Review/discussion about: Jitsu wa Watashi wa
Jitsu wa Watashi wa loves its secrets. Many people (myself included) like secrets. It does not matter which side, either keeping or having them. Keeping them is all about trust between the parties, because once one person reveals the secret then it is a secret no longer. (This brings into question how many have to know a secret before it is no longer a secret, but that is a conversation for another day.) And having them is all about knowing who, if anyone, to tell.
There is actually a third side: the people not in the know. I found myself on this side once. For one of my birthdays, my parents and siblings told me that we were meeting up with my grandparents for a small dinner. I thought this was perfectly normal given we have done this in the past.
But when we arrived at the restaurant, my entire family – uncles, aunts, and cousins – were waiting for me. Yes, a surprise birthday party. I was baffled that they were able to keep it a secret for so long. I will never forget that feeling when it first dawned on me what had actually happened: a weird, happy feeling of betrayal.
In my case, the secret was ultimately harmless. In Jitsu’s case, the secrets it holds are more important than any birthday party could hope to be.
Jitsu starts off innocently enough. Kuromine, a shy, unable-to-lie (contextually, keep a secret) boy has a crush on Shiragami, the silent, beautiful girl in his class. He musters the courage to one day give her a love letter, only to find her with wings out and fangs bared. In other words, he found out her secret: she is a vampire.
This is how Jitsu sets up almost all of its encounters with the various girls in the harem. Said girl is hiding an absurd secret that, coincidentally, Kuromine stumbles upon. This is the first anime’s sign of its repetitive nature. Many of the jokes rely on the same shticks, such as “Ero-mine-kun” and the principal of the school getting ragged on by her great-great-granddaughter, the teacher. Many of the jokes also rely on the same premise of misplaced expectations: the characters say the opposite of what is about to happen next. (“There is no way this is going to happen,” followed immediately by it happening.)
To be fair, the anime can get pretty clever with its jokes, especially when the jokes are based on the secret motif. The episode where Kuromine has to pretend that the small, actual Aizawa is a figure that he made – subsequently earning him strange looks from everyone, including Aizawa – is smart because the joke not only plays off of the premise of the show but also incorporates the aspects of one of its characters.
Yet it is the constant avoidance of progressing the relationships that is the most egregious. As a romance-harem anime, little progression may be expected, but Jitsu does not stall the progression. Instead, the anime actively seeks to halt the progression. Kuromine, Aizawa, and Akemi each have feelings they want to share, but the anime never gives them that chance. And even when it does, they are either conveniently interrupted by a falling giant vampire or they are misunderstood after a character falls on another. Even the writing has the characters always fumbling over their words, preventing them from forming complete sentences to get their thoughts across.
In a way, this halting is the point. The anime is all about secrets. The bigger ones are revealed, such as aliens and gender-switching wolf men. The other secrets – the real feelings of the characters – never getting revealed falls in line with the anime’s own motif in that, sometimes, secrets have to be kept private.
Now, the anime goes about this in a roundabout manner when just the coincidental interruptions are stopping the secrets from surfacing. Meaning, the secrets are technically kept secret not by the characters but by random bad luck. Still, having this explanation cures some of the repetition within Jitsu.
Looking at the anime on a broad scale, the overarching plot is simple: Shiragami is not allowed to have her secret known to anyone. Otherwise, her father will take her out of (human) school. Hence, Kuromine keeps this and the other girls’ secrets secret for the whole season, once again following the show’s motif.
Still on a broad scale, the anime does not explore a definitive theme. This is not technically a negative since the anime wanted to be nothing more than a slice-of-life comedy. But refusing to be more purposeful in its presentation is not a positive, either.
On a smaller scale, there is the romantic subplot (mainly) between Kuromine and Shiragami where Shiragami’s parents mirror their relationship – a human and a vampire falling in love. Such mirroring is nice, but, since the relationship between the new (would-be) lovebirds never blossoms, the subplot serves little purpose within the anime.
Going to an even smaller scale, Jitsu is mostly episodic in its presentation. Individual episodes rarely follow one another, instead focusing on slice-of-life antics. The group trying to make chocolate to save the world from an impending asteroid, Aizawa teaching Shiragami to dodge the sun’s rays by utilizing the shadows, and Shishido demonstrating pretty clearly what it means to be “grown-up” are a sampling of the events.
These slice-of-life events bring about the laid-back nature of the show, keeping the mood from reaching overly dramatic levels and hence maintaining the comedy throughout the season. The final episode is the only strange one due to it not feeling like a final episode for two reasons. One, there is (yet again) not a confession between Kuromine and Shiragami. And two, not everyone is included.
So while the anime works as a slice-of-life, a myriad of issues bog down the show extensively.
One of the better parts of Jitsu is, surprisingly, the art and animation.
Due to the wacky nature of the comedy, the actual animation has a lot of movement involved. Characters running, blood flying, and explosions exploding are rampant throughout the season. Subtler movements, for hair and for eyes, are also present. The animation itself is nothing intricate, but the animation manages to consistently stay at a high level.
