Bingo 13: Self Care
I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned in previous reviews that I tend to turn to manga and comics for comfort reading. One of my current favorite series is Spy X Family, in which a husband, wife, and daughter are gathered and have to present an ideal picture to the world, but things can get awkward at home since everyone has a major secret: Dad is a spy, Mom’s an assassin, Bond the dog who gets premonitions of the future, and daughter is a telepath who sort of knows everyone’s secrets but being around six often misunderstands. Loid Forger (aka Dad, and codename: Twilight) puts the family together (daughter Anya is adopted) for a mission, but obviously starts to actually like Yor (wife) and Anya.
Most of volume 5 focuses on Anya, whose part in the mission that she’s not supposed to know about is to go to a fancy school and get close to the son of Loid’s target, a political person of interest. Anya’s problem though is that she doesn’t usually understand what she gets via telepathy well enough to use it well, and she’s not an academically gifted child, meaning she’s operating under constant threat of expulsion for poor academic performance. This matters because in this volume, she’s faced with midterm exams that could see her kicked out of school if she fails all of them. So first, Anya realizes she can’t pass by cheating (reading minds of her smarter classmates), because on nights with a new moon her ability fades; we already know she hates to study and isn’t very good at it anyways. Yor asks her younger brother. Yuri is, unknown to Yor but known to Anya and Loid, a secret police officer, making him dangerous to Loid given that they’re not on the same side. He makes Anya nauseous with his obsessive thoughts about his sister, a common theme in a lot of manga and anime that’s a little creepy, and he tries but eventually gives up trying to teach Anya language stuff. This bit seems to be an attempt to build Yuri’s character a bit but it’s not enough to overshadow the creepy sibling obsession.
After the tests, there is some spycraft involved in attempts to change certain students’ answer sheets, and one of the responsible parties turns out to be a fellow student with a backstory that turns out to have been something of a misunderstanding which is both funny and sad at the same time. It’s all both entertaining yet a bit suspenseful and still somewhat thoughtful too.
The frame of this whole thing doesn’t fit as well, but the end suggest trouble ahead when we’re introduced to a fellow spy and coworker of Loid’s who secretly has a thing for him (Anya hears this loud and clear) meaning she’d like to see Yor gone, and she’s also ambitious as a spy so who knows what kind of trouble she might cause in the future. The opening chapter is a little cliché in that it’s all about Yor trying to learn how to cook; apparently she’s so bad on her own that even her brother who has an unhealthy attachment to her can’t eat her cooking without getting sick, although he claims it’s fine. The bit that saves this element is when Yor finds a dish she can cook well, and the reason why.
One of the things I like about this series is that it’s smart and interesting mostly without getting too dark. It’s character-based but there’s also plot. There’s conflict but nothing too traumatizing. It’s entertaining without getting mindless. I like that.