Spy x Family has the perfect narrative device (and meme queen) in Anya

Tatsuya Endo’s Anime Adaptation Spy x Family started the season strong, demonstrating both the ability to utilize the talents of the production staff and a willingness to play with and expand on the source material without losing its mind. It’s a joy to watch on many levels, from the slick choreographed action to the really sweet domestic drama and even just the swinging big band numbers from (K)now_Name’s score (especially the hilarious parody of his own theme that uses recorders to string the strings). section to be replaced).

Also the pilot episode very clearly laid out a recurring theme for the season – which, for all the weirdness of the show, much of its emotional lineage lies in Loid’s early discovery that parenting is difficult and requires more vulnerability than he’s used to. The show continued to delve into Loid’s insecurities throughout the season, as his save-the-world mission slipped more and more into (somewhat) regular parental anguish as he fluttered about his daughter’s bad grades and more, keeping her happy and the image of a good parent.

Not long after, in Spy x FamilyIn the second installment of the series, his alleged family unit was completed by the arrival of the assassin Yor (aka “The Thorn Princess”), a delightful combination of truly terrifying lethality and something of a klutz, who slurps wine by the bottle. and breaks heels in the middle of a drunken brawl, often failing to see her own wicked power, not to mention hilariously daydreaming about solving minor problems through murder. It’s funny that Yor Loid’s often bizarre support only emphasizes it even more, though her displays of inhuman strength barely raise an eyebrow. The one-line sale of the show — in my mind, anyway — is that it’s a comedy that riffs on the mix of espionage and domestic drama of works like The Americans and Mr and Mrs Smith, where a spy and a hit man create a fake home life together while hiding their identities from each other. The key to making the story work, however, is not just the tension of the parents’ mutual cheating, but that of their adopted child Anya.

Yor, Anya and Loid dance together in a different animation style

Image: White Studio/ClverWorks

Some of the best comedies centered around Anya, who is secretly a telepath and the only person fully aware of the progression of the series, comes purely from her reactions; the show’s craziest expressions are reserved for her. Anya’s attempts to intervene are not only adorable, but often lead to a wonderful comedy of errors and other absurd moments in the context of her extraordinarily chic private school, an analogue of the world’s Eton Colleges with the sole purpose of producing of a new generation of the elite.

One of the show’s most straightforward delights can be found in the creative translations of Endo’s visual style, comedic timing, and ridiculous expressions in motion, paired with excellent voice work, such as in a meeting between Anya and her target Damian and his sycophantic cronies. . Her efforts to defuse hostilities end in the most memed still of the season† Or, better yet, a dodgeball streak with a 6-year-old with the construction of a JoJo main character, his absurd stature is a delightful exaggeration of what it feels like to play sports against kids who had that growth spurt just a little earlier than everyone else. The anime doubles down on the manga’s absurdity through its voice casting, as well as its emphatic, maximalist animation and fun, frivolous reference jokes.

Beyond such ridiculousness and Anya is a gold mine for reaction imagesWith a character familiar with the same dramatic ironies and crucial information as the audience, the show gives a sense of momentum even in the quieter episodes. Three people and everyone they meet, all keeping secrets from each other, is a difficult premise to maintain without a lot of internal monologues, even with strong and slick visual storytelling. But Spy x Family – also the comic – avoids being didactic or clumsy simply by how it uses Anya. Any idle thought becomes potential for the plot to somehow derail, or for the young girl to take aggressive, comical action to help Loid achieve the objectives of his “Operation Strix.”

Part of the fun of Arya is that she can act on the same information as the public, often quietly maneuvering her parents to do something cool, while usually having fun just as gleefully as we do. Such access to the inner life of people is no different than The Disastrous Life of Saiki K, with a central character (who prefers to mind his own business) also telepathically. But the main difference here is that Anya is a toddler and incapable of using this knowledge with any kind of skill (or sometimes even genuine understanding).

Anya looks startled at spy tools scattered in her father's room

Image: White Studio/ClverWorks

Anya is arguably one of the best audience surrogates in recent memory, as Endo’s story (and by extension, the show’s) is able to maintain dramatic tension and the potential for farce simply by the fact that Anya is a very young child. Knowing things does not necessarily mean the ability to act upon, or even understand, that knowledge. Like the viewer, Anya sees the characters’ innermost thoughts and the arc through which the events of the episode should unfold – only, in her efforts to anticipate this, she often lets things get a little out of hand.

There’s a nice tension between Anya being the most knowledgeable character and also the most clumsy, especially in an environment where intelligence is power. It’s also just really funny to see her, a 4 or 5 year old (her age has not been confirmed as of yet, but she is younger than her classmates), trying to effect change on the world stage by participating knowingly to her adoptive father’s spy mission. Sometimes this just manifests itself in funny incidents of copied language from her peers or her parents, sometimes it results in actual heroism; the penultimate episode of the first half of season sees her save a pear from drowning. At least she’s got good instincts, honed well enough by the end of the season that she’s somewhat skilled at making things her way. During a trip to an aquarium, she quietly aids Loid on a mission she knows will be parallel to their journey, pretending she’s been kidnapped by his target to provoke a comically violent intervention from Yor.

While in that regard Anya’s telepathy has become a benefit to her and those around her, the series’ writers rightly view it as a crutch, a way for her to avoid working. She has no natural aptitude for anything in particular, she is used to answering and copying the language of everyone around her. Add to that the short attention span of a child her age and the constant influx of information, and things unfold just as they would with a 5-year-old derailing mindsets and mixing up different goals. the kids inside Spy x Family don’t always talk like kids as this is a comedy so it’s striking when the show leans into Anya’s most childlike qualities in that way.

Yor and Loid smile and make heart hands

Image: White Studio/ClverWorks

By extension, Anya’s telepathy sometimes just feels like an allegory for children’s uncanny emotional sensitivity. In the ninth episode, “Show Me How in Love You Are,” Loid relays one of Anya’s observations as such. But she has much more insight into the ridiculous, hilarious fantasies of her adoptive parents, as even the most normal parent-child conversations can lead to fantastical thoughts, such as Yor imagining a handbag dog wielding a combat knife against her child. It also works on this level with her peers, wealthy snobs who make fun of Anya’s (fake) upbringing. Her knowledge doesn’t always give her an advantage – sometimes it just instills fear, and that allows her to grow as a real character rather than just serving as a narrative device.

Because of her telepathy, Anya is the only person who knows (but may not fully understand) what is happening and its importance, and the role of her makeshift family in it. Watching her catalyze some kind of change in these people is also one of the show’s greatest charms. Anya may not be able to completely change the course of her parents’ workplace, but she can confront them with those buried feelings, in that awkward way of hers. Even in the episodes that take the focus away from her attempts to save the world on her father’s behalf, her observations drive the other characters to look inside. Her observations often provoke something in Loid and Yor that they aren’t sure if they can talk to someone else about, given the solitary nature of their profession and the need to focus solely on the mission. They hide their love for this quieter domesticity from their bosses, who require them to act only as weapons. By default, Anya is their closest, most sincere confidant.

It’s just one of the many layers of Spy x Family‘s delights – I didn’t even raise the family dog ​​named Bond – and the second half of this first season is sure to bring many more delights playing with what can become a typical outing when this family is involved, be it extreme tennis matches or doomed holiday cruises. When the new episodes arrive, we’ll be there with Anya, enjoying seeing both sides of these stories.

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