Hello folks, and welcome back to Wrong Every Time. Today I figured I’d treat myself to a fresh episode of Spy x Family, and see how the Forger family are holding up these days. It certainly hasn’t been easy juggling family life, professional cover stories, and clandestine operations, as last episode’s “Yor got shot in the butt” saga clearly demonstrated. As goofy a concept as that was, I appreciated how her troubles pushed her out of her physical and emotional comfort zone, prompting the sort of friction that might actually help Loid and Yor come to better know and ultimately trust each other.
There’s an obvious tension at the core of Spy x Family, in that its protagonists’ need to keep their secrets pushes against their efforts to become a truly unified family. Whereas most found family dramas consistently trend towards greater mutual understanding across their principle characters, Spy x Family’s alternating spy and family drama modes each resist subordination to the other, making it that much harder for the Forgers to truly connect. It is both the story’s core hook and also perhaps its limiting factor, and either way, I find the story’s efforts to juggle these contradictory instincts fascinating in action. Let’s see what our crew gets up to next!
We open on Bond rightfully taking a load off. What a delightful potato of a dog
“Peak laziness.” Truly, we can only aspire to achieve the heights of comfiness embodied by a dog or cat who’s just lazing around
They do a fine job of simulating watercolor brush strokes with this filter placed over the backgrounds in Bond’s precognition visions. The general lack of considered layouts and traditionally drawn background art is probably this production’s biggest visual failing, as the digital backgrounds generally don’t evoke the sense of lived-in coziness much of this show is going for. It’s a problem that’s undercutting productions all across the industry, but it’s particularly noteworthy in a production that frequently aspires to slice of life tonal payoffs, where atmosphere is king
I like the incidental implication that Bond personally believes in heaven, as conveyed by these cherubs coming to lift his soul away
Bond sadly works to set his affairs in order before shuffling off this mortal coil
“I’ll try to make your dinner with what I can find around the house.” Obviously Yor is the kind of person who’d have full conversations with her dog
Of course, this puts Bond directly in the line of fire of a Yor-cooked meal. No wonder he was snoozing, this dog leads a stressful life
Tatsuya Endo’s knack for writing convincingly childlike thoughts and dialogue apparently extends to dogs as well. Love that Bond assumes Loid’s “work” involves hunting wild boars in the savanna, which is obviously the only sensible profession for any family’s main provider
And thus Bond flees, intent on helping Loid with his boar-hunting that he might survive to see another dinner
It also seems appropriately dog-like that Bond would assume Yor’s profound killing intent might be turned on him at any moment. Though he can see through her disguise, he can’t really parse the distinction between Yor’s family affectation and her Thorn Princess persona, and thus assumes she’s liable to kill anyone who annoys her
“A dog!” “Draw eyebrows on him!” Is that what the kids do these days?
Bond at last catches up with Loid, just as he’s commencing a mission to retrieve a new truth serum
“Where are Yor and Anya? Did you get away from them during a walk?” Well, I suppose everybody talks to their pets
“Are you trying to get revenge for your friends who were experimented on?” Love how Loid’s deeply suspicious, analytical mind is drawing him towards a convincing but utterly fallacious explanation for Bond’s sudden interest in his work
I mean, if they could actually train Bond to be a touch more reliable, his combination of precognition and a dog’s sense of smell would indeed make him a terrifying mission asset. Once again, Spy x Family is dangling the promise of its theoretical end state: a Forger family aligned in purpose, exploiting their absurd combined powers to truly change the world
Loid pulls a classic trick to discover the truth serum: leaving a note claiming he’s already stolen it, thus prompting its protectors to check its hiding place, thus revealing that hiding place to Loid
Excellent detail of Bond also wearing a ski mask to protect his identity
And we jump to Damian for our B part, who’s currently waking in the school dorms. Right, I’d forgotten he actually lives at school – yet another divide between him and his family
His tall-haired lackey doesn’t naturally look like that! He actually has to gel his hair into a preposterous pillar every day! Why!?
