Animation Features Movies

Spy x Family
Code: White
CODE: White)

Directors – Kazuhiro Fusuhashu, Takashi Karagiri – 2023 – Japan – Cert. 12A – 111m


A spy and an assassin are married to each other, each unaware of the other’s secret career, while neither of them are aware their adopted daughter is a telepath who therefore knows everything they don’t – bonkers anime deploying cookery to prevent Armageddon (!) is out in UK cinemas on Friday, April 26th

An opulent art deco ball. Couples dance. A man connives to be alone with a drunken woman so he can…photograph a file in an office desk. A woman driving a car rips off her face (in the manner of the characters in Mission: Impossible II, John Woo, 2000) to reveal… a man, the spy Loid (voice: Takuya Eguchi). Another woman, Yor (voice: Saori Hayama), is revealed as an assassin when she kills a man who sold industrial secrets. The spy and the assassin are married to one another in a pretend marriage which is a cover for their undercover operations, although neither knows the other is in the spy / assassination game. Their daughter Anya (voice: Atsumi Tanezaki) – adopted to make the bogus marriage look real – is a telepathic orphan who can read minds, so knows about the two secret identities of her ‘parents’. The family have a dog named Bond (voice: Kenichiro Matsuda, also the narrator), a former lab animal who has the ability to see the future.

Anya attends a school for the wealthy elite and a cookery class where for an upcoming contest to be judged by the school principal, the pupils are required to make dessert. Rich class wag Lord Damian (voice: Natsumi Fujiwara) teases her. Loid has enrolled Anya at the school because good coursework could win her a Stella, a star-shaped token which in bulk gives recipients access to elite social events, including one that Loid needs to infiltrate. He vows to train Anya in dessert preparation before Monday’s cooking competition.

Yor, meanwhile, on the rooftop during a break in her day job, spots Loid retrieving a woman’s hat when it blows off in the wind. (The woman is Nightfall (voice: Ayane Sakura), a fellow spy, with whom Loid is talking shop). Yor, unaware of this and jumping to (understandable) conclusions since from where she’s standing the two look like they are embracing (which, in actual fact, they are not), believes Loid is cheating on her. (Never mind the fact she and he are not actually married, or at least that their marriage is not real.) A colleague tells her about the three signs of infidelity – more business trips, a change in their taste of clothes, and he suddenly gives you gifts out of nowhere.

Learning of Anya’s class pudding competition, Loid suggests she make meremere, as it’s the principal’s favourite and he’ll be doing the judging. So Loid suggests they go to the principal’s home town Frigis to try this ancient dessert. Yor thinks this may be a business trip and therefore a further sign of Loid’s infidelity to her. But Loid is taking her along – because the restaurant that serves meremere only serves families.

On the train (after a brief montage of family activity in their compartment which also allows for the title credits), Anya goes to the lavatory to discover a key for a hand luggage-sized trunk which Bond in a flash of the future glimpses two suspicious men coveting in the baggage car, then Anya opening. Anya reads his mind. They head there. Inside the trunk is a chocolate, which Anya accidentally swallows. Right on cue, one of the two men Domitri (voice: Tomoya Nakamura), berates him for losing the key and tells him, the Colonel will kill them.

The other suspicious man Luca (voice: Kento Kaku) finds the key Anya has just dropped and also discovers the box had been opened and someone has taken the chocolate. They will have to find and kill the unknown thief. They follow Anya down the train, but Yor turns up to defend her by knocking them out.

They arrive in Frigis, which is as wintry as the frig part of its name implies, and its Restaurant of Rubble and Bonds – to which the owner will only admit families – just in time to successfully order the last Meremere. Yor notices Loid’s turtleneck sweater (worn to keep warm) and, in a series of back and forth whip pans reminiscent of the breakfast discussion / newspaper-reading sequence in Citizen Kane (Orson Welles, 1940), hilariously worries that his change of clothes is another indication of his infidelity. The restaurant’s name derives from the owner’s wartime experiences when an orphaned child asked him for help finding food ion the rubble, making him want to open the place to serve his mother’s cooking to families.

Anya is just about to tuck in to her meremere when military intelligence arrives, led by Colonel Snidel (voice: Banjo Ginga) who looks like he was drawn as an homage to Kurt Russell and immediately commandeers Anya’s as yet untouched meremere for himself, offering Loid the chance to win it back in a contest to guess the quantities of sugar used in various dishes from the menu which the commander wins by giving the weight in grams as well as the type of sugar used, which latter ingredients Loid correctly guessed, but didn’t add the quantities.

