
Volumes One & Two of Mission: Yozakura Family set up the basics of the narrative well. Although there are some slow parts to the premiere volume, the second one amplifies the excitement to a better degree. There’s no telling if Mission: Yozakura Family will dethrone the likes of Spy × Family or Sakamoto Days in the long run. With that being said, this manga makes for good company with the other big Shonen Jump comedy thrillers.
VOL. 1 RATING:
VOL. 2 RATING:
Promotional consideration provided by Chantelle Sturt of VIZ Media