Spy x Family

Ranking The Spy x Family Story Arcs

Spy x Family captured my heart with the very first chapter. I gave Spy x Family a try when it debuted on the Viz Media Shonen Jump app back on March 25, 2019. Honestly, I was not expecting to fall in love with it from the start. Spy x Family appeared to be 1/3 action, 1/3 comedy, and 1/3 slice of life. I will openly admit that the overwhelming majority of the manga that I consume are action/adventure titles, Science Fiction titles, Superheroes, and fighting manga. Still, there was something about Spy x Family that intrigued me when I saw it pop up on the Shonen Jump app.

Needless to say, I was completely smitten with this manga once I completed Chapter 1. By the time we were done with the opening story arc, Spy x Family rapidly became one of my favorite mangas. After the second story arc, Spy x Family assumed the number one spot in my heart out of all the manga that I am currently reading.

There is something about the eclectic mixture of spy stories, action and fighting, slice of life, and comedy that Tatsuya Endo is able to meld together in such a compelling manner. The main cast of Spy x Family is all easy to love. Loid Forger aka Twilight, master spy, Yor Forger aka the Thorn Princess, master assassin, and Anya Forger, the telepathic daughter come together as the Forger family. This main cast has incredible chemistry and is always entertaining. The stories are well-paced and plotted. The world of Spy x Family is deliciously detailed and immersive.

On top of all of that, Endo’s artwork is beautiful in its simplicity in which it delivers the story. Endo crafts some of the best facial expressions which help to carry the comedy. However, Endo also has the ability to deliver dynamic action scenes. There really is something for everyone in Spy x Family. This is the secret sauce of this manga and enables Spy x Family to appeal to such a wide array of readers.

Up to this point, Spy x Family has delivered the reader twelve arcs. The challenge for me with this article is to rank the story arcs in Spy x Family. This is a herculean task. This is like having to choose between my two sons! I honestly enjoy every single story arc that we have gotten on this manga. So, as I am about to embark on this ranking, please keep in mind that all of these story arcs and fantastic. And if your list differs then mine then I completely understand. There really is so much to love about Spy x Family.

Please note that I will limit this article to mild spoilers. I want to let this article give you a nice sense of what you can expect with each story arc without spoiling all of the details and ruining the fun of reading this manga. However, please keep in mind that there will be mild spoilers. I will mention characters who do appear in each story arc. I will also mention the general mission of each story arc. If you are interested in spoiler-filled reviews and discussions of Spy x Family, then you can always check out our Manga Revolution Podcast! With that, let’s venture ahead.

12. Stella Star Arc Ch. 15-17

The Stella Star Arc focuses on Anya and her classmates beginning their mission of attempting to earn Stella Stars through numerous different activities. A Stella Star is a small medal that is awarded to students at Eden Academy based on various merits. This can range from exceptional grades to volunteer work and everything in between.

The Stella Star story arc relies heavily on Anya and her interactions with Damian Desmond. We also investigate the fact that Anya continues to display a lack of intelligence and an inability to get any good grades. We also follow Anya in her haphazard effort to try and earn a Stella Star.

This story arc also follows Loid and Yor on their first “date.” The chemistry and comedy are excellent. This section of the Stella Star Arc is easily my favorite. I love the way Endo handles both Loid and Yor as they try to acclimate themselves to each other and their new arrangement as the Forger family. It is always entertaining and compelling. Endo knows how to walk the line in keeping Loid secretive, untrusting, and focused on his mission while still teasing the reader with the possibility that Loid has genuine feelings for his new family.

The best part of this story arc is the finale where Endo introduces a new member to the Forger family: Bond! No family would be complete without a dog and Bond is here to fill that role admirably.

Like I said at the beginning of the article, I have enjoyed every story arc from Spy x Family. There is nothing bad in this manga. However, I ranked Stell Star Arc in last place because it relies heavily on Anya to power the story. Now, I love Anya’s character. But, Anya primarily provides the role of comedic relief and also as a plot device to propel forward the story concerning Loid’s secrets and Yor’s secrets due to Anya’s telepathic abilities. Anya is not a character that is designed to be the main focal point and shoulder the load of an entire story arc.

