The meteoric rise of Spy x Family as one of anime's greats

Tatsuya Endo's series has become iconic in the genre in just a few years

SPY X FAMILY (2022), directed by KAZUHIRO FURUHASHI. Credit: Aniplex / Album
Spy x Family has become a huge cultural phenomenon since the manga began in 2019 and the anime was first released in 2022. (Tatsuya Endo/Shueisha)

Ask someone a few years ago if they've heard of Spy x Family you'd be hard-pressed to find someone who was familiar with it, but fast forward to 2024 and the opposite is almost certainly true.

Created by Tatsuya Endo, Spy x Family began in 2019 and has enjoyed a meteoric rise to success as both a manga and anime in the years since. The anime adaptation will soon be added to with a new movie, titled Spy x Family Code: White, coming to UK cinemas and IMAX on Friday, 26 April.

Read more: Dragon Ball's cultural impact as creator Akira Toriyama dies aged 68

But what is it about Spy x Family that has resonated with viewers so much? Well there's a number of factors really, so let's dig into it.

Spy x Family Code: White (Tatsuya Endo/Shueisha)
The series follows spy Loid Forger, aka Twilight, who creates a fake family in order to save the world. (Tatsuya Endo/Shueisha)

Spy x Family's narrative, at its most basic, is almost like the start of a joke — a spy, an assassin and a telepath become a family in order to stop war from breaking out. To give more context, the series follows Loid Forger, a spy also known as Twilight, who is tasked with getting close to the reclusive Donovan Desmond, the leader of the National Unity Party within Ostania.

The only way to do so, and to ensure rival nations of Westalis and Ostania don't go to war, is to create a family and enter a child into the prestigious school that Donovan's son attends. So, Loid adopts a young girl named Anya, who just so happens to be a telepath, and later meets Yor, who agrees to pretend to be his wife so that she's not suspected of nefarious deeds by her cohorts.

They each hold secrets, with Yor really working as an assassin behind the scenes, and Anya keeping her telepathy a secret, while Loid tells the pair that he's a doctor rather than an undercover spy. Oh, and they also get a dog named Bond, who can see into the future.

The result? A sweet, fun, charming story of found family and espionage that is enjoyable in so many different ways and has a broad appeal.

Spy x Family Code: White (Tatsuya Endo/Shueisha)
The manga and anime series has wide appeal, and will bring to mind classics of the genre like James Bond, Mission: Impossible and many, many more. (Tatsuya Endo/Shueisha)

Spy x Family is a series with a lot going for it, for one thing the characters are immensely charming — Anya emphasises the show's cute side, while Loid represents the roguish appeal of spies like James Bond, and Yor's shy personality juxtaposed with her ruthless nature in her work makes her intriguing.

Read more: The best anime to live-action adaptations ranked

What is most moving to see as the show goes on, though, is the way in which affection grows between the trio, they may not have begun as a family but as time goes on they become a real one in every way that matters. To see them stick up for each other and root for each other is part of the show's charm.

There's also the great writing, Endo has created a world that fits perfectly into the spy genre, full of deception and action-packed missions that bring to mind classics like 007 and Mission: Impossible.

Spy x Family Code: White (Tatsuya Endo/Shueisha)
Even though the anime adaptation only began in 2022, a second season has already come out and a film Spy x Family Code: White is set to be released in April. (Tatsuya Endo/Shueisha)

It's also full of humour and tells a story that feels familiar and yet fresh, with Anya's adventures at school contrasting perfectly with Loid and Yor's more serious work. To put it simply, there's a lot to love about Spy x Family.

Read more: The highest-grossing anime films of all time

The franchise has become so popular that even though the anime adaptation only premiered in April 2022 a second season has already come out and a film has been made — for all that to happen in less than two years proves the success of the franchise.

The Spy x Family manga —which currently consists of 13 volumes, 12 of which have been translated into English at the time of writing— has 35 million copies in circulation which makes it one of the best-selling manga series of all time. The series has also spawned video game adaptations too.

Spy x Family Code: White (Tatsuya Endo/Shueisha)
Spy x Family Code: White sees the Forgers go on a family vacation, only for Anya to eat a chocolate that threatens the fate of the world. (Tatsuya Endo/Shueisha)

Not only that but merchandise from the show is even available in Tesco, which is a visibility that only the biggest and best anime series get to enjoy.

Spy x Family Code: White is certain to continue the success of the franchise. The film follows the Forger family as they embark on a vacation where Anya inadvertently eats a chocolate that puts the fate of the world at stake, and it's up to the trio to solve the crisis before it's too late.

What does chocolate have to do with world peace, you might ask? Well, you'll just have to watch the film in cinemas to find out.

It has already delighted audiences in Japan, where it nabbed the #1 spot at the box office and held it for four consecutive weeks. The film will hopefully enjoy similar success when it is released abroad, but one thing's for sure Spy x Family is beloved for good reason and it is here to stay.

Spy x Family Code: White will be released in cinemas and IMAX from Friday, 26 April. The first season of Spy x Family is available on Netflix, and both seasons are available on Crunchyroll.

Watch the trailer for Spy x Family Code: White: