Reviewby Rebecca Silverman,
Twilight's mission hits another snag when he discovers that his “wife” Yor has an insanely protective/possessive brother whom she completely forgot to tell about their marriage! Now Yuri has come over to check him out, and as if his mere existence isn't enough of a snag, his job is also one that threatens Twilight's very existence as a spy. Meanwhile adopted daughter Anya is still having trouble at her elite school, even though her psychic powers should be making things easier. Is there any possible way that this mission can succeed?
Even when she's not the main focus of the volume, Anya remains the heart of SPY x FAMILY as a series. As I mentioned in the review of the previous book, as a psychic, Anya is the only person who is well-informed (more or less) about the truth of what's going on with all of the various people, but she only understands as much as your average five-year-old…which, sans psychic powers, is what she is. She therefore puts her own interest ahead of almost everything else, and the main thing she's interested in at this point is keeping her new family together. While that can be read as more sad than funny – because she really is a very normal kid when you discount her powers – it also means that everything she does is filtered through this desire. So when her parents decide to go on a date, for example, she feels compelled to tail them so that neither Yor nor Twilight does anything to jeopardize the family, because she firmly believes that if they get mad at each other, that's it: she gets abandoned.
While this certainly doesn't sound like a fun piece of what is essentially a Cold War caper series, we as readers can see that, despite everything, both Yor and Twilight really are starting to care about their daughter. Even if the marriage doesn't last, it's hard to imagine that both of them would just up and leave her. We see this evidence of care in their little actions, such as wanting to cook a meal that Anya likes or comforting her when she can't do something. Even Twilight's efforts to tutor Anya start to look a little bit more like he's doing it for her rather than for his mission. But since neither Yor nor Twilight are actually aware of what they're doing, Anya can't lift their feelings from their minds with her skills. You can't read blank paper, after all.
Although only about half of the book belongs to Anya this time around, those are still some of the absolute best parts. “Loid's” big goal for her at this stage is for her to get meritorious stars, a major sign of prestige at her fancy school. Since she doesn't seem to be headed in that direction academically, he has to figure out what else he can have her do in order to earn one (or more, for preference), and Anya naturally picks up on this desire. The first plan she hatches is to try to get one in gym class, where they're playing a version of everyone's least favorite school-sanctioned bullying game: dodgeball. Anya's class is playing against a class boasting a boy whose preternaturally early development makes it look like there's a grown beefy man on the court, and like many other school-age thugs, he plays dodgeball for keeps. Anya, fortunately, can read his mind and orchestrate excellent dodges, but the one person she's not factoring into her defense is the boy her dad desperately wants her to befriend: Damian Desmond. This is once again where her being very young comes into play, because despite being psychic, she's totally unaware that Damian fell hard for her last volume and has no idea that he'll try and save her. (In his defense, he doesn't seem all that aware of what he's doing, either.) But perhaps more importantly, Anya learns the hard lesson that you should never throw something that bounces the same way you would throw, for example, a knife. Yor's advice definitely has some problems.
Meanwhile Twilight feels that Anya should earn her star by volunteering, which goes about as well as you might expect when a five-to-six-year-old is taken to do middle school-level volunteer tasks at a hospital. This section of the book has one of the best endings of the stories in the volume, although Yor and Twilight's date, where she's struggling with the pain of having been shot in the butt on her last mission, is also a good one. In fact, despite the promising premise, Yor's brother Yuri's visit to the Forger apartment is probably the weakest segment of the volume. This is mostly because it relies a lot on tropes that we've seen an awful lot in most romantic comedies, most specifically the bit about the overprotective brother who'd prefer that his sister's husband be him. While Endo is able to take this and twist it just enough to make things feel a bit more interesting (Yuri and Yor are both completely in the dark about their sibling's actual occupation), mostly it just feels like a scenario we've read before. That said, Twilight figuring out that Yuri works for the Secret Police because he uses the same exact cover stories spies are taught to use is pretty great, his very own Anya moment and one that shows us that no matter how good Yuri thinks he is at his job, Twilight's better.
SPY x FAMILY's third volume proves that it's able to keep things moving in entertaining directions even when it falters a bit in its creativity. The small hints that Twilight is really starting to get into this whole dad thing give it a softer element alongside the silliness, as does the fact that he's still largely out of his depth with Yor, who sadly still hasn't quite come into her own as a character. But all of that could be upended in the next volume, because Anya's got a request for her parents that she thinks will finally get her invited over to Damian's house:
Overall : A-
Story : A-
Art : B+
+ Signs that Twilight is starting to feel like a real dad, Anya is consistently funny. Good segue to the next volume.
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