Anime “SPY×FAMILY” What Makes Fans Attractive? 【Commentary by a famous film writer in Japan 】

01/31/2023 by

“SPY×FAMILY” began serialization on the Japanese manga distribution app “JUMP+” in 2019 and has enjoyed overwhelming popularity in Japan since it was adapted into an anime in 2022. Therefore, this column considers the appeal of “SPY×FAMILY” from the perspective of both original manga and anime, dividing it into five parts.

Quote: FOD

Understandability of the settings

To begin with, the manga “SPY×FAMILY” is a famous work that has been leading JUMP+ as a signature work since its serialization began in 2019 in Japan. Until then, “Astra Lost in Space” and “Hell’s Paradise: Jigokuraku”, both famous works that were adapted into anime have been hit, and we can say that “SPY×FAMILY” follows in the footsteps of those works.

Tatsuya Endo, the author of “SPY x FAMILY,” has a long career of his own, having worked as an assistant on “Blue Exorcist” and “Kono Oto Tomare!” etc. In addition, he has a relationship with Kazue Kato and AMU, with whom he assists each other’s manga works. His drawing ability and the quality of his work are outstanding, but as a reader, I feel his work is easy to understand.

The basic structure of “SPY×FAMILY” is a pseudo-family in which a father is a spy, a mother is an assassin and a daughter is a person with supernatural powers. It is a great strength that the overview of the film can be explained in one word. The characters are well-defined so that we can understand them easily. You can imagine a lot of things like what would happen if the three of them were a family by just listening to the setting of this anime. Moreover, the element that none of the three can’t tell their true identities to their family members adds to the sense of fun as a normal development of spy movies.

The story has a solid setting, in which the East, whose name is Ostania, and the West, named Westalis have a delicate relationship. Twilight, a secret agent from the West grasps the movement that the East is about to start the war. And he challenges the mission of making a fake family and making his false child enroll in the prestigious school. Although the story’s context in which the war may break out at any moment is serious, this anime doesn’t make us feel such heaviness at first impressions.

Rather, it attracts viewers through a sense of entertainment such as “the turmoil of a pseudo-family whose identities cannot be revealed” and “a mission for world peace.” And then, the serious aspect that I mentioned before is shown. Such structure makes those who are hooked on this work feel the depth of the story.

In other words, the anime is wide enough to appeal to a wide range of viewers but also has the strength to broaden its appeal as one delves deeper into the story. Moreover, the public image created by past popular contents dealing with “spies,” “assassins,” and “psychics” are also well utilized, and I feel that this is an extremely great setup.

Easiness of watching: comedy×warmth that attracts those who are not anime geek


The story and the characters set off the interestingness of the setting. If the setting is eye-catching and the characters are attractive, it is evitable that the anime will be a hit. There are words that are “edgy” and “catch.” Edgy means to attract a narrow audience and to generate a small but strong fan base, while “catchy” means to attract a large but light fan base. In SPY×FAMILY, I have the impression that it is catchy. In other words, it steers its way toward entertainment which draws the lighter audience into the story.

The foundation of the work is that it is a comedy in basic taste. It is excellent that it incorporates classic comedy that everyone can understand, followed by the interestingness of the setting.

The three members of the Forger family are always in trouble, so the mission to make their daughter Anya a scholarship student and get closer to their target who shows up at events that only scholarship students can join isn’t progressing well. Such slapstick is exquisitely watchable.

Not only it shows slapstick but also a great family drama. Twilight lost his loved ones in the war, Yor chooses to be a hit woman in order to survive, and Anya is a subject of human experimentation. Each of them feels lonely, but they find peace of mind by becoming a temporary family. In this way, there are some heartwarming scenes and scenes that bring us to tears. They are also essential elements that grab our attention.

Characters: they don’t just have a gap, but they are charming


I want to mention the charm of the characters. In the first place, the character design is excellent in terms of looks. For example, Loid, who is Twilight I mentioned before, is cool, Yor is beautiful and Anya is cute. Then, by adding the elements of comedy and the change including expression, the gap between the characters is created.

For example, Loid, who is a competent spy cannot act as a father well, and Yor, who plays the role of a mother is usually calm and gentle but exercises her skill as a killer in some places. And Anya, who can read people’s minds understands and reacts to whole things. Such comic skits based on their relationships are effective. Especially, Anya has a very expressive face, so even a contest was held to choose Anya’s best facial expression in Japan.

