Just a day in the life of a romcom protagonist.

Between Ore Monogatari, WORKING!!!, Akagami no Shirayukihime and more, fans of romance (and romantic comedies) have had a good run as of late. But if you didn’t watch Jitsu wa Watashi wa, you may be missing out on a little gem in its own right.

The first thing you’ll notice about Jitsu wa Watashi wa is the art, and it might make you balk. I’ve heard it described as “ugly-cute,” though I feel that applies much more to the manga than it does to the anime, where the character designs were softened to bring them closer in line to the anime norm (while still retaining some of its charm). Predictably, not all manga readers are enthusiastic about this choice, but being the perennially anime-only viewer that I am, I enjoyed them. It reminds me of Majimoji Rurumo—once you get past the unfamiliar art style, you’ll find that there’s a worthy story beneath. After all, these series got greenlighted even though their producers and studios had to know their unfamiliar art styles would impact sales. They had a harder hill to climb.

The premise isn’t anything special. The male lead, Kuromine Asahi, is a nice guy, but what romantic comedy/harem protagonist isn’t? As Alec Baldwin would say, “Nice guy? I don’t give a shit.” (Name that reference without googling it, people.) His only attribute that initially stands out is his inability to keep a secret, in a series that is going to explicitly force him to keep a secret. Which can be a lot of fun in practice, but I understand if it doesn’t exactly light one’s imagination on fire. Similarly, all the girls around him are vampires, aliens, wear talking glasses, are a wolfman, etc. It’s MonMusu where the monsters mostly look (or are) human, so it’s not tickling the same itch.

Where I enjoyed it was the execution. Primarily in the comedy, which is where I remind you of something—comedy is subjective. It’s far more subjective than drama. It’s laugh or don’t laugh, so if you watched some of Jitsu wa Watashi wa and didn’t laugh, it doesn’t mean you’re wrong, or I’m wrong to have enjoyed it. Some comedy is demonstrably better than other comedy (Louis CK is going to get laughs much more reliably than some newbie scrub stand-up comedian), but if you laugh, it’s funny to you. If you don’t, it isn’t. End of story.

And I found this series funny. Especially when the whole cast got together—by the time Shishido Shiho was flitting around in her perverted way, the alien Class Rep was also hitting her comedic stride. It also took a few episodes for Asahi’s childhood friend, the “Heathen Queen” Akemi Mikan, to mellow out. ‘Cause yeah, her first episode? Cringeworthy. But once she mellowed out, she was revealed to actually be a nice person, and contributed to the comedy as well. Then there’s Akane-chan and Koumoto-sensei, who were pretty much hilarious every time they were on screen! Episodes like the world-ends-if-Aizawa-doesn’t-make-Akane-a-cake were laugh out loud hilarious.

The romance was solid too. It’s clear that, over the course of the season, progress has been made—Shiragami has begun to realize her feelings, Aizawa has absolutely realized her own, and Mikan, whose known she likes Asashi for a while now, softens into a nicer character. What I especially appreciated is that, like in shows like Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun, they gave everyone a reason why the relationships weren’t developing faster, so they all shared the “blame.” Asahi is a wuss, but Shiragami is dense, Aizawa is in open denial until she realizes a love triangle has developed, and Mikan has been holding back the whole time. I still want them to get over it and progress, but when it’s everybody’s fault, it’s harder to zero in on one person and go, “Her. Yoko Ono did it. Let’s all agree to hate her.” There’s no Ichika here.

Then there’s perhaps my favorite part of the series—Asahi’s friends. Okada, Sakurada, and Shimada—I’ll say their names, since they don’t get enough credit. In the very first episode, when they were so supportive of Asahi (even as they assumed he would get shot down again), it gave me the full-on warm and fuzzies. Fiction is fantasy, even when it doesn’t contain “typical” fantasy elements, and one of my favorite fantasies is the friendships we all wish we had, or could keep forever. High school (& college in Western media) is lionized for a lot of silly reasons (in my opinion), but one I absolutely get behind is the friendships. That’s the last time everybody is about the same age and at about the same life stage, which makes the friendships much closer. Whenever Asahi and his friends were on screen, the series shone.

I won’t throw around claims like “AOTS” or “AOTY!” This is a romantic comedy, firmly within the traditions of its genre, so I can’t say it’s anything earth shattering, and you might not even like it if the comedy doesn’t hit home. But it was one of the shows that I watched religiously every week, when I’m more of a marathoner by nature. I couldn’t wait for new episodes to come out. Whether that’s because I enjoyed it that much or just because it went down smooth, I couldn’t say. But I did enjoy the series a lot.

P.S. The OP and ED rocked.

My first novel, Wage Slave Rebellion, is available now. (More info—now in paperback!) Sign up for my email list for a FREE sequel novella. Over at stephenwgee.com, the last four posts: My best content is in email, My morning routine, True Ends, and Rejection, the secret place, & fundamentals

24 Comments

  1. I highly recommend reading the manga if you like the series at all, or even if you didn’t. I’m kind of biased because I work on it, but I really do believe it’s a cut above a lot of romantic and comedic series. It’s a series that goes out of it’s way to play with a lot of typical romcom tropes, and most of the time flat out demolishes them. The rule of threes is used religiously, and callbacks to previous chapters are used for hilarious results. Heck, one more ‘serious’ chapter is followed up by a chapter mocking it, panel for panel.

