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Spy X Family Hits Different For Someone Who Never Wanted Kids Until I Had Them

When I first sat down to watch "Spy x Family" it basically seemed like a no-brainer. Coming from Wit Studio ("Attack on Titan") and CloverWorks ("The Promised Neverland"), the series has an amazing animation pedigree behind it and the premise is suitably wacky – focusing on a spy, an assassin, and a psychic who form a fake family to get what they want under the innocent cover it provides. 

However, something strange happened to me when "Spy x Family" returned for its second Season 1 cour. A new theme song and fresh visuals arrived with the new episodes each week and it awoke something in me that, at first, I couldn't quite understand. Every single time I watched that opening, I would find my eyes welling up with tears. I'd even start sobbing, occasionally.

I went through this strange experience every week as I watched the latest episode of "Spy x Family," but for some time, it didn't occur to me that the reason I was so moved by it was that the new opening, along with its lyrics, reminded me of my own experience. Like Loid (Takuya Eguchi/Alex Organ), I was always vehemently anti-kids until I took the plunge and had kids of my own, reluctantly becoming a family man in the process.

Once, I was almost cartoonishly against becoming a dad

Now, when I say I was anti-kids, I don't mean that I was like the bad guy from a Disney movie — think more like the clueless lead of a romantic comedy. For instance, Hugh Grant's character in "About a Boy." I wasn't against children, per se, I just needed a few well-timed knocks over the head from life before I could come around to the notion of being a father myself.

Back in 2015, me and my girlfriend of a few years were at odds because she wanted to adopt a trio of girls, all sisters, into our family. The rift between us eventually got wide enough that we broke up, with my now-wife choosing to take the kids in on her own. Now, I like a cute little kid as much as the next person, but I had never envisioned myself taking on a fatherly role before. In fact, we had discussed this earlier in our relationship — and even agreed on me getting a vasectomy, to avoid us having any more kids (my wife already had two older kids from a previous relationship). However, the more time I spent away from her, the more my resolve melted until finally I thought to myself, well, "Maybe I could try being a dad?" 

Eventually, we worked things out. Soon enough, I was an unwitting father who had to learn how to do it the only way you can really: spontaneously and with little-to-no training.

Spy x Family has a wacky premise, but it also has plenty of heart

How this ties into "Spy x Family" is, of course, through the character of Loid Forger aka Agent Twilight. Loid is a dedicated spy who is motivated by allowing others to live a happy and peaceful existence by taking out threats to peace amid a Cold War-esque setting somewhere in a mythical version of Europe. Unfortunately, when Loid discovers that the only path to a high value target is through the infiltration of an elite and secretive academy for talented up-and-comers, he finds the only path in is to land himself a fake family for cover. He starts by adopting Anya, a telepathic orphan (Atsumi Tanezaki/Megan Shipman), before having a chance meeting with Yor (Hayami Saori/Natalie Van Sistine), an assassin seeking the same kind of cover for her own profession.

This forms the initial family unit behind "Spy x Family," with Bond, a dog who has precognition abilities, joining them later on. Now, as you might have guessed, the premise of four family members keeping secrets from one another while pursuing their own ends leads to all kinds of wacky hijinks. However, what you might not expect is just how much heart the show comes to have.

In practice, it's the opposite of a movie like "Donnie Brasco" or "The Departed," where someone begins to bond with the very criminals that they're setting up for arrest. Instead, Loid and Yor find themselves acclimating unexpectedly to their roles, as they become increasingly fond of Anya and each other, despite their murderous professions.

Anya is the perfect character to make you fall in love with being a parent

The one thing that you can't explain to people who don't have kids or don't want them (which is a perfectly reasonable choice, by the way, but that's a different subject) is how incredibly attached you become to children when you raise them from a young age. When I started to become a parent, two of my charges were girls at the tender age of 1 and 2. As such, over the years, they have taken on characteristics of mine — without me even trying. There's just something so charming about watching a littler you start to grow and learn and change, while trying to help them adjust to the new problems that they regularly face. For those who don't have kids though, Anya Forger of "Spy x Family" is the perfect surrogate to give you an impression as to why kids can be such a joy to be around.

Not only is Anya insanely cute, often flubbing word pronunciations and speaking regularly in the third person, she's also precocious in a way that belies her seeming innocence. With her telepathic abilities, Anya is actually the only one who knows everyone's secrets and, as such, she takes great pains to keep the family unit happy, even as she often misinterprets the meaning of Loid and Yor's thoughts or worries.

If you have kids, you might find them trying to take on the role of parent or guardian from time to time as well, even when they definitely shouldn't be. All the same, the trait is an endearing one, especially for someone as young and frivolous as Anya is. As such, the character becomes the lynchpin for not just most of the comedy in "Spy x Family," but much of its heart as well.

Loid and Yor have to learn to put each other and Anya first

What makes Loid and Yor such intriguing characters is that neither one wanted to be a parent, really. They formed the fake family unit as a necessary cost to pursue their own goals without drawing suspicion. Still, neither one can help coming to care for the lovable Anya, nor can they help the romantic feelings that begin to develop between them.

While Anya's abilities make her a handful to raise on even a good day, the nature of Loid and Yor's work can sometimes make Anya a target of their enemies. As such, both characters have had to go to extreme lengths to save Anya from incredibly dangerous situations over the course of "Spy x Family." Loid though, in particular, will often run himself ragged to make sure he keeps his family happy while maintaining his cover as a doctor and engaging in spy missions on the side. He will occasionally even put his new family ahead of his very important job, something he would never have imagined beforehand, and he usually takes the brunt of life for his family whenever he can, suffering to save them from pain or heartache.

Being that this selflessness is one of the key aspects of being a parent, it shows that even if Loid himself hasn't quite realized it yet, he absolutely loves his found family and he will do whatever it takes to protect them and keep them happy, both personally and professionally.

Why is that Spy x Family opening so moving?

To close this out, let's get back to the "Spy x Family" opening that inspired this article. 

I think there's a specific reason why it captures these complex feelings so perfectly. First of all, the lyrics (which appear in the subtitled version of the show) make it clear that the wistful song is about Loid falling in love with his new family against his will. As any music fan knows, when you've had a unique experience yourself, a song can often pull emotions out of you that you didn't even know you were hiding. This is definitely the case with "Souvenir" by Bump of Chicken, the song which accompanies the dazzling, heartwarming visuals of the opening.

Still, what the opening really nails is its use of visuals that match the lyrics, and a moving tone, that shows how someone who regularly kills people for a living could still fall in love with the simple joys of parenting. Anya, Yor and Loid ride a theme park ride, go for a family drive, and take Bond for a walk together, even as other shots show the secret lives that they're hiding from one another.

Ultimately the message of the opening is that parenting is a hard job, especially if you have another job that you're deeply committed to. All the same, what the latest "Spy x Family" opening really shows is that no matter how hard it gets, parenting might be the most rewarding job in the world, even for someone who never imagined themselves in the role.