The development of the Infinite Stratos powered exoskeleton changed the world’s balance of power. While the distribution of IS systems has created peace, only women have been able to pilot them. So when Ichika Orimura is discovered to be the first male with the ability to control an IS, whatever plans he had for his future are tossed out the window even as he’s thrown to the wolves and enrolled at the otherwise entirely female Infinite Stratos Academy by order of the Japanese government!
Source: Sentai Filmworks
Story: 9 points Ladies and gentlemen, men, women, and all others. Prepare yourselves for what will surely be the most fun part I write in this review of Infinite Stratos (IS). Get ready to embark on a journey to the near distant future, where a wacky super genius with Rabbit Ears and lovely lady lumps is the great Inventor of these self-titled (IS) Mecha units. These manned machines, well actually, let me accurately re-state that last statement. These (wo)manned machines will revolutionize the world on a global scale, bringing peace and prosperity to all nations of the Earth! Ah forget it…this is not a drama and/or war anime. Simply put, this is a near plotless story about a teenage boy named Ichika, and his ability to be the only male capable of flying an IS unit. Yes, that is a true statement. He is the only one among billions of others around the world. In other words, only female pilots may pilot an IS unit aside from this strapping young lad. So naturally he attends a prestigious All-Girls School (previously now) surrounded by nothing but young virgin, teenage IS pilots in training; and the virginity excerpt is confirmed in episode 10 or 11, no joking. At this esteemed academy, he will learn how to master the teenage girl, I mean IS. Yes! I meant to say IS! He will learn to become a skilled IS pilot alongside these beautiful bosoms butts breasts, um uh, b-beautiful lady classmates of his (gulps, nervously sweats). To be honest, even if I meant any of the previous comments it would not due Ichika any good. He is so dense and clueless when it comes to his fellow female classmates that they could all strip naked and begin begging for his IS unit to be deployed and he would just stare and stutter aimlessly saying, “W-What are you all d-doing?” Duh, dummy. Your Harem of Houki, Cecelia, Charlotte, Laura, Lingyan, girls A, B, C, etc. await you to hold them into your arms, sweep them off their feet, brutishly place them onto your bed, and in your case, do nothing. Honestly, if this was any other single teenage guy in Ichika’s situation, they would know exactly what to do with all these ladies flaunting and throwing themselves at him. But this anime is not to be taken seriously nor is the above ever likely to happen. Ever! Otherwise, the correct title of this anime would be Infinite Wet Dream, because like so many other Ecchi titles before (and after) it, one male main character is forcefully “thrusted” into nothing butt an all-girls school. Oh, and one important side note to add: they are all attractively drawn in their appearance and erotically drawn to Ichika as well. Image that… …still imagining… …okay, that’s enough unrealistic 2-D fantasizing for one afternoon; back to the hand on matter, err, I mean matter at-hand (cough cough). I guess I am being comical here because that’s what IS is, a sexualized, mini-gundam harem-comedy. Now that’s not to say that the actual plot is not enjoyable at all, assuming you can locate it. You would have a better chance of getting into your own IS unit and trying to hit the Silver Gospel Third Gen IS with it, which by this universe’s definition means you must be either a female reader of this review, or Ichika himself. If you are the latter, then get lost and go enjoy your pick among the litter of lovely heroine ladies that could only happen in the world of Infinite Wet Dream. Animation: 6 points The art and animation are standard, generic fair with the IS units looking the best and most detailed. It’s not at the bottom for production budget, but it certainly is not at the top either. It is colorful and average overall. Sound: 7 points The music is less than captivating, but manageable, including the OP and ED. In fact, I kind of enjoyed the ED a little bit, not that I am hitting the replay button over and over. That would be an exaggeration. The best part of the audio comes in by way of the sound effects. The mecha on mecha grinding, the IS explosions, and the embarrassing squirms and squeals of the plethora of IS pilot trainees is pretty spot on, with the latter-most being comical at times. A lovely example is when Ichika rubs sun tanning lotion all over Cecilia. I laughed so hard because as soon as his hands grazed her back, it sounded as if he (bleep)’d her and she instantly (bleep)’d all over his (bleep). Sorry but this is a family-friendly review and young teenagers may be reading this. Did I mention explosions yet? Characters: 9 points At last we have arrived to the other all ass-piring and tit-illating section, the characters! However, to simplify this section I have created an outline of each female character that will justify the ecchi-ness of IS. It is definitely directly from the standard playbook of the genre: - Houki: Extra-long black hair with blue eyes Childhood friend Young Tomboy turned semi-Tsurdere teenager A larger bust that is still growing (according to the LN) - Cecilia: Long blonde Hair Drills hair with lighter blue eyes British class with a touch of narcissism and snobbery (at first) A modest busted babe who is not afraid to wear lacey lingerie for her main squeeze Could kill with cooking, literally - Charlotte (aka Charles): Blonde, purple-eyed female French, mid-year Transfer disguised as a male student IS pilot Genuinely sweet and more classy than Cecilia Fawned over by the girls on how feminine and pretty “Charles” is for a male (prior to the reveal) - Laura: Long silver-grey straight hair with Heterochromic eyes Shorter statured German, blunt-speaking IS badass who wants to kill Ichika upon first sight Awakens from a defeat with Ichika whispering sweet nothings to her (in her mind anyway) Later anonounces him "her bride" immediately after a shocking classroom moment Unofficial Masochist - Lingyin: Long pigtailed brown hair with green eyes An even earlier childhood friend of Ichika’s Chinese born transfer who is on the shorter side like Laura Hot-tempered, smaller busted lolita-type As you can read, there is flavor of girl that almost any ecchi-harem fan could find fan-servicing 2-D pleasure in. That is how these bland, sex appealing anime produce popular results. The profits benefit so many, such as studio 8-Bit, the Kleenex® company, and CeraVe® company. Finally, there is Ichika. Aside from his Air-Headed ways with the ladies, he is the most inexperienced IS pilot trainee, who miraculously becomes the savior to all the other, way more experienced female pilots of his harem. It is only natural that the clueless teenage girl magnet would be their savior. Am I right? And do not forget his super large busted teacher, Ms. Yamada, in which his hands just happened to find their way to her bosom as he falls down right on top of her, missionary style. Then there is his older sister, Chifuyu, who is a Stoic badass that just loves Ichika’s “magical fingers” all over her body. Yes, she does say that. Again, no joking. Bottom line, like the plot, do not expect there to be too much by way of character depth and development. They are all practically shallow, twitter-pated Ichika oglers with the "possible" exceptions of Charlotte and Chifuyu. Maybe. Overall: 46/100 points There really is not much more I can say about this anime. My overall score would suggest that this is not that good of an anime, and in many ways it truly is not that good, but mindset is everything. It is an ecchi, harem anime that tries to be funny and fails, but ends up being funny when it is not trying to be. If you go in watching it after reading this review, then you should be entertained enough to see it through to the end. Entertainment Score: 12 points Achievement Score: +3 to Overall My expectations were Low, and it delivered Slightly Above those expectations. Age Rating: TV-14+ (mecha action and violence, ecchi elements) Additional Information: Video Format: FHD (1080p) Streaming Audio Format: English dubbed Publisher: Hulu Equipment Used: Acer AN515-53-55G9 Nitro 5 Laptop
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. Story: 2/10 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? Animation: 8/10 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. Sound: 5/10 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. Characters: 5/10 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.
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.
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