Spy x Family, Season 2
Several short stories about the Forgers and friends (or at least acquaintances)- plus an EPIC Yor tale.
This season of Spy x Family is basically an absolutely fantastic story arc (Eps. 30-34) that Crunchy readers familiar with the manga identify as the Cruise Ship arc, but which I like to call "Yor Unleashed", bookended fore and aft by episodes documenting smaller events in the lives of the Forgers and their acquaintances. Some of the little vignettes were more or less filler, but some were dramatically more significant. So here's the question: "Yor Unleashed" is a definite five stars; but how to weight the rest of it, to decide whether the show overall is four stars, or five stars?
Let's look at "Yor Unleashed" first. I had thought that Yor was basically working for the Ostanian government (like Yuri), but we learn that she's actually part of a group of assassins called Garden, whose affiliation with the government (if any) seemed to me unclear; but Loid's masters seem to also regard Garden as a menace, so the basic problem hanging over the series- what happens when everyone's secrets are exposed?- is not eased.
Garden wants to help the wife and infant son of a deposed (and now deceased) crime boss escape Ostania. I thought this magnanimity a little strange- groups like Garden are not known for their altruism, and whether the wife and son live or don't wouldn't impact the control of the upstart who replaced her husband (HE'S still there), so why are they making this kind of effort?
In any event, Yor is assigned to protect the mother and baby on an ocean voyage (the mom and child, and another defector from the crime boss's organization, are to be transferred to another vessel while at sea.) But the upstart crime boss has hired a small army of assassins to do the defectors in, which, we will say, keeps Yor quite busy for several episodes. (Her senior in Garden is also on the voyage, but his job is mainly to wipe up the blood she's spilled.)
There are flashes of Yor's ditzy side here. At one point she nearly falls for one of the oldest tricks in the book- her charges themselves have to put her on her guard. At another point she loses her favorite weapon (more a very large, and very sharp, knitting needle than a dagger.) When she recovers it later, she declares that the wind must have blown it where she found it. Since the place where she found it was, in fact, in the back of a corpse, I'd say there was a little more story involved than that.
Sometimes (if the stars are aligned) a show's unique elements can synergistically combine to create a perfectly paced entertainment that gives everyone in the cast an opportunity to shine- and so it is, here. Yor, of course, presents us with the longest sustained action/combat sequence in the show's history; she's an incredible master of frenzied brute force (in high heels!). Anya, as the only person who really knows everything that's going on, does her best to support her "mom" behind the scenes. (She views herself as choreographing the whole thing, which is at least somewhat true.) Even Loid is given an important task requiring his talents. There are contemplative moments during the heat of battle when we get to hear the thoughts of both Yor and Loid, and find that the "Forgers" are beginning to regard themselves as a real family. (Battles usually don't really give one much time for contemplation, but this is for the sake of personal drama, so I'll shut up and let it pass.) It also takes some extraordinary good luck for the good guys (and some extraordinarily BAD luck for the BAD guys) to make it all work, but it all DOES work, magnificently.
So far, so great. But what about the rest of the show? Well, there's certainly fluff (e.g., the "Pastry of Knowledge" bit); and other segments, like Anya's classmate Becky Blackbell's crush on Loid, are just embarrassing.
But there's some good stuff in the shorter stories, too. We see Anya's classmate Damian Desmond- one of the original objects of Loid's mission, and kind of a troubled kid- and Damian's sycophant sidekicks go on a camping trip, and this certainly does build a little audience sympathy for them. (Their guardian and guide on the trip, a Mr. Green, seems a terrific mentor for kids.) Even Yor's siscon brother Yuri shows at least a brief flash of humanity. (My take on Yuri is that he's basically a spoiled child in an adult body- with Yor, who raised him, being the spoiler. His fixation on his sister is born of obsessive dependency- and he automatically hates anyone who he thinks might take her away from him.)
Even Bond (the dog!) has some great moments. In an earlier segment, and in the entire final episode of the season, Bond gets to hang out with Loid, who, of course, is unaware of the dog's ability to see the future, so Loid naturally misinterprets whatever Bond does. But man and dog is an old story of affection, and we see Loid, in the end, finally crack a smile- which is a marvelous thing in its own right.
One more minor complaint- I didn't think this season's "big shoes" opener was nearly as good as the Bump of Chicken opener we had last time. But on balance that, like the weaker short stories, pales before both the furious action of "Yor Unleashed" and the charm and/or drama of the better season's stories.
So it's five stars this time, folks. — Allen Moody
Recommended Audience: Yor takes some damage points this season- she's shot (offscreen) and stabbed (onscreen)- and the sustained battle here is quite a bit more intense than the sporadic violence we've previously seen. (One villain gets his head pinned to a wall.) Nevertheless, I'll stick with the PG-13 rating I've used in the preceding chapters.
Version(s) Viewed: Crunchyroll video stream
Review Status: Full (12/12)
Spy x Family, Season 2 © 2023 Tatsuya Endo/Shueisha, Spy x Family Project
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