Spy x Family left an indelible mark on the anime and manga industries in 2022. With 29 million volume sales, a slew of nominations at the 2023 Crunchyroll awards, and an upcoming movie and second season, the franchise's popularity appears to be unstoppable. While the series is well-known for its exploration of found family through Loid, Yor, and Anya, as well as its constant humor and the series' well-established balance of slice-of-life fun and shonen action, the series' strong anti-war message is also central to what Spy x Family is all about.
It is clear from the beginning of both the manga and the anime that one of Twilight's main objectives is to prevent war. It becomes obvious that he is somewhat of a pacifist despite his career as the series follows him undercover as family man Loid Forger, though the reasons for this aren't fully revealed until later in the manga. Yor, his fictitious wife, has also experienced the effects of war; she lost her parents as a result of the conflict and had to raise her younger brother, Yuri, as a child. Through its protagonists, it becomes impossible to ignore the message that Tatsuya Endo imbues in his manga -- namely, that war doesn’t discriminate and causes pain to everyone involved.
The Tragic Effects of War Are Pervasive in Twilight's Backstory
Twilight's backstory explains why he despises war and chose to become a spy to prevent it. He lost both of his parents to the war as a young boy, as revealed in Chapters 62.1-62.3 of the manga, and eventually became a soldier himself as a teenager. By fighting against the nation of Ostania, which was responsible for the bombings in his hometown, he was able to avenge his mother in particular. However, while deployed, he meets his eventual friend Franky, who causes him to recognize the folly of picking up a gun without realizing that the people on the other side are still people, not monsters. Franky forces Twilight to come to terms with the fact that if he continues on the path he’s on, he’s no different from the people who destroyed his childhood.
Yor Had to Grow up Faster Because of the War
If war touched Twilight’s childhood in a traumatizing way, the same could be said for his wife, Yor. She and her brother Yuri were both victims of the war as children, losing both their parents to the feud between Ostania and Westalis. It’s revealed early on in both the manga and the anime adaptation that Yor took care of her younger brother most of her life, taking on the role of his mother naturally and without complaint. Because of this, she didn’t have the same opportunities that would have been afforded to her as a young woman, such as dating or starting a family of her own. The cover for her assassin work that is provided when she becomes Loid/Twilight’s wife and Anya’s mother fills this gap, allowing her to reclaim some of the romantic and familial moments she missed out on while raising Yuri. In her assassin work, her memories of war fuel her just as they do Loid to help create a more stable and peaceful world for everyone.
The Influence of War on Loid and Yor
While still conveying a profoundly moving tale about war and how its effects linger long after the fighting is over, Yor and Loid's motivations serve to lessen the gravity of their work. Yor's assassin work is particularly gory and bloody, whereas Loid's spy work involves manipulating and harming people for professional reasons even though it isn't always as violent. These characters could easily come off as unlikeable and hard to root for in the hands of any other author. The strength of the anti-war sentiments that spur both of them into action in their respective workplaces, along with the often comedic and light-hearted tone of the story, is what gives the couple a certain sense of kindness and empathy, making them that much more compelling for Spy x Family’s audience.
It’s not uncommon for war to be a thematic topic in anime and manga series, but few franchises get at the realities of war in the way that Spy x Family does. In the anime world, battles happen at every turn, with a clear winner and loser and a glamorized view of violence. In Spy x Family, the truth of war is revealed, directly affecting at least two of its three protagonists, though Anya’s biological parents could have been wrapped up in it as well for all the audience knows. In doing this, Endo sidesteps the romanticization of war, showing its nature as destructive for everyone involved. As Loid learns the lesson that war turns good people against one another without reason, so does Endo’s readership. There’s no doubt it will be highly moving and emotional when the anime eventually gets to the heart of that message in full.