Actually, I Am…
by Paul Jensen,
How would you rate episode 10 of
Actually, I Am… ?
As far as I can tell, Mikan is dealing with the fortune god that lives inside her glasses all wrong. When inanimate objects start talking for no apparent reason, you don't try to hide it from everyone. You put that stuff up on the Internet and hope it goes viral. Who needs a perpetually frowning cat when you've got a sassy set of bifocals?
A cake buffet gets things started this week, with a multitude of desserts sweet enough to override Shiragami's fear of people seeing her fangs. Asahi has his hands full distracting his friends from her vampire-related quirks, but his troubles come to an early end thanks to some deliberately dangerous cream puffs. Back at school, Mikan shifts into crisis mode when her haunted eyeglasses go missing. Aizawa gets caught up in the frantic search and becomes the first person to find out about the chatty spectacles. Everything seems to be going just fine until the incompetent spirit inside the glasses follows through on its threat to make Mikan confess her feelings to Asahi. To make matters worse, the ventriloquist act happens while the glasses are on Aizawa's face.
Actually, I Am improved its approach to the romantic side of the rom-com equation last week, and this episode does the same for the comedy half. The show's rapid-fire humor is back to its old strengths here, using a mix of silly dialogue, ridiculous situations, and exaggerated facial expressions to deliver laughs by any means necessary. The cast's unique secrets are used to good effect, but what really stands out is how the script uses goofy situations to draw out new sides of the characters' personalities. Asahi's trio of generic guy friends continue to be more fun than expected, and the instant comedic chemistry between Mikan and Aizawa is impressive considering their limited interactions up to this point.
The series has also finally found a productive use for Mikan's talking glasses, despite seemingly abandoning them for most of the season. While I don't buy the idea that anyone would mistake Fuku-chan's squeaky voice for any other character's, the obnoxious fortune god does provide the swift kick in the pants that the show's love triangle (love quadrilateral? love pentagon?) has needed for some time. While Mikan can theoretically resolve the matter by revealing her secret to the rest of the cast, doing so would mean throwing her hat into the ring for Asahi's affections. For a decorative pair of glasses, Fuku-chan has done a lot to stir things up.
Despite its ability to invent bizarre new physical traits, Actually, I Am continues to take a very conventional approach when it comes to character motivations. Mikan's background as Asahi's childhood friend is the very definition of formulaic, but at least it's presented reasonably well. As obvious as they are, the glasses work as a symbol of Mikan's attempts to mask her feelings behind an assumed personality, protecting her friendship with Asahi. Her confession to Aizawa is handled without any obnoxious melodrama, and we do get the impression that she has a life beyond admiring Asahi, thanks to her involvement with the newspaper club. That's more than I can say for similar characters in other harem comedies, so I'll chalk it up as a minor point in the show's favor.
I laughed much more in this episode than I typically do while watching this series, and I'm glad that it's finally forcing the issue of everyone's various crushes on Asahi. My biggest concern right now is the possibility that the next episode will try to sweep these developments under the rug in an overzealous attempt at preserving the harem comedy format. Actually, I Am has a habit of dragging its feet narratively, so here's hoping it finally follows through and gives us something resembling a conclusion by the end of the season.
Actually, I Am… is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
Paul Jensen is a freelance writer and editor. You can follow more of his anime-related ramblings on Twitter.
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