Spy x Family
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Last Updated: 10 months ago

Given its original premise, Spy x Family’s success as a shonen anime is hardly surprising. The series, which is based on Tatsuya Endo’s manga, centers on an undercover spy who creates a family as part of his crucial task—looking into a threat to political stability.

It’s important to review the setting’s importance as season 2 approaches, with a release date scheduled for fall 2023. While Spyx Family doesn’t take place entirely in an exotic fantasy world like an isekai anime title, it also doesn’t take place in the actual world as many slice-of-life series do.

Instead, the setting of Spyx Family strikes a cozy balance between reality and fiction, allowing Tatsuya Endo to freely express his creativity—a frequent strategy in shonen anime and manga. Beginning with the opposing nations of Ostania and Westalis, which are headquartered in the east and west, respectively, the major conflict is between them.

Ostania, on the other hand, is more than just “the country to the east”; it is meant to be a comparison between real-world East Germany, a member of the Warsaw Pact, and Westalis, a member of NATO. While the manga and anime concentrate on the main plot of this narrative, the exploits of the Forger family, Spy x Family has the potential to have some very deep lore that could be explored in a companion novel for history aficionados.

The manga’s world-building even includes a map, with a nation named Hugaria more to the east and an analog for Denmark located over Westalis and Ostania. The Spy x Family map might continue to expand until a different version of Europe emerges, offering Loid a vast area to discover.

When writing a piece of fiction, the author has three main options for the setting: create a completely fictional world from scratch, which is typical for fantasy and science fiction; use a real-world setting, which is a great choice for slice-of-life anime; or create a fictional world that is only loosely based on the real world.

Anime like Spy x Family and Fullmetal Alchemist utilize that third method, combining the best aspects of the first two.

Setting like Ostania, Westalis, and Amestris are more immersive for viewers and simpler for the author to create because some of the world-building is already in place when utilizing the real world as a loose reference.

In this way, a manga artist like Tatsuya Endo can design a well-known environment while still using artistic license to meet the needs of the plot. While this is happening, viewers can both appreciate the information explicitly shown in the scenes and also fill in many of the blanks with educated hypotheses or extrapolations based on real-world examples.

Because viewers can perceive far more information in the world-building, the author just needs to write or draw fundamental details, which provides for an effective narrative. Even though there isn’t much active world-building in the plot itself, Spy x Family’s setting nonetheless feels vast and beautifully detailed.

A setting from a wholly made-up anime series like Berserk or Naruto cannot be used in that way. The world-building has to be done entirely by the author, which takes a lot of time and work.


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