    The art style takes a little bit of getting used to, especially since the art in the first 20 or so chapters is vastly different that the current style, but it is worth reading. The author has a strong backing in horror manga, and uses his ability to draw amazing facial expressions and reactions to create comedy in ways you would not expect.

    Please give it a read, as it is by far my favorite manga.

      1. I wasn’t really complaining. I was just calling out what I saw were its weak points. None of those really bothered me, since I no longer have a fetish for the “unique” like many viewers do. I just want good stories, of which this was one.

        And alas, I’ll have to say the same thing I always say when people suggest I read the source material—I probably won’t. (Not any time soon, at least.) I’m not even keeping up with the anime I want to watch, much less have time to dive into manga and light novels and such (first world problems etc). Thank you for the suggestion, though!

    1. The horror background definitely explains some of the facial expressions, the detail and “ugly-cute” abrasiveness to them makes the expressions all the more hilarious (principal and great granddaughter I’m looking at you). I can say my reaction image folder has been bolstered quite a bit from this series 😛

      Pancakes
  2. Jitsu wa is generic, but I’ll be damned if I didn’t enjoy it every week. All the parts just clicked here, the comedy and character interactions nicely built upon the simple plot, making up for the weaknesses in that, if never breaking away from the mold. IMO a pretty good example of a “SoL” romcom.

    It is the art and comedy that get all my points though. Never understood some of the distaste at the artwork, it is unique enough to be memorable (i.e. identify it immediately) while maintaining the feel associated with manga/anime. Also happened to work great for some of the facial expressions throughout the show. The comedy too never tried to be over emphasized either, the gags were simple, but they worked. The principle/great granddaughter shenanigans especially were some of the best. Combined with Class Rep’s memory erasure device I have been in tears more than a few times throughout.

    Overall Jitsu wa was simply a fun ride. No boundary breaking or award winning plot here, just a enjoyable weekly half hour break that does what it sets out to do: get you laughing. That alone is enough for me to give this show the thumbs up.

    Pancakes
    1. I enjoyed it every Monday along with Non Non Biyori Repeat. If I have one complaint about the series its that the ending was a non ending (a romance where the main guy does not end up with a main girl). Guess they will be saving that for another season or three… They also did not explain why her father was a giant vampire either.

      Karmafan
    2. @Pancakes: Agree on the artwork. Works for this series IMO. The early manga chapters are… a bit rough shall we say, but as I noted below, it gets noticeably better (IMO) and the anime did a fine job with this – including the reaction faces. Not quite as good as Amagi Brilliant Park (which did a fantastic, hilarious job with that), but still good. And yeah, Akane-chan’s great. Probably my favorite character.

      daikama
    3. Having read the manga and ended up rofl a few times, I thoroughly enjoyed the Anime adaptation. I also liked how given the 1-cour constraint, the adaptation captured the humor of the manga quite well. The cuts, rearrangements and anime original scenes made sense for the given time constraint. Best of all, the series ended with the possibility of more. Personally, I found the Anime character designs cute. I’m not sure why people find it ugly (it does give a 90’s anime feel?). Yes, the manga character designs started out rough, but as with most Mangaka, eventually he or she settles on their drawing style and in the end there’s a certain charm to it.

      Also, I must give a shout to Akane-chan as well. She is probably one of the top if not top (comedic) troll characters I’ve seen recent years. Sadly, she was only half the troll she was in the anime compared to the manga (late intros will do that).

      @Karmafan
      “why her father was a giant vampire”
      Show Spoiler ▼

  3. It is so wrong how bad the opening sales for this series were. There’s so much more excellent material left in the manga, but any chances of a season 2 died as soon as the first BD volume came out. For anyone willing and able, read the manga. You will be glad you did.

    Purple Bomber
  4. Before the season even started, while most of what I saw about this series was negative reaction to the artstyle or whatever other silly thing the internet complains about, I set my eyes on this as one of the seasons sleeper hits and boy am I glad I was right.

    Every single character is so charming(even though Mikan gave me a bad feeling after episode 3), not a single on was handled badly and they all worked really well together. The comedy was on point(I’m a sucker for slapstick and silliness) and while I might have a penchant for Aizawa as “best girl”, Kuromine and Shiragami had such a great synergy together that I can’t help but root for them. One of my favorite show this season.

    PS. The opening and ending did rock.

    Geebun
  5. I’ll actually dissent slightly and state that while I usually have a pretty high tolerance for this kind of comedy show – after all, they generally aren’t trying to be anything deep, and mostly don’t really have to – this is one of the few that I didn’t find all that enjoyable. I’m fairly certain I know why as well – it simply got personally tiring to me that so much of everything required almost the entire cast to be idiots on some level. Some people like watching idiots be idiots, some don’t – I’m clearly the latter, so fair warning for anyone who also falls in the latter category.