11. Midterm Exams Arc Ch. 24-28

The Midterm Exams Arc focuses mainly on Anya and her being a bad student and struggling mightily in her classes. We also focus on Anya struggling with homework and having to focus and study for exams.

Endo also peels back a few layers of Damian Desmond’s character as the reader gets some insight into Damian’s relationship with his father, Donovan Desmond. The reader also learns about what is motivating Damian to become an Imperial Scholar.

The Midterm Exams Arc introduces another student George Glooman. Glooman is a nice addition to the cast of students with his Addams Family vibe and design.

While the vast majority of the Midterm Exams Arc focuses on Anya and her fellow classmates, we do get a little bit on Yor’s desires to be a great mom and wife. Endo shines with his strong character work. This is evident in how complex Endo is able to make Yor as the story progresses beyond just Loid’s main mission and Anya’s adventures at Eden Academy. Endo got over with the reader how The Thorn Princess is a feared and deadly assassin right at the beginning of this manga.

However, in the Midterm Exams Arc, Endo is able to surprise the reader and delve deeply into how Yor is really a sweet, caring, and nurturing person. Endo masterfully reveals how this fake Forger family is bringing out Yor’s desire to be a great wife and mother. Normally, badass characters like Thorn Princess are one-dimensional and predictable. Endo shows the reader that he has no interest in going in that direction with Yor’s character.

We also get Loid on a very quick spy adventure for one chapter at Eden Academy. All of Twilight’s spy adventures are entertaining and effectively get over Twilight’s incredible skills.

The Midterms Exams Arc slots in at the number 11 spot mainly because it focuses mostly on Anya and her fellow students. Like I said earlier, Anya is not the character designed to carry a story arc as well as Loid or Yor.

Spy x Family, Vol. 1
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10. Imperial Scholars Mixer Arc Ch. 36-42

The Imperial Scholars Mixer Arc focuses mostly on Anya, Damian, and their classmates. Again, we get plenty of quality character work and excellent comedy. However, this story arc suffers from the same inherent problem as the prior two story arcs in that it relies heavily on Anya and Damian to carry the story. Neither Anya nor Damian are characters that are designed to be the focal point of an entire story arc and to carry the narrative on their shoulders. This automatically limits how high up on the rankings this story arc can climb.

We do get the debut of Donovan Desmond. This is a dramatic moment and it is nice to finally get to meet Twilight’s main target! Endo does a wonderful job with Desmond’s character. The reader immediately dislikes Donovan as he is set up to be a villain that is easy to hate.

Endo also treats the reader to a fun little Twilight and Bond adventure. These two are an epic combination and I always love when Endo pairs these two characters together.

This story arc also gives the reader a peek into Yuri Briar’s world and his role as an Ostonian SSS (State Security Service) Officer. It is always interesting when we get to see more of Yor’s younger brother.

9. Eden Beginnings Arc Ch. 7-10

The Eden Beginnings Arc is important mainly because this is where Endo delivers most of the world-building at Eden Academy. Endo spends most of this story arc explaining the history of Eden Academy and the importance of the coveted designation of the Imperial Scholars. The Imperial Scholars are the students who have performed at a superior level compared to their peers at Eden Academy. Being named an Imperial Scholar is what every student dreams of happening.

Endo also explains Stella Stars, which are given for exemplary academic success or community service acts, and Tonitrus Bolts, which are demerits handed out to students for breaking rules or for poor performance.

The Eden Beginnings Arc also introduces several important new characters. We meet The Handler, whose real name is Sylvia Sherwood. The Handle works for the same Westalis spy agency, WISE, as Loid. The Handle is in charge of assigning Loid his various spy missions.

The Handler is a fantastic character. I love her character design. She also delivers some excellent comedy. Endo wisely keeps much about the Handler’s past as a mystery to the reader. This helps to make The Handler’s character even more interesting to the reader.