In terms of the artistic direction, the art is a mix of negatives and positives. On the negative side, the locations visited are nothing special. The school’s classrooms, hallways, and nearby facilities are the most common, leading to a lack of detail and diversity. Shiragami’s room is also visited but only occasionally. Rarely does the anime include places outside of the school and Shiragami’s room – an amusement park and Shiragami’s father’s house are some of the only exceptions. The camera is similar in the sense that little experimentation is done with it throughout the season. Running segments in the hallways (there are a lot of these) are as fancy as it gets.
On the positive side, Jitsu places a lot of attention on the reactions of the characters. A myriad of different eyes, mouths, and faces are used constantly, improving the comedy of the anime. Lighting is also given focus: shadowing on the characters and differing light sources for the backgrounds demonstrate this.
The anime also employs subtle techniques. Akane’s auras that flow around her is one such technique, and Shiragami putting the back of her hand over her mouth by instinct is another. These are small details, but they add to the overall execution of the show.
But it is the characters’ designs that come out on top. Kuromine is designed as a self-insert character (bland colors and boring features), but his design does not take away from the girls of the show. The girls, in contrast to Kuromine, have vibrant colors, pretty eyes, and unique features that make them look like actual characters.
For example, Shiragami’s long, green hair, two sharp fangs, and black pantyhose with skirt and blue top give the vampire a quirky yet refined look. Aizawa is another character with a nice design: her short blue hair, her tie with collared shirt, and her bolt (her alien antenna when she is seen in her small form) paint her as both the professional class representative and the alien that she is. Shishido’s design, with her chained collar (for her wolf self) and her spotted jacket (contrasting with her sexy self), further proves the strength of the characters’ designs and the overall strength of the art.
Jitsu does not create the most compelling of characters; they are what many would say are “not well-written.” However, the anime does provide a handful of characters whose personalities fit within the confines of the show and one character whose message is something that anyone can take to heart.
Starting with Kuromine’s friends – the group of three boys who silently support him from the sidelines – they exist almost exclusively to balance out the male-to-female ratio in the show. This is not to say that they are unfunny or absent throughout the season, but they do not do much outside of giving Kuromine courage from time to time and subconsciously satisfying the audience.
Speaking of the main protagonist, Kuromine, as his design indicates, is a self-insert character. He is kind to everyone, he always tries to make the best out of every situation, and he has every (weird) girl in the school vying for him. His unique characteristic, however, is his inability to have a poker face. For this reason, the students call him a “Leaky Basket” for never being able to keep a secret. So it is only right that he must keep the secret of every harem member. Unfortunately, since the anime does little else with Kuromine beyond his initial introduction, and the girls outshine him in terms of comedy, his character is as lackluster as they come.
Aizawa is on about the same level as Kuromine. She is an alien piloting a human-sized robot that looks just like her. She tries to maintain order through her position as class representative, but she is perhaps the most spur-of-the-moment and most chaotic person in the group.
Aizawa is cute and she is fun, but her character does little else besides impede the relationship between Kuromine and Shiragami. She develops feelings for the “Leaky Basket” halfway or so through the season – due to this kindness and because he kept her secret – causing her to feel distressed, both about hurting her two best friends and about hurting herself. By the show’s end, she (internally) says she will step aside for the other two lovebirds, yet it is clear that she is not completely over her feelings.
Then there is Akemi, the childhood friend of Kuromine. Yes, she has a crush on him (the common childhood trope). And, yes, she has a secret that she hides from everyone else. (Her glasses harbor a spirit of fortune who is not-so-lucky.) Her character is actually not that important and even not that relevant to the anime. All that matters with her is her glasses which caused yet another situation in which Aizawa gets to mess up the prominent pairing of Kuromine and Shiragami.
It is not until Shishido arrives that the characters start to gain some traction. She is Shiragami’s childhood friend, and, coincidentally enough, she is a wolf man. When the moon shines bright (or if she even sees a picture of the moon), she changes into her male self and vice versa. Still, her most known feature is her perverted nature: She regularly puts her head under the skirts of the other girls among other lewd activities. Though this is not what makes her character better than the rest.
What does make her character better is her ability to read the situation. She is able to do this because of her perverted nature. She is, as she would say, “honest with her feelings.” Where the rest of the characters try to mask their feelings or play off the emotions they are feeling, Shishido is there to point out what everyone is really thinking. She is a funny and helpful person which is about all you can ask of from a side character.
Surprisingly, Shiragami is the strongest character of the show for a reason that may not seem immediately obvious. Shiragami is a vampire, or, more specifically, she is a half-vampire. She tans easily in the sun, she cannot swim, and she does not own a coffin because it is too luxurious for her. Her most defining feature, though, is how dense she is. As the characters say, this feature is why she is a perfect match for Kuromine: She is too dense to understand his painfully obvious feelings for her (“opposites attract”).
This is all that Shiragami’s character is. Like the others, she does not develop as a character. She may ever-so-slightly stray away from her path – calling Kuromine by his first name is as adventurous as she gets – but, for the most part, she remains the same quirky vampire girl from start to finish.
But she reveals something through her thoughts. In episode nine, Shiragami has a heart-to-heart with Kuromine where she says the following line: “It’s important to keep my secret, but I realized that there are even more important things.” When she says “important things” what she means are friends.
