Anime  

Spy x Family – 20

Once again, Spy x Family gives us a brief acknowledgement of the elephant in the room.  But it remains there, in the corner, the awkwardness of its presence unresolved.  The premise for this exploration of Yor and Loid’s work is Anya being assigned a report on a workplace/career.  Most kids would choose their parents, so it’s no surprise Anya did.  I just hope someone did decide to interview poor Henderson-sensei, who’s such a dedicated and sincere believer in what he does.  Also interesting (it would have been more even interesting as the main focus of the episode than what we got, though that was interesting too) was Damian’s answer about interviewing his dad – “If I get to talk to him”.  Poor lad.

It is kind of funny that Yor’s first thought when Anya broaches the subject is “Which job should I talk about?” – followed by a truly disturbing imagined “bring your daughter to work day” fantasy.  It’s inescapable that Yor’s perception of what she does is so unhinged from reality.  She’s murdering people on behalf of a totalitarian secret police organization, and she tells herself she’s a patriot cleaning up the nation’s filth.  The truly interesting question here is whether Yor is simply in denial in order to remain sane, or genuinely believes this – and the fact that she’s presented as kind of a dim bulb brings an air of uncertainty to that.

I get that SxF is mainly a comedy, but it’s not an abject satire – it can’t totally punt on the sheer incongruity of this situation.  It’s a wonder that Anya isn’t utterly freaked out by what she sees in Yor’s mind, but maybe she’s just young enough to be able to blow it off.  Since Yor’s other job would indeed be a bore to write about, pivoting to Loid does make sense.  And that does indeed provide a more interesting canvas for the report, and the dichotomy of Loid’s work presents an interesting if altogether different set of questions itself.

In the first place Loid can more credibly make a case that he’s working for the greater good, and is not tasked with performing the innately evil acts Yor is most of the time.  He’s more introspective than Yor, certainly – I don’t think Loid could ever reconcile doing what she does.  However, the most interesting element of this for me is actually Loid’s day (and sometimes night) job.  Being a shrink is a pretty serious vocation, and – given that it’s one which directly impacts people’s well-being – impersonating one is a dubious moral proposition.  Just how much training does Loid have in mental health, and how qualified is he to be dispensing professional advice and treatment?

In point of fact Loid’s explanation of what he does is very enlightened and progressive – especially given that Japan (which is not the setting but is where this series hails from) is a country where mental health issues are still stigmatized and seeking the services of a psychologist or psychiatrist is considered shameful and a sign of weakness.  Loid speaks of patients getting “colds in the mind”, and how many who fought in the war (another tell that this is loosely supposed to be the 1950’s) still suffer the aftereffects.  I have no doubt in listening to him that he believes that, and genuinely likes the idea of helping people.  But is his cover so deep that he actually went to medical school and learned how to do this job?

Anya’s misadventures with the report are mostly her usual vamping, but they were amusing nonetheless.  She almost blows Loid’s cover with the secret passage, and almost blows her own cover when he looks at her notebook (fortunately illegible).  Her slapdash desperation heave with the sandbox (take heart, Damian – you did make an impression!) has Loid convinced Anya is in desperate need of mental health assistance herself.  And then, when she delivers the report at school, she lets a little too much of the truth sneak in and forces Loid to pull out all his charm for damage control.  Having a 5 year-old esper keeping a spy’s identity secret surely is just asking for disaster.

Once more the B-part is more like an omake, though this time connected to the A-plot.  Anya decides to create a secret code based on “Spy Wars” (though she requires Yor’s services to make it legible), which she then proceeds to distribute as widely as possible.  In the end it’s only poor Franky who bothers to decode it – “come to the bridge at eight o’clock” – and only because he’s convinced it’s from a woman (technically he’s right).  If Spy x Family were a more serious take on the subject Franky’s obvious vulnerability based on his desperate need to hook up would be a big believability problem but, well- in context, unlike Yor’s real job that’s a trivial enough thing to write off as comic relief.

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