Spy x Family does something new in anime: it shows a healthy father-child relationship. Twilight succeeds where almost every other anime father fails.
Spy x Family is a wonderfully wholesome anime focusing on the secret Forger family. Each family member has their own alternate motivations and a hidden history that they try to keep secret from each other. This action-comedy series about spies, assassins and telepaths is a thrilling and heartwarming experience. However, Spy x Family brings something special to anime besides high quality – it also brings a new look to fatherhood.
Fatherhood has a complicated history in anime. Most fathers in anime don’t have the opportunity to live a happy, domestic life with their children. For one reason or another, they are often separated from their children and do not have the chance to raise them. Anime fathers can also be careless and abandon their families so they can have their own adventures, or sometimes they will sadly die before they have a chance to truly raise their children. Other times, they are forced to leave their families to protect them or better support themselves.
It would be a difficult task to find an anime character who has a healthy and trouble-free relationship with his father. Almost all of the main protagonists in the most popular anime have some sort of complicated relationship with their fathers. Naruto’s father died protecting him the very day he was born. When Naruto grew up and started his own family, he rarely got to spend time with them because of his job as Hokage. Luffy’s father was never a part of his life. Midoriya’s father works overseas and is never seen in the series. Goku’s father, Bardock, was killed when Goku was just a baby. Fathers are rarely an active, caring part of a character’s life in anime.
Spy x Family challenges that trope in its very first installment. Twilight adopts Anya to help her with a mission but quickly learns to care about her like a real father. When Anya becomes a liability for Twilight’s mission, he doesn’t give up on her. Instead, he decides to become more protective and caring. The father-daughter relationship between Twilight and Anya is central to the series.
Twilight takes his role as Anya’s father very seriously. He doesn’t just do this for the success of the mission but also for Anya’s benefit. Spy x Family makes an effort to show that Twilight is actually raising Anya and growing alongside her. In the first episode, he buys books on sweet parenting. Twilight considers Anya’s feelings and perspective when parenting, and that’s something quite unique in anime.
Anime dads who decide to stay often have a bad habit of being bossy. They plan their child’s entire future without ever considering what their child wants. In extreme cases, they push their child down this path so hard that it becomes a form of abuse. In my hero academiaEndeavor routinely physically and mentally abused his children to make them better heroes.
Part of Twilight’s mission is to make sure Anya gets into a prestigious school. To be accepted, she must pass an extremely difficult entrance exam. Despite the importance of Anya’s success, Twilight is never abusive or overly strict when preparing her for the exam. Twilight’s gentle parenting is far more beneficial than the type of harsh parenting seen in other anime, and Spy x Family proves that anime dads are capable of being active and good parents.
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