While I enjoyed the first half of the episode, the reason why I enjoy this more in manga form reared its head in the second half. But I’ll touch on that later. Anya is back to her school shenanigans and we get a lot of character introspection from Damian. Which was probably the stand out for me in this episode. Because Anya’s initial get Damian interested because of her dog failed last time, she was concocting a way to be able to share her dog’s name to him. It’s honestly funny how she’s always trying to make up these super “intelligent” schemes just like Loid only for them to fall flat on her face because she’s still just a goofy kid making goofy kid plans lol.
Also can we just take a moment to appreciate that Yor is actually smiling in the new family photo now? While Anya isn’t smiling yet, both her and Yor look significantly more relaxed than they did when they took the first family photo. Which I think says a lot to how much more comfortable they are as a family now.
Anya’s class is doing an arts and crafts project and of course the “he says/she says” gossip comes around about important people will come and actually look at what they’ve made. While a Star wasn’t brought up this time, it still motivated Damian to take it seriously so he could most likely garner some attention from his father. Though it was pretty hilarious how he just yelled “GOD DAMN IT” when he and Anya were assigned to the same team. As much of a twerp and a brat Damian is, in the end, he just wants recognition and affection from his dad and I find that really sad. Especially when he doubt that even if he wins, his dad wasn’t going to be as proud as he wishes he would be.
Due to Anya’s failed attempted at getting Damian’s attention with her dog, she resorts to helping him out with his project. To which he begrudgingly (but most likely secretly appreciates) accepts her help… though in typical Anya fashion isn’t on the same wavelength as him and immediately botches her parts of the project in his eyes. And when he started getting unreasonably demanding and aggressive, I appreciated that Henderson stepped in to scold him. But I also have to respect that he knows that Damian is under a lot of stress due to his position and tried to encourage him, even if it didn’t do much to soothe him at the time. Gotta respect Henderson for being able to identify the problems.
Due to not being the best of help, Anya gives Damian her project to go with his as an apology. Which of course ends with Damian’s project winning first prize hilariously because the judges read way too into the sorry state of what was made lol. I died when they referred to Anya’s griffin as the “corpse of the innocent baby griffin.” Definitely not what they were going for, but it worked somehow lol. While Anya figured it was all according to plan, Damian being Damian shoots it down. Oh Anya… you’re not Loid… lol.
Watching this whole thing pan out, it’s kind of sad that Damian just isn’t able to be a kid. He’s so focused on maintaining the Desmond name and earning his dad’s approval, he feels as if he has to be constantly putting 110% into everything that he does. While he was on the phone with his I presume servant or butler, I noticed that it would constantly pan to his two lackey’s chatting away happily with some other boys in the dorms. It made it seem like he wasn’t able to join in the childish banter and talks and was forced to focus on things that a child really shouldn’t need to focus on. Even deciding to study over his break instead of taking the time to be a kid. Emphasized even further with Damian being shown in shadows while the other kids are in the light. It’s sad seeing him try to get his dad’s approval despite fully knowing that he doesn’t really care about him. Not even shredding the poor kid a hint of concern when Anya punched him. I can’t imagine how it feels to be just constantly going above and beyond to earn someone who doesn’t give you the time of day’s approval. Damian is really a tragic character even if he is a brat.
While I enjoyed the Damian character introspection, the last bit of the episode felt weird. Especially when they completely switched gears to show a little bit of Handler’s life and I honestly didn’t really get much out of that. She’s a cool character and all, but within this episode’s premise, it felt out of place. I know that the manga is split up with these little mundane chapters, but it works in the manga format, not so much in the anime. Especially since it feels like they just added all this extra content to pad out the run time. The way the anime formats this series, it feels like it’s supposed to be portrayed as a series that is more action and plot oriented, not a comedy with several random one off story beats like Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun. So the overall episode felt really odd and didn’t feel quite right. It’s this part of Spy x Family that just doesn’t quite work as well in the anime format. Either that or the anime just doesn’t do well portraying the one off silliness of these short stories especially in its pacing. Though I did laugh at how well animated Yuri was when he bounced off the ground after getting slapped by Yor. That scene did not need to be that well animated as it was lol.
Despite my gripes with the random oneshots near the end, there was still a considerable amount of things that I found interesting from some of the other characters such as Becky and Henderson. I find it so funny how it feels like they don’t want to design more characters for the teachers and just insert Henderson as the substitute to include him more. A lot of teachers seem to absent a lot, maybe they need better ones lol.
As much as I appreciate Becky, her crush on Loid comes off a bit too much to me. I understand kids will get crushes on adults from time to time, but it doesn’t make it any less weird to me. “Is he seeing someone” HE’S FREAKING MARRIED TO HER MOM, CHILD. And it did feel like a lot when she initially made Loid her arts and crafts project. Girl needs to CHILL. Despite this though, I do like the duality of Becky with her acting a lot more mature for her age, but at heart she is still a kid as shown when she nabs Anya’s family photo and starts running around with it and Anya chasing after her. I have a lot more to say about Becky, but they haven’t gotten to the part where I can delve into more of her character yet so I’ll just leave it at that for the time being.
Though it is funny how Becky has misinterpreted Anya’s actions when dealing with Damian. And looking at it without any context, it DOES seem like she’s crushing on him as she’s constantly trying to get his attention and get on his good graces. Which makes it even funnier because no one is on the same wavelength.
I enjoyed the first part of the episode fairly enough, but the last part of it just felt like a hodgepodge of random one off stories that felt like they had nothing to do with each other and it just felt like a mess. It’s episodes like this that really show the weakness of this series as an anime. I feel like it could have worked if it was portrayed differently. But it is what it is and I’ll just read the manga happily while being irked at what the anime does from time to time. Overall I did like getting some more characterization from Damian while learning how tragic he is as a character. It’s honestly really sad and I wonder if Anya will be able to connect to him with both of them feeling as if their actions will dictate whether or not they will be accepted in their families.