It’s difficult to continue capturing the hearts of a lot of people if the characters are just cool, beautiful, cute or funny. However, by adding uncoolness like failing to do something or losing hope, we can see the depth of the characters and sympathize with them.

In addition to the charming characters, the tactics of not letting their true identity be revealed are outstanding. We can say that the setting, story and characters have a good effect on each other organically, which is an important point of this work.

Expressiveness of the voice actors: we feel as if the characters are there


The voice actors in the anime adaptation enhance the appeal of the characters. Takuya Eguchi as Loid, Atsumi Tanezaki as Anya and Saori Hayami as Yor are perfectly suited for the roles to put it mildly.

Mr. Eguchi, for example, plays Loid’s emotionless normal times in a cool way. At the same time, he expresses Twilight’s surprise in his brain with an act that has a gap between his cool image. Twilight is a character with a lot of monologues. And it’s funny that the difference between his real intention and his pretense like his behavior toward those around him and his soothing himself when he is in panic by saying to himself, “Relax, Twilight”.

And Ms. Hayami shows the dark side of Yor’s “work mode” and the sense of fear and danger in her performance. Yor usually speaks in a relaxed manner, but she is reassuring when she is with Loid and Anya, and she is also lovely as she struggles not to be disliked by them. The difference between such her aspect and her action as an assassin makes viewers terrified. Mr. Hayami uses advanced techniques that make it seem as if she doesn’t change her voice that clearly. And it is great that she creates a dark atmosphere in her voice.

Ms. Tanezaki perfectly expresses the cuteness of Anya, especially Anya’s overreaction. We feel that Anya, who is not an honor student but tries her best, was alive. Most of Anya’s lines are written in hiragana in the Japanese version of the manga. It shows Anya’s linguistic ability, and Ms. Tanezaki’s performance in expressing it is quite convincing. Moreover, Anya’s way of saying things such as “Mama” and “Papa” is suitable for her voice.

The dialogue between those with great acting ability is outstanding. They show the wonderful teamwork that makes us want to meet that family every week.

Perfection of the animation: drawing, color, direction, etc.

The animation is also of high quality, not only in terms of drawing but also in the way it is presented. WIT STUDIO and CloverWorks produced this work. WIT STUDIO has created “BUBBLE,” “Ranking of Kings,” “After the Rain,” and “Attack on Titan” up to season3, while CloverWorks has produced “My Dress-up Darling” and “Her Blue Sky”. CloverWorks is a studio that has produced a number of trending works. The director, Kazuhiro Furuhashi, is the creator of “Rurouni Kenshin: Meiji Swordsman Romantic Story”.

The dynamic camerawork and action direction that has been a focus of recent Japanese animation are also included in this work. Because of that, Yor’s outstanding fighting ability is visible. The bright atmosphere and colors contribute to the ease of understanding the story and the settings. The tempo is also very good, and the interesting conversations are presented speedily and engagingly, allowing the viewer to enjoy each episode without getting stuck in the middle.

Also, in episode 7, there is a scene in which Damian, the second son of the target, crushes on Anya. In this scene, flower petals flutter, and Anya’s eyes shine so that Anya looks cuter. This direction was a hot topic when the episode was broadcasted.

The stylish opening and ending images that use the pattern with the style of Mondrian and the great use of color are great from the pictorial point of view. Also, the song of Japanese musicians, Official Hige dandism and Gen Hoshino make the opening and the ending more attractive.


As a reader, I look forward to every update of “SPY×FAMILY”. Reading this work always makes me feel excitied and TV animation is also exciting every week. I feel that the underlying horror of “war” and “conflict” is accentuated and the love for “family” as a symbol of “peace” becomes even stronger bacause the basis of the story is entertainment.

“SPY×FAMILY” is a meticulously balanced work amidst the increasing number of animated and manga works that depict cruelty. Some of the future episodes that will be adopted into anime will be piercing and will show us the further depth of this work.

※ This information is for 01/31/2023. Please check the latest delivery status on each site.

SYO (a film writer)

Born in 1987. After graduation from Tokyo Gakugei University, he worked at a movie magazine editing production and a company which ran an information site about film. Then he works as a movie writer now. He contributes his articles to Japanese media such as “CINEMORE”, “FRIDAY DIGITAL”, “Fan’s Voice”, ” (映画.com)” “Shin-R25 (新R25)” “DVD & Video Distribution Data (DVD & 動画配信でーた)” and so on. His Twitter: @syocinema

Column Related posts