Oh Infinite Stratos- the acclaimed "most cliched series. Ever." And I believe it does a fairly good job living up to your name. This is where many will ask "wait, are cliches all that bad? If they are done so often, doesn't that mean they have some merit?" Well, that depends. In this case- no. With a few exceptions, mainly stemming from the money pumped into this series, there is little to say was done well in this show, with one bright, shining exception, which will be latter addressed. Anyways, on to the review proper. Note, slight spoilers in the story section explaining why it is so horrible.
So, if you decide you want to make a series that has a lot of boobs, some action, and little forsight, mix all your hopes and dreams together, what do you get? This. Poo. A series that explains the larger mysteries in the end by saying "I did it because I'm a genius and I could." Really? Wait, part of the explination is also "well, this suit can do stuff like that for no real reason, don't ask me why." Other than that, the complete ass-grab of random powers they never show before that moment, the fact that one of the girls was taking on 4 at once, but seemed of almost no help for the final boss, the "well, Charles' parents apparently don't care anymore if EVERYONE knows they were lying and she's a girl" all mix together for a horrible story. Also, they go to a school full of IS piolets, taught by IS piolets. Why the hell don't some of the teachers or upper classmen help this ragtag bunch of first years? Seriously?
Well, when you say "hey, there will be A LOT of girls that fufill all sorts of fetishes in this series," some dumb producer is probably going to pour way too much money into it an make it pretty. That's the case here.
The OP and ED are almost catchy. The sound in the series is unremarkable. The voice actress for several of the characters, however, are quite good. Rising starlettes such as Yōko Hikasa (Mio from K-On!), and Kana Hanazawa (from... almost every series in the last 2 seasons or so) are tempered with the more vetern Marina Inoue and Yukana making for a very strong vocal cast.
Despite only being 5/10, a character, Charles, is the BEST part of the crap show. And Laura was good for about... 3 of the 6 episodes she appeared in. Then they made her all deredere and it sucked. I really had hope for her... Anyways, other than Charles, the other characters are all super-cliched stereotypes ranging from tsundere to oujo-sama. The main character is your proto-typical, happy go lucky, libido-less character that ignores... almost anything going around him.
Overall: No. Just no. Maybe just watch Charles' arc then delete the rest of the series. But... no.
Hello fellow anime viewers. It's another review from RandomRedneck. Seeing as its April fools day, I'm reviewing a show so stuffed full of cliche and uninteresting...stuff that it could count as a joke itself. I speak of IS: Infinite Stratos. A show that tries the old method of "Mix harem plot with X" and falls well short. Let's begin, shall we? Warning. Some spoilers ahead.
Whoever wrote this apparently just threw some darts at the board of typical anime story types, and threw it in here. This show can't make up its mind. Is it a harem high school show? Mech fighting show? Enjoy trying to figure it out. See those fancy armor suits? Yeah, you can count the times they matter in an episode on one hand. The story is so reliant on the same old thing, you can see the jokes coming a mile away. And I'm not even getting into the idiocy of the last three episodes, which include at least three deus ex machina powers, and some legendary character never mentioned until episode 11 suddenly becoming important.
Now I will give credit where credit is due. The animation is actually pretty good. The characters all look pretty good, and the scenes involving the IS units are pretty well animated. Though the CGI used for them is a little conspicuous at times.
Another subject where I'll be kind of nice. The music is all right. The score is passable, and the ending theme is damn catchy in my opinion. Opening theme? Not so much.
Characters. Oh boy, I was waiting to get to this part. The characters in this show are some of the most insufferable group of harem characters I've ever seen. With the exception of Charles/Charlotte, who I liked, as did many others for some reason, you're not gonna get award winning characters here. We have Ichika. Our "hero" and the typical clueless protagonist of a show like this. Five girls want a piece of him, and of course, he barely notices them. He fills out the annoying roles you'd expect. The super special teenager, save everybody guy. He is such a bad lead, that I feel like smacking him. Next we have his main love interest, Houki. Can you guess what she is? Yup, the childhood friend, now tsundere character. She isn't really that captivating. Tsun-tsun here, dere-dere there, exactly what you expect. And yes, even though we don't get much lead up, she is the one Ichika picks. Shocker huh? We have three other girls, Cecilia, Rin, and Laura, but they pretty much exist to take up space, and crave Ichika's c**k. Seriously, Cecilia and Laura have potential when they are introduced. Cecilia is the rich bitch, Laura just a regular bitch. After losing a fight to Ichika? They lost all traces of characterization, and become members of the drooling fan club for the moron. Rin...is just there. Characters are one of this shows BIG flaws.
