Am I Actually the Strongest? Volume 1 Review

You may already be familiar with the name Am I Actually the Strongest? as there’s an anime set to begin in the Summer season.  Kodansha has been releasing the manga adaptation digitally since 2020 (a print release begin in March of this year), and now fans can enjoy the original light novels ahead of the anime as well. But are they worth the read? Let’s find out! 

The story revolves around Haruto, a twenty-year-old who is reincarnated into another world as the prince of the kingdom. The goddess who reincarnated him promised an easy life and untold powers, one of which was giving him an extremely high mana level. Unfortunately, the goddess did not consider the fact that the technology in Haruto’s new world is too low to read such a high number, so when the king has Haruto appraised after being born, his potential is read as simply ‘2.’ This is nowhere near befitting of royalty, particularly as his mother is known as a legendary hero, so the king decides to announce that Haruto died during birth and orders his knights to dump him in the middle of the woods. 

Luckily, despite being in the body of a newborn, Haruto retains his past memories and can use barrier magic. This kind of magic is usually only helpful as a defensive measure against attacks, but Haruto quickly realises that he can do much more with the power. Just by making a barrier a particular shape, he can use it offensively as well. This comes in handy when he’s approached by a Flame Fenrir who initially wants to kill him but ends up being tamed by our protagonist after mistakenly thinking he’s a reincarnation of the Demon Lord. As part of the contract, she’s named Flay.

Despite now having a companion by his side, Haruto is still a newborn and without human support he’ll soon perish due to a lack of milk and warmth. Luckily for him, Haruto is rescued by a nobleman called Gold, who works closely with the king and is aware of Haruto being left for dead. Gold fakes Haruto’s death and takes him into his own family, welcoming Flay as Haruto’s maid too. Now life might be looking up for our protagonist! 

After the initial set-up, this volume skips nine years into the future, where we find Flay and Haruto still living comfortable lives with Gold, his wife and their younger daughter Charlotte. He enjoys his shut-in lifestyle where he practises his barrier magic but otherwise keeps to himself. However, bandits have recently been setting up camps around the area and Gold and his soldiers are having to go out and fight them more often than before. Wishing to repay his adoptive father for all the love and kindness he’s been shown, Haruto often sneaks out at night to lend a hand and ensure none of his loved ones gets hurt. 

Yes, Am I Actually the Strongest? is about as bog-standard an isekai as you can get, with an overpowered main character who thinks he’s weak (reasonably, I suppose, given the misreading of his talents at birth), a corrupt political situation, and a ditzy demon companion. There’s nothing original here, so if you’re tired of the overdone tropes of the genre then you will certainly be putting it down quite quickly. 

It also doesn’t help that the series spends so long in the set-up phase that it’s hard to tell what the longer-running storyline will be. Yes, the king is losing his grip over the kingdom and the queen is trying to orchestrate a reason to get rid of him – but that’s not Haruto’s problem. He’s powerful enough that nothing is going to give him difficulty in a fight and he’s disinterested in the world around him to the extent that there’s only so much you can do to embroil him in a wider narrative. The end of Volume 1 suggests that we’re headed into a school arc for Volume 2, which may or may not be interesting, depending on any new characters we meet. 

However, having said all that, if you’re looking for a light and entertaining new read then this series does offer that. This is especially true of the relationship between the two siblings. Charlotte is afraid of Haruto because she can sense his powerful mana, but after he saves her and his adoptive mother from an assassination attempt, she begins to see him as a hero of justice. In the end, Haruto is forced to admit that he goes around fighting bandits and protecting people and creates a whole Super Sentai-like persona and outfit to match. Using his barrier magic, he gives Charlotte a special mirror where she can watch over his adventures. Their relationship is charming and sure to bring a smile to your face, plus there are a lot of good comedy moments that come from their interactions with one another. 

This is certainly the genre the author is most experienced in as well, which shows, given how smoothly they approach the reincarnation element and overall set-up. They have over 10 other isekai series under their belt in Japan currently, although the only other series to make it to English so far is Middle-Aged Businessman, Arise in Another World! Making a Name for Myself Thanks to Goddess Power! (published by J-Novel Club). Like many other isekai series, this one is based on a web novel and is ongoing in Japan with 5 volumes, although there hasn’t been another one since October 2021, so it could potentially have been quietly axed.

As previously mentioned Am I Actually the Strongest? Volume 1 comes to the West thanks to Kodansha who have put it under their Vertical label. The book is translated by Camellia Nieh and it reads well throughout. Volume 2 of the series has already been released with #3 set to debut in English in July, so still plenty to look forward to if you do decide to pick it up. If a manga is more your thing, then Kodansha’s digital releases for it are up to Volume 7 and Volumes 1-3 are currently available in print. 

Overall, Am I Actually the Strongest? Volume 1 proves to be a fun but very flawed work. If you’re a fan of this genre then you will definitely have seen all these tropes before, which does diminish its value in a market that’s so crowded. As someone who spends a significant amount of time reading light novels exactly like this one, I can say that Volume 2 has to step it up a few notches to keep me on board long-term. 

Our review copy from Kodansha was supplied by Turnaround Comics (Turnaround Publisher Services). 

6 / 10


When she's not watching anime, reading manga or reviewing, Demelza can generally be found exploring some kind of fantasy world and chasing her dreams of being a hero.

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