Eccentric, Peaceful and Familial Values: Spy x Family’s Worth Modern Viewing

Written By Emmy Miralieva


Tatsuya Endo’s Spy x Family is an animated series from Japan about a cold war between two Euro-centric countries. A spy from the West must forge a traditional family so he can infiltrate a political extremist’s inner circle, understand his intentions, and end any chance of a violent war. Little does he know that his new wife is an anti-terror hitwoman and his adopted daughter is a telepath. Spy x Family is both relevant and valuable to modern viewers because of its themes around renouncing unreasonable expectations, opposing war, and cherishing familial love.

Spy x Family teaches modern viewers that authenticity, and familial love matter in life. The main characters reject the expectations of society: the spy Twilight can take on roles to satisfy social standards, but he sticks to his personal principles. His wife Yor is expected to be a good wife by tending to the house and her daughter, but she only succeeds by embracing her maternal instinct and her great physical strength. Their little daughter Anya is a bad student in a rigorous private school who excels at using her unique talents and creativity to stay ahead. The series uses this universal struggle to assure us that high standards and perfectionism are unattainable aspirations but our unique and eccentric selves are valid. Spy x Family’s other prevailing message is that we must oppose war and the ignorance that brings it. It shows us that war destroys happiness and propaganda makes us ignorant and divided human beings. Twilight’s mission is to obtain the knowledge needed to keep peace. This reflects reality: we care less about understanding others and more about hurting them. With current events like the war against Ukraine caused by Russian nationalist propaganda, it is imperative that we as an audience know ignorance leads to war which leads to suffering for everyone. Finally, these themes make us more intelligent as people, but the reason Spy x Family is so dear to my heart is in its core lesson: familial love is crucial to happiness. Yor protects her family from harm, Twilight teaches Anya that real life is more complex than fiction, and Anya understands her parents’ feelings and desires. They’re a middle-class quirky team with difficult lives, but they love each other first and foremost. In contrast, the powerful and affluent Desmond family is disconnected from each other because they don’t understand love. Americans have always strived for the “American Dream”: being married with a nice house with perfect kids. Instead, this show taught me and others that living in a big house was nothing without unconditionally loving people in it to help me grow.

Some audiences disapprove of Spy x Family because they believe that it’s a show ruined by its goofiness and a regressive focus on old Western gender roles. It’s a false claim: the moments of brevity and humor give the sadness and terror a greater impact when we’ve let down our emotional guards. I also believe that comedy makes the show more mature: comedy is a grounding agent that helps characters appreciate the present moment and ponder the situation before making impulsive decisions or catastrophizing out of fear. As for how Spy x Family supposedly isn’t progressive in its depiction of gender roles, they have ignored the fact that the story uses a traditional family dynamic to deconstruct it and present realistic consequences: Twilight is the breadwinner, but his excessive workload is taking a mental and physical toll. Yor is supposed to be a model wife, but she expresses the human quality of failing in some duties and not understanding how to best contribute for her family. Spy x Family is a very progressive series for its realistic balance between solemnity and levity, as well as its criticism of traditional (and unrealistic) gender norms. I believe that everyone can learn from this surprisingly grounded animated story that life is a fun experience despite the stress and that we shouldn’t compromise our humanity to fit into society’s rigid roles.

Spy x Family is a valuable piece of media because of its themes of opposing societal expectations, depicting war and ignorance as harmful, and embracing familial love in a grounded story that very much reflects reality. The depiction of familial love and the expert balance between solemnity and levity helps write a universal story. From this series, we can all learn to be more thoughtful and happy people.


This review was posted on Teen Ink’s April 2023 magazine issue.