Actually, I Am…
by Paul Jensen,
How would you rate episode 4 of
Actually, I Am… ?
I watched this episode with the expectation that it would elicit a few modest chuckles, the kind of easy laughs that let you zone out after a long day of work. As a result, I was completely unprepared for the comedic onslaught that was coming my way. Actually, I Am offered a bit of a surprise at the start of the season simply by being more competent than one might expect, but this storyline came out of nowhere.
Right from the start, it's clear that we're in for something entertaining. Aizawa's human-sized body runs out of power halfway through the school day, forcing her to abandon ship and return to class on her own tiny legs. She enlists Asahi's help in bringing the body to the nurse's office to recharge, but he first has to get it out of its hiding place in the girls' restroom. Shiragami eventually gets dragged into the rescue mission as well, and the gang manages to find a safe place to plug Aizawa's body back in. Everything seems to be going well until Mikan finds mini-Aizawa and mistakes her for a suspiciously accurate figure. This leads to some delightfully raunchy jokes and a chaotic chase scene as Asahi tries to rescue his tiny, extraterrestrial class rep.
Of the three secret identities that Actually, I Am has revealed so far, Aizawa's status as a tiny alien driving a human-sized version of herself has the most obvious comedic potential. That premise is put to good use in this episode's first half as she sneaks through the school like a miniscule commando with Asahi plodding along awkwardly behind her. The sequence is filled with fun moments, from Aizawa's utterly harmless sniper attacks to her proud refusal to ride around in Asahi's pocket. Even the potentially disastrous bathroom retrieval scene is played to perfection, and the show sticks to the strength of its premise instead of leaning on tired old “guy in the girls' room” jokes. Throughout it all, Aizawa and Asahi carry the scene with an endearing mix of bickering and teamwork.
The story goes for broke in the second half by adding in the rest of the cast, shifting from quiet tension to a bombastic free-for-all. Mikan's arrival stirs things up nicely, and Aizawa's efforts to imitate an action figure are occasionally hilarious. The whole exchange feels like the show spent the previous sequence thinking of as many dirty jokes as possible in order to unleash them all in a single, rapid-fire barrage of twisted comedy. We get a brief respite from the wonderfully lowbrow humor when Asahi and Aizawa escape to a storage shed, but the chase ultimately ends on an appropriately inappropriate note. Aizawa's secret is preserved, but Asahi's dignity certainly isn't.
Admittedly, it takes a fairly twisted sense of humor to fully enjoy this episode's antics. The visuals are pretty tame, but the situations and dialogue don't exactly display a wealth of subtlety and good taste. I laughed quite a lot, but your mileage may vary. It's also worth noting that this episode doesn't contribute anything to the plot of the series as a whole; Aizawa's conflicted feelings for Asahi are hardly breaking news. Rather than building a foundation for future episodes, Actually, I Am is cashing in on the material it already has. The results are easily worth the effort, but raising the bar this early may come back to bite the show later in the season. Even if that concern does turn out to have merit, I'll admit that this was still much more fun to watch than yet another character introduction.
Last week's episode showed that Actually, I Am has a wicked side to go with its reasonably tame rom-com antics, and that raunchy approach combines with a clever character design to make this episode work. If the series can gather enough material to keep performing at this level, then it has a decent shot at standing shoulder to shoulder with this season's comedy powerhouses.
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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