This a beautiful sentiment. Nobody should ever be lonely in life. There are strangers to greet, people to befriend, and relationships to share. For Shiragami, her secret stopped her from having these connections. She was not able to have the kind of school life that she wanted, and, indeed, the kind of life that everyone deserves.
Kuromine is the one that allows her to realize her mistake in thinking a secret is more important than enjoying life with others. And through his persistence to connect with Shiragami, Shiragami makes friends with Aizawa and then Akemi and then everyone else in the show. In other words, she finally obtains those “important things.”
The anime may not have the most compelling of characters, but, at the minimum, this message that life is best spent with others is truly wonderful.
One of the best pieces of the original soundtrack is the transition music between the A and B parts of the episode. It is not many notes, and it is only an acoustic guitar accompanied by a flute, but the simplicity of the track and its wonderful slice-of-life feel make the track a joy to hear.
The rest of the OST is standard for this type of anime. Slice-of-life tunes, triumphant ensembles, and sad compositions fill the air as the anime is watched. There is a notable track, however. Technically two tracks are worth talking about, but they are the “same”: the insert song and the instrumental version of the insert song. The former is annoying. It is used way too much, it is played at strange times, and it is formed of silly English lyrics. The latter is wonderful. It is used less frequently, it is played at the perfect times, and it is formed of just simple and soft sounds.
Looking at the opening theme, it is a fun track which the water-droplet effect at the very beginning flags. The first half is somewhat mellow, contrasting nicely with Jitsu’s usually rambunctious self. The second half of the track still maintains the same pacing, but it chooses to ramp up the instruments and the vocals while also changing up the base beat. The track ends how it started, giving it a welcomed full-circle effect.
The ending theme is arguably not just the best track among all of the music but also the best part of the entire anime. It is a hip-hop track, although, instead going fast and hard with the lyrics, the track slows everything down. The track itself is meant to reflect how much more fun everything is in a group (following the theme from Shiragami) which is corroborated by both the change in mood in the second half of the track and the visuals. Alongside the rhyming, the background singers, and the extremely catchy beat, the ED is a wonderful track to listen to both in and out of the anime. (Plus, it is fun to sing the “jitsu wa watshi wa” lyric.)
As for the voice acting performances, they were fantastic, reaching the same level of quality as the ED. Yuu Serizawa as Shiragami does not have too many anime under her belt (approximately twenty), but she gives the cute vampire an innocent and charming voice. Inori Minase as Aizawa has been in more anime, using her slightly tomboyish voice to fit the “Iron Lady” extremely well. And Natsuki Hanae as Kuromine is just as formidable, providing the main protagonist with a lot of screaming and straining. Also, a special shout-out to Mao Ichimichi as Akane for giving the little devil a sinister yet adorable way of speaking.
It makes me a bit sad that this one did not reach a higher level of popularity because, regardless of its faults, this is still an entertaining show.
I was drawn to this one due to the romance stuff. This anime is saturated in blushing, flirting, and loving, so many of the jokes – no matter how repetitive – were always making me laugh. Simple stuff like Shiragami sitting close to Kuromine when Shishido got clingy, and Kuromine and Shiragami’s private moment at the pool at night, made my heart flutter.
The characters themselves were rather fun, too. Shiragami acting all cute when Kuromine was there to support her and be her friend. Aizawa always misunderstanding everything and her running gag with her “Memory Erasure Device.” Shishido caring about nothing but sexy or perverted acts.
But if I am being honest, I did not particularly care much for Akemi due in part to her mean-spirited attitude towards Kuromine. I get that she was using a “teasing him so much because she likes him” mentality, and she does become less frustrating later on in the season. But the frequency of her meanness in the beginning made me dislike her. Luckily, the other girls make up for her annoyance handily enough.
As for the other characters, I found Kuromine’s other friends to be fine, but Akane and Akari were right alongside Shiragami and the other funny girls. Akane and Akari’s constant bickering and insults and abuse towards each other was really funny to me because of just how far they would take it, like Akari throwing Akane by the horns or Akane blowing up Akari’s newly-purchased car.
Jitsu wa Watashi wa is a comedy-fantasy-romance-school-shounen-supernatural anime, but that does not mean one should automatically discount its contents. The sound work is strong, the character designs are vibrant, and the main message of the characters is beautiful. Of course, this does not make up for the repetitive writing and the simplistic characters. At the same time, this does not take away from the laughs the show has in store. Putting it another way, it should come as no surprise – as no secret – that this one is just plain fun.
Story: Bad, misunderstandings galore, gross repetition, and problems on each scale of the narrative obfuscate some of the cleverness the plot holds
Animation: Good, above average actual animation, a mix of strong and weak artistic direction, and nice character designs
Characters: Fine, Kuromine, Shiragami, and the rest of the cast are individually bland, but their group’s message that life is better with friends is a beautiful mantra
Sound: Good, good OP, great ED, okay OST, above average VA performances
Enjoyment: Good, lots of romance combined with fun characters create a high amount of entertainment
Final Score: 6/10
Thanks for taking the time to read my review. If you want, take part in the discussion below! :3