Hiding one’s identity using an alias, a made-up family, is a commonplace trade secret in the world of espionage. In order to infiltrate and extract confidential information, more often than not, spies have to live a dual life by creating a persona, an entire world of their own, to deceive the public. But even this well-known backdrop, tinged with supernatural elements, intelligent comedic flair, subtle commentary on social expectations, and usual Shounen zaniness, can create a unique and memorable narrative, as shown through Mangaka Tetsuo Endo’s seminal work Spy x Family. It is of little surprise the immense popularity of the manga has been followed by similar appreciation in the anime adaptations of the series as well.
With equal parts action, thrill, humor, and heart, Spy x Family veers more towards the slice-of-life genre of manga than traditional shounen ventures. Revolving around the unlikely family members consisting of protagonist trio Twilight, Yor, and Anya, Spy x Family finds its strength in a non-conventional approach towards the subject material, self-awareness characterized with mild satire and a strong sense of optimism. With the second season of the anime already on schedule to be released, let’s take a look back at the first season and briefly discuss everything that has happened so far.
Who Is Agent Twilight? What Do We Know About Anya?
The series in centered on the conflict between two fictional rival nations, Westalis and Ostania, which are forever engaged in a cold war situation after years of vicious warfare. The nations seem to be allusions to the real-world East and West Germany, with their cultural and political differences being the signifiers of their similarity with their real-world counterparts.
As the series begins, the topmost intelligence agency of Westalis, known as WISE, picks their best spy, master of disguise, Agent Twilight, for a long-term mission known as Operation Strix. According to his assignment, Twilight needs to live in Ostania with a new identity, raise a family of his own, earn trust, and extract information from Donovan Desmond, a top bureaucrat in the nation. The mission is of significant importance, as world peace depends on it. Twilight adopts the personality of a psychiatrist, Dr. Loid Forger, and starts living in the prime area of his mission, Berlint, the capital of Ostania. His chief associates are Franky, the informant and tech supplier, and Sylvia, the handler.
As the first step in creating his made-up family, Twilight goes to a rundown orphanage (to avoid suspicion) and adopts a six-year-old child named Anya. Unbeknownst to him, Anya has telepathic powers, as she can read the minds of people and animals—an ability she developed after being experimented upon by scientists since childhood. Anya is overjoyed after being accepted into a family, but quickly learns about Twilight’s real occupation by reading his mind, as well as the fact that the success of the mission is imperative for her to continue living with the family she has become a part of. The child tries to help her adoptive father by going out of her way and inadvertently faces a perilous situation from which Twilight rescues her. As Twilight starts having second thoughts about involving a child in the treacherous world of espionage, tears roll off little Anya’s eyes, which reminds him of his own sordid past. Twilight had lost everything dear to him at a young age, as he was the lone survivor in his province of Westalis, which was ravaged by war with Ostania. Remembering the pledge he made while taking up the profession of espionage, i.e., to make the world a better place where children wouldn’t have to suffer like he had to, Twilight accepts Anya wholeheartedly as his daughter.
Who Is Yor Brior?
As a part of Operation Strix, Twilight needs to enroll Anya in the most prestigious educational institution in Ostania, Eden Academy, where Donovan’s younger son, Damian, is also getting admitted in the elementary section. A social gathering, or similar opportunities, will allow Twilight to come across Donovan in the process and extract necessary information that can be used to stop the possibility of warfare between the two nations. Anya succeeds in the written test and qualifies for the interview round, which requires both parents of a child to be present. This leads to Twilight searching for a suitable candidate to be his made-up wife and Anya’s mother, whom he finds in Yor Brior, as they both stumble across each other in a tailoring shop.
Maintaining her public appearance as a worker in City Hall, in reality, Yor Brior is an extremely proficient assassin, and later we learn she has been involved in this profession since a very young age after being compelled by a situation. After getting orphaned at a young age, the only way Yor could financially support her brother’s upbringing was by taking contracts to eliminate targets. This led to an absolute lack of social life, isolation and self-reproach. Adding to that the leg-pulling of her co-workers about the absence of any romantic interest and her overbearing young brother’s concerns about that, Yor feels pressurized about finding a suitable partner, irrespective of any romantic angle involved. Also, the fact remains that the rather autocratic regime of Ostania, which has always been on the lookout for spies, is suspecting single people with no major family background, and finding a partner has thus become a survival necessity for Yor as well. Therefore, meeting Twilight all of a sudden and being requested by him to be his wife almost becomes a wish fulfillment moment for Yor, and she quickly forms a motherly bond with Anya as well. However, none of the family members reveal their secret to each other; thereby, despite being in relations based on lies, they perfectly complement and take care of each other and gradually move beyond their personal motivation to function as a perfect family.
