Oh, God – there’s a Part II?
Full disclosure: this was the second time I’ve hit the FF button with Spy x Family. The first was the really pretty dismal Episode 5 (the mostly anime-original spy castle one). I do like this series, sometimes very much, but when it’s bad it can be really bad. The common theme to these disasters is when it tries to be too madcap and silly, and shatters the fragile suspension of disbelief supporting the premise. Though Fiona’s presence this time may have had something to do with it too. I find her pretty tiresome and kind of misogynistic, and her schtick is basically the same gag played out over and over. Which wouldn’t be nearly as bad if it was funny in the first place.
As such, I don’t have a lot else to say here. Unlike that S1 disaster this one seems to be manga canon, so no passing the buck to the anime staff here. It’s just depressing that it’s carrying over for two episodes when there’s not really enough good material even for one. While the idea of tennis as a “Fight Club” spectacle is kind of funny, the actual event was pretty dreary. I guess if anything this kind of reveals the bind Endou is in. S x F can’t take itself too seriously, but it’s really not good at being flat-out absurdist. There seems to be a pretty narrow tonal band within which it works, and when it strays outside that things start to deteriorate quickly. Generally Endou knows where that sweet spot is and does a good job hitting it – but not always.
Of course, SpyFam was the #3 selling manga franchise in the world last year (after only JJK and Tokyo Revengers, beating out One Piece) and is an unquestioned commercial blockbuster. So I’m probably the wrong one to ask about what works about it and what doesn’t.