Spy X Family is one of those animes that simply took the world by storm. I myself was excited for the anime because of the entire premise is rather unique. It basically has a spy with the codename “Twilight” takes on the identity of Loid Forger with the mission to infiltrate a school in order to make contact with one of the parents there. In order to complete the mission, he adopts an orphan girl named Anya and arranges are fake marriage with a plain government office worker named Yor to maintain his cover.
It turns out, however, both Anya and Yor have secrets of their own. Yor is a highly trained assassin and she agreed to the fake marriage in order to remain inconspicuous. Anya is also special as she was experimented on while extremely young and gained the power to read minds. She basically just wants to have a family but is afraid that, if she reveals her powers, Loid will return her to the orphanage. Thus, the three become this unconventional family where everyone has some kind of secret they have to keep from each other.
Now, most of the time, I’m the kind of anime lovers who just watches the show but never read the source manga it was derived from. Not so with Spy X Family. The show was different and special enough to make me go out of my way and read through all of the available manga that’s out there. Basically, I’m already way ahead of the series, which is taking months off to complete the rest of the first season. I know what’s going to happen in the future… like a certain dog that has yet to appear in the anime.
But I’m getting way ahead of myself because there was one aspect that really impressed me about the anime is how they dealt with filler as it does have quite a bit of filler. However, the way the anime implements these scenes really impressed me because it actually make the anime a little better than the manga.
Now, for those who don’t know what filler is in anime, it’s usually the result of the anime catching up to the manga. Essentially, the show runs out of the source material so the anime producers create these side stories on their own. Think of it like the final couple of seasons of the Game of Thrones television series. The show already adapted whatever books that were out there so the producers had to create their own stuff… and we all know how well that turned out!
This is usually the case with a lot of filler in anime. You can tell these parts weren’t from the source manga. Whether it be a difference in tone or it just comes out of left field, filler in anime are usually the worst parts of an anime. However, Spy X Family does filler differently because they didn’t create filler episodes. Rather, they developed filler moments to further develop and enhance the original story from the manga.
In fact, the anime does sprinkle in quite a bit of filler very early. In the third episode of the show, Anya shows Yor around her new apartment how Anya and Loid prepped the space for her. That entire sequence does not appear in the manga and yet it doesn’t feel like it was added as it felt like something Anya would do. It also helps with character development as it shows how Yor has taken to Anya as her “fake” mother. It’s a nice little touch that helped extend the episode just a little bit but you wouldn’t really know it.
However, Spy X Family would go above and beyond in a few instances and this is why I say the “filler” really adds to the anime. This is really evident in the fifth episode of the anime wherein Anya makes Loid play-act a rescue with her being the princess that needs to be rescued. In the manga, it comes off as somewhat silly, Loid still uses his connections to rent out a castle and get other secret agents to fill in the party atmosphere. However, in the anime, things really go off the rails as the castle is converted into this giant amusement park and the “rescue” is much more grandiose, with giant slides, explosions and a gigantic ball pit. Oh, and the other agents actually do something as they’re tasked to try to take down “Loidman” and stop him from rescuing “Princess Anya.” You don’t see any of that in the manga!
Honestly, if they just simply animated this chapter of the manga, it would’ve been okay and kind of funny as Anya’s imagination comes off as very limited. All she does is flip a table on its side and jumps in between it and Loid and then yells to be rescued. It’s funny but, when you compare it to the extremely elaborate sequence from the anime, it does come off as a little disappointing.
Another time the anime added a ton of “filler” to the manga was the training shown off during the dodgeball episode. In the manga, it starts immediately at the start of the dodgeball match with a brief flashback of Anya saying there’s a rumor that whoever becomes the MVP of the game will get a Stella star. The manga then goes through the entire dodgeball match afterwards. In the anime, they wrote up an entire prologue involving Headmaster Henderson reminiscing about her giving a Torintus bolt to Anya on the first day, Damian feeling insecure as he has to live up to his older brother and an entire training arc with Yor training Anya in the art of dodgeball.
That’s not all as Spy X Family decides to add much more stuff like Damian and his lackeys going to training and showing off what’s happening in the imaginations as they train. There are also the “special techniques” they’ve developed in order to help Damian become the MVP. But the best part for me was the addition of “Bazooka” Bill Watkins training at home and hugging his “daddy.” Maybe it’s the mixture of the incredibly scary music combined with this giant of a child gleefully running and hugging someone much larger than him and calling him “daddy” in that deep baritone that did it for me. It’s just so odd yet fits well with whatever I was expecting to happen!
While it doesn’t feel needed to add these moments, it does flesh out the characters more and even allow some characters to flourish. Yor, in all honesty, doesn’t do a whole lot during the early parts of the manga. But, by giving her that moment to train Anya, it allows you to get to know her more as well as get some really funny facial reactions from Anya. Damian and his buddies get to show off that, even though they’re from elite families, still behave like children. Even “Bazooka” Bill Watkins, who, as far as I can recall, never really shows up in the manga after the dodgeball chapter, becomes a little more like a secondary character as you see some of his backstory.
What’s even more amazing is not just how well integrated these filler moments are but how well animated they are. There are times when I think the animators put much more effort to the filler because it allows them to get super creative as they’re not constrained by the confines of the manga’s story. That animation of Loid running through a barrage of bouncing balls and him sliding on a wire while explosions erupt around him came off as extremely fluid. The entire training arc with Damian and his chums imagining they’re climbing a sheer rock cliff and trying to block a “death ball” on the planet Namek shows a lot of love for cliched moments in movies, television and even other animes.
Even though I’m all caught up with the manga and I know the story beats for the next batch of anime episodes that are slated to come out in October, I’m glad the folks animating Spy X Family are adding these “filler” moments to further enhance the already fun moments of the manga. This is how filler is done right and I hope other animes try to emulate what Spy X Family had done.
What do you think of the “filler” from Spy X Family? Let me know in the comments section below!