There’s a special brand of charm that comes with the found family trope, but Spy x Family sharpens that edge with an unorthodox spin on the formula. Combining a spy, an assassin, and a telepath under one rooftop, the hit manga series by Tatsuya Endo – and adapted into two anime seasons – has claimed the hearts of many, further cementing its mainstream appeal.
While there’s plenty to love about the hit series, one of its biggest strengths is the nifty ability to weave between heartwarming and light-hearted moments. Spy x Family Code: White, the show’s first feature film, sets out to recreate this curious, magnetic allure, and it succeeds for the most part. Is the movie necessary? Not really. But is it enjoyable? Heck yes, especially for fans who are already taken with the Forgers’ shenanigans.
Like its episodic counterpart, the animated jaunt opens with an introduction of the characters. Loid, the super-spy known by his code name, Twilight, has to “build a family” as part of Operation Strix, a mission he’s tasked with amid a cold war between two warring countries. Unknown to him, his adopted daughter Anya is a telepath, while his pretend wife Yor is a deadly, skilled assassin. Their pet Bond isn’t an ordinary dog either, possessing the ability to predict the future.
Building on the premise, Spy x Family Code: White tells an original story that is not part of the manga, but is part of the anime though there’s no telling when the events of this film take place. Loid, after being informed by his handler that he will soon be reassigned with his current mission handed over to another agent, makes one last desperate gamble to prove his worth – helping Anya win the school cooking competition by making the principal’s favourite dessert. Victory would grant her a Stella Star, which Loid requires a full suite of to get close to his target for Operation Strix.
Not one to do things halfway, he decides to track down the recipe in a scenic town, which calls for a family vacation to the Frigis region. As Murphy’s Law would dictate, it quickly goes south, with Anya getting tangled in a dangerous military plot after eating a ball of chocolate, and Yor combatting her insecurities over her fake marriage with Loid.
The result is exactly what one would expect from a filler movie: a perfunctory, predictable plot, guest appearances from side characters, and overly-convenient resolutions. The development of events is pretty standard storytelling fare, even if there are some nice touches to its overall presentation, including a nifty Chekhov’s Gun moment and the series’ signature blend of entertaining domestic (mis)adventures and intricate spywork.
But let’s be honest – narrative mastery is the last thing viewers look out for in a Spy x Family movie. Code: White features highly forgettable antagonists and doesn’t quite live up to the anime’s caliber of meshing tonal elements, and that’s fine, because the characters, their dynamics with one another, and the action set pieces steal the show here.
Loid, suave and charismatic as ever, continues to grapple with his conflicted feelings for his newfound family; meanwhile, Anya is her usual excited, innocent self, a trouble magnet disguised as an adorable ball of energy. Even Bond gets to shine, pulling off some heroics with a screentime longer than an average episode of the anime series.
Yor is easily the standout character, however. Despite being touted as a lethal master assassin, it isn’t often that the Thorn Princess gets to show off her excellent fighting chops in the show. Spy x Family: Code White, much to fans’ delight, dedicates an enthralling action spectacle spotlighting her deft, hard-hitting strikes and graceful, fleet-footed maneuvers. These sequences serve to reinforce the duality between Yor’s naive self, and her ruthless, battle-hardened half.
Indeed, action is the film’s greatest suit. The film takes a while to establish tension, but rewards the wait with frenzied shootouts and chase scenes – tinged with a healthy dose of comedy, in Anya’s case – as well as nail-biting close shaves. Between these moments, it dulls the adrenaline rush with some espionage craft, family bonding downtime, and emotional beats.
Ironically enough, the action-heavy focus plays into the flimsy narrative structure. While the Spy x Family world has always stretched the elasticity of logic, certain developments in the animated feature, such as the Forgers’ death-defying exploits – more absurd than in the anime – and Yor’s explanation of her athleticism and skill to Loid (yes Loid, we know you’re down bad for your pretend wife, but please), push the threshold for incredulity. It’s as far-fetched as it’s endearingly charming, especially for fans who would eat all of that up.
There’s no denying how good everything looks on the silver screen, too. Action sequences flow smoothly from one to the next, with an added dynamic punch when things kick into high gear. The presentation of each scene also aptly reflects its tone – Frigis, for instance, rings of life and wintery joy, while food shots come bursting with rich, vibrant hues.
For Anya in particular, a subsequent plotline involving her fighting against the call of nature sees a bold departure from the usual art style. Kissed by softer, more whimsical overtones, these scenes accentuate their imaginative and surreal quality.
Ultimately, Spy x Family Code: White promises a fun, feel-good adventure that retains all of the signature charm and wholesome sensibilities the series is known for. It may not be enough to entice newcomers and first-timers, but longtime fans will have plenty to enjoy on their extended trip with the Forger family.
GEEK REVIEW SCORE
Spy x Family Code: White makes up for a light story with a familiar blend of heart, humour, and action, making it a great blast to watch on the big screen.
Story - 6.5/10
Direction - 8/10
Characterisation - 8/10
Geek Satisfaction - 8.5/10