Spy x Family Volume 1 by Tatsuya Endo is a shōnen, action, spy, comedy manga series about an extremely talented spy codenamed Twilight who must acquire a family as quickly as possible in order to complete his latest mission. He ends up coming across a couple of gifted oddballs in their own right, completely unbeknownst to him, which make his efforts at completing the missions at hand far more complicated than need be. However, they also show him that a family life may not be completely out of the question for a spy either.
When I picked this up, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Little did I know that by the time I finished the first volume, I would be gleefully in love with Twilight, his new family, and just about everything this series has to offer. It is without a doubt one of the best newer manga serials that I have read. There are so many amazing traits about Spy x Family that I’m not even sure where I should begin.
Twilight, our main character, is marvellously endearing. Between his high intelligence and fighting capabilities and deductive prowess, he reminds me so much of characters from vintage spy films from the 1950s. He is stylish and immaculate when he’s taking down baddies or stealthily stealing information for his handlers. Yet, he’s also a bit of a dweeb that is hilariously dense when it comes to regular everyday things, particularly when it comes to being a family man or just reading typical social cues. So, after he finds himself the necessary “tools” for his current trade, everything becomes a mess and unpredictable, something that Twilight doesn’t particularly care for, which makes it even funnier and entertaining.
The 50s aesthetic isn’t limited to Twilight either. It’s in the subtle details that come together to create the entirety of Spy x Family. For example, Twilight’s recently obtained daughter loves to watch spy cartoons and they have the dialogue and designs of the old-school vintage cartoons that played in the Golden Age. The hairstyles and the dapper fashion attires of the men and women are also very retro and chic akin to the time period. The way that the manga portrays elegance and class structure is done in a manner as to ridicule the outrageous pretentiousness of Western ideals on those very concepts, but with a sleek soft-toned comedic approach that is distinctly Japanese. The foreshadowing and the smaller details in the background illustrations or public dialogue exchanges around Twilight and his family (i.e.: gossiping) is also an understated representation of the mouthy and overtly nosy neighbours and social circles of the 50s as well.
Even with these attributes, the characters really make this manga series shine like a beacon in the night. Twilight’s daughter has a unique set of skills all her own that he has yet to discover and it contributes to some of the unpredictable shenanigans that the dude gets himself into, while also helping to formulate a foundation for the development of family values, no matter how abnormal they may seem to the average person. The same thing can be said for the woman who falls into the role of “Wife.” She’s got a job that kind of goes along with what Twilight does, but to a whole different extreme (*cough*ASSASSIN*cough*) and it complements him and the narrative so perfectly. Together the trio make the perfect family and I’m unequivocally invested in seeing how they shall grow as a unit and (hopefully) come to become inseparable over time.
The final element that ties all the elements together into a stunning package of must-read proportions is the artwork. It is an excellent complement to the humour, which is a brilliant combination of whimsy satire, dry wit, and almost cartoon-like cheesy quips. Pages full of white, clean drawings with a sporadic use of shading and sharp lines give the manga a stunningly unputdownable aura. My eyes felt enticed by how beautiful everything was, especially the character designs and the action sequences. The action scenes were my favourite because they are a complete tossback to retro comics from the1930s to 1950s with a splatter of ostentatious special effects texts and exaggerated beatings of baddies—it all works so marvellous to create a truly entertaining and engrossing manga reading experience. There are so many panels that I would love to frame and hang up on my walls because of how utterly superb they are.
Overall, Spy x Family Volume 1 is one of the finest new manga that I have come across and I cannot wait to read the next volume. Twilight and his fabricated family is probably my favourite family unit in fiction right now. They are just a masterpiece portrait of individuals who are extremely different yet come together to formulate the most charming and—to certain degrees—realistic portrayal of what family means, dysfunction and all. If you like shōnen, action manga serials and you’re not reading Spy x Family, you should remedy that ASAP because it’s worth every bloody second.
Spy x Family Volume 1 by Tatsuya Endo hits shelves on June 2nd. Make sure to snag a copy for yourself from local retailers! For more information, check out it’s official page here.
Please note: I received a free copy in exchange for an honest review, courtesy of VIZ Media.