The Summer 2023 Anime Preview Guide - Am I Actually the Strongest? (2024)

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Am I Actually the Strongest? ?
Community score: 3.2

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The Summer 2023 Anime Preview Guide - Am I Actually the Strongest? (1)

Reincarnated in an alternate world where magic rules all, a socially reclusive twenty-year-old is determined to build the perfect new life as a shut-in. But unlucky for him, his magical potential is deemed so ridiculously low that his royal parents abandon him immediately after his birth. Left to survive alone in a wild world full of magical dangers, the newborn prince manages to thrive against all odds…because, little does he know, his true magic power is ridiculously off the charts!

Join Haruto, the socially awkward guy who just wants to chill out, as he navigates demon friendships, royal feuds, assassination plots, secret superhero identities, and having a little sister.

Am I Actually the Strongest? is based on Sai Sumimori's light novel series by the same name. It streams on Crunchyroll on Saturdays.

How was the first episode?

The Summer 2023 Anime Preview Guide - Am I Actually the Strongest? (2)

Rebecca Silverman

As I recall, the best thing that I could say about the manga for this series was, “At least his little sister isn't in love with him.” I'm afraid I have to stand by that as the greatest positive, although I do find Flay somewhat less annoying in anime format. Possibly this is simply due to her tail being fluffier, because I am, in some ways, very easily pleased.

Fluffy puppy tails aside, Am I Actually the Strongest? is painfully generic. I don't necessarily mean that in the sense that its genre brings me pain, but rather that it simply isn't trying very hard to be anything but a bread-and-butter version of basic isekai. Haruto is a shut-in after being bullied, gets “chosen” for reincarnation by a goddess with more jiggle than sense, and is summarily dumped in the forest because said goddess fails on a very elementary level, meaning that she doesn't realize that the world she's sent him to isn't capable of displaying level numbers of more than two digits. Therefore, her attempt to give him level 1002 (a random number if ever I saw one) ends up looking like 02. Newly reborn Haruto's royal parents find this distasteful, and into the woods he goes. To die.

The best parts of this episode are when Haruto is an overpowered infant floating in the night sky, attempting to reason with a giant wolf who thinks a baby can impregnate her to produce breast milk. It's not that the story is taking itself seriously at this point or even attempting to be tongue-in-cheek; it's more that the absurdity is at least a little entertaining. Haruto being an OP nine-year-old whose little sister isn't sure how to relate to him is much more cookie-cutter, although the various ways he's able to use his “useless” barrier magic is interesting; I can't say that “creating a robot clone” was something I ever thought of in the same sentence as “barrier magic,” so points for creativity there. Sadly, that's also the only moment of creativity in the episode, unless you count the girls in fried shrimp costumes during the ending theme. This is so by-the-numbers as to be almost instantly forgettable, going from point A to point B with a time skip thrown in for good measure. Add in fairly bland character and creature designs and an oddly pastel color scheme, and this is skippable for all but the isekai faithful…and even then, I might give it a pass.

The Summer 2023 Anime Preview Guide - Am I Actually the Strongest? (3)

Nicholas Dupree

What are we even doing anymore?

That's the thought that popped into my brain about 30 seconds into this premiere, when the nameless, jiggly-breasted Goddess character told our faceless protagonist that she was reincarnating him into a fantasy world with over-powered magic, to give him a second chance at life that he'd earned for some reason. It was such a mindless, perfunctory scene, delivered so artlessly, that it managed to shock me out of the accepting apathy that years of identical isekai premieres had dragged me into. For a few moments, I had clarity, and I was able to viscerally feel how goddamn empty this whole scene is.

I've joked before about some of these shows feeling like they were AI-generated, but you really could put together the vast majority of this first episode by just feeding the first volume of several dozen isekai light novels into a Large Language Model. Damn near every idea here, from Haruto's supposedly limited but practically boundless magical abilities, to his desire to live a shut-in life that keeps being interrupted by his heroic destiny as an Otakubermensch, has been used in countless shows exactly like this one. It's all the same exact thing we've seen dozens – if not hundreds – of times by now, and there's not so much as a hint of identity or creative drive behind it.

Part of me feels bad for ragging on a work that almost certainly started as an amateur creator cribbing from stories they liked and trying to get attention on Narou, but when it's adapted into an ostensibly professional piece of entertainment by production committees working with millions of dollars, it gets to be judged beside stories made by people who actually had ideas or interests they wanted to express. Against even that broad benchmark, Am I Actually the Strongest? fails in every regard.

It also just looks like garbage. The designs are generic and dull, with all of the attention clearly poured into the wolf-girl maid and Haruto's little sister who looks like a blond co*ckroach, leaving everyone else as indistinct background characters shoved into focus by cosmic accident. What little animation we see is awkward, peaking with some embarrassing shots courtesy of some obvious CG trees during the episode's one “action” scene. I'm almost tickled by Haruto's “barrier” magic looking like slowly rotating line-art cubes, it's so sad. Yet even in its badness there's not any identity, because the industry pumps out something this generically bad every season now. It doesn't even have the capacity to be so bad it's good, settling for a boring, predictable blandness that washes off your eyes the moment you look away.

I don't want to say we've hit the nadir of isekai, because that would assign this show far more importance than it deserves in any respect, but it was just empty enough to shove me out of the rut that so many of these shows have formed by following in each other's footsteps. Even if you don't care what you watch, even if you just want something brain-dead to veg out over, you deserve something with more care and effort than this.

