Overall, this was a very stylish premiere. The writer is very aware of the pop-culture of espionage they are drawing from. There were so many smart, hilarious nods to espionage, like the “Spy-Wars” anime riffing on James Bond, Twilight’s totally not innocuous last name “Forger”, and newspaper code ciphers. I love the 1960’s Cold War-inspired setting-an echo of the Man from U.N.C.L.E., James Bond, and other mid-century spy classics. The acting for little girls in anime can sometimes be cringey, but Tanezaki Atsumi is spot on with the naïve, harebrained Anya. The classy, jazzy music was also spot on for the setting.
In the middle of information wars between Ostania and Westalia, Westalia’s top spy, Twilight (Eguchi Takuya), is tasked with Operation Strix (Strix actually refers to an owl) to spy on politician Donovan Desmond, a linchpin to stability between the two nations. Unlike previous missions, he can’t do this one solo- immediately needing a wife and child to break into Desmond’s restricted social circle. He finds the child first, training orphan Anya to pass the entrance exams for Desmond’s son’s school.
On the surface, Twilight he comes off as disinterested. His emotionless break-up with the politician’s daughter and the plan to use, then discard the orphaned Anya certainly leave the impression of a hard-hearted man. That goes with the territory of espionage-it would be unusual to have a spy who valued emotional attachment more than survival. He would quickly become a dead spy. I’m sure as the talented man of 100 faces, who he is has been forgotten or buried along the way of adopting so many different personas. You can copy someone’s voice and appearance or project what someone else wants to see without touching the essence of the human spirit. What makes Loid Forger intriguing is that he does care deep down and surprisingly goes so far as to attempt to remove Anya from the mission for her own safety.
I find it hilarious that a spy has to play a family man-the two don’t really mesh. No matter how talented a master of disguise he is, it will be near impossible for Twilight to successfully lead this double life. It’s exhausting putting on an act 24/7 when your mission is waiting at home. If a child senses it’s an act, they will lose trust and respect for that adult, throwing the mission out the window. Likewise, if he learns to care for the child, emotional attachment will get in the way of his mission-perhaps eventually clouding his judgement. Part of the appeal of the manga for me is seeing how he navigates this double life and the growth that comes out of it, which I am looking forward to seeing how the anime adapts this. Already, we can see the tension between the cold logic he applies as a spy and the warmth as he and Anya learn to work with each other.
The logical Twilight has met his match with the illogical mind of a child. Children don’t always make sense and are certainly not predictable. Which is a huge challenge for a spy like Twilight who survives by logically analyzing an opponent. Twilight clearly doesn’t know the first thing about how to deal with a child-he barricades her in his apartment, which his informant Franky (Yoshino Hiroyuki) points out is obviously something you just can’t do.
It’s a lucky thing his adopted charge just so happens to be a mind-reader. Even if Twilight can’t understand the workings of a child’s mind, at least Anya can read his and act accordingly. I find it ironic that Twilight spends his life reading people to give them the version of himself that they want and Anya is doing the exact same thing to him through mind-reading, but in an innocent, child-like way. Like Franky commented, they are indeed a father-daughter pair, even if they don’t realize it.
While caring for a child may be a living hell for Twilight, for Anya, Twilight’s mission is a living paradise. I enjoyed how they take common behaviors for a child (like wanting something on TV), but ensconce it in a life or death situation. Like when Anya asks Twilight for the silencer gun she sees on “Spy-Wars”, only to meet such a “toy” face to face after being kidnapped. She clearly didn’t understand that spying is dangerous (and who can blame her, being a typical child in that respect). Hopefully she learned her lesson and leaves Daddy’s spy gear alone from here on out.
I find it odd that Twilight didn’t question how the toughies found his apartment or why the lock to his room was opened without a struggle. That’s typical of the manga though, where reason gets stretched thin in parts, but in such minor ways that (at least for me) it doesn’t detract from the story. The beauty of Spy X Family is to enjoy it and not sweat the small details! If you are a fan of edge of your seat drama, heartwarming comedies, and/or espionage, definitely make time for Spy x Family in your weekly schedule!
ED: 「喜劇」 (Kigeki) by (Hoshino Gen)