I don’t often read the manga an anime is based on and vice versa. Mostly because I’m a little greedy and I want to experience as many different stories as possible. And by default, I am one of the few people I know that generally prefers anime versions. So it’s telling that three of the new shows I have enjoyed the most this year are all series I had already read the manga for. My Dress-Up Darling, The Case Study of Vanitas and Spy x Family. And we’re only in June guys… we’re having a good anime year!

In all of these cases, I have enjoyed the anime more but it’s particularly meaningful for Spy x Family because I am a huge fan of the manga. But this adaptation you guys… Let me tell you!

I knew about the dodgeball game. Of course, I did, I read the manga. But I didn’t know about anything leading up to it. That’s because the manga pretty much goes from the end of the last episode straight to the start of the dodgeball game. See these screencaps above, anything that happened in those screencaps wasn’t in the manga.

That entire endearing mother-daughter training montage, that anime only! And if any of you have been around my blog for a while, you know that a good training montage is the way to my heart. That was a great sequence to add. It humanizes the characters and really solidifies Anya’s relationship with Yor while giving Yor something to do other than be super attractive. And it was just fun to watch. I would have watched it longer!

But it’s not just that. Something as simple as giving Professor Henderson a few seconds of jogging at the beginning of the episode does so much for both the character and the world-building. And it’s exactly what that character would do, isn’t it? I hadn’t thought about it but he would go jogging every morning. Nothing exceptional but enough to help his health and keep him in shape. And he would do it in a pristine white outfit that is specifically designed for the exercise. It’s perfect.

Also, we do get to know Damian pretty well and I would say he is substantially the same character, but we never got to see that scene of his friends talking about his brother in the yearbook. Sure, we already knew he had a complex about it, we didn’t need that scene to drive it home but it adds something. Even his school friends are enforcing his insecurities. Not on purpose but still (it really makes the fact that Anya calls him second son particularly cruel, doesn’t it?). And how does he take it? He stays silent and meekly looks down. Damian is the same character in both incarnations but anime Damian is just more Damian. I feel like I know him better now.

But don’t let me give you the wrong impression here. Spy x Family is a very good adaptation but it’s working of great source material. And one of the aspects I really appreciate is how Spy x Family handles antagonists.

Despite Yor and Loid’s very dangerous jobs, that have probably earned them enemies that want them dead. And despite the fact that Yuri is probably the greatest threat right now, no one is treated as an antagonist by the story quite like Damian is. And for this particular episode, we even got another temporary antagonist in Bill. Bill is perfect for the role being so disproportionately overpowered. He is an insurmountable obstacle and his character design, while not repulsive or anything is put together in a way to push sympathy away from him. He’s big and a little scary and does not look like he needs our help. He is passively unsympathetic because in a room full of much smaller children, most people are naturally going to sympathize with anyone but him.

Spy x Family isn’t exactly the only show to humanize antagonists. I have an entire essay about how sports anime do that every single episode. And it’s pretty much standard to give your antagonists some type of sob story to make the audience feel a little bad for them. I’m not that impressed that Damian is really just a neglected child that desperately wants to earn his parents’ attention and perhaps even their love or that Bill is similarly trying to live up to a standard his own father set for him because he does have a loving parental relationship. That’s basic stuff. Of course, Spy x Family was going to give me some character depth in the antagonists.

It’s the little things though. It’s Damian actually training with his two lackeys and pretending school ground equipment was a perilous mountain like little kids do. And showing us that scene exactly like a scene of kids playing. Not like Anya and Yor training for contrast. It’s showing that Damian is both a nice kid who doesn’t like when others get hurt and a bit of a self-centred jerk at the same time. He’s not good deep down. He’s both things all the time. And with the right nurture, he might become more one thing than the other. I really prefer that characterization.

It’s also showing Bill calling his father Daddy. I don’t know why but the word Daddy in the middle of the Japanese dialogue was just extra endearing to me. It’s so childish and yet sweet. The fact that next to his daddy Bill actually looks like the small child that he is. Also showing us how all the other kids in the class are cheering Bill up after the teacher tells him off and how he blushes. He’s not a bully. That’s what that one moment tells us. Bill is a little boy who really wanted to win a game of dodgeball, that’s all. And Spy x Family manages to first make him menacing and then completely soften his image without any exposition. I guess I’m just a fangirl but stuff like that really impresses me.

I’m really looking forward to next week now. I would have been anyways but I really like what comes next. And considering how great the anime has been at expanding the story, I have no doubt it’s going to be an amazing episode!

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11 thoughts

  1. I almost busted a gut laughing at Anya’s dodgeball throw. All that buildup for something amazing and then… plop. Well done!

    I never thought of Damien as an antagonist. I had him pegged as tsundere for her from the first time I saw him.

    1. As far as I have read, Damian remains the one consistent character that has to be won over, subdued or overcome for the protagonists to reach their goal. That might change later.

      It was such grand animation! They did a great job with anya’s epic moment!

      1. I didn’t read, but I watched. Didn’t take long to figure out he has the feels for her. This ep. proved it. He just doesn’t know it yet. And he’s a tsundere to boot.

        After all the build up with Yor’s training and then her uncanny dodging ability. And then her wind-up which even had the big guy worried. Brilliant!

        1. Well antagonist isn’t villain – he can easily be both a tsudere with a very obvious crush on Anya and in the way of her goals, which he is!

  2. I seriously couldn’t stop laughing during this episode! The epic drama only 6 year olds can muster! The muscly dodge ball champion Bill (he’s six?!)! The training for Anya’s “killer move”! It was all great!

    1. It really was and Bill is a great one episode character! I hope we get to see him again at some point

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