The Summer 2023 Anime Preview Guide - Am I Actually the Strongest? (4)

James Beckett

Dammit, I already used my “This show could have been written by an AI” joke in another preview this season which means I have to somehow come up with a meaningful way to describe Am I Actually the Strongest? This is not a difficult task, mind you, since the plot and impact of this series could be adequately contained within the “Puzzles for Bored Toddlers!” section on the back of a generic-brand cereal box. I simply resent having to put more time and effort into writing a 500-word preview than the creators of the show being previewed actually put into making their product.

Let's be honest: You likely decided on whether you were going to dig Am I Actually the Strongest? from the moment you laid eyes on the title. That's not a value judgement or an indictment of the theoretical fan's taste, on my part; it's simply a statement of fact on where we are in the anime industry as of the summer of 2023. We don't even need to waste time on the words “reincarnated” or “in another world” anymore, since those factors are just assumed by now. If you see a show walking around and calling itself “Am I Actually the Strongest?”, you already know exactly what it is. You know the whole premise and the details of this magical setting; you know the punchline to every joke, and all of the inane rules about magic usage and power levels and airheaded deities that you can cram onto the back of a greasy dive bar napkin, which is the material on which the entirety of this show's script was originally written (probably). I feel like by now most people know whether or not they go in for this kind of stuff, and there's probably no changing your mind one way or the other about 99% of the audio-visual junk food that gets shoveled out each season under the isekai banner.

There is exactly one moment that lifted me out of the fog of boredom-induced stupor that this show put me into, and it's when the voluptuous furry woman decides that the only way to feed brand new, hyperintelligent human baby the breastmilk that he needs to survive is to proposition that same baby for sex, right there on the forest floor. Even then, it's a sign of how dire things have gotten where such a naked attempt at absurd, stupid humor only got me to barely raise my eyebrows and mutter, “Huh. I didn't expect to see a big-boobied wolf-woman eagerly demand that a baby to gift her with his precious, milk-producing seed, today.” Years ago, before the isekai anime broke me, I might have been flabbergasted at even having to write those words down in a coherent sentence. Now, though? It just makes me so, so tired. Too tired to watch another second of this meaningless mush, that's for sure.

The Summer 2023 Anime Preview Guide - Am I Actually the Strongest? (5)

Richard Eisenbeis

I've developed a one-question litmus test to determine if you will enjoy this anime or not. Do you find the idea of “a wolf-girl trying to have sex with a newborn baby so that she'll get pregnant and will then be able to nurse said baby” to be the height of comedy? If so, have I got the show for you.

Am I Actually the Strongest? is another in a long line of anime where a Japanese shut-in is transported to a fantasy world. However, with such a well-worn setup, the question as always becomes: “What's the twist?” What is it about this show that sets it apart from all the other similar isekai tales? And while the “unique” humor might be your knee-jerk answer, the biggest twist is the protagonist's goal.

Hart doesn't want to return to his world nor does he want a life of adventure. He doesn't even want a slow life in the countryside. No, what Hart wants is the same basic life he had before—a life where he can sponge off of his parents forever doing nothing.

This is the first anime I can remember extolling the virtues of a shut-in lifestyle. While Hart being bullied was no doubt his impetus for becoming a shut-in, it's clear that, over the years, it's just become an excuse for his slacker behavior rather than any lasting trauma. I mean, I get it. Who doesn't want to sit around and play all day with no responsibilities?

Now, while this is a novel enough twist, is it ultimately an entertaining one? Not really. This looks to be another one of those stories about a person who works insanely hard in the pursuit of not having to do any real work. And that is something we've seen in comedic fiction a million times before. As such, it is the humor that will likely determine if you enjoy this anime or not. And so, once again, I refer you to my opening question: Do you find the idea of “a wolf-girl trying to have sex with a newborn baby so that she'll get pregnant and will then be able to nurse said baby” to be the height of comedy?

The Summer 2023 Anime Preview Guide - Am I Actually the Strongest? (6)

Caitlin Moore

To give you an idea of how this day of anime watching and reviewing has gone, I have looked up “boring” in the thesaurus multiple times and I'm starting to run out of appropriate synonyms. So, here's a new one: Am I Actually the Strongest? is the most bromidic of the lot so far. Atelier Ryza offered little interesting in the world of JRPG adaptations, AYAKA was a warmed-over supernatural action slog, and My Tiny Senpai was as prosaic as it was threadbare, but this one managed to top them all both in terms of triteness and unpleasantness.

Okay, I should clarify: it wasn't boring the whole way through. There were moments where it was unpleasant in unexpected ways, like the infant Haruto using a barrier to make clothes for the wolf-lady Flay, only for her to strip down and request his baby batter so that she can make milk to feed him. That was uncomfortable and icky, but not boring! But then Gold shows up to be his foster dad, put me to sleep with a monotone speech about saving the baby because his wife miscarried once, and fakes the baby's death with a wineskin that is drawn in such a way that it startled me into wakefulness thinking it was molded into the shape of a co*ck and balls.

Alas, that was the last time anything about Am I Actually the Strongest? held my attention because, after that, Haruto is nine years old, absurdly powerful, and obsessed with his relationship with his younger foster sister that bears no resemblance to any real-world sibling dynamic. She's uncomfortable with him because she doesn't know how to act around boys his age. But she's known him her whole life! Unless they've been kept separated in their manor, I really can't see her suddenly becoming shy.

It's an ugly show with bad animation, zero originality, and inhuman character writing. At least Haruto hasn't bought any slaves… Not yet, at least.

this article has been modified since it was originally posted; see change history

The Summer 2023 Anime Preview Guide - Am I Actually the Strongest? (2024)


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