Apparently the dorm students have to attend roll call even on days with no classes. With the classes divided between live-in and traveling students, it’s no wonder the student body tends to divide into factions
“I hear our teacher is going to take us to the movies today!” Yeah, it’s a very different lifestyle when your classmates and teachers are also the people you live with
The fence around this laundry area forms a visual barrier between Damian and his fellow students, underlining his thoughts as he reflects on how he’s not like them. Damian and Anya started off in similar positions, as tools their parents were using to inflate their own status, but Loid has since come to appreciate Anya pursuing her passions and developing at her own pace. In contrast, Damian is still pressed beneath his father’s expectations, and lives in a world where there is no conceivable alternative to following in his father’s footsteps
“Damian, continue working hard so as not to shame the Desmond name.” Damian himself is irrelevant, his only role is to not embarrass his father
His allies deliberately break some school regulations in front of Henderson, thus getting themselves punished alongside Damian. These three possess an actual, earnest sense of community, but because they’re all acting as avatars of their families, they lack the language to frame their friendship outside of hierarchical Damian-worship
“Stop being so stubborn, Damian!” Their situation closely echoes Becky’s recent outing with Anya – as children of the elites, they have been taught to act such as to always represent their family name, and not embrace unconsidered intimacy with their fellow students
“If you really think about it, what’s the point in going to a movie on a beautiful day like today?” “Exactly. What’s really in right now is doing laundry.” Thus they assert their friendship through fitting it back into the hierarchy, turning their solidarity into an expression of superiority
“Your friendship… preciously elegant.” Henderson exists at a tricky crossroads, serving as an avatar of social propriety, but simultaneously possessing full understanding of how decorum can often be used as a tool of injustice
And thus Henderson sends them on a picnic with Mr. Green, the custodian
Apparently he’s a former soldier. Another gesture towards how tenuous Eden’s civil order truly is; the academy attempts to simultaneously prepare and shield its students, but the threat of war’s influence on this nation is inescapable
Damian overboard! Excellent pathetic splashing animation, and I love how all three of these boys call for rescue by asserting their family names. Even in mortal peril, their first instinct is to define themselves as assets of their various houses
The three are instructed to gather wood for a fire, then to catch some fish. These seem like excellent lessons for them: forcing them to see what they can do with their own hands, and therefore gaining some pride and self-reliance outside of the bounds of their family names
“The roast beef at Wimpson’s isn’t half bad, but nothing beats prey you’ve caught yourself.” Eden attempting the tricky double duty of both preparing its students for high society, and also protecting them from the attitudes high society tends to foster
“Famous creators and athletes make sure to give themselves time to space out.” Mr. Green doing his best to help this poor kid relax for once in his life
Of course, Damian being Damian, he commits to spacing out with too much passion to actually space out
Mr. Green’s embodying one of the key policies of beloved teachers: treating your students with respect, as autonomous individuals with ideas worth engaging
“The universe is so big.” Staring up at the stars, the boys can for a moment appreciate their existence within something vast and beyond their control. What we can do with our own hands is limited, but that need not be a cause for disappointment
And in his final report, Damian’s crossing out of “I” to replace it with “we” emphasizes how he’s learned he is a part of something greater
Well that was an unexpected treat! Damian has long been one of Spy x Family’s most engaging characters, rising from a foil for Anya into the show’s most complex and sympathetic articulation of how we echo both our parents and our environment in a myriad ways. He is a perfectly normal boy trapped under an unbearable weight of expectation, and seeing him and his friends get to enjoy each other’s company and take pride in their accomplishments felt like as much of a relief for me as it did for them. I always appreciate when Spy x Family teases at the fraught tensions undergirding Eden’s elegant exterior, and am happy to see Damian at last finding something to take pride in beyond his ability to carry out his father’s wishes. You’re your own man, Damian!