anime

Spy x Family – Episode 3


Hello all, and welcome back to Wrong Every Time. Today we’ll be diving back into Spy x Family, where the dreaded family interview is nearly upon us. Having at last secured himself a wife, Loid now possesses all the prerequisites to begin his mission – that is, so long as this absurd performance of a family can fool the school board.

Spy x Family has more than demonstrated its chops in terms of both celebrating and skewering its tongue-in-cheek premise, seeming equally confident at both comedy and genuine spy-on-spy action. And with Yor now in the mix, I’m beginning to see how this admittedly farcical set of characters might evolve into a genuinely loving family. Though Loid and Yor’s mutual bafflement at normal human behavior is exaggerated, it comes from an understandable human place: both of them had the opportunity to live normal lives robbed from them, exist on the fringes of society as observers, and essentially only know how to play-act conventional human behavior. And with Anya also generally basing her behavior on the mind-read desires of those around him, it feels like the entire Forger family only knows how to “perform,” rather than to simply be.

Though they each entered into this agreement for pragmatic reasons, I can easily see this makeshift family becoming the first place where any of them are valued merely for being themselves, rather than for performing the behaviors necessary to get them close to their targets. As Loid himself acknowledged, Anya’s success on the exam was the first time he can remember genuinely relaxing, and actually letting his guard down around another human being. I’m eager to see them continue to change each other, but in the meantime, I’m plenty excited for more of Spy x Family’s hilarious, beautifully executed everyday drama. Let’s get to it!

Episode 3

With our premise now established, we open with a full summary of the scenario so far. This convoluted explanation only serves to reaffirm how impressive it is that Tatsuya Endo made all this seem somehow natural

“Everyone has a side they hide from others.” Of course, in this case, Loid and Yor have nothing but a side they hide from others. Loid was already relaxing his guard with Anya, so it’ll be interesting to see if the dynamic changes with Yor in the mix

Based on the opening song, it appears there’s one key character we’ve yet to be introduced to: a long-haired woman who also appears to be involved with Operation Strix

Yor’s arrival at the family home is conveyed with a strong sense of intimacy – lots of held close up shots of her and Loid, as well as shots that isolate them in the frame, which combine with the lack of music to create a sense of each of them being vulnerable and exposed

Considering how this episode is taking all this time to explain the show’s premise and characters, I’m curious if this was the manga’s original first chapter. The cutthroat, chapter-by-chapter reality of manga is that you have to sell your premise pretty much immediately or be replaced by a more accommodating manga, while the anime adaptation of an already-popular manga can afford to stretch its legs and introduce its dramatic variables at the pace that seems most appropriate

I love this convincingly childlike tour that Anya takes Yor on. Anya’s proud announcement of things like “that’s the tub and that’s the toilet” demonstrate Endo’s clear understanding of how young children actually think and speak. In spite of Anya’s psychic nature, in most other ways she is a more convincing child than many anime children, who frequently just speak like sized-down teenagers or adults

Yor actually seems to be better with kids than Loid, happily meeting Anya on her level and treating this tour with the utmost seriousness

“Am I a good girl?” “All you did was tip over a bucket of water.” Yep, that’s our Loid

Yor puts up a photo of her brother, which the camera very suspiciously refuses to reveal

“It’s actually my first time making cookies. I just followed a recipe from a cookbook, so I hope you like them.” It feels very appropriate for Loid’s character that he seems to enjoy cooking, a discipline where carefully following directions should naturally lead to pleasing and impressive results. Loid has no real selfhood to express at the moment, and seems most in his element when proving his proficiency in expertly carrying out his orders

All three of them are play-acting, but also seem genuinely thankful to be play-acting this particular warm scenario

During the interview, both parents and children will be judged on their social standing and how “cultured” they are. This challenge seems almost harder for these particular parents, whose identities and lifestyles have prevented them from really having any cultural interests at all

“Anya… Forger. Address?” “The place we’re at now.” “Anya’s house!” Another convincingly childlike and genuinely funny Anya gag, playing off her clear pride at now having a house to call her own

“What do you do on your days off?” “Papa makes me stay home, so I watch TV all alone.” A clever and natural result of this mock-interview, revealing all the ways Loid is currently being a terrible parent

Loid wisely decides to have the gang gain some hands-on experience learning how families act in society

“This reminds me of that one time I hugged my brother too tightly and broke two of his ribs.” Apparently Yor has just always been a killing machine. Her unsuitability for society is quite distinct from Loid’s – as an assassin, she hasn’t really had to “mask her emotions” so much as lead a second life alongside her conventional one, so her reactions to this situation are far more genuine than those of Loid, who is always playing a character apart from his own emotional reactions

Apparently Yor is straight-up horny for murder, as she ends up gazing lustily at this painting of a guillotine. Spy x Family gleefully riding that “I want a girlfriend who’ll break my ribs and flat out kill me” cultural wave

Another excellent gag playing off the disconnect between Anya’s powers and her actual behavior as a child. She’s worried her drawing will serve as irrefutable evidence of her powers, but of course she’s like five, and so her scribbles are almost impossible for Loid to identify as anything. A uniquely Spy x Family riff on the inherent charm of children’s ambitious yet inscrutable artwork – Endo really knows how to put this premise to work

“I’d honestly prefer a black or red dress.” Yor might not understand much, but she’s got her aesthetic appeal down perfectly

“This color’s lovely, but I’m worried that blood splatters would be too noticeable.” I retract my previous comment

Next up, a political rally, where a representative of the “Nationalist party” is stating he believes there is a route to peace with the West

Ah, very clever – Anya’s uncomfortable here, because all the crowd’s political frustrations are like voices shouting in her head

“This is all because I was expected to rely on others.” Loid appreciates tasks with entirely constrained, controllable variables, like cooking or his usual spy missions. Completing this mission means abandoning his sense of total control over his fate, which is basically fundamental to his identity

Presumably, spending more time with these two will teach Loid not to see them simply as impediments or liabilities, but valued collaborators whose actions broaden his own perspective. A classic theme: learning to rely on and believe in others can actually make us stronger

We get our first push in that direction immediately, as Yor brings them to a park that helps Loid regain perspective and remember what he’s doing all this for

Ah, this is great. A woman getting her purse stolen provides an opportunity for all three family members to flex their skills, putting Yor’s agility, Loid’s perceptiveness, and Anya’s psychic powers to work. This is one of the show’s most tantalizing unspoken promises: the lure of seeing this whole family apply their formidable powers to the same goal, rather than just hiding them from each other

And once again, Loid betrays his spy training for the sake of his family’s happiness

“I guess… receiving thanks once in a while wouldn’t hurt.” For once, it’s Loid who’s blushing, as he indulges in the satisfaction of being genuinely appreciated for one of the first times in his life

I’m guessing this woman is also on the school board, which would greatly help with their interview process

In spite of this episode’s overt action scene, it saves its most fluid character acting for this final moment, of Loid simply appreciating his new family feeling comfortable at home together. This show has a firm handle on its priorities, and can at times evoke the soothing flow of a great slice of life production

And Done

Well that was charming as heck, eh? With the relationship of our three leads established, this episode was able to luxuriate in the fun of watching them awkwardly navigate this new dynamic, and actually try their hands at being a family. All three of them are under-socialized in their own ways, making for a tremendously endearing process of discovery as they each learn the joy of being valued and relied on. And though Yor still seems a bit fantastical in her personality, I really feel like I’m getting to know Loid at this point, making it easy to cheer for his process of embracing both pride and vulnerability. Our premise has been established with total confidence, and I’m eager to see whatever comes next.

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