Am I Actually the Strongest? Anime Series Review

Am I If truth be told the Most powerful? Anime Sequence Overview

It would not be considered unreasonable to suggest that the ever-present isekai genre in anime faces a fair amount of criticism. For the occasional viewer who might dip into only the more acclaimed offerings from time to time, the frequent gripes from critics about the genre may seem old and tired. However, as someone who must stay abreast of these shows, I count myself among the chorus of critics who routinely express their dissatisfaction. Take, for instance, “Am I Actually the Strongest?”: This is an anime that seems barely satisfied with its own existence, approved, it would seem, to fulfill some analyst-driven mandate to maintain a certain number of isekai shows on the air. It comes across as if it were chosen through a process as indifferent as a producer randomly picking out a book from a vast and virtually indistinguishable collection, shrugging their shoulders, and thinking, “This one will suffice.”

Despite featuring many typical low-quality attributes, it would be a mistake to immediately dismiss the original work behind “Am I Actually the Strongest?” as a mere hobbyist effort. Sai Sumimori is not an inexperienced newcomer to the online novel scene merely experimenting by uploading a generic isekai story. In reality, Sumimori is an established author who has been writing and getting light novels published for the past ten years, with many of their works being turned into manga and at least one being previously adapted into anime (although the enigmatic “Mahō Tsukai Nara Miso o Kue!” ONA is not readily available for viewing). With this knowledge, the creation of “Am I Actually the Strongest?” appears not to be due to a lack of skill or harmful intentions, but rather to a calculated move. The work gives off the impression that it was made purely to exploit a popular trend, intended only to occupy market space without providing substantial content.

It’s impossible to exaggerate just how much the overriding sentiment of the series “Am I Actually the Strongest?” comes across as everyone involved seeming like they’d rather be anywhere else. The protagonist, Haruto, is driven by a desire to exert minimal effort, which ironically seems to mirror the show’s own reason for being. As an overpowered character in a typical isekai narrative, Haruto checks all the boxes and apparently sees no reason to put in additional work. In a similar vein, the series includes a host of elements designed to appeal to viewers, such as monster-girl maids, an adorable younger sister figure, and a magical academy. However, any sincere effort to develop a story around these features seems to result in nothing but frustration.

In essence, “Am I Actually the Strongest?” does have a narrative, yet the anime dismissively resists genuinely presenting it. The plot, such as Haruto’s reluctance to go to the magic school, is unnecessarily prolonged. Complaining to viewers about plot points being troublesome does little to excite them. Imagine if, for weeks before reaching a new destination in “One Piece,” Luffy constantly faced the audience with a grimace, expressing reluctance. Additionally, surprising developments, like the evil traits of Haruto’s birth mother, emerge abruptly without careful timing or a developed storyline. It appears as though the show’s writers indifferently transcribed the original books’ story just to fill a twelve-episode quota, concluding without any indication of where, or even if, the story might progress should it ever be extended.

Why bother indeed? “Am I Actually the Strongest?” lacks any genuine engagement with the few intriguing ideas it might possess. Haruto’s interactions, whether admonishing his foolish wolf servant or dominating his homicidal mother, are delivered with the apathy of a person half-heartedly performing routine tasks in a less-cherished mobile game. He constructs a mechanical clone of himself, which is inconsistently acknowledged by both him and the narrative. The plot hints at Haruto forming a bond with a character who could be the reborn Demon King, only to quickly dismiss this in favor of a tedious exploration of the story’s magical workings throughout the majority of the final two episodes. Why not just go with it? It fills up the allotted broadcast time, after all. Could one expect anything more from a series that often seems more like a ploy for tax avoidance than a genuine entertainment effort?

From time to time, there is an aspect of the anime that catches the attention of its creators. Char, the younger sister of Haruto, is the only character who shows any real excitement about this. She firmly believes Haruto should embrace the “Hero of Justice” identity that she attributes to his abilities, providing a somewhat reliable thread to maintain the progression of the narrative. Along with this, there’s the predictable element of a younger sister’s adoration for her brother, hinting at a possible romantic undertone, which Haruto himself participates in. This is evident when he happily joins Char on a date in the eighth episode. By that stage, I had actually begun to accept it. At this point, the show might as well have explored the incest theme. It’s like morbidly prodding a dead bird on the ground, waiting for it to react, knowing it won’t.

It is important to emphasize that “Am I Actually the Strongest?” exhibits a seemingly indifferent and dismissive attitude towards its own narrative, which doesn’t stem from any satirical or comedic intent, even though it occasionally makes a half-hearted effort to make you believe otherwise. The series makes an early attempt at humor in a notorious scene where a wolf-woman tries to mate with the infant protagonist in a bizarre strategy to initiate lactation. However, subsequent events tend to mistake uninspired anti-climaxes for genuine humor. A particularly noticeable instance is when Haruto takes on a persona that is a clear nod to Zero from Code Geass, but instead of achieving parody, it only achieves a superficial acknowledgment. Much of what is presented as “comedy” seems like it was the first notion that came to the writer’s mind, stretched out simply to fill space, while we still make no real progress with the limited plot that exists.

The only real compliment I can extend to this anime is its very existence. The animation often looks budgeted, using hazy zoom-ins and an unusually large number of aerial shots from an isometric perspective. Yet, it never completely disintegrates. Impressively, the last episode includes an expected battle sequence with a third-tier villain, which actually features some decent animation work. The actors voicing the characters give it their all, preventing their performances from feeling as indifferent as the rest of the production elements. Misaki Kuno deserves a mention for her portrayal of Tearietta, which may appeal to those who have a soft spot for adorably annoying little mischief-makers. Crunchyroll even put out an English dub, likely based on the idea that any isekai, despite its lack of originality, will draw in viewers. The dub is just as passable as the rest of the show, but I implore you not to validate their assumption by watching it.

This series may technically exist and seem cohesive, but the reality is that even its creators appear unenthusiastic about being part of it. It only further cements the isekai genre’s reputation as the lowest point, a genre filled with unimaginative content aimed at undiscriminating fans. It’s nothing more than a placeholder, like a screensaver. Yet, in an ironic twist, the fact that “Am I Actually the Strongest?” reaches a tipping point of mediocrity is what gives it a strange kind of significance. If you somehow force yourself to endure watching this series, then try to picture experiencing the same uninspired formula repeated five to ten times, every quarter. This is the reality of contemporary isekai anime – a genre that has no regard for its own artistic value or for the audience watching it. This explains why those who have seen these repetitive shows countless times have grown indifferent to them.

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