Spy x Family Volume Five has a stronger focus on the “family” portion of the series’ name than the “spy” portion.

Spy x Family Volume Five
Written by: Tatsuya Endo
Publisher: Shueisha Inc.
English Publisher: VIZ Media
Release Date: June 8, 2021

Unlike the previous volume of the series, Volume Five has less focus on an overarching story, especially when it comes to the first two chapters. The first chapter sees Yor desperately trying to learn how to cook, with her co-worker Camilla being roped into teaching her. Let’s just say that the lessons aren’t going well. This chapter brings in Yuri, and uses his reaction to Yor’s cooking for the source of its humor. But by the end, Yor learns how to make a stew that her mother made before she passed. While Yor can only make one edible item by the end of this chapter, it’s still a step in the right direction.

The second chapter finally sees the series returning to a focus on Anya and her time at Eden College. She had Loid get a new family photograph with Bond (the name Anya gave to the white dog), which she plans to show to Damian. However, the wind blows it out of her hand and Becky gets a hold of it. Becky develops a crush on Loid after seeing the picture and she insists on keeping it, and this newfound crush becomes a source for the chapter’s humor.

The class is given an art project, and Anya and Damian are assigned to the same group. Anya, who’s determined to become friends with Damian to help Loid achieve his mission, offers to help Damian with his project. Damian, who wants to use this project as a way to impress his father, reluctantly agrees… and let’s just say that things don’t go well. But there was a neat twist at the end of this story, even if Damian was unimpressed by it.

The next three chapters cover a short story arc about Anya’s first midterm exams at Eden College. The first chapter reveals that Anya’s telepathy doesn’t work when there’s a new moon, and the midterm happens on that date. This means that she can’t use her telepathy to try to get the answers for her tests. Yor asks Yuri to tutor Anya, and he agrees to do it only because his sister asked him. We see throughout this chapter that Yuri is conflicted because on the one hand, Anya is Loid’s child, but on the other hand, he can’t refuse when his sister asks him to do something. Anya picks up on Yuri’s feelings for Yor, and she uses this to manipulate him. Anya’s manipulations are rather amusing and provides much of the humor for this chapter. As a reader, I was happy to finally see Yuri interacting with Anya since she wasn’t awake when Yuri met Loid for the first time. Right at the end of the chapter, Anya takes her midterms, which sets the remainder of the arc in motion.

The following chapter sees a worried Loid deciding to sneak into the vault where the midterms are being secured in order to change enough answers so Anya can pass her tests. If she fails any, she’ll receive a Tonitrus Bolt for every one she fails, which would jeopardize Operation Strix. As Loid tries to accomplish his mission, he sees an amateur spy going by the name of Daybreak trying to do the same thing. Unfortunately, Daybreak is so conspicuous that it puts Loid’s mission in jeopardy. Fortunately, through a lot of dumb luck and little help from Loid, Daybreak is never caught. After Daybreak leaves the vault, Loid discovers what the other spy was up to, and has to fix the mess he created. I liked the twist at the end of this chapter with Anya’s scores because I felt it was realistic.

The last chapter of this three chapter arc sees one of Anya’s classmates overhearing his father talking about the issues their company is having and an association with the Desmond group. The student, George Glooman, is revealed to be the one who had his butler hire Daybreak to try to get revenge on the Desmond kids for how he feels the Desmonds have wronged his family. Since the plan with Daybreak fails, George tries to get Damian into trouble so he’ll be expelled. Anya’s telepathic abilities picks up on George’s motivations, and she steps in to help Damian.

After George shares his sob story about his family going bankrupt and how he’ll have to leave Eden, he uses Damian and his two friends to get what he wants. But after an incident that makes George realize his classmates care about him, he becomes closer with them and has a sad farewell. But this is Spy x Family, so I knew there would have to be a twist at the end of the story. Sure enough, there was.

