As much as I would love to start this off with a checklist of everything cliche/generic Infinite Stratos does, it would be the length of half the review. So I'll simply mention the cliche things it does, which is still half the review. Or more.
I wish I were kidding but this is some of the most generic and cliched tripe I've ever watched. That doesn't mean that I didn't enjoy the stupidity of this crap, as I shamefully did, but you need to go in knowing what you're stepping in. And that is a generic anime with a generic plot, with mostly generic characters and generic settings of genericness. Generically.
To stress it even further, it's a Comedy/Harem/School Life/Mecha. This is a world where only hot women can pilot mecha. IS, I believe. And this guy (Lucky bugger) Ichika is the only male who can pilot one. Surprise, surprise. Because he can, he's taken to a school on an island (Given that it's to train mecha pilots, it's a perfectly excusable cliche) that's filled with hot women who can pilot said mecha. Considering that it's a school for the pilots and all, it's another reasonable cliche.
Since he's the only guy there, he's the target of the women's affections. But they aren't all going after him love-love like, as he needs a specific group of ladies vying for his attention to garner the harem cliche. We'll cover the members of the harem a bit later as we've only gone through 3/4 of the genres and there's more generic things to talk about.
Comedy wise, it's pretty good. Not entirely in genuine comedy but also in how stupid Ichika is and the amount of cliches Infinite Stratos employs. He more often than not says the wrong thing at the wrong time, says something a shounen hero would say or something cliche and is completely blind and braindead to the women (Relates to the first point). All that equals to comedy if you can get a kick out of those. And any beatdowns he recieves is hilarious as it's so deserving.
There's pretty much nothing truly serious about this wreck and taking it seriously would hamper what enjoyment you can get out of it. The comedy itself may be unintentional but if you don't try and laugh there, you might not laugh much at all. If you can laugh at the generic stuff though, this will be some of the most hilarious stuff of the year.
And I'll admit: occasionally it has a plot twist (Considering what this is, anything out of the norm is a plot twist) but it soon degrades to the normal hijinks soon after the "plot twist" arrives. Lord knows if I can remember much of them... Otherwise, we also have the obligatory beach episode; packed with fanservice, bathing suits and a bit of a hot-springs shot. And for the mecha portions, the suits are just about skin-tight (You'll see why) and the mecha itself sort of... amplifies the women's... assets a bit. It's quite nice.
Overall, the show looks pretty nice. It's the one other shining factor in the sea of cliche. The characters look good and the CGI battles look even better. And since it's a shining factor, it shows the flaws of everything else even more. The beam spams, and beam everything in the battles look nice, especially if the mecha in question does a 360 and spews dozens of laser beams everywhere. And when I say the characters look good, I mean that it's what you should expect.
Sound is... sound. Nothing particularly amazing or outstanding. The OP/EP are good enough and the music for the cliche final battle made it more enjoyable (Laughable maybe, but enjoyable). For the EP, what is notable is the whole running thing it has with Ichika and his group of hotties, who run with him when they're introduced.
Apart from our dumbass, clueless protagonist (Lucky bastard) Ichika, who is the harem protagonist staple, we have our mostly generic harem members who are head over heels for Ichika. First up is the (Violent) tsundere childhood friend Houki. She practices kendo and has known Ichika for a long time. Next up is the princess Cecilia, who is very surprisingly, not a tsundere. I nearly dropped a brick at that twist. She may have fallen for him pretty quickly, but she ain't the tsundere princess cliche. Just a British, holier-than-thou princess.
Third is Rin, childhood friend #2, whose family owned a Pork ramen shop (It had ramen at least) and had a promise with Ichika. What it was, neither of us know. Probably unimportant. Fourth is Charles, who is the reason I didn't give characters a 2 and why the overall score is so high (Compared to there being no Charles). Hands down the hottest and best of the bunch; way too good for this crap. Fifth is Laura, who is German and has a glowy eye of some power. Hell, I can't even remember. It serves a point in a plot and don't fret, as you see the glowy eye in the OP (Seriously. It actually spoils it). She does looks nice in those puffy pants though.
How they're in love with such a dumbass, clueless schmuck is both unsurprising and shocking. And I can't forget his sister, older sister, who piloted a mecha and was one of the Gods of it, so to speak. Totally serious and she's also a teacher at the school. Zing.
As it's a harem, characters aren't important. We get to know some of them but it's per regulations. Everything about everybody but Charles fits the harem staples. And mentioning all the members of the harem even if they're not all there at the start isn't really a spoiler. You could probably figure it out after watching the OP.
At the end of the year, this will win the "Most Generic Anime of the Year" award with little competition. This squeezes in so much cliches that it's amazing that they were able to fit in so much. It's an actual achievement. The only things that save this in the end are Charles and the mecha battles, and even the latter gets cheesy from time to time. You must be in the mood for something generic if you want to enjoy this on some level. Having low expectations would boost your enjoyment as if they're low enough, you wouldn't be disappointed.
* The scores don't match up overall but it's just so... mediocre.
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