Who Are The Other Members Of The Family?
Little Anya knows all the secrets of her parents and gradually forms a strong emotional connection with them as well. After getting admitted into Eden Academy thanks to some amazing pre-planning and last-minute saves by Twilight, she learns the objective of getting close to Donovan can be achieved in particularly two ways. Earning Stella stars by excelling in various academic and co-curriculum activities, which will make her an imperial scholar, will make her eligible to attend a social gathering with Twilight, where Donovan will be present as well. Or a straightforward approach of befriending her classmate Damian, Donovan’s young son, which might allow her access to the Desmond household and, in turn, make space for Twilight’s acquaintance with Donovan. Anya tries her hardest, but unfortunately, she mostly fumbles in both of these situations. In her defense, her experience at the hands of cruel scientists at a young age led her to be in a state of detachment from studies.
Yor informs her overbearing brother Yuri about her marriage, and as he arrives to meet with her new family, he gets off on the wrong foot when he’s introduced to Twilight. Unbeknownst to his sister, Yuri works in the Ostania secret police and is not adverse to taking extreme measures to eradicate Westalis intelligence. The prime target of Yuri and the entire Ostania counterintelligence group is Agent Midnight. However, despite being face-to-face with his target, Yuri is unable to discern his true identity. On the other hand, Midnight skillfully deduces Yuri’s but chooses not to reveal it to anybody except Franky.
Through the course of the series, another new member, a large white dog, joins Anya’s family, and keeping in sync with all the family members having troublesome pasts, the new four-legged friend arrives with some burden of his own. It is revealed that the dog was subjected to cruel experiments from a young age and was later tortured by a group of terrorists to become a bomber. Anya comes across him accidentally, and the two instantly take a liking to each other. Like Anya, the dog also has some sort of psychic, especially precognitive powers. Later, the dog risks its life to save Anya, and along with her, foils a bombing plan by the terrorists, which not only saves Twilight’s life but also leads to averting an impending war between the nations. Anya welcomes him into their family and names him Bond, taken from her favorite detective anime character, the Bondman.
What Can Be Expected From The Second Season?
The later part of the series focuses on Yor’s feeling of insecurity, as despite always being there for Anya and helping the family in every way she can, she can’t help but feel ineffective. Adding to that, one of Twilight’s apprentices, Nightfall, aka Fiona, enters the scene. She is madly in love with her mentor and wants to usurp the position Yor holds in the family. At the end, her self-reproach is somewhat dissuaded when Twilight wholeheartedly acknowledges her importance to the Forger family. The first season ends as Twilight manages to strike up a conversation with Donovan at Eden Academy and learns about the estranged relationship between him and his son Damian.
The Forger family brings about a unique perspective through the way they are represented in the series. On one hand, they are not involved with each other in a strictly familial relationship, except Anya, who truly considers Twilight and Yor to be her parents. They are hiding their secrets, playing their respective parts, as being in a family is beneficial to each of their motives, and to keep the family in its best state, they are willing to change themselves, learn to better adapt to conditions, empathize with each other, share their emotional burden, and support each other—something even the most ‘functional’ families can’t always manage to do. Twilight knows that, as a spy, he isn’t allowed to have emotional connections, and the family he has created has to scatter away soon as he completes his mission, but at the same time, his cold, calculative brain is unable to hold on to his emotions, which his apprentice, Nightfall, secretly notices. The second season of the series will once again focus on Twilight’s mission at hand—retrieving sensitive information from Donovan to avert a crisis—but what viewers will be really interested in is learning how the family dynamics between the trio grow. All the members of the Forger family, including Bond, have overcome a phase when they were mentally and emotionally broken and have found solace in each other’s presence. The major focus of the viewers will be seeing the loving co-existence they call a family continue to flourish in its own way.