The next chapter sees Anya and her class being given an assignment to study a career by interviewing someone and accompanying them to their worksite. We get an amusing sequence with Yor thinking about taking Anya with her on one of her assassination assignments, but in the end, Anya ends up going to with Loid to his job at the hospital. It was nice to see where Loid works as a psychiatrist for his cover for Operation Strix. We’ve heard about his cover occupation, and as a reader, this chapter cemented the fact that he actually does go to the hospital to do a job instead of just simply claiming to be a psychiatrist and not actually going anywhere for his cover job.

At one point, one of Loid’s fellow WISE agents needs to talk to him, and Loid leaves Anya in one of the consultation rooms. Anya had read in Loid’s mind that he has a secret passageway connected to this room and how to access it, and she decides to have an adventure while he’s out. There’s an amusing scene that happens while Anya is in the entryway, and we get more humor right at the end of the chapter when Anya is giving her report in class.

The final chapter in Spy x Family Volume Five officially introduces the reader to the WISE agent that made her first appearance in the previous chapter: Fiona Frost. She goes by the code name of “Nightfall,” and is the one who usually works with Loid. It turns out that she has feelings for Loid, and she wants Yor out of the way so she can take over the mother role for Operation Strix.

Fiona visits Yor under the pretense of Anya leaving something at the hospital while she was there shadowing Loid for her assignment. As the two women talk, Fiona keeps saying things in the hopes that Yor will quit her marriage to Loid. At first, her attempts fail, but just as it seems she may have found something to use against Yor, Loid and Anya return. Loid and Fiona start talking in code, but Anya reads Fiona’s mind and discovers Fiona’s feelings for him. When Anya picks up on the fact that Fiona wants to replace Yor, Anya snuggles up to Yor and talks up how much she loves her family.

By the end of the volume, we see that Fiona hasn’t given up with her idea of replacing Yor as the wife for Operation Strix. And since this is how Volume Five ends, it feels safe to say that Fiona will be playing an important role in the next volume.

There is a short story at the end of Volume Five, where Anya and Bond are watching a cartoon featuring animals as police officers. Anya comments that the polar bear looks like Bond, and they see his partner, a penguin, getting shot. Anya is so rattled by this that she wants to sleep with the big penguin plush that Loid got at the aquarium in another one shot story that appeared in an earlier volume of the series. Bond becomes jealous and attacks the penguin overnight. The story sees how Anya deals with her penguin being damaged, as well as how by the end, she and Bond make up. The story ends with Loid making a comment about how he wishes the relations between the east and the west could be repaired so easily. I liked this short story, and I think it’s realistic for Bond to become jealous of the penguin. The reader can tell that Bond really loves Anya and has developed a special bond with her (this pun was intended).

This volume of Spy x Family covers most of the content that appears in the second cour of the anime adaptation. At the time the anime was airing, there were quite a few complaints about how the tone of the show seemed to change from a comedy to being a “slice of life” series. From reading this volume, it turns out this shift happens in the manga, so the anime adaptation was simply following the source material. Many of the stories in Volume Five were only long enough to be half an episode, so there were times when anime exclusive short stories were created to pad out the episodes. The stories that originated from the manga were stronger than the anime exclusive ones.

Yes, the shift in storytelling at this point can be a little jarring, but at the same time, it kind of makes sense. In the earlier volumes of Spy x Family, Loid was having to get the family put together and focus on getting Anya enrolled in Eden College. And then time had to be spent truly establishing the main characters, as well as important side characters like Yuri. After Bond is added to the family, time could finally be spent watching the Forgers working at being a family. This time could also be spent showing what Anya is up to at school, since we hardly saw her there in the previous volume. These shorter stories give the reader a little breather after Bond’s story arc before starting into the next major arc.

With the introduction of Fiona, it’s clear that Spy x Family is heading for its next story arc. And since she’s a WISE agent like Loid, and the fact that a new mission is teased with Fiona’s introduction, the spy action should be back to playing a bigger role in Volume Six. But even with the shift in storytelling in this volume, I’m still enjoying reading the Spy x Family manga.

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