The restaurateur will have no ingredients to make more meremere ‘til Monday, but Yor suggests she could source those. Loid manages to buy most down the local market, as well as lipstick for Yor which she immediately interprets as another indicator of his infidelity. She gets drunk, then thinks that Loid might divorce her. Anya has overheard a definition of divorce from a classmate: “divorce is when your mum and dad cause a bloodbath – and your whole family falls apart”. And then Nightfall, the rival spy / Other Woman, turns up outside the family’s hotel apartment to question Loid and tell him some more background plot. At which point Yor blunders in, with the message that Anya has gone. She’s gone to buy the final ingredient for the meremere, but gets captured by Luca and Domitri from the train and taken to the Colonel’s waiting airship, where he confronts her with the immortal line, “To think you had eaten our chocolate before the meremere incident.”

As Loid commandeers a plane from the nearby airfield to rescue Anya, Yor becomes obsessed with the idea that a family should stay together, so grabs hold of the underside of the plane as it takes off. As Loid’s handler comments that the fate of the world hangs in the balance depending on where that microfilm is, we cut to Anya trying desperately not to pass a stool. The film then ups the ante by allowing her to have a vision of a Poop God, who flies over water with her to the Garden of Toilets. Meanwhile, Loid’s plane must dodge the villain’s airship’s anti-aircraft fire before he crash lands on the airship, unaware that Yor is now in the hold hanging on for dear life as his plane performs death-defying manoeuvres. Once on board, she will battle various forces including the mysterious ‘F’ (voice: Shinsuke Takeuchi) in a burning set that resembles the interior of the base in which the shoot out at the end of Bond movie The Spy Who Loved Me (Lewis Gilbert, 1977) takes place.

Much humour derives from the diminutive and overly cute child character Anya, an inquisitive type who pokes her nose in wherever she can and gets herself in all manner of trouble. The baggage car incident with the trunk and the chocolate involves the item of confectionery accidentally bouncing around in the air, before being batted by Bond towards Anya, who swallows it after missing the catch. This sort of tomfoolery is beautifully handled in 2D animation, with a perfect sense of comic timing that would be all but unimaginable in the far less easily controlled medium of live action. When Anya finds herself trapped in an empty restaurant car shortly afterwards, she is briefly reduced to whizz lines for a few seconds, which very precisely and hilariously conveys her sense of panic. After Yor has reduced the two men to a heap on the floor, rotating spiral lines on their glasses lenses indicate their unconscious state.

Then there’s the hilarious sequence where Anya, having swallowed the microfilm which the Colonel had hidden inside the chocolate, is asked if she’s been to the lavatory since eating it. She hasn’t, so now she must not poop because once she has done so, she becomes expendable. This could so easily be embarrassingly awful, but somehow the directors of this anime make such comic elements work brilliantly.

The level of inventiveness is high throughout. At one point, Anya imagines a scenario in which a chocolate research and development lab assistant lackey spouts a hand from his throat (with the words, “I am a lackey of Duke Hand Out of Throat”) to steal the state-of-the-art chocolate from his proud boss.

One moment perfectly encapsulates the knockabout nature of the piece: when Anya is kidnapped by Luca and Domitri’s car, its flight sends a tin can flying into the air, which knocks out the pursuing Bond on its descent. It’s a typically daft moment which breaks all the rules of drama, yet somehow it adds something totally off-kilter to the already skewed whole.

This is a big screen spin-off from a hugely popular, long-running manga and anime franchise (which you can see in the UK – details below) created by Tatsuya Endo. If this feature is intended as a teaser for that, it’s done a more than decent job. Speaking, however, as someone who has never seen an episode of the anime, this feature works very well as a standalone film. It’s a visual joy, cleverly scripted, moves along at an incredible pace and is completely, utterly bonkers. To be honest, I’m not sure it matters whether you start with the series or the feature – except that I would make sure you catch the feature while it’s in cinemas, as it looks great on the big screen.

Did I mention that it’s very, very funny?

Spy x Family Code: White is out in cinemas in the UK on Friday, April 26th.

This review is of the subtitled version. I honestly can’t imagine why anyone would want to watch this dubbed, but both versions are releasing in UK cinemas, so check before you go.


The first season of Spy x Family is on Netflix, while that and the second season are on Crunchyroll.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *