Kuromine Asahi is a normal high school student with one big problem: he can neither lie nor keep a secret, something that amuses his friends greatly, though it does put a crimp in his social life, as those who do need to keep a secret avoid him. Worse, his complete inability to hide his feelings let him to be rejected by his crush “last summer” before he even had a chance to talk to her. But now he’s turning a new leaf, sure that he is able to hide his attraction to Shiragami Youko, a mysterious “cool beauty” he’s been admiring from afar, a girl distant from the rest of the class, always alone. His friends of course find out about his new crush in less than half a dozen of pages and challenge him to confess to her — better to confess and be rejected, than be shotdown before you even get the chance. With their encouragement he rushes over to talk to her, only to find out that she’s a vampire.
That in a nutshell is the central conceit in Jitsu wa Watashi wa (Actually, I am a…), with poor Kuromine now having a much greater secret to protect than any he has failed to keep so far. If anybody else finds out Shiragami’s secret, or that he knows her secret, her father will force her to quit high school. Meanwhile his discovery completely derailed his plans of confessing to her. His challenge now is to keep her secret and try and get closer to her, but things get complicated quickly, as they should in a harem comedy. And of course the first thing a harem comedy needs is some more love rivals, the first of which is Aizawa Nagisa, his class rep, not to mention the girl who shot him down before he could confess to her last summer. She has a secret too.
Aizawa’s a tiny alien steering a human size replica of herself (and for some reason she’s very good at coordinating her own outfits with her outer body’s) who has infiltrated Kuromine’s high school to observe Earth culture. As so often the case in this kind of story, it’s only now that Kuromine hs become friends with Shiragami that Aizawa becomes interested in him and starts wondering if she was too hasty to reject them. Cue a bunch of hilarious incidents in which mutual misunderstandings ultimately lead to Kuromine/Shiragami and Aizawa learning each other’s secrets. But that’s only the start. Before long there’s not only the obligatory childhood friend & tormentor of Kuromine, but other strange creatures showing up at the school as well, including Shiragami’s childhood friend, the wolfman. And that brings me to what I like the most about this series, its sense of humour. Because how would you test that the scary looking dude that interrupted your date with Shiragami is indeed that childhood friend? Like so:
This is a comic that thrives on stupidity, both of plot and characters; not for nought it’s “welcome to the world of idiots” as shown above. Kuromine might have been introduced as the idiot who can’t keep secrets or tell lies, but it soon turns out he really is the straight man in a menagerie of idiots. Before long you wonder how Shiragami was ever able to keep her secret on your own, or how the class rep ever got around without his help, not to mention Shiragami’s father, not the brightest tool in the shed either, showing up to sports’ day as a giant bat holding a video camera… The author, Masuda Eiji, has a knack for writing comedy coming from the characters themselves as for developing over the top, contrived situations, often set in motion by the demon principal and principal troll. There’s a lot of slapstick comedy, but perhaps the best part is the way Masuda draws reactions. His faces are elongated, elastic and great at showing exaggerated emotions:
Aren’t those great faces? That fixed grin on the maid in the background, the surprise on the three walking past her, the series is full of moments like that, where you have to just laugh out loud at the absurdity of it all. but there’s more to this series than just comedy, though it never remains serious for long. Unlike some harem series, Jitsu wa Watashi wa is clear about the fact that Kuromine loves Shiragami, that she ultimately loves him back and does actually make progress in their relationship, even though both are less than honest or brave in their emotions at the start. And it manages to do so without devaluing the other two love interests, the class rep and childhood friend, whose love may go unreciprocated but is still real, without throwing more girls at the main character, with more people showing up to add to the hilarity, but not to the harem and without making the girls each other enemies. Shiragami and Aizawa especially are friends and remain friends despite being love rivals. That’s what makes this series so much fun to read.
Sadly though it’s not yet legally available in English, though a first volume is slated to be published in 2016. if you’re not bothered overly much by legal niceties, scanlations are available. You may want to switch on the in comic comments as well, because this is a series that benefits from reader snark…