This story arc also introduces Damian Desmond. Damian is the son of Donovan Desmond who is the Chairman of the National Unity Party of Ostania and Loid’s current target. Damian is your typical rich spoiled brat who bullies other students who he deems below him. Damian is easy to hate and provides so much comedy in the various scenes centered on Anya’s awkward and futile efforts to befriend him.

The Eden Beginnings Arc also focuses heavily on Anya’s efforts to make friends. Endo also highlights how Anya often feels like she does not fit into the social structure of the Eden Academy. Endo does an excellent job contrasting Anya’s blunt and somewhat dumb personality with the snobby attitudes of her affluent classmates. However, Endo shows that eventually Anya’s unique personality breaks through and scores her an important new friend in one of the richest girls in her class: Becky Blackbell.

This story arc focuses mainly on building out the world of the Eden Academy and focusing on Anya and her classmates. However, we do get a tiny bit of time focused on Loid as we see him engage in a short covert mission while taking Yor and Anya to the Aquarium. This one-chapter adventure serves to highlight the duality of Loid’s life. Endo also has Loid engaging in some introspective contemplation about what it would be like to be a real dad.

One of Endo’s greatest strengths is being able to play with the concept of family and contrast that with the lies and secret lives of the members of the family. This approach really begins to intensify with this story arc. It is this tension within Loid and Yor where they fight against their deepest desires that provides for so much of the excitement within this family dynamic.

The Eden Beginnings Arc is enjoyable, but it comes in low at the number 10 spot mainly because it focuses on Anya. You are noticing a trend at this point.

Spy x Family, Vol. 2
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8. Admissions Interview Arc Ch. 3-6

The Admissions Interview Arc focuses mainly on the Forger family preparing for the Admissions Interview. Eden Academy is so prestigious that both parents must be interviewed before their child is accepted into the school.

This story arc introduces a new character in Henry Henderson. Henderson is a phenomenal character with an epic look. Henderson is tall, has long white hair, an amazing mustache, a cane, and a monocle. Henderson is a powerful professor at Eden Academy. Henderson teaches history and is also the Housemaster of Cecile Hall. Henderson is all about “elegance.” Trust me, once you read this story arc you will understand what I am talking about. Henderson is an entertaining and charismatic character that the reader will immediately like.

We do get some scenes outside of Eden Academy. We see Yor moving into Loid’s house. We also see the new “family” spending a day on the town and buying Anya an outfit for the school admissions interview.

Near the end of this story arc, we also get a wonderful scene at the Forger house where the family is celebrating Anya’s acceptance into Eden Academy. Yor imbibes too much celebratory champagne and inadvertently shows off her incredible fighting prowess when the family is playing a pretend game of saving Anya who is a princess being held captive in a castle. This is early in the manga and the first time where Loid begins to wonder if there is more to Yor than meets the eye.

The Admissions Interview Arc delivers more fantastic comedy. Endo also continues his story character work as he fleshes out the main characters at his early stage in the manga.

Spy x Family Twilight and Bond Arc
Spy x Family Twilight and Bond Arc. Credit Viz Media

7. Twilight and Bond Arc Ch. 58.1-58.3

I absolutely adore the Twilight and Bond Arc. This is a wonderful fun side adventure that takes place outside of the main storylines. This is an approach that Endo takes at various times in Spy x Family where he will hit the pause button on the main storylines and deliver some .1, .2, .3 chapters that focus on an entertaining side stand-alone adventure.

I am a dog person so I adore Bond. How can you not love a big dog with precognition abilities?! Anyway, the Twilight and Bond Arc is a fun little side adventure. Endo takes this opportunity to perform even more character work on Loid and shows him continuing to warm up to his new domestic lifestyle while still staying in complete denial about that fact. This story arc delivers some good action and plenty of great comedy in a well-paced and plotted small story arc.

