Spy x Family 028-032 – 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 maintains its position as one of Shonen Jump’s strongest, ongoing offerings. While Chapters 28 through 32 aren’t perfect, with the series finding little use for Bond the dog, as well as other minor lapses in quality, they’re still a damn sight stronger than other, newer manga in the Jump line up. Let’s Jump In!

Chapter 28 is a solid, though not terribly original, one off focused on Anya, as she and the gang of kids at Eden Academy, must deal with a boy out to get Desmond. We’re introduced to a new, probably one off, character, the Glooman boy. After overhearing his father talk about how the Desmond group brought their family business to ruin, George Glooman has it in for Desmond. What follows is a fun chapter that manages to switch things up several times, making sure the story of George Glooman never gets stale over its twenty-some odd pages. First we have Glooman’s attempts to get Desmond expelled, and when that fails, thanks to Anya, the story shifts into a pseudo-pity party for George, with each of our characters ‘forced’ into offering him a bit of kindness before his family falls into financial ruin and he’s unable to attend Eden Academy anymore. The ending is fairly predictable, George merely misheard his father and actually their family owes the Desmond Family for bailing their financial butts out of the fire, but in some ways the predictable ending helps to make the rest of the chapter work, as we know that all of Glooman’s ‘be nice to me, be nice to me’ is going to bite him in the ass at the end.

Chapter 29 is comparatively a bit more uneven. This chapter continues the trend of Spy x Family being primarily Anya’s series, with Twilight as a secondary protagonist. Here Anya receives a school assignment to study an occupation that interests her. Things start strong as Anya first asks Yor about her job, which leads to a hilarious sequence where Yor fantasizes about taking Anya on one of her assassination jobs. it goes horribly wrong, even in Yor’s own imagination, and since Anya’s physic we get her reaction to it as well.

This leads Anya to instead ask to follow Twilight around. Twilight’s fake job is at a nearby hospital, where he’s set up as a psychiatrist. Unfortunately the chapter gets bogged down in introducing the mundane facade of Twilight’s fake job, with the staff taking to how adorable Anya is becoming our only real source of comedy for quite a few pages. Even once we move on, and Anya gets the chance to snoop, hoping to get a glimpse of Twilight’s real job, things don’t improve much. We end up becoming mired in a forced gag about a group of Doctors who don’t believe in the paranormal. Anya, exploring a secret passage Twilight uses to sneak out on missions, ends up making too much noise and turns all the Doctors into believers in the supernatural. The problem is the joke isn’t set up in advance, putting the set up and punchline too close together. When done like this humor often feels less clever, because you can see the joke coming a mile away. We do end the chapter with a well set up gag however. Earlier Twilight shows Anya a sand table they let kids play with to help determine how they’re doing mentally. When Anya rushes back from the secret passage, and tries to look innocent, she quickly messes with the table, sticking anything and everything she can find into it. When Twilight returns he’s horrified by the implications, leading into a strong last few pages of wall to wall jokes to send the chapter out on.

Chapter 30 rights the ship, and perhaps begins to address a long-running issue; the lack of focus for Yor. We’re introduced to a new character that feels better developed to become a long-running problem maker for our heroes; Secret Agent Nightfall. As it turns out Nightfall is a protege of Twilight’s, but not only that, she’s also in love with him. Chapter 30 works about gradually introducing her obsession with Twilight, and her bitter, internal rivalry with Yor. Nothing much comes of Nightfall’s inclusion just yet, and the series subsequently sends itself catapulting onto another serious storyline, but Nightfall’s innate rivalry with Yor for the position of Twilight’s husband positions her as a potentially greater effort to find ways to give Yor more focus and inclusion. We’ll see if it ultimately pans out.

Chapters 31 and 32 center on Twilight and Nightfall’s secret mission, jettisoning Yor and Anya in favor of a more action packed, serious, even if the premise is absurd, plot line. This thrust away from traditional comedy continues to prove that Spy x Family, even when it gives us a break, remains a gripping manga all the same. We’re treated to an underground tennis tournament that only gets more absurd with each page, showcasing that Spy x Family is fairly good at over-the-top comedy too.

Spy x Family isn’t perfect, but it’s pretty close. While I nitpick the series for Yor’s lesser role, Bond’s lack of use post his introduction, and places where the comedy withers, the truth is they’re all fairly minor complaints. Even when the series does dip, it’s only by a little bit, and it’s highs are otherwise so strong. In some ways that makes Spy x Family hard to talk about, because overall the series is still a goldmine of comedic entertainment. Anya remains an absolute joy to follow, Twilight a perfect straight-man, and more. I’d say Spy x Family hasn’t made any significant, quality altering mistakes yet, and I really don’t expect it to. Our Author sees to have a pretty good idea about when a new character is worth including again, or when older characters should be set aside and reinvented.

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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