Actually, I Am…
by Paul Jensen,
How would you rate episode 13 of
Actually, I Am… ?
This final episode of Actually, I Am… wraps up my summer simulcast reviewing season, so it looks like I'm going out on a casual shrug and a slightly amused smirk. If there's a prize for doing the bare minimum amount of work necessary to wrap up a series, Actually, I Am… is a strong candidate. It's the kind of finale that elicits neither cheers nor boos, only leaving the audience to lean back in their seats and mutter, “Well, I guess that's that.”
After Shiragami gets carried off into the night sky by her father, the rest of the gang piles into a minivan and sets off in pursuit. Asahi, Shiho, and Aizawa manage to break into the family estate, but their rescue mission doesn't quite go as planned. It turns out that Shiragami's father still doesn't know that her secret is out, and the dramatic flight home was an overreaction to her mother catching a cold. Asahi is briefly relieved until he manages to spill the beans about knowing that Shiragami is a vampire himself. Rather than giving up, he offers to erase his own memories with Aizawa's hammer so that Shiragami can keep going to school. A convenient accident causes the hammer to fall on Shiragami's father instead, and everything works out just fine.
This episode flips the script several times regarding whether or not Shiragami's secret is out, and the show does a good job of making each reversal of fortune entertaining. We haven't seen much of Asahi's inability to keep a secret in recent weeks, so it's fun to watch him open his big mouth and create the problem he thought he was about to solve. The series elects to keep going for laughs throughout the finale, which at least seems appropriate for a romantic comedy. It's tough not to laugh when Asahi's big speech involves promising to hit himself over the head with an alien device that looks suspiciously like an ordinary hammer.
It's not easy to invent an interesting character over the course of a single episode, but Shiragami's parents are still more generic than I would've expected. Apart from being comically gigantic, Genjirou (I'm tempted to keep calling him Bat-Dad) is no different from the short-tempered fathers of a hundred other harem comedy heroines. Touko plays an equally stock role as the soft-spoken yet terrifying mother who shows up at the last minute to keep her husband in check. For all the work that Actually, I Am… did to compare the relationship of its central couple to the previous generation, Genjirou and Touko aren't terribly compelling in person. I do like Genjirou's enormous teacup, though.
As endings go, this episode is par for the course when it comes to harem comedies adapted from other media. The hero gets to make some kind of big speech that shows off what he's willing to risk for the heroine, and she gets to tell him that he doesn't have to go to such drastic lengths for her sake. Nobody has to make any particularly difficult choices, and a general lack of consequences allows the harem train to keep rolling in case a second season ever gets the green light. Frankly, other episodes in this series are better in terms of balancing romance and drama with goofy comedy. It's not bad by any means; it's just frustratingly noncommittal. After everything they've been through, it's annoying that Asahi and Shiragami still can't fully admit that they like one another.
Actually, I Am… has been a decent little series despite its various ups and downs. It's invented some fun characters, delivered some strong comedy, and provided just enough emotional grounding to make the story matter. It's also struggled with narrative indecision throughout the season, and never quite figured out what to do with itself after the character introductions wrapped up. With decidedly average animation quality and a tendency to go for humor over sex appeal, it's not really a fanservice show, but it lacks the chemistry needed to appeal to a broader romantic comedy audience. The show as a whole leaves the same impression as its final episode: amusing, but not especially memorable.
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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