Save yourself the time and avoid Infinite Stratos. If you don't mind the typical story and characters this show has, you probably won't mind this show. Hate that sort of thing? Steer clear. Thank you.
One of the problems with the anime industry is the tendency to overuse stereotypes and themes, and many of the studios in Japan continue to operate under the idea that the shows they create will generate a profit in some manner (regardless of the content), through DVD sales or merchandise. The sad fact is that many producers barely break even from one season to the next, which then prompts arguments of piracy, licensing, pricing, distribution costs, etc, all of which seems more than a little strange as while it may appear that the studios have some perfectly valid arguments, they've neglected to talk about one thing - the anime they make.
Every season viewers are subjected to a barrage of average or substandard fare that serves no other purpose than mindless juvenile media, yet these shows continue to be made because the entertainment industries always prefer the safe bet over a "risky" venture. That said, there are always one or two anime that manage to rise above mediocrity, but there's still a very large gap between being good, and being great.
IS <Infinite Stratos> is, first and foremost, a reasonably popular ongoing light novel series by Yumizuru Izuru that began publication in May 2009. Six volumes have already been released under the MF Bunko J label (part of Media Factory), and the seventh is due out in April 2011. In May 2010 a manga adaptation by Akahoshi Kenji began serialisation in Monthly Comic Alive, with production on the anime adaptation beginning later that year.
Set in the near future, the story initially seems to be about powered exoskeletons called Infinite Stratos, an advanced piece of technology that is more powerful than any existing weaponry, but can only be used by girls and women. Because of this, society and the world have had to adapt so that females are now in authority, but all of that changes when Orimura Ichika, a 15 year old student, is found to be the only male in the world with the ability to pilot the machines. Because of this, and for his own protection, he is forced to attend the prestigious Infinite Stratos Academy.
Seems a pretty straightforward set up right?
In fact this show is so straightforward and predictable it verges on being dull. Aside from being a light novel/manga adaptation (which seems to be the rage these days), the storyline is about as generic as one can get in anime, with almost every stereotype and "popular" theme on display. The plot initially seems intriguing until one realises that the whole concept of Infinite Stratos is nothing more than an excuse to put a "special" teenaged guy in a school full of hormone crazed girls, and let them have fun with each other. The storyline is only peripherally about the problems resulting from the development of the Infinite Stratos machines as they never really come to the fore until towards the end of the series.
But those are only the surface issues.
The series is limited in terms of design as many aspects of the visuals are adapted directly from the manga. Unfortunately this doesn't really do the show any favours as aside from a degree of futurism in the backgrounds and the conceptualisation of the exoskeletal armours, everything else is the epitome of genericism. The big book of harem characters has been used extensively for pretty much everyone, with all of the lead roles looking more like cardboard cut-outs that would readily grace any other generic high school anime of this type. Granted there is a degree of facial expression, but that's not enough to raise the character design in any measurable way.
Thankfully there are two areas where the visuals actually manage to pass muster. The backgrounds are coloured and detailed rather well, but there are some scenes where the quality improves dramatically in order to focus the viewer's attention on the action. In addition to that, the animation is pretty good throughout the series, but the quality work only really comes to the fore during sequences of IS combat.
Another area where Infinite Stratos does manage to attain a degree of respectability is the acting, but even that's not really saying much. After all, this is a harem romantic comedy with some science fiction and fanservice thrown in for good measure, so viewers shouldn't expect Shakespeare. It's surprising then, that Uchiyama Kouki actually manages to play the role of Ichika rather well, and the same could also be said of Hikasa Youko et al in the roles of the girls who want to find out how well Ichika can use his weapon.
That said, all of the exclamations, weird noises, mannerisms, and changes of pitch and tone that one would associate with this type of show are on offer, but while they're handled rather well by the seiyuu, there's simply too little going on for them to really show off their talents. The main reason for this is the mundane script, and viewers may find themselves suffering from bouts of deja vu during specific scenes, especially if they've recently watched any other harem anime.
As for the music, the background tracks are nice enough and there is some variety to be had thanks to the composition skills of Nanase Hikaru, but the problems lie in the choreography, and more importantly, the relevance. There are occasions where the score seems out of place with the on screen action, and while this is due to a slight error in the timing in some cases, more often it's because the background music simply doesn't mesh with the scene. This is also true for the opening theme, Straight Jet by Kuribayashi Minami, which already has difficulty standing out since it's a pretty standard J-pop affair so the last thing it needed was poor choreography. As for the ending theme, Super Stream, this generic little ditty is sung by the actress of whichever female character is managing to keep up with the manliness of Ichika during the credit sequence, while the other female seiyuu performing backing vocals.
