Actually, I Am…
by Paul Jensen,
How would you rate episode 6 of
Actually, I Am… ?
Actually, I Am may not be the most absurd or bizarre show to air this season, but some of its characters' secret identities have been odd and original enough to catch me by surprise. I expected Aizawa's status as a tiny alien in a bigger body to be the apex of the show's weirdness, but this latest character introduction offers some stiff competition. Werewolves are hardly a new concept, but I don't think I've ever seen the idea carried out like this.
Asahi and Shiragami run into Shirou the wolf man on their way home from the amusement park, and it doesn't take long for the situation to get out of hand. Shirou suspects that Asahi knows Shiragami's secret, and Asahi's attempt to bluff his way past the wolf man goes about as well as you'd expect. The only thing that stops them from coming to blows is the sudden appearance of a full moon. Shirou transforms as soon as he sees the moon, but the results don't quite line up with typical werewolf lore. It turns out that Shirou the wolf man is actually the alternate form of Shiho, a relatively normal (if eccentric) girl. Looking at the moon causes the two distinct personalities to switch back and forth along with the accompanying physical changes. Chaos ensues, but at least the news that Shiragami's been found out as a vampire remains under wraps.
The initial encounter with Shirou takes up a significant chunk of this episode, but the scene is clever enough to be worth the extra screen time. Shirou's intellect matches up to Asahi's ability to lie, setting the stage for a heavyweight showdown between stupidity and ineptitude. The ensuing exchange of threats and trash talk is quite funny, and the show also has some fun with Shirou's more dog-like traits. There's something undeniably amusing about seeing an angry wolf man stop halfway through a rant to catch a stick in midair. Asahi's attempts to act tough are also worth a laugh, and the hostility between the two guys makes for good comedic chemistry.
Shiho's arrival on the scene only adds to the chaos, and the concept of having two characters in one is certainly interesting. It's odd that only Shiho retains her awareness when the other personality is active, but keeping Shirou in the dark between transformations leads to some amusing overreactions whenever he wakes up in an awkward position. The fact that a photo of the moon is enough to trigger the switch is equally silly, but also provides its fair share of laughs. The show is clearly going for comedy over logic here, and that's fine by me. Just about anything is fair game, as long as it's done in the name of humor and the series consistently plays by whatever rules it makes up.
Shiho is slightly more complex than the straightforward Shirou, and it's a little too early to make a concrete judgment of her value as a character. Her advances on Asahi aren't as novel or funny as the series seems to think they are, and it's too obvious that her main purpose is to push Shiragami into admitting that she has feelings for Asahi. On the other hand, her relationship with Shiragami is just the mix of friendship and antagonism you'd expect from childhood friends who happen to be a vampire and a pseudo-werewolf. Shiho seems pretty comfortable in her own skin, and she might end up being a useful wild card to help move the story along. Only time will tell, but I'm very much on the fence for the moment.
Now that all the major characters have made their entrances, Actually, I Am faces its next big challenge: coming up with a plot. The cast has plenty of potential and the show has solid comedic instincts, but it needs a clear direction if it wants to get through the second half of the season without running out of steam. If it can come up with a story idea as unusual as the combined characters of Shirou and Shiho, it should be alright.
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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