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Spy x Family: A Look at the Show's Mental Health Themes

Spy x Family is a beautiful anime that easily attracts many viewers. With a 4.9/5 star rating on Crunchyroll, this anime was able to gather a large fan base following its release in June 2022. The first season of the show might have concluded in October 2022, but people are eagerly waiting for the release of season two and the Spy x Family film, which are set to be released in 2023.

There are so many reasons why Spy x Family, which is also available on Netflix, has become a major hit. It has the perfect combination of humor, mystery, supernatural powers and of course, adorableness. The characters have their own traits and personalities as well as secrets, in turn, making them quite likable. In addition to all these elements, Spy x Family has some unique components. The anime’s focus on world politics, social hierarchy, social commentary, and issues like poorly maintained orphanages and unethical scientific experiments allows it to dwell deep into some important areas. By doing so, this anime sends out some powerful messages to its viewers. The way in which Spy x Family tackles mental health is definitely applaudable.

Related: SPY x FAMILY Movie: Plot, Cast, Release Date, and Everything Else We Know

Regarded as one of the most common mental disorders by the American Psychiatric Association, anxiety disorders are seen as a “normal reaction to stress”. It might not be a shocker to hear that many people that you know, including your own self, are going through anxiety but when it comes to the disorder’s portrayal in mainstream media, it can be a delicate subject. While there have been many TV shows, cartoons and films that have attempted to portray anxiety, it is hard to claim that all of them have succeeded. However, Spy x Family can be seen as one anime that has been able to capture a more realistic portrayal of anxiety disorders. The main reason for this is that the anime seems to indicate that each protagonist has their own version of anxiety which stems from their own version of stress.

For Anya, it seems to be the fear of abandonment. Since this child is an orphan and has been eagerly waiting for an opportunity to have a set of parents, she is always trying to prove her worth. Her mind-reading powers only further her anxiety as it allows her to know the real reason why she was adopted. Thus, we see Anya constantly trying to push herself to prove her worth. For Yor, it is the fear of being replaced and the revelation of her secret. Similar to Anya, she is also pushing herself to prove her ability to be a good mother. As for Loid, he seems to be super stressed about leading many lives. One as the spy, Twilight, and the other is Anya’s father, Loid Forger. The way in which all three characters are always on alert further feeds on their anxious nature. This makes it come off as very relatable, given that many of us might be going through a similar struggle of trying to prove our worth. The fear of losing control and not being able to succeed only makes us more and more anxious, just like the Forgers.

From the very beginning of the anime, it is made very clear that each protagonist has their own secret and thus, is leading a double-life. Fascinatingly, their secrets seem to be connected to one another, making the viewers wonder whether the revelation of these secrets would help them overcome the aforementioned anxiety and be of support to one another. If Anya reveals her mind-reading ability, she would be able to help Loid with Loid’s assistance and guidance. She might end up following his steps and being a super spy. If Yor reveals her assassin skills, she might also be able to support Operation Strix. Unfortunately, they have all assumed and convinced themselves that they are weird and thus, should keep their secret identities a secret. This then emphasizes the lack of communication. The fact that the family faces many issues, especially those in connection to trust, can be seen as a result of this lack of communication.

The anime reminds the viewers why it’s important to communicate rather than speculate. The way in which we are always wondering “what is Anya, Twilight and Yor reveal their secrets” allows us to look at our own selves introspectively and wonder whether we should do the same. Loid’s occupation as a psychiatrist is quite ironic as well, since he himself is seemingly suffering from being open and vulnerable. The anime acts as a reminder of the importance of being true to our own selves and communicating openly with our close allies.

Related: 6 Hidden Facts About Spy x Family You Might Have Missed

Another way in which all three main characters are connected to one another is through their subjective childhood traumas. Even though Loid Forger is introduced as the best spy known as Twilight, it is revealed that the main reason why he was determined to be a spy is to ensure that young children doesn’t face the same traumatic childhood he experienced as a result of war. Through flashbacks, the anime hints out on how painful his past was as he was left an orphan due to war. This childhood trauma has converted Loid into someone who puts so much pressure on himself to ensure that each operation is successfully completed to avoid any form of conflict among world leaders. Similarly, Yor is revealed to be an orphan who took up the secret assassin job to look after her brother. As a young girl, Yor was also under a lot of pressure as she was forced to take up the roles of sister and mother. Anya being yet another orphan has her own fear of being abandoned. She seems to be dealing with a lot of loneliness, just like her fake parents.

The way in which the show has not villainized orphans with traumatic pasts is very important since, more often than not, it is used as a trope to create background stories for villains and give them reasons for their bullying nature. Additionally, the anime’s focus on the way in which the two adults still hold onto their past emphasizes on the importance of healing one’s inner child. It is possible that Anya might end up having what Loid and Yor did not have thanks to the latters’ ability to understand what it is like being an orphan. It is also important to note how the two “parents” are constantly trying to make Anya happy and understand her, in turn, allowing their fake bonds to turn into real ones.

There have been numerous instances where the three characters have had burn-outs. From Anya passing out while trying so hard to study, to Loid coming home looking half-dead and Yor taking “lessons” after work to polish her housewife/maternal skills, each individual is pushing their selves to the brink to not only become better people but to keep their positions in the fake household while protecting their identities. Thus, we see the importance of needing breaks popping up. Fortunately, the characters seem to understand each other’s need for breaks. So, when Anya is seen having a burnout, Loid tries to relax her by taking her out. Anya’s and Yor’s understanding of Loid needing a break and trying to convince him to take one further emphasizes this. This specific scenario is important as it focuses on how mental health has no connection to gender and everyone is in need of a break.



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