Speaking of manliness, it should come as no surprise that there's little in the way of it here, but then this is justified to a degree by the fact that Infinite Stratos features a female dominated society. Ichika is the typical harem lead who doesn't seem to have a clue that so many girls like him, especially as he has very few redeeming features and a slight complex about his older sister, and in true harem fashion he even forgets or misunderstands childhood promises so the story can have that little bit more drama.
And that's just him.
The girls are just as poor when it comes to characterisation, although thinking about it, maybe poor isn't the right word. They fit into the story rather well, they may look like cardboard cut-outs from other harem anime but they do retain some individuality. They can be annoyingly self centred and stupid, but they're supposed to be hormone crazed teenaged girls so maybe that's normal (apologies if you're a hormone crazed teenaged girl who doesn't act self centred and stupid).
Oh wait. Most of them are supposed to be tsundere characters (all of them except the one with the short blond hair in fact), so maybe poor was the right word after all.
There's little in the way of actual character development as the derived and contrived nature of the plot and story doesn't really allow for any great introspection from any of the roles. There are many potential opportunities to push the characters in a totally new direction, but these are not taken as the whole series is less about telling a good story, and more about cashing in on the harem bandwagon.
Regardless of its flaws, Infinite Stratos will undoubtedly find a home in the hearts of some viewers, which is perfectly fine if you like this type of show, and to be honest much of the series is reasonably inoffensive, especially if the viewer has managed to sit through any other harem anime. That said, it should be pointed out that the concept of the story had the potential for being something special. The idea of a society dominated by women due to the development of a new weapon offers up questions of gender roles, societal balance, political machinations, technological advancements, etc, etc, all of which are treated as minor annoyances that get in the way of finding out which girl Ichika is going to choose.
Granted there are some good points to be found in various aspects of the series, but these are outweighed by a lacklustre storyline, poor characterisation, and an overall sense that everything has been done before.
Right, it's confession time for me. If you have been reading my reviews than you may have noticed that I tend to rip the anime a new one. There is a reason for this though and it has to do with the fact that I can't turn my brain off when watching anime. I can't ignore the stupid shown in the anime and this is a problem as most anime are very stupid indeed.
In this case I'm not talking about a 90 pound girl catching a multi-ton cruise missile and throwing it back. Yes, it is stupid but it is a stupid that I'll allow. It's anime. Things like this are normal here and I'm pretty much fine with it. It annoys me to be sure but I will not rant about it.
So, having explained this lets rip into this anime shall we? Just a heads up: There will most probably be spoilers. The more I hate an anime the more spoilers there will be.
ART: Animation is allright but seriously who gives a crap with a story whis bland and generic.
SOUND: Again no complaints here. Music is OK, soundeffects do what they are supposed to and voice actors try hard to work with what they have been given. Sadly this is not much.
CHARACTERS: Main character is Ichika. As the first male able to pilot an IS he stands out at the academy as an anomoly.
STORY: The IS armour is an incredible powerful piece of equipment that made all conventional weapons obsolute overnight. Only drawback to the IS armour is that only women can wield it. Untill Ichika that is. He is to date the only male able to use the IS armour and because of that many of the girls are very interested in him.
RANT: I appear to have a bit of a bad history with anime based on light novels. Like so many others this one is utter garbage and the main problem has to do with the characters. I have seen sheets of paper with more depth and for reasons nobody knows every main female character want to suck his dick. Meanwhile the main character is completely oblivious to this.
I'll have to admit that I myself am often completely blind to the things going around me on a day to day basis. It is not that I'm completely socially inept but I can come very close. So if I have one girl holding my left hand and another is holding my right has as they argue who gets the right to fuck me I FUCKING KNOW WHAT IS GOING ON!
Not this asshole though. He just stands there looking confused and confesses to not know what they are talking about. Well, you may think that I was kidding about them fighting about fucking him but actually I'm not. They call it dating but that is only one step down from marriage.
The fact that he just stands there supposedly not hearing the argument happening right in front of him is plain insulting to the viewer. It is also a reason to keep the main character from changeing.
Later there is another girl who flatly tells him that she will become his wife and has a habit of crawling into his bed naked. Her reason is that since they are engaged she might as well go and sleep with him already. That is sleep as in actual sleeping and has nothing to do with sex but the fact remains that she sleeps in his bed naked.
Again the main character is completely oblivious because of reasons.
Furthermore the series takes a shit on physics. Normally not an issue for me as I have no problem with impractical suits doing amazing things but there are lines that should not be crossed. One of them is when 2 characters are running down a hallway where one is dragging the other. When the back one trips and falls it is possible to take the one in front down with you. What is NOT possible is end up on the ground in FRONT of the one dragging you.
It is a really good anime, kind of like Sword Art Online and Gundam put together although some parts may be more sutiable for older kids