‘Spy x Family Episode 1’ Review: Operation Strix

'Spy x Family Episode 1' Review

Shonen Jump is one of the most important comic magazines in the world. The magazine has been the birthplace of some of the most significant manga series ever; from Hajime no Ippo to One Piece, Naruto, Dragon Ball and many more. Being published on its pages is an honor by itself. So, when Shonen Jump announced that they would begin serializing new manga series, this time on their app Shonen Jump+. It came as a surprise that the company was moving from their successful physical model into a more digital friendly environment.

The app has become a huge success, thanks to a very affordable subscription fee and also because the backlog of manga available to subscribers is just too big. You would never have the time to read everything in there. On the other hand, the new digital only series has also been a success, and they are able to play with the serializing schedule a lot more. Spy x Family quickly became the first success story of the digital publication venture, and now it is receiving an anime adaptation by Wit Studio and Cloverwork. 

Spy x Family has a very cool premise. We meet with Twilight, the most amazing spy you have ever seen. Twilight is a manga that has destroyed his previous identity completely and now focuses all of his time and energy into becoming the best spy he can be. Thanks to this wonderful discipline, Twilight is proficient in hand-to-hand combat, he’s a weapons expert, and he’s a master of disguise.

'Spy x Family Episode 1' Review

However, he is now presented with a new mission, and to be successful, he needs a wife and a child. For a man who had abandoned the notion of having a family when he became a spy, this mission might change his perspective on life completely.

Operation Strix, is the first episode of Part 1 of the first season of the show, and Studio Wit and Cloveworks have done a remarkable job of adapting the first big adventure of Twilight into the anime format.

The show starts with an astounding montage of Twilight and his exploits, and quickly sets up the spy as an incredible main character. We see Twilight executing the mission with a cold dead stare, quick reflexes, and just amazing efficiency. Twilight is so good at his job that he can basically transform into other people and deceive anyone that comes into contact with him.

We can see that Twilight just loves his job, and why not? He’s excellent at it. Nevertheless, as the episode moves forward we can feel that even when Twilight is having a blast being a spy, there’s a feeling of loneliness lingering in the background.

Twilight received the mission to help with the international relationship between the countries of Westalis and Ostania. Twilight is sent to Ostania by the Westalis government to start a family and enroll his child in an elite school. If he’s successful, he will be able to meet Donovan Desmond, an important member of the Ostania government, and get close to him. 

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The mission seems easy enough, a classic undercover mission, but the show executes the idea and gives it its own twist, making it pretty hilarious. The show does really well when it needs to mix drama and comedy side by side. 

For example, it is clear that Twilight has no family. He needs a kid to enroll in school, so how does he get a kid in less than a week? He adopts one, of course. The adoption process as presented in the show is so irresponsible that it becomes funny. Twilight adopts Anya, a weird little girl that the orphanage wants to get out of there as soon as possible. 

Why? What’s wrong with Anya? Under her normal visage, she’s actually a powerful telepath, able to read the minds of the people around her. Anya gets adopted, and seeing these odd couples interact with each other is quite fun. It becomes clear that these two people are alone in this world, and this mission might be their only chance at sharing their lives with others.

Kazuhiro Furuhashi, the director of the show, does a wonderful job of giving enough space inside the episode that the conversations and moments between these fake father and daughter can carry enough sincerity to touch the feelings of the audience. 

Anya is a stunning character. She’s only six years old, but she’s totally into spy shows and wants to have a big adventure. When she finds out that Twilight is actually a spy, it is one of the cutest things we have ever seen. Twilight clearly still doesn’t understand Anya’s mind reading ability, but it is going to be hilarious when he finds out, and the possibilities of how her power can be used are endless. 

We were also witnesses to a small action sequence towards the end of the episode. The sequence is very well animated. Studio Wit and Cloverworks can match the best sequences made by other more famous studios, like Mappa or Madhouse. So it is very comforting to see that the producers are really putting in the money and effort necessary to take this story to the screen in the best way possible. 

The character development in this first episode is outstanding. In just 22 minutes, both Twilight and Anya felt like different people by the end of it. It is really wonderful to start watching the anime right now, because the show clearly states that this is just the beginning and more crazy stuff is on the horizon. 

With this first exciting and very well constructed episode, Spy x Family finds itself in the position of being one of the best animes of the season. It might even be one of the best animes of the year if they keep pulling off this level of quality. If you are still on the fence, wait no more. This is the perfect time to jump into this story. 

I can’t wait for next week, when the family will be finally complete.

SCORE: 9/10

  • Nelson loves all things related to storytelling. He has spent most of his life studying narrative, applied across all mediums; film, TV, books, and video games. Mulholland Drive is his favorite film.