Spy x Family, Vol. 1

By Tatsuya Endo. Released in Japan by Shueisha, serialization ongoing in the magazine Shonen Jump+. Released in North America by Viz Media. Translated by Casey Loe.

I have technically reviewed this before. Back when Spy x Family was a brand new manga on the Mangaplus app, I was so taken with it that I did a review of the first four chapters even though it hadn’t even been collected into volumes in Japan. Since then it’s gotten up to four volumes there, been picked up by the Shonen Jump app, gotten ludicrously popular (though rumors of an anime coming soon are likely merely rumors), and now we have the first volume from Viz. Is it worth a reread if you’ve already seen it on the app? Of course. This is a manga that rewards rereads. It’s also the perfect combination of funny and heartwarming, and the Spy and the Family in its title are in almost perfect balance. It also features three leads who can each play the clueless one when the plot allows (yes, even Loid). And of course it’s a found family manga, showing off that when you have people you care about, it can be hard to see them as just pawns for your mission.

Spy x Family takes place in not-Cold War Germany, with tensions brewing between thinly renamed versions of East and West Berlin. Agent Twilight is a master spy, good at almost everything, who is now forced to have a wife and child so that he can infiltrate an exclusive private academy. Going by the name Loid Forger (why not Lloyd? I dunno. Why not Gerald instead of Jellal/Geord?), he goes to an orphanage to adopt Anya, a girl who seems brilliant to him, but it turns out she’s a telepath who just reads his mind to get the right answers. She really wants out of the orphanage, and things Loid is cool. As for a wife, he meets Yor, an office lady who is over 25 yet has no husband, suspicious in this cold war environment. She and Loid both agree to have a sham marriage to prop each other up. Oh yes, she’s also an assassin for the other side. Neither Loid nor Yor know each other’s secrets. Anya knows both, but she thinks it’s really cool, so it’s fine.

This manga is funny. It’s filled with great lines from everyone. Loid’s over-seriousness is mined for comedy. Anya’s childishness and ability to read minds is mined for comedy. Yor is perhaps the best at it, as despite being a lethal assassin, she’s also an airhead of the finest kind. I’d happily read this if it were just broad comedy. But the other reason everyone loves it is the gradual love and affection the family develops for each other, particularly on Loid’s end. The entire reason for him doing this was to infiltrate the school (which they do, in a ludicrous chapter that involves a child stuck in mud, a stampede of wild animals through the campus, and THREE different outfits for everyone “just in case”), and yet when they get there and one of the interviewers starts to humiliate Anya and Yor, Loid snaps and almost hits him, then walks out. His family became (even briefly) more important than the mission. It’s fantastic.

There’s a joke that says that the author came up with the idea of this manga by reading the most popular AO3 tags and mushing them together. It does feel like that at times. But like the best found family/enemies to lovers fanfics, it also has a strong plot, and it’s a lot of fun. I can’t wait for the next volume, even if I have read it before on the Shonen Jump app. It’s just that good.

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