I always feel intimidated by manga guides as a concept. They’re often ranked among the most meticulously documented books on any given series, usually with their creator directly contributing, and with this review of Spy x Family: Eyes Only, it’s certainly daunting, but also a joy.
Tatsuya Endo is one of the most expressive mangakas I’ve ever read, both on and off the pages of Spy x Family and Blade of the Moon Princess. This guidebook amplifies that, showing a mangaka both deeply grateful to his fans, while intensely aware of how much his series has developed and changed.
A Fantastic Assortment of Goodies for the Fans
When you open Spy x Family: Eyes Only, the first pleasant surprise already happens, a charming double-sided poster featuring Anya, peanuts, and Bond. I knew I was in for a treat as this book is a fantastic assortment of goodies for the fans.
Beyond this poster is a lovely cluster of color pages featuring the artwork of Endo’s you may have missed. Tucked inside is artwork found on Twitter, bookmark illustrations, and other official avenues. But then you get to the meat of the guidebook, an immaculate assortment of lively character bios, story guides including main chapters and side chapters, and even Q&A’s separated by phases in the story. There are profiles on society in Ostania and Westalis, the technological era of the series, and so much more.
A Guidebook Brimming With Love From Fans and Gratitude From Endo
Tatsuya Endo has publicly come across at times as lacking enthusiasm for the series, but it’s clear that part of that is a relentless itch to nail every detail. In addition to the chapter guides above, Endo gives his thoughts on every chapter in summaries, including reflections on the funny inspiration behind George’s full-spread farewell (but not really) scene, and the details don’t stop there, either.
You see such in-depth analysis of everything Spy x Family has to offer, down to the background images (spectacular, by the way) and the wild details behind each volume cover’s choice of chairs. So much thought goes into the process of creating a series, granted, but this feels so gratifying to soak it all in when it comes to a series that’s so popular. It can be surprising at times, that such an entertaining, light-hearted franchise can have immense foundations of research and cultural insight beneath the surface.
Related: Spy x Family Volume 10 Review
But more than that, Eyes Only is a guidebook brimming with love from fans and gratitude from Endo. The art contributions from fellow mangaka and famous folks, including Yuji Kaku of Hell’s Paradise, Hajime Isayama from Attack on Titan, Kazue Kato from Blue Exorcist, and Yusuke Nomura from Blue Lock among a ton of others are killer to see. There’s love for all the characters, particularly Yor it would seem, especially from Akira Kawashima, a renowned Japanese comedian, and even some art focused on her such as from Tsuyoshi Takaki of Heart Gear, and it’s clear: everybody loves Spy x Family.
While Spy x Family may lack the gold leaf or hardcover presentation of other similar guidebooks, it makes up for it in its presentation, self-awareness, and brilliantly meticulous discussion of all things SxF. This is essentially an encyclopedia of all things Spy x Family, and it will stand tall among your manga collection. Truly most elegant, indeed.
This review was made possible by VIZ Media, along with a complimentary copy of Spy x Family: The Official Guide — Eyes Only, available physically and digitally as of October 3, 2023.
- This article was updated on October 30th, 2023