Wit Studio and CloverWorks’ wholesome yet action-packed new anime series Spy x Family took the world by storm after it debuted last spring. Since its debut, Spy x Family became one of the highest-rated shows on the anime database and social media site MyAnimeList, beating out mega-popular shows like Demon Slayer, Jujutsu Kaisen, and even the long-running pirate anime One Piece. And that was with one season under its belt. This is why I had to sleuth my way into interviewing a Japanese voice actor for Spy x Family at Anime Expo and ask him why he thinks the show is such a hit.
Spy x Family follows a prominent super spy named Loid as he goes undercover and infiltrates the school of a politician’s son to prevent a war from breaking out between two neighboring countries. To do so, Loid creates a fake family who, unbeknownst to him, have secrets of their own: His adopted daughter Anya is a telepath, his wife, Yor, moonlights as the world’s deadliest assassin and their family dog Bond can see the future.
With season one of Spy x Family in the books and a second season and an original movie, Spy x Family: Code White, on the way later this year, I spoke with Takuya Eguchi, the Japanese voice actor for Loid, at Anime Expo and asked him what it’s like portraying one of the best dads in anime.
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Part of what makes Spy x Family such a refreshing anime is its ability to walk the line between being a light-hearted comedy about an odd-couple family and a serious drama about the threat of war. Although the show’s tonal whiplash occasionally makes for a difficult line read for Eguchi, his past experience voicing action scenes that include yelling helps him turn his performance as a soft-spoken father into a rigid spy on a dime.
Speaking of action scenes, Eguchi revealed that one of his favorite Spy x Family battles from the anime never happened in the manga.
“My favorite scene is, I think it’s [in] episode five, the episode where Anya runs a castle and Bondman, or Loid, has to go save Princess Anya,” Eguchi said. “It’s in the original manga as well, but the anime added a lot more scenes for the fans to enjoy.”
For context, this scene transpires in two panels in the manga whereas in the anime it runs for roughly half the runtime of Spy x Family’s 24-minute episode. The anime even throws in a showdown between Loid and a wine-drunk Yor. Eguchi says this is his favorite scene because it showcases Yor and Loid as a “cool” assassin and an “extra cool” spy.
Although Eguchi resonates with Loid being a family man, albeit while undercover, Eguchi told me that the most difficult part about portraying Loid is encompassing his talkative super spy persona.
“The most difficult part is his inner monologue,” Eguchi said via a translator. “He talks a lot.”
Unlike the manga, which utilizes speech and thought bubbles to give readers a sense of the schemes Loid plots to solve both domestic and global threats, Eguchi said he has a limited amount of time to say what’s on Loid’s mind. Fans of the show will note that, despite being a know-it-all spy, Loid’s tendency to overthink leads to a comedy of errors with his would-be nuclear family. For example, Loid once thought Yor being in a bad mood had something to do with him failing as a husband when in reality she was trying (and failing) to hide the fact she was shot in the butt while she was on one of her assassin missions. An honest mistake in the Forger household, to be fair.
Toward the end of our chat, Eguchi teased that, much like Spy x Family’s first season, season 2 will also include original scenes expanding the source material just like how the anime put “a lot of care” into expanding upon Anya’s castle excursion from the manga.
“I actually haven’t started recording my lines yet, so I’m also looking forward to what I’m going to see too,” Eguchi said.
Kotaku is covering everything at Anime Expo 2023, including big announcements at panels and exclusive one-on-one interviews with the industry’s biggest creators. Whether you’re a seasoned anime fan or a newbie, you can keep up with all things Anime Expo 2023 here.