6. Introduction Arc Ch. 1-2

Endo kicked off Spy x Family in impressive fashion with the Introduction Arc. The Introduction Arc is much longer than it appears. Sure, it may only be two chapters, but they are not oversized chapters that come to a total of 126 pages. So, the Introduction Arc is roughly the equivalence of five chapters of the customary 20-25 page limit.

This story arc introduces the main characters in Twilight, also known as Loid Forger, Yor Briar, who is secretly the Thorn Princess, and Anya Forger. Endo also introduces several supporting characters in Yuri Briar, Yor’s younger brother, and Frankie Franklin, Twilight’s assistant.

We also get tons of world-building including the background on the Westalis and Ostania conflict. We learn about Twilight’s mission: Operation Strix. It is impressive how Endo is able to deliver quality world-building in a straightforward and economical fashion with this opening story arc.

Endo flashes his incredible character work right from the start. The reader gets a nice sense of all the various characters’ personalities. The dialogue is sharply done and the chemistry between the characters is high quality right from the start.

Loid is properly cool and always in control just like a James Bond character should be. Yor presents an interesting dichotomy between the two sides of her character. Endo does a nice job intriguing the reader with the contrast between Yor’s shy and kind personality in her civilian life with the deadly and sexy Thorn Princess persona.

Endo hits a grand slam with this opening story arc and successfully conveys to the reader exactly what type of story the reader can expect with each chapter of Spy x Family. The reader is immediately hooked and is eager for more with the conclusion of Chapter 2.

5. Great Cruise Adventure Arc Ch. 43-57

We reviewed Chapter 44 and Chapter 51 from this story arc. The Great Cruise Adventure Arc is by far the longest of all the story arcs that we have gotten to date on Spy x Family. This is an excellent story arc packed full of good character work and excellent comedy. We also get treated to some creative action scenes, too.

What keeps the Great Cruise Adventure Arc at the bottom of the Top 5 is that the plotting and pacing suffer during this story arc. Up to this story arc, Endo had employed short story arcs that moves at a pleasant pace and were tightly plotted. It seemed that Endo had a little trouble keeping the pacing on point and the story meandered a bit during the middle of this story arc.

Still, seeing the Thorn Princess in action was incredible. Endo employed unique action scenes in getting over the Thorn Princess’ unique fighting style that is akin to a ballerina of death. Endo also continues to flesh out Loid’s personality and his feelings toward both Yor and Anya.

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4. Twilight Origin Arc Ch. 61–62.3

This is the most powerful of all the story arcs that we have gotten up to this point on Spy x Family. Endo delivers a story arc that is packed full of emotion and hits the reader right in the chest. I love that Endo delivers just enough of Loid’s origin without spoiling absolutely everything. Endo manages to leave a few aspects of Loid’s past shrouded in mystery. This is a wise move as the mystery is a core part of Loid’s charm and gimmick.

We also learn about Frankie Franklin’s origin and his past with Loid. This helps give Frankie’s character more depth and nuance beyond just being one-dimensional comedic relief.

This story arc also briefly touches on the happenings over at Eden Academy. Though this is not the main focus of the story arc it is nonetheless important. Endo delivers the debut of Donna Schlag the Director of the Disciplinary Committee. She is also known as Old Lady Tonitrus. We now have the Professor Snape-style villain who will stalk the halls of Eden Academy and be the bane of the existence of Anya and her classmates.

3. Secret Police Arc Ch. 11-14

The Secret Police Arc focuses mainly on Yuri meeting Loid for the first time. Secondary plotlines involve the evolving relationship between Loid and Yor and Yuri’s job as an SSS officer.

Let’s talk about Yuri first. This story arc is the first time we see Yuri in his role as an SSS officer. Up to this point, Endo has presented Yuri as a little brother who has a somewhat too adoring view of his older sister Yor. However, in this story arc, we see Yuri in his violent job as an SSS officer. The reader sees a much darker side of Yuri as he ruthlessly gets potential spies against Ostansia to talk and reveal their secret plans.

