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by Rebecca Silverman,


GN 9


Yor's shipboard mission is in danger of failure when an unexpected assailant jumps into the fray, but not to worry – Anya's got her back! (Kind of.) Then once the family's back on dry land, Bond and Loid get a chance to work together, Franky ends up with an unexpected new partner, and the terror ramps up at Eden Academy when a tonitrus-crazy teacher comes back from the hospital. Operation Strix just can't seem to catch a break…

Spy x Family is translated by Casey Loe and lettered by Rina Mapa.


Anya has, for the majority of the series, stolen the limelight from her adult family members. That's by no means a bad thing because she's the perfect combination of precocious and utterly normal, but it's still nice to have this second volume where Yor and Loid take center stage. Yor most desperately needed the development, because she's truly taken a backseat to her husband and daughter, and this book wraps up her first true story arc. It's more of a whimper than a bang, but it still does an excellent job of showing us her assassin chops while also allowing her to realize just how important Loid and Anya are to her.

That's a major theme of the volume: how this mission-created family is worth so much more than it sounds on paper. Loid's the only one who officially knows this (Anya's picked up a lot but doesn't fully understand all of the implications), and so he's the one with the most involved mental gymnastics. While Yor's mission drove home to her the understanding that she doesn't want to give up her new family for anything and that she deserves to have familial love in her life, Loid is still skating around the issue, at least unconsciously. But as he works at being a “normal” dad onboard the ship, he realizes that he's begun to think about his family as a real thing, not just a cover story. It unsettles him because in his mind, accepting that means that he's somehow failed as a superspy. After all, if he can't maintain this as mere fiction, what does that say about his devotion to the cause?

No storyline in this volume shows that like the chapters where Loid and Bond are out “training.” Loid is determined to make Bond into the most valuable asset he can, but partway through Franky points out that Loid is, very likely, triggering the poor dog's trauma. As anyone who has ever rescued a traumatized animal can tell you, they suffer from emotional damage just as much as people do; my current dog came from horrific circumstances and had nightmares for the first year he was with us. Bond, like most dogs, really wants to please his new family, but what Loid is asking of him – and how Loid is asking it – makes him worry that he's not a good enough boy. Being clairvoyant, Bond decides to use his powers to prove his worthiness to Loid, but unlike the psychic Anya, Loid has no idea what the dog is doing. He, therefore, has to learn how to trust Bond (and to write everything off as the dog having a really keen sense of smell), and at some point, he realizes that part of what's important to him is that Bond comes home safe to Anya. Loid isn't ready to accept that this means that he's got serious Daddy Feelings, but we can see that keeping his little family together has drawn level with Operation Strix in terms of the most important things in his life. (Handler also seems to have a clue and to be perfectly fine with it, which is probably significant.)

Despite containing the wrap-up to Yor's first major solo storyline, this volume is fairly scattered in terms of plot. Alongside the excellent man-and-his-dog chapters, we also get two where Nightfall and Franky end up working (or perhaps “working”) together, Becky going all-in on her crush on Loid, and a bit of time at Anya's school, where a new teacher is introduced. All of these stories are generally strong and further the main plotline (assuming you don't see Operation Strix as the main point of the series), and it works as the follow-up to book eight, which focused on one specific storyline. The new teacher at Eden Academy feels like the least of the chapters, although she does facilitate an important moment between Anya and Damian. This woman, the head of the disciplinary committee, has apparently been in the hospital up until this chapter, presumably due to her own vast well of hatred poisoning her. She's an absolute fiend who gets her jollies by tormenting children, sort of like a tonitrus-dispensing Miss Trunchbull, and she will seize any excuse to make a child's day miserable. When she comes for Anya's class, Damian's friends have just made an ill-advised bet with Anya and Becky about what they'll do if Damian ever gets a bolt; what happens next makes good use of both Damian's Domyoji-inspired actions and Anya's innate Anyaness.

Of course, any scene at school is a chance for Endō. to show off his skill in background details, and this volume is no exception. Every scene where Anya and Damian are in the same room features Damian staring at Anya while trying not to look like he's watching her, and it's fun to note that Anya even has him do this in her daydreams about one-upping him. Obviously, she needs him to notice what she's doing, but the fact that he's acting normal in that regard when she's fantasizing indicates that she knows what he's doing; she just doesn't quite understand it. That sums up her character really well – the chapter where Becky comes over for a visit and tries to put the moves on Loid also features Anya being only tangentially aware of people's motives and putting her own spin on them, which we also see in the wrap-up of the cruise ship plot. She's just a well-written little kid, whether she's using boogers as a way to get a guy to look for a bomb or convincing herself of something utterly untrue.

SPY x FAMILY's ninth volume is, as always, a sheer delight. Watching Loid evolve his thinking without even realizing it, seeing he and Yuri feel like hypocrites as they tell Anya not to lie, seeing Bond save a pug puppy – everything is simply well-done and a mix of funny and serious. Yor's solo plot may not be brilliantly wrapped up, but there's still more than enough here to keep the series at the top of the heap.

Overall : A-
Story : A-
Art : A-

+ Loid's emotional evolution continues, Anya steals the show with her antics. Good background details in the art. Wet Bond.
Yor's storyline doesn't end as strongly as it started, that new teacher is almost too much.

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Production Info:
Story & Art: Tatsuya Endō
Licensed by: Viz Media

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