Spy x Family 023-027 – Manga Review

Synopsis: An action-packed comedy about a fake family that includes a spy, an assassin and a telepath! (Official Shonen Jump Synopsis.)

(Warning: Spoilers to Follow):

Review:

Spy x Family returns to full on comedy with Chapters 23-27. Previously the series had be growing very Anya centric, with the plot taking turns that prevent Yor and Twilight from featuring more often. How have things changed now? Truthfully, not a lot. Anya is still the center of the series’ best comedic shenanigans, making for some absolutely stellar chapters focused on her efforts to befriend Desmond or simply keep herself from flunking out of school. That said, like I had feared the dog, now named Bond, hasn’t been integrated well into the narrative other than, well, as a typical dog character. Yor has officially been relegated to a certain type of plot line revolving around her efforts to be a better wife/mother, which is likely to present the more stale elements to the series. Finally our author attempts to reinvigorate Twilight, whose role as a spy has diminished outside of last set’s dramatic shift. Here we see him face off against a new, comedic adversary, to give our leading Straight-Man someone to regularly react to. Let’s Jump In!

Chapter 23 sees Anya get a big head about having saved the world, to be fair she has been doing it quite a bit these days, which leads to some great back and forth as her attempts to befriend Desmond, over her new dog, constantly deflate her ego. The chapter then largely focuses on Anya learning to care for her new companion, although there’s no use of Bond’s future predictive abilities. It’s a sweet story with some decent comedy, only let down by an awkward shift of focus to Twilight mid-chapter. Here Twilight has some internal monologue about being a hypocrite for preaching Family when he knows he’ll abandon them at the end of his mission. It’s very awkwardly sandwiched in an otherwise playful chapter and I don’t think fits, especially as there’s no immediate follow up to Twilight’s internal musings in any of the chapters we’ll be discussing today.

Chapter 24 sees us turn our attention to Yor. She takes on another story focused on making this fake family feel more real and honest, with her learning in earnest how to cook. While the chapter starts with a strong fake out, making us think she’s dealing with some deadly assassination mission, the concept falls back on Yor being a horrible cook, which is a very tropey element in Manga. The chapter does its best to repackage this typical tale, with quite a few good jokes that really make use of Yor, the other side characters, and her brother, who is still struggling to find his footing as a character beyond simply; doting brother who loves his sister a tad too much. Overall this is one of the weaker chapters in this batch, but there’s enough unique comedy brought forth from the characters that it still works and doesn’t feel like true sore spot.

Bond’s only real focus is in a side chapter companion piece, Chapter 24.1. It’s a story focused on Bond’s jealousy over Anya wanting to snuggle her penguin stuffed animal as she falls asleep. While cute and ultimately heartwarming, with some good comedy to mix it up, Bond still feels underused. This is the chapter that makes me confidant that Bond will always be a difficult addition to work into the cast. There’s time for the author to think of more ways to utilize his character, but right now it’s not looking good, and Bond is more likely to end up as a background/side addition to the main cast, with little bearing on the main narrative. That said, the other use I very much expect is whenever the series takes a hard shift to the dramatic again. My guess is we’ll then see Bond absolutely play a significant role, but by and large the same one he played in his introduction: Anya’s personal warning that the future is dicey.

Chapters 25 and 26 are incredibly funny as we focus solely on Anya and her efforts to befriend Desmond/Not fail at school. I don’t have much to say other than total praise, outside of it’s here again that we see our author really knows how to get the best of out of Anya and that gradually Spy x Family is shifting to a truly Anya-centric series, with half of the chapters discussed today focused entirely on her! But before I wrap up, Chapter 27 though is absolutely worth going over. In this chapter we see our author attempt to revitalize Twilight’s character. Twilight is in a difficult position. He’s the classic Straight-man. He’s largely there to react to other people’s shenanigans. The trouble is that outside of family trips and home life, Twilight can’t do much with Anya. Especially when she’s at school. So here we see our author attempt to bring Twilight into a narrative all his own by giving him a ‘nemesis’ to work with: Daybreak. While Twilight attempts to sneak into the school to alter Anya’s potentially failing grades he finds he has this new character, Daybreak to contend with. Daybreak is the bumbling, inept version of Twilight, a spy who’s more concerned with being cool than doing what is needed to get the job done. It’s a largely successful attempt to give Twilight the center stage, although it’s not going to allow Twilight to appear near as equally as Anya, in part due to Daybreak having such a one note use. Daybreak is good for a goof now and again, but Twilight is going to need other ridiculous adversaries if he is going to carry chapters on his own more often.

Ultimately though Spy x Family continues to be stellar. Even it’s worst chapters, 24 perhaps being the weakest of this batch, are still wonderfully amusing, and highlight how strong this series is amongst all of Shonen Jump’s current offerings. It remains one of my favorite titles to talk about and I’m eager to see what Anya is up to next and as to whether our author can find new ways to use both Yor and Twilight as the series otherwise becomes so Anya centric.

That’s it for this week! Let me know what your thoughts are on Spy x Family!

Spy x Family is published weekly in Shonen Jump.

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