Despite being the only male capable of piloting an Infinite Stratos, Ichika has finally settled in to life at Infinite Stratos Academy. Unfortunately, living in a school full of competitive girls with giant robots has more hazards than perks as the fight for Ichika’s affections continues. And it’s not long before a new enemy appears- one with a very unexpected tie to Ichika and a plot to steal the Byakushi for its own evil purposes!
Source: Sentai Filmworks
The Memory of a Summer
Heart Pain Killer
Translucent chord of Cinderella's heel
The Mysterious Lady
The Secret Base
Open Your Heart
The Requirements for a Hero
Cooking My Way
Looking For Memories
Intern: Sir, the last season was well recieved by many, but I believe we added in too many characters. Producer: *Burp* Waaa....? Naw kid, you've got al..*hic*ot to learn. We need moar boobs, panties and girls, and less IQ, character development and content. Intern: But sir, we already have 5 girls, we don't have space for anymor.... Producer: Shuut yer trap imbecile. We haven't covered all the cliches yet. Yo writers...add in the moar girls RIGHT NOW! And that my fellow anime enthusiasts is how I imagine the meeting for the second season production went. Apparently our dear protagonist happens to be the last remaining male on earth, and that sets the premise for the rest of this season. Story The only reason this section got more than 1 point was because they did add a nice twist near the middle of the season, but they never built anything around it. The twist was pretty much just stated and then left alone. Before that, however, there is pretty much no story to this season. It is your typical, done-to-death plot where some evil organization has its eye out for our dear dumbass (protagonist). Between fanservice, fights and Ichika running away from girls that adore him (WHY?!?! I will NEVER understand) there is...absolutly nothing. Thats it. That is the whole story. Perverted situation -> misunderstanding -> evil people attack -> Ichika almost dies but doesn't -> Bad guys defeated -> Big sister Chifyu nods her head in understandingRinse and repeat for 12 episodes. Oh and guess what? They added moar girls. Animation The only redeeming quality about this show. The animation was quite brilliant during the fight scenes and they were enjoyable to watch because the effects were done well. Character design and animation wasn't too bad either, except for dear dumbass who has the same old, dry as sand look that every male harem lead shares. The character design for girls is a bit better and at least you can tell them apart. Sound The background music wasn't too repetitive but it was really dull. The sound effects, however, were better and seemed to be in place. Even the voice acting was good so hats off to the voice actresses and that one vocie actor who were forced to sit through this entire season Characters Walking personification of cliches. Absolutely no depth at all. If there was something less than one dimensional then these characters are that. I cannot think of a single character in this entire series with a better background story or personality than what your everyday potato posesses. The girls exist simply to give dear dumbass a hard on, which he seems to despise having because, well, I honestly don't know. Which guy here hates having girls fawn over him? I am sure even homosexual men wouldn't mind having the level of devotion and attention from a whole school filled with girls (everyone enjoys positive attention) but our dear dumbass apparently hates it. He tries his best to remain nuetral and ignorant over the advances of the girls. Reason explained below: Ichika is one of those indecisive, dumb and ignorant type of character who exists only as a shell for young tweens to put themselves in his place and enjoy being the center of attention, even if it is only in their minds. Now the girls themselves...well technically speaking, if Ichika is the last remaining human with a penis on this earth, which isn't explicitly stated but you can assume as much since there is NO OTHER male character human or otherwise in the entire series, I bet the girls would fawn over him simply because of biology. Even so, the fawning got out of hand many times, to the point where I felt embarrased about what real girls would think about how we men think of them to be while watching this piece of crap. Overall Waste of time. This season was nothing but fanservice, and the bad kind at that. It was a pain to continue through the last few episodes since you could already predict the plot halfway through the season. I recommend skipping the season altogether since it contributes nothing to the series. Go read a summary about it and that pretty much will help you cover what little changes occured.
