So yesterday night I sat around a bit after finishing my php homework and decided to start up another series. After scouring the internet for some ideas, I came upon some favorable reviews for Infinite Stratos. I had started the series back when it ran on television, around one year ago, but had given it up about half-way through. As I do with most series, I decided to come back to it and rewatch from the beginning in physical release (in this case 1080p) quality.

As usual the wiki entry describes the plot pretty well,

“In the near future, a Japanese scientist engineers a powered exoskeleton called “Infinite Stratos” (IS). Possessing technology and combat capabilities far more advanced than any other weapon system, the IS threatens to destabilize the world. Faced with such an overpowering weapon, the nations of the world enact the “Alaska Treaty”, which states that IS will never be used for military combat and that existing IS technology must be equally distributed to all nations, to prevent any one nation from dominating the others. The introduction of the IS does, however, have a major effect on society. As IS can only be operated by women, there is a shift in the power balance between men and women, where women now dominate society over men.
Ten years after IS was initially introduced, the world has entered a new age of peace. The peace is shattered, however, by an unexpected discovery. A 15 year-old Japanese boy, Ichika Orimura, is discovered to be capable of operating an IS. Realizing the potential, Ichika is forced by the Japanese government to attend the prestigious Infinite Stratos Academy, an international academy where IS pilots from all over the world are trained. Thus his busy high school life surrounded by nothing but girls who can use IS begins.”

Infinite Stratos is a rather quirky anime, it clearly falls into the harem genres, but the setting and plot make it mecha and futuristic. There are elements of romance and at its core I’d say the show is about how Ichika makes these girls fall in love with him and the things they do to get ahead of each other, in his eyes. (Though admittedly these things are usually mecha competitions, cooking battles, or strength challenges. Only one of which is normal for girls in love to do imo)

Plot-wise I think that the anime falls a bit short, there are little things talked about here and there to kind of build up the world. But at the end I felt like the climatic final battle, wasn’t really that climatic and that some of the suits could’ve been expanded upon past their introduction. (I’ve heard that the anime only covers 3 of the 6 available light novels, so there’s room for a 2nd season.)  Some other little things that bothered me was the sudden transition of Char from a “boy” to a girl and how the whole class accepted it without much issue, there’s a suspicion of disbelief here somewhere, I just didn’t see it too well I guess.

Characer-wise, I’m really liking the main female cast. From the image above, left to right, Laura Bodewig (German), Cecilia Alcott (England), Houki Shinonono (Japan), Lingyin Huang or Rin as her pet name (China), and Charlotte Dunois (France). As you can tell, the countries are well represented in a sense, though with anime like this you know that the author wants Ichika (the male main) to pair up with the Yamato Nadeshiko character, in this case being  Houki. And I’m okay with that, I like her character. Houki’s past has to do with her being much of a tomboy (she still is sorta) and Ichika standing up for her, which of course causes her to fall instantly in love with him. Most of the romance in this story is started through his little acts for kindness and his belief in standing up for the weak, which out of the two I’d say the later is more manly and worth a girl “falling instantly in love over.” A little surprising tidbit is that around the time this series was airing, Charlotte garnered a tonof popularity online and I think she surpassed the “main female” on the rankings.

My favorite character would have to be Houki’s elder sister and the creator of IS (the mechas), Tabane Shinonono. She is voiced by Yukari Tamura, who is arguably most famous for the role of Nanoha Takamachi from the Magical Lyrical Nanoha franchise. I like her voice, but besides that Tabane’s personality brings alot of fun and spontaneousness into the show. It’s a shame that her character doesn’t have a proper appearance much earlier in the show, but with only twelve episodes that might have been hard to pull off.

To wrap it up a bit, music was pretty average for the show, as I didn’t find anything past the OP to be memorable and even then it barely made the cut. Animation-wise the show uses typical modern generation animation techniques, which mixes quite a bit of CG too.  Another interesting tidbit, that some people have noticed, is that the episode titles are all named after movies or something from a movie.

All in all, Infinite Stratos is not earth shattering nor does it add anything new to the genre. The visual experience is very enticing and the series itself is just very “pleasant.” My guess is the even those who may not end up loving this series will at least like it a lot.

3.5/5

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