Endo also further expands on Yuri’s relationship with Yor. It is revealed that Yuri does not just love his sister, but that he is incredibly protective of his sister and jealous of any man who gains her attention and affection. I will admit, Yuri comes off pretty creepy in his feelings toward Yor!

The reader also has fun watching the battle unspoken battle between Yuri and Loid at the family dinner. We have the ultimate showdown between Yuri whose job is to get the truth behind the lies of spies and criminals and Loid whose job is to forever remain undetectable and impervious to detection.

The reader also gets to dive into Loid’s concerns about if he can trust Yor since her brother is an SSS officer. Endo masterfully plays out the scene where Loid tests Yor. Loid’s reaction to Yor passing the test is also another big character moment for Loid in his new life with his fake family. Endo is on the top of his game with more quality character work and his ability to create conscious and subconscious tension between the characters.

2. Doggy Crisis Arc Ch. 18-23

I adore the Doggy Crisis Arc. This is the story arc that introduces the reader to the newest member of the Forger family: Bond the dog! This story arc focuses on fast-paced action and hilarious humor. This is one of the most fun story arcs to read and offers the reader an enjoyable caper that plants a big smile on the reader’s face.

I really do not want to say anything more about the Doggy Crisis Arc. I love it so much that I want everyone to experience it to the fullest themselves. Suffice it to say, the image of Anya riding Bond like a horse as they go about their adventure is just the best!

Spy x Family Campbelldon Tennis Arc
Spy x Family Campbelldon Tennis Arc. Credit Viz Media

1. Campbelldon Tennis Arc Ch. 29-35

We reviewed Chapter 30 of this story arc. The Campbelldon Tennis Arc is brilliant and the most insanely funny and entertaining story arc up to this point. This story arc is the perfect example of Endo’s unique comedic skills and his ability to create unique villains. and deliver fun and unique action scenes. This story arc moves at a crisp pace and is well-plotted as the story arc organically unfolds toward the conclusion. 

This story arc delivers the debut of Fiona Frost aka Nightfall. Look, I love both Loid and Yor. But, Nightfall is my favorite character in this manga. She is amazing! Endo has managed to create a character in Nightfall who is equal parts badass and completely hilarious. What makes Nightfall so entertaining is the gimmick that Endo gives her by having her exterior persona run so counter to her interior monologue. On the outside, Nightfall is a badass hand-to-hand combatant and spy with few peers. Nightfall has an icy exterior that intimidates and keeps everyone at bay. However, on the inside, all Nightfall thinks about is how she desperately wants to be Twilight’s wife.

Endo skillfully had Nightfall looking all detached and professional on the exterior and delivering unemotional dialogue. However, Endo shows the reader Nightfall’s inner thoughts that are full of being Twilight’s dutiful wife, cooking, cleaning, and doing laundry while still making him plenty of money and being a stellar spy partner. It is all so hilarious. You do not see a character as interesting and unique as Nightfall that often.

Of course, the Campbelldon Tennis Arc does not nab the number one spot on this list just on the power of Nightfall’s debut. What also powers this story arc to the top is the fantastic concept of a deadly underground tennis tournament populated by doubles tennis teams with your usual action manga gimmicks, character designs, and personalities. It is all so delightfully over the top. The reader is entertained by watching Nightfall and Twilight form an imposing doubles team and take on so many colorful opponents in this tennis tournament. Only a Japanese manga would have the type of creativity and daring necessary to create a tennis tournament so over-the-top and entertaining. 

On top of the excellent action and cool opponents, the other aspect of Campbelldon Tennis Arc that makes it so special is the fantastic chemistry between Nightfall and Twilight. Endo does a brilliant job playing with these two characters. It is delightful to see Twilight who prides himself on having unparalleled situational awareness being completely obtuse about NIghtfall’s feelings for him. While I do love the incredible chemistry Endo has created between Loid and Yor, I have to admit that the chemistry between Nightfall and Twilight is just as good. 

Spy x Family, Vol. 4
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07/20/2022 12:05 am GMT