Reviewby Rebecca Silverman,
The Forger family is on the high seas, but for two very different purposes: Anya may have won herself and Loid third-class tickets for a three-day cruise, but Yor will be in first-class, working. The Thorn Princess is taking a break from being an assassin to be a bodyguard for a woman fleeing the destruction of her crime family, and that's a little outside her wheelhouse. Can she keep her charge safe and avoid letting her husband know what she's actually doing?
Spy x Family is translated by Casey Loe and lettered by Rina Mapa.
It's Yor's turn to shine! After being criminally underused for seven volumes, volume eight's focus is on Yor as she takes on the task of being bodyguard to a woman and her infant on the run. The only catch? Yor's much better suited for assassination than guard duty. And Anya and Loid are also on the cruise ship she's working on. Yes, there will be very little smooth sailing on this ship...
SPY x FAMILY is one of the most perfect mixes of silly and sweet out there, and this volume is no exception. Putting the focus on Yor does give us a bit less Anya, but what we get is still wonderful, particularly since she's absolutely aware of what Yor's doing and why Loid can't find out about it. Loid, meanwhile, is truly terrible at relaxing, and he spends most of the trip worrying that he's not being a good enough dad to Anya, which frankly makes him one of the best dads in manga. But most important is that putting Yor in the spotlight means that we finally truly get inside her head as she tries to figure out why she's still working in this dangerous field and what Loid and Anya are to her. A cover story? Or her real family? While we may have an easy answer for her, she certainly doesn't, and that really drives the book.
The reason for her mission is relatively straightforward: the daughter of a crime family that's recently undergone…let's call it “reorganization” needs to get out of Berlint. The agency Yor works for is taking charge of her escape, and Yor is recruited as a bodyguard. It isn't explicitly stated, but part of the reason for this is the fact that she's a woman with a child, and so is the lady she's escorting. As far as Loid knows, she's just going on a special work trip, and the fact that Anya won two tickets on the same cruise ship in a lottery is a pure and total coincidence. As is, of course, the fact that Loid's handler has told him that he's under strict orders to rest up and relax; it really says a lot about how neither Loid nor his boss know quite enough about children that they both think that a trip with a small child would qualify as “relaxing;” my parents differentiated between a “trip” (with my sisters and I) and a “vacation” (without us) for a reason.
The Loid and Anya sections of the volume are much more like the Yor sections in previous books – shorter and less in-depth. Mostly they're about Anya attempting to figure out what Yor's doing and then forgetting and just having fun while Loid frets his way along, reminding himself to “observe, analyze, and act” roughly every twenty seconds while he ends up in a truly ghastly “fun and upbeat dad” outfit. This actually works very well with Yor's major emotional dilemma in the book: when she's discussing things with her charge, the woman (who's going by the alias “Shaty”) mentions that Loid and Anya are just Yor's cover story, not her real family. That doesn't sit well with Yor, and we see it preying on her more and more as the book goes on, especially as she sees Shaty care for her own biological child. Neither Loid nor Yor may be aware of what really brought them together, but it's becoming increasingly clear that this family they've built is very much a real one, and Yor's not alone in worrying about what she'd do if she no longer had it; Loid, as well, worries about what would happen if he had to abandon Anya in this very same volume. Since we've previously only seen Anya fretting about the dissolution of her new family, it's really reassuring to see that Loid and Yor are just as concerned about it, and it's Yor's firm realization of why she got into assassination in the first place and why she can't give it up that allows her to truly come into her own in this volume.
Unsurprisingly, this book has the highest body count of any previous volume of SPY x FAMILY, although the gore is still pretty minimal. Yor's such a badass fighter that her enemies are only partway through their manga-typical self-introductions before they're dead on the ground, and while that's a departure from the spy-based (or Anya-based) hijinks of previous books, it's a good way to keep things feeling fresh. And there's still plenty of humor in both art and writing, such as Shaty's fake husband's awful alias of Furseal Grey, and some ominous allusions to the Titanic in the ship's design. Also, a shout-out to the translator of this volume, Casey Loe. Anya's little kidisms (mistaking "suite" for "sweet," for example) are pitch-perfect and manage to be funny and real without being twee. That's harder to do than you might think, and Loe deserves a lot of credit for not only pulling it off, but enhancing the story with an excellent translation. Anya's mistake of “flog” for “frog” gives us one of the best of her doom-and-gloom fantasies in the series thus far.
What is there to say about SPY x FAMILY but that it continues to be excellent? With Yor finally getting her day in the sun, which looks like it'll continue into volume nine, and both of the adults of the Forger family at last realizing that they don't want this to just be a mission's cover story, this remains one of the best shounen series currently being translated. You really don't want to miss it.
Overall : A-
Story : A-
Art : A-
+ Yor finally gets her due, some great translations for Anya's mistakes. Loid's “fun dad” outfit.
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