Title: Spy x Family volume 1
Author: Tatsuya Endo
Release Date: Action-Comedy
Publisher: VIZ Media
Spy x Family is an action-comedy that has completely stolen my heart. Originally published on March 25, 2019, in the digital magazine Shonen Jump+, the bi-monthly series has become one of Jump‘s most popular new series.
Though I typically try and keep up with new Shonen Jump series as they release, I hadn’t given Spy x Family a read until I picked up volume 1, which was released on June 2, and, boy, I sure am glad I did.
Spy x Family takes place in the fictional country of Ostania. Currently, Ostania is in an uneasy time of peace with their neighboring country, Westalis, leading to a massive amount of spying between the two nations. However, Ostania’s top spy, Twilight, is accustomed to the high-intensity lifestyle that comes with being a spy.
When Twilight is given the task of spying on the leader of a terrorist organization, he assumes everything will be business as usual. That is until he is informed that he must form a fake family to get close to the terrorist.
While the “one family member has a secret ability they must hide from the rest of the family” trope may seem overdone, Spy x Family takes it to a whole new level. Through complete happenstance, Twilight’s fake daughter, Anya, is a secret telepath, and his fake wife, Yor, is a secret assassin.
The bulk of the series’ comedy comes from the family trying to complete different objectives, all while hiding their respective secrets from each other. The results are absolutely hilarious, all thanks to the stellar art and writing of Tatsuya Endo.
In just five chapters, Endo has managed to create a world that feels real and lived in. While Ostania may just be a parody of Germany/Eastern Europe, I still feel like I have a pretty good grasp on it and how it works. The political drama might not be my favorite, but as long as things keep up the way they are in the first volume, I can’t wait to see where the feud between Ostania and Westalis goes.
All of the characters in Spy x Family feel more nuanced and thought out than simple stereotypes. While the family may seem full of tropes at first glance, Twilight, Anya, and Yor are proving to all be deep, interesting characters. Watching their growth from a cold group only trying to use one another for their own benefit to a fledgling family at the end of chapter 5 was genuinely heartwarming. The fact I’ve become so invested in the main cast after a mere 200 or so pages is awe-inspiring.
World-building and characters aside, Spy x Family is at its core a comedy series. Luckily, I laughed out loud at least three times during every chapter, thanks again to Endo’s stellar comedic writing and fantastic art. While interactions between characters are funny enough in themselves, the series’ art makes so many moments ten times more hilarious. Anya, in particular, has some of the best facial expressions I’ve ever seen in a manga (and is, without a doubt, the best character in the series so far).
After reading the first volume, I think Spy x Family might just be the best thing running under the Shonen Jump banner right now. In the first five chapters of the series, I can say with certainty that the series’ art, writing, and characters are some of the best I’ve seen in recent years. If Endo can keep up the magic that he created in Spy x Family‘s first volume, this might just become one of the best series of the decade.
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