Few comedy anime have gripped us quite like Spy x Family! The runaway success has already received tons of praise and the manga has now sold over 17 million copies. But, did you know the hit Spy x Family was inspired by a witch-filled action fantasy?
Now, when it comes to its setting, Spy x Family is inspired by Cold War Germany. However, in a recent interview with Anime News Network, Tatsuya Endo’s editor also referenced a little-known one-shot, and the resemblance is uncanny!
Ashe of Purgatory: The One-Shot that Inspired Tatsuya Endo’s Spy x Family
In the interview, editor Shihei Lin said that Spy x Family wasn’t initially based on spy films and comedies, but a gothic one-shot that the author Tatsuya Endo had previously published:
“Endo-sensei's previous two works have been battle action stories, so we had a meeting where we decided to draw a comedy manga based on the oneshot that preceded SPY×FAMILY's serialization.”
The one-shot in question is a story titled Ashe of Purgatory. Like many of Tatsuya Endo’s earlier works, it’s an action-based story – a far cry from the light-hearted comedy of Spy x Family.
Ashe of Purgatory follows a sword-wielding monk who arrives in the mysterious town of Brokken Brook. There, he saves a young girl named Ashe from attack and is injured in the process.
Ashe takes him to her home and helps him recover, after which the monk expresses a desire to stay in the town with her. However, he soon discovers that there’s more to the town, and to Ashe, than meets the eye.
Ashe: Spy x Family's Anya’s Older Sister?
Anya has become one of anime’s iconic characters thanks to her cones and school uniform – not to mention Anya’s incredible meme faces. However, most of Anya’s character design was taken directly from the lead heroine in Ashe of Purgatory!
Tatsuya Endo explained that the reason for this was that they were the ‘ability’ characters in the two stories, and the adaptation happened without much thought.
Still, it’s funny to see such a clear resemblance across two different styles of story.
Another little Easter egg – Ashe’s earrings were given to Yor in Spy x Family.
Classic European Inspiration in Endo’s Spy x Family
Dig a little deeper, and there is much more similarity to be found between Ashe of Purgatory and Spy x Family beyond Ashe. In particular, the settings.
At the time, Tatsuya Endo was struggling to get any ideas through the team at Jump. His previous work, Gekka Bijin, had concluded around two years before Ashe of Purgatory was published.
So, he decided to work on something that had fascinated him for a while, witches. Not ‘magical girl’ witches like you commonly see in Japanese manga, but “primitive and religious ones” more commonly associated with European folklore.
His editor, Lin, also expressed an interest in Endo creating a “classical story”.
Endo also had a top-class team of assistants who are all experts in this classic gothic style. Ashe of Purgatory was assisted by Kazue Kato (creator of Blue Exorcist), Yuji Kaku (Hell's Paradise: Jigokuraku), and Sai Yamagishi (Moon Land).
The influence of classic European ideas can also be felt in Spy x Family. While the setting might have changed, that attention to detail regarding style and aesthetics most certainly remains.
Even the covers share similarities, with extravagant chairs featuring on Spy x Family and Ashe of Purgatory.
Where to Read Ashe of Purgatory, Spy x Family’s Inspiration
Unfortunately, it’s not possible to read Ashe of Purgatory through official channels. However, as Spy x Family continues to get more popular, hopefully, we’ll be treated to this story at some point in the future!