Reviewby Rebecca Silverman,
Anya has finally given Loid a chance to meet Donovan Desmond face-to-face, but is his daughter really the best method to approach his target? After all, Damien's relationship with his father doesn't look all that promising, and Loid's skill as Twilight may not be enough to make this work. While he's on the job, Bond has a terrible premonition of his own impending doom, Yor helps Franky track down a missing cat, and Anya tries her best to get her hands on a magical pastry that will raise her intelligence – you know, just normal things in the daily life of the Forger family.
One of the joys of Tatsuya Endō's SPY x FAMILY is its varied cast of characters, most specifically the members of the Forger family. With only Anya (and to a degree Bond) fully aware of everything that's going on behind the façade of a perfectly normal upper-middle class home, misunderstandings and bizarre situations become their own special brand of normal, and that trickles over into the things that everyone does outside the house as well. This seventh volume of the espionage/domestic comedy series isn't the most cohesive in terms of plot, but it does give a large portion of the cast the chance to shine, and that makes up for a lot.
The most important piece of the volume in terms of the overarching plot is the opening, which has Loid finally meeting his target, Donovan Desmond, face-to-face. Anya, in her continued heated rivalry (or whatever it is) with Donovan's son Damien, has nicely provided Loid with the opportunity he's been itching for, and he's now determined to make the best of it. It certainly looks perfect on the surface, but much like Twilight's cover story as Loid Forger, things aren't quite as they seem, and the superspy finds himself faced with a father who is indifferent at best and disinterested at worst. Loid's assumption that Donovan would be livid that some girl laid hands on his son is proven to be somewhat inaccurate, and while that's frustrating for the spy, it's devastating for the son himself.
Damien Desmond has mostly just been filling the role of Anya's rival/low-key love interest up until now, so it's not a bad thing to have the story delve into his character a bit deeper. Prior to this volume we did know that he's been (or at least felt) neglected by his father, and Donovan's easy brushing off of Anya's actions with the equivalent of “eh, kids” hurts Damien more than it irritates Loid. Getting Donovan's attention is important to Loid's work, but for Damien it's his life, and without getting into moral debates about why Loid needs to fulfill his mission goals, his ability to relate to his father and earn his praise and attention is a matter of getting to live happy and content. To see his dad just brush off what happened to him, and to then only barely acknowledge his achievement of a Stella Star, is hurtful in the extreme. Donovan does throw him a slim bone at the end of their interaction, but we can see that it's not really enough, instead pushing Damien to strain himself to the breaking point in a renewed effort to garner even more praise and attention from a largely absent father. Loid and Yor may not be perfect parents, but at least they've never made Anya feel as desperate as poor Damien does.
Fortunately, there are teachers who are paying attention, and Damien and his two buddies get their own special outdoors adventure in an effort to undo the damage done by Donovan. It's not the funniest chapter, but it definitely wins some prizes for heartwarming, because it's one of the few times we get to see Damien just be a kid in a safe (or safeish) environment. It's also a nice demonstration of how his friends really do care about him; it may yet be possible to keep Damien from becoming Domyouji 2.0. It doesn't quite make up for the decreased amount of Anya time in the volume, but it's definitely a nice section of the book. And we do see Damien and Anya interact when a school legend rears its head towards the end of the volume with the introduction of a pastry chef who pops by on occasion to bestow his godly gifts of intelligence-raising sweets on the students. Naturally they're in limited quantities, and just as naturally that means that Anya and Damien (and their respective cohorts) must fight for a taste.
The real winner out of the stories in this volume, however, is Bond, who gets a chapter wherein he has a flash of foresight that seems to indicate that the end for him is nigh. (Or that he's going to sit in front of a staticky TV. He's a dog, it's hard to know.) In his desperation to figure out what will save him, Bond runs through a variety of scenarios in his mind, which everyone interprets as best fits their own perception of what a dog might want. Yor's the closest with her offer of food, except that it's her food that Bond is afraid might spell the end for him, which sends him out of the house to find Twilight, who of course has his own take on what the dog wants. That most of this is done through wordless visuals in Bond's mind makes it particularly good, showing that Endō.'s art is just as up for the storytelling as his text – and that he's got a pretty solid grasp of dogs as well as realistic little kids. (And cats, as a story involving Franky trying to find a lost kitty shows.)
SPY x FAMILY's seventh volume isn't as cohesive as its predecessors, but that's not all that much of a problem. Everyone gets a turn to take center stage in this book, and that makes up for a slightly stalled main plot. It's too bad Yor has to share her story with Franky, as it seems that Endō. still doesn't quite know what to do with her as a character, but on the whole this is just as much fun as the books that came before and solidifies this even further as a series worth following.
Overall : A-
Story : B+
Art : A-
+ Bond chapter is particularly strong, Damien gets some good development. Everyone gets a turn in the spotlight.
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