Spy x Family Episode One, Operation Strix Review: Wholesome Spy Shenanigans.

After much anticipation, the Cloverworks and Studio Wit adaptation of Tatsuya Endo’s manga Spy x Family has finally released its first episode, “Operation Strix.”
Directed by Kazuhiro Furuhashi, this first installment is an excellent start for the anime, no doubt bringing in many new fans for this wholesome story.
“Operation Strix” begins with the introduction of the spy known as Twilight (Takuya Eguchi), who comes from the country of Westalis.
Inside its rival contry Ostania, Twilight works to protect his own country through various espionage exploits, like stealing incriminating photos that reveal the foreign minister wears a toupee… no, I’m not kidding.
Twilight achieves this with ease by impersonating the man buying the photos, Edgar, with a life-like face mask.
It is revealed that Twilight managed to get close to Edgar by dating his daughter, Karen, a relationship which is now useless to him, causing him to break up with Karen in a comedic scene where he uses the excuse of not sensing, “any intelligence in your conversations.”
As he throws the life of his cover Robert away, Twilight narrates that he threw away any ideas of marriage or conventional happiness when he became a spy, only for the next scene to naturally force him to construct both.
Reading a coded message on a train, Twilight is given his next mission: to get close to political extremist named Donovan Desmond and uncover any seditious acitivies he may be committing.
In order to get close to him, Twilight will need to enroll a child at an elite private school where Desmond’s son goes, meaning he has to have a child and get married in seven days.
This ridiculous prospect causes him to understandably spit out his coffee and wonder aloud how he is supposed to do this, humorously disrupting the passengers around him.
Well, disturbingly enough, it seems that all it takes to adopt an orphaned child in this country is to just walk in the front door of an orphanage and the drunk caretaker will give you one.
At least it ends positively in this case, with Twilight adopting the adorable future meme generator of the anime community, Anya (Atsumi Tanezaki), who is everything Twilight is looking for.
She is six years old, even though she looks younger, stand on her tip-toes when people question this, and also completes a complicated crossword puzzle as good as if not better than any adult.
The only problem is, unknown to Twilight, Anya is actually a telepath, who escaped from the organization that created her, and has been reading his mind to see what kind of daughter he wants, desperate for a family and naturally excited to meet a spy.
After adopting her, Twilight moves them into their new apartment under the name Loid Forger, where his inexperience with children and Anya’s telepathy cause a lot of problems during a shopping trip, much to Twilight’s distress and our amusement.
There’s Twilight accidentally scaring Anya by thinking of an enemy attack, then Anya misinterpreting his thoughts to believe that him understanding her will create world peace, motivating her to declare that she likes peanuts and hates carrots, before mistaking a bakary for a “bakenry.”
All of this humor causes Twilight to question if Anya is stupid, wondering if he should replace her, naturally causing Anya to burst into tears, only to cheer up instantly when Twilight offers her peanuts.
See, Twilight’s learning.
Things don’t necessarily go better the next day, however, as Anya is reluctant to study for the test, leading to Twilight going to get the exam questions for the private school from his friend Franky, leaving Anya to her own destructive devices.
I say destructive because she uses her telepathy to uncover Twilight’s spy gadgets, leading her to accidentally contact Edgar and taunt him, allowing him to figure out the location of Twilight’s apartment and kidnap her.
Twilight arrives, unaware of her kidnapping and the incoming ambush Edgar has set, only for him to notice the barricade he set to lock Anya in the apartment has been moved.
We then get out first action scene of the series, as Twilight takes on his attackers, and it is fantastic.
The animation is fluid and makes me excited for the action scenes we will get in the future, even if I am looking forward to the wholesome and comedic moments more.
In any case, the fight ends with Twilight discovering Anya’s kidnapping and questioning whether he should leave her behind, only to seemingly be knocked out by one of Edgar’s goons.
Meanwhile, Anya is under the captivity of Edgar and witnesses him execute one of his men for daring to suggest that they should stop focusing on getting the foreign minister’s toupee.
This joke leads me to one of my few criticisms of the episode, which is that it goes by a bit quick.
In the manga, it felt like there was more breathing room for the jokes to register, like the toupee joke but it goes by pretty fast here.
After the final toupee gag, Edgar’s man who attacked Twilight arrives with him unconcious, only for this man to be a disguised Twilight who rescues Anya, causing the girl to cry in joy, making Twilight realize that he hates the sound of children crying because it reminds him of his own traumatic childhood, something that hits hard with a recent manga chapter.
Setting down Anya outside, he lies that he is a pro-tag player and challenges her to take a note to a policeman, which Anya learns telepathically will take her to a better orphanage.
The following scene where Anya turns to see Twilight rip off his face mask as he goes to face Edgar, thinking of how his goal is to make a world where children won’t cry, is a fantastic adaption of the manga, with the animation, music and cinematography driving the emotion home.
Back inside the building, Twilight takes down Edgar’s goons with ease, while keeping his face hidden, before putting a gun to Edgar’s head, saying he will kill him if he turns around.
This is where my second criticism of the episode comes in because this moment was much more intimidating in the manga, with Twilight’s face darkened to make him look dangerous, while in the episode his face is in clear view.
It made the part where he convinces Edgar to leave him alone by threatening Karen a lot darker, so it was a shame to see the impact lessened.
After this moment, it’s right back to wholesome as Anya reunites with Twilight, declaring that she wants to go home with him, which Twilight accepts while still lying about what he was doing.
Anya, however, does not care about the lies.
“Paga is a huge liar… But he’s such a cool liar,” she thinks to herself on the tram ride home.
Later on, Anya starts her exam for the private school, only to be horrified when she tries to cheat off the other participants and learns they don’t know the answers either.
She still manages to wing it, thankfully, much to Twilight’s excitement, but he collapses from exhaustion after finally relaxing, causing Anya to humorously declare that he has “died” when she gets home with him.
We then get the exciting cliffhanger of the episode where, after Anya adorably snuggles up to her adopted father on the couch, he reads a letter from Eden Collage, which says Twilight and Anya will need to take part in a family interview, meaning he now needs to find a fake wife.
Enter Yor, who we will be meeting next episode and, thankfully for Anya, is also a bundle of awesome and wholesomeness, so we have that to look forward to.
We have a whole lot to look forward to actually, as Spy x Family is probably the funniest and most wholesome manga out there right now and, if Cloverworks and Wit do as good of a job adapting it as they did this first episode, we will all be in for something truly special.

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