    I will second the mention of Asahi’s friends, though. They’re surprisingly thoughtful and supportive characters, for archetypes that are usually reduced to sidekick/wingmen.

    Corin
  6. Definitely one of my favorites for this season and shows that just because something follows a familiar formula and whatnot in itself doesn’t automatically make it a bad series.

    I mean, I can’t be the only one who predicted that Genjirou, Youko’s father, was going to be a giant (though, I wasn’t expecting literal giant with that height, lol), intimidating man while Touko, the mother, was going to be a seemingly normal woman who somehow has Genjirou completely whipped while Youko’s “abduction” was all going to be a misunderstanding, right?

    Even with predicting all of that and being right, I still enjoyed it happening anyway. Only wish we got some more antics with Genjirou and Touko.

    HalfDemonInuyasha
  7. Personally, I have ZERO problems with the anime character designs. Rather, I think the anime did quite a good job with them. “Softened” a bit vs. the manga (for lack of a better word), but very much in line with the original artwork – particularly later chapters as the manga artwork improves (IMO) over time. So kudos to the show for doing a good job with the character designs. Frankly, I’d say the characters in general. Seriously – no real complaints in terms of the characters, including voice acting. No one felt “off” compared to the manga. Points for that. Like Stilts, IMO Akane-chan and Koumoto-sensei are the best comedy duo, and the “bake me a cake or the world ends” episode my favorite. Frankly, I wouldn’t have minded a bit more screen time for Akane-chan.

    The anime mixed up chapters which for the most part worked, but I do think the compression (incl. material cuts) hurt at times. Overall, I didn’t find the anime as funny/entertaining as the manga. This last episode is perhaps a quintessential example of that. The whole car trip with Akane “driving” was much funnier in the manga IMO. To be fair, the entire camping trip “arc” (in the manga the group went camping in sensei’s new car to a spot which “just happened” to right by Youko’s house) might need two episodes to be done right, but rushed/excessive cuts are just that. The anime only stuff was a mixed bag IMO. For the most part OK/fit the story well enough I suppose, but nothing beneficial either. For example, I think the anime reused the whole “memory erasing hammer joke” too much (e.g. last episode).

    Overall, I’d say this was a fairly good adaptation (not the best this season, but not the worst either for sure), and a pretty good anime if one likes this sort of humor. Before the season started, I thought Jitsu Wa had potential to be a bit of a “dark horse” show. Not AOTS or AOTY, but a fun, entertaining show nonetheless. For the most part, I’d say the show met those expectations. If you liked the anime, I do recommended trying the manga as well.

    daikama
  8. I liked the anime because the humor is basically Gintama light. You can’t go wrong with Gintama.

    It’s sad they couldn’t do the source material justice though. Jitsu Wa as a manga pretty much holds up to Gintama in terms of ridiculousness (those repeating gags are gold), but the adaption kinda’ fell flat. I think it’s exactly because they toned it down and tried to be more mainstream – whereas the Gintama anime embraced being pants-on-the-head crazy and ran with it, sometimes even enhancing the jokes.

    Daring to be batshit insane pays off, it seems. Or creates more memorable series, if nothing else. 🙂

    Ravenlord
  9. Shiragami is such a qt.

    One of the most underrated shows of the season, IMO. The comedy worked so well, it had some nice heartwarming moments, and I loved the art and funny facial expressions. It was a very clever show, too.

    Always laughed at how they kept playing around with vampire mythology:
    -Vampires just tan a little when they go out into the sun.
    -Oh, crosses just make her a little angry!
    -Drinking blood? No way! She’s not a slut!
    etc.

    Going to miss this one, for sure.

    Mormegil
  10. When Stilts goes into advertising mode…. UGH YOU MAKE MY BACKLOG GROW DANG IT YOU. I have like 8 more summer shows I’m tempted to look into plus I have to marathon Working as well and ugh….

    J_the_Man
    1. I’m helpful in unhelpful ways sometimes >:D

      I highly suggest the WORKING!! marathon though. I did all of S1 through S3 in the past few months. Good stuff. S2 is still the weakest (the comedic timing went all to shit for a while), but overall such a great story.

  11. – A giant father and a normal mother, despite the fact that he was normal size when he was young.

    – Ridiculous misunderstanding.

    – Akane & sensei antics.(Akane for best character of this show).

    And a little bit of romance tease but as expected with these shows, nothing conclusive.

    This ep was the perfect representation of Jitsu wa. For an anime that didn’t show any intention of breaking the mold it was surprisingly enjoyable for what it is. I’d watch a 2nd season though let’s be honest here, we’re not getting one. Might read the manga one day though.

    MgMaster
  12. I noticed that the father seems to be fine walking under sunlight; note, even if he gets protection from sunscreen, that only applies for skin since you don’t wear sunscreen on the eyes.

    L002
  13. I think the best thing is how all the characters were so stupid it was hilarious.

    Been a while since I watched this kind of show. It was very enjoyable. I’d definitely recommend it to someone just looking to watch something and have a laugh.

    Ale

Leave a Reply to ewok40k Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *