Actually, I Am…
by Paul Jensen,
How would you rate episode 12 of
Actually, I Am… ?
If I were in Aizawa's position, I'd have quite a few complaints for my alien commanders by the end of this expedition. She's got a spaceship and a nifty human-sized body to walk around in, but she has to bludgeon people with a shovel because apparently no one thought to give her a stun gun. On top of that, I'm willing to bet that her training didn't cover getting her heart broken by a dorky, indecisive human boy. Who's running this sham of a recon mission, anyway?
After all the twists and turns that they've had to deal with over the last few episodes, things have become understandably awkward between Asahi and Shiragami. They both confide in their respective friends, and it briefly looks like we're on course for an honest heart-to-heart between them. Akane quickly pulls the rug out from under that possibility by pushing Aizawa into the fray. As tensions build within the love triangle, Shiragami asks Asahi to meet her on the school roof. Eager to clear things up, Asahi plans to confess his feelings as soon as he gets there. If he wants to do that, he'll have to get past Aizawa, who is apparently willing to hit him over the head with a shovel if it means preventing the confession. The ensuing chase leads Asahi and Aizawa onto the roof just in time to see Shiragami being carried off into the sky by an enormous vampire bat.
Given this episode's slow start, you could easily be forgiven for expecting a standard-issue romantic comedy ending. The show does a decent job of presenting Asahi and Shiragami's doubts about their feelings, but things unfold too predictably to generate any real interest. It feels like we've seen these developments countless times before in this genre: the central couple resolve to talk it out, a sudden misunderstanding derails their plans and puts the romantic rival back into the picture, and thus we're on the hook for another episode. I'm all for sticking with what works, but a little more originality would have been welcome.
Just when it seems like we're stuck in autopilot, Aizawa steps in and livens things up considerably. Her initial explanation for the shovel attack is an amusing reference to her use of a hammer as a “memory alteration device” earlier in the series, and the scene only escalates from there. Actually, I Am has pulled off several humorous chase scenes in the past, and that eye for physical comedy serves it well here. Even more surprising is the emotional punch that the show manages to deliver in the midst of the chaos. It's hard not to feel for Aizawa as she realizes that there's nothing she can do to keep things as they are. If she lets Asahi confess his feelings to Shiragami, the three of them won't be able to maintain their current friendship. If she confesses her feelings to Asahi, the problem remains the same. While it's not a good idea to knock your friends unconscious with garden tools, Aizawa really doesn't have many good options here.
Tossing Shiragami's father into the mix at the last minute makes for an unexpected final twist, but I have mixed feelings about the decision. On the one hand, Bat-Dad's arrival provides a dramatic exclamation point, by making Asahi and Aizawa guilty of prioritizing their own desires over the needs of their friend. On the other hand, the need to rescue Shiragami effectively slams the door on what had recently become a very compelling love triangle. Instead of forcing Asahi to deal with the emotional fallout of choosing one person over another, the show looks set to end on an “all for one” rescue mission with a simpler but less interesting outcome. There's no reason Actually, I Am can't still deliver a competent final episode, but it's a shame to see a good storyline put on the back burner.
I'm not sure my heart can handle many more sudden changes of direction from this series. This episode set up a perfectly normal conclusion, made it interesting with some emotional fireworks, then turned around and set up an entirely new by-the-book ending. Any one of these three directions would be acceptable, but it would've been nice if someone had made the decision before they wrote the script.
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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