Actually I am… (Review)
Jitsu wa Watashi wa (Translated as Actually I Am), is a Manga series written and illustrated by Eiji Masuda. It was published by Akita Shoten in Weekly Shōnen Champion and ran from January 2013 – February 2017. It has been collected into 22 volumes, with Seven Seas Entertainment translating and publishing it under the name My Monster Secret in North America starting in 2016. It has also been adapted into an anime, but I’m going to stick with the manga here.
There is no reason for it to be as good as it is. It hits some serious “No I’m not interested in that” before even starting.
- It’s set in a high school
- It’s a romcom
- It’s a harem manga
- It’s impossible to explain other than the mangaka was on all the drugs.
Combine these things and you normally enter into the world of pure and utter trash, and the stereotype for everything wrong with manga and anime. There’s a few dozen of them published in both manga and anime every year, and normally if you want to read ‘the good stuff’ the industry has to offer you avoid this concoction like the absolute plague.
And then you get to the characters involved:
- The main protagonist: A high schooler who can’t keep a secret (his nickname is literally ‘leaky basket’)
- The main girl: A “beautiful and mysterious” vampire, who is dense as hell. Trying to keep secret she’s a vampire.
- A 6 inch tall alien girl, who pilots a robot that passes as a human, because she can’t let anyone else know she’s actually an alien.
- The main protagonist’s best childhood friend, a girl who bullies the main protagonist (and everyone else) to no end. A journalist looking to publish all the secrets and rumors she can find.
- An ancient demon girl who is actually the school principal, but nobody knows she’s actually the principal (or a demon. She’s probably the most ‘demon-y’ demon girl in recent memory, in that she grants wishes, but they wind up being a monkey’s paw).
- A werewolf girl, who when she changes at the sight of a moon (even pictures) turns into a man with sharp teeth. Also, she’s a crazy pervert. Of the kind who competes in the pervert olympics in the hopes to out-perv her mother. She’s literally the reason that…
- A time traveler girl comes back from 50 years in the future to stop the werewolf girl from taking over the world and causing a pervert apocalypse. Her weapon is a sword that puts clothes on people.
- Another time travelling girl.
- An angel girl who thinks she’s actually a demon.
- The great granddaughter of the demon principal.
- The brother of the alien girl, who pilots a girl robot.
- Talking glasses possessed by gods of ‘fortune’.
All of these characters are trying to keep their ‘secret’ hidden from everyone else, and pass off as ‘normal people’. To varying degrees of success.
As I said, it absolutely should not work. All the hallmarks of pure manga trash are there. And yet… somehow it all works so well. The shenanigans are hilarious, the romance is cute and grows organically, there are some deeply emotional moments near the end, and all the wild disparate elements somehow coalesce neatly into a wholesome and heartwarming conclusion. Even the art, which I wasn’t really a fan of starting out, grew on me, although that might also be the artist getting better as the series progressed. Jitsu wa Watashi wa is going onto my list of all time romcom favorites. I highly recommend this absurdity of a manga series. It fits well somewhere between Kaguya-Sama and Grand Blue.