Part of the problem with the spy genre is that everything gets tethered to James Bond, so you end up missing some really good spy work (think more of George Smiley). So we have a spy drama before us that not only plays the cat-and-mouse game, but does it with more going on at the same time and with this many chainsaws being juggled, catastrophe is a mere distracted moment away. Welcome to “Spy X Family.”
We are in the country of Ostania, which has a rather Germanic feel to it. Working for the rival nation of Westalis is the very successful spy who we come to know as ‘Loid Forger’ (him to the left). He also goes by the code name “Twilight”, the master of disguise (and no, it’s not Dana Carvey.) There is trouble afoot. Donovan Desmond, the President of the National Unity Party of Ostania, appears to be preparing for war. To this end, Twilight is picked to probe for any seditious activities he might engage in. I would also assume that Twilight might have to assassinate him, but it would have to be done in such a way that suspicion is deflected away from Westalis and, thus, prevent a war. (OK, we ALL know that whenever anyone in a position of authority dies, assassination is always a consideration, no matter how it looks otherwise).
The only way to accomplish this assignment is for Loid to have a family and enroll a child into the very prestigious Eden College, in the city of Berlin…..I mean….Berlint, so he can get close to Donovan at the annual party of the Imperial Scholars, a rare public appearance for him. Oh, he also has seven days to pull this first stage off. To this end, Loid adopts Anya (that anxious missy in the middle), who can read minds and this is why she is still at the orphanage, as once her parents find out about her power, they want nothing to do with her. But Loid is unaware of this and Anya says nothing, as she wants out (yeah, it’s one of those Oliver Twist kind of orphanages.).
Then we have Yor Briar (her to the right). She looks like a typical civil servant who works at City Hall, but is, in reality, the highly skilled assassin, Thorn Princess (and please, ignore ‘briar’ and ‘thorn’, OK?) She is 27 and unmarried, as that would be a liability in her profession. But because she IS unmarried, she is high on the list of being a spy. She is invited to a party by her co-workers and she should bring her boyfriend, whom she claims to have.
Loid learns that in order to get into the Academy (or College; it is one of those institutions that can take you from stem to stern for your education), he has to have a wife. BOTH parents must attend the interview process, as that ‘defines’ a family. Anything less is less. When Loid takes Anya for her uniform at the selected tailor shop, he runs into Yor there, as it makes both the garb for Yor in her daily wear and her assassin outfits. They actually hit it off quite well and he agrees to accompany her to this soiree, as she could be the ‘mother’ in all of this.
So, here we go: Dad is a spy and Mom doesn’t know; Mom is an assassin and Dad doesn’t know; daughter is a mind reader who knows what Mom and Dad really are, but they do not know she is a mind reader. Oh, and Yor’s brother, Yuri, works for the State Security Service (the Secret Police), who is actively hunting down Twilight, but he pretends to be a diplomat. PS, they eventually get a dog, but that’s hinted at in the last episode. It’s a Great Pyrenees and the dog is ‘special’ as well.
Now, this show could have been played dead serious, but we went for the light laughs, as it works better that way. Loid presents himself as a psychiatrist, and Yor doesn’t seem to care when some of his ‘patients’ try to run him off the road and throw grenades at him. Loid doesn’t seem to understand how Yor can give such a roundhouse kick to send one of these thugs flying, but still be a lady. Anya, however, knows everything, EXCEPT that once the assignment is over, the family breaks up and she heads back to the orphanage, the key aspect in all of this.
This is a show that I couldn’t wait to see and I have actually violated my ‘two-at-a-time’ principle, just so I could get to the next episode. The spy work is nerve-wracking, as everyone is under several degrees of pressure from numerous locations. You can’t stay on your toes forever and should you slip, that is it.
There is violence, but a lot of it is hinted, rather than revealed, so that is kept to a minimum, so as not to intrude too heavily into the general tone of the show. And it can be used to great comic effect, as when Loid breaks a table trying to kill a mosquito. One thing is that it doesn’t feel like ‘now’ time. In looking at the fashions and what they have (and don’t have), it feels very 1960s (at the time when Bond made the scene), as there are no cell phones and the like. Anya’s TV is more like a piece of furniture; the cars are very chrome-heavy; men wear hats.
My biggest suggestion is to binge this show. Aside from spelling out all the trials and tribulations that the ‘Forger’ family encounters, it plays quite well into the tension, as things seem to be going well, then they aren’t, then they are, but they really aren’t. Oh, and since we haven’t even gotten close to our goals, you can bet your omelet rice that there is a second season lurking in the shadows, and just confirmed for October of this year.
On a scale of 1 to 10:
Artwork 8 (Nice clean lines throughout)
Plot 9 (Some innovative storytelling)
Pacing 9 (Plays the edge-of-your-seat crisply)
Effectiveness 7 (Sometimes a bit too incredulous)
Conclusion 7 (It reaches a ‘coupler point’, but hasn’t ended)
Fan Service 2 (A similar show would be “Okamisan”)
Bingebility 10 (It can easily take it)
Overall 9 (A very compelling spy story)
And remember, it’s first run until you’ve seen it. Help daddy save the world.