Story: Initially, this was five stars. That was the first episode, which was the best episode of the series bar none. By series I mean the entire shebang, first and second season because it was 70% Charlotte/Laura and promoted some delicious, scrumptious, shipping. And it was pretty much the two of them on a date of sorts, with dressing up, maid costumes and some of the most delicious crepes ever. It was the best first episode of a second season ever for those two alone. Then the rest of the series happened. Plot isn't high on the list of things IS does well but it's what you'd expect: Alternating between plots and harem antics, the former dealing with mecha suits that accentuate the butt and breasts (To a lesser extent on the latter) and some outside malefactor that's bent on fucking shit up that in turn deals with fucking Ichika's shit up. It's pretty easy to follow and you know, stuff happens. Fights, plots, more fights, stuff. Very high class stuff. Hardly important and obviously not the reason you're watching this. Pay no attention to it. The other half, harem antics. Because we had the beach episode last season, which was scrumptious I should add, we get a quick pool segment (Quite good but needed to be longer), a class trip because that's what schools do, some episodes that have to do jack with actual plotting and while it doesn't feel as hilariously cliche as the first season -which is figuratively impossible- it's nothing special. But, those non-plot episodes range from OK to deliciousness to Episode 1. Seriously, episode 1 is that good. Animation: Holy shit that first episode. You have no fucking idea how much that weighs into the score. That episode, so yes. Everything else looks more polished than S1, the girls still look good and it's stuff. But that first episode, glorious. Edit: Oh my god those pjs. I am SO close to giving animation a 10 because of those. Sound: I got nothing. Characters: I've made sure to neglect to mention this before but the show introduces a character on par with Charlotte: President Troll. She just trolls the tits off Ichika and that already puts her on top in my books but she also kicks ass, isn't a fawning sheep, trolls him, sets him up and is just an all-around fun gal. Excellent addition that is a total contrast to her sister, where the resemblance is uncanny to a fault and is totally not a spoiler. Think Charles/Charlotte in the first season. What should be mentioned is that I think Ichika got dumber in the second season. The first episode had him go full retard in terms of girls and you never go full retard. It's stupid and he gets rightfully smacked around for his stupidity. The consequences are good but the character that's the cause of it is far from. That's about it for development for the current cast. Charlotte and Laura for the first episode maybe, but generally that's it. Antagonists, the one in the first episode kicking the asses of those punk bitches, she's neat. Pretty neutral on them as a whole so yeah. They're gals because 99.9% of the people in this show are girls as Dan from S1 or OVA 1 hasn't appeared once nor did his sister who was suppose to transfer. You get one good addition at least, and that addition is good enough for a pass. She's that good. Overall: The first half, hell yes. The second half, crap in comparison. Also of note, the plot comes and goes throughout with some episodes being nearly all filler and having to do jack with the actual plotty plot. Things like that end up like episode 4, the one with the birthday, which I am perfectly fine with for all the right reasons. It's not like you're watching this for plot. The second half can't touch the first half so just finish watching it at the 6th episode and move on. But let me tell you in closing: When it's great and plays to it's true strengths, it's god.
This is going to be a consolidated review of S1/S2 and really the series as a whole, so apologies for not keeping things concise. Infinite Stratos is the anime equivalent of your friend who keeps apologizing for ghosting you but never does anything to correct their behavior. There’s a lot of components to work with here – many of them good, some of them even working together, but taken as a whole, the overall product is a cornucopia of disappointment. Let’s dive into what works, first, to start off somewhere pleasant. The Good The art style and character design are pretty standard fare for either the harem or mecha genres, and some of the characters are not only pleasant to look at, but pleasant to watch as they go about their lives and interact with each other. If nothing else, the characters really do seem like awkward, ditzy teenagers are heart. Teenagers who got roped into acting in a terrible mecha harem anime, but funny nonetheless. The best and strongest segments of the show come in two flavors: either in intimate, one-on-one moments between one another, or in off-screen moments that leave everything to the imagination but the outcome (e.g. Laura and Charlotte’s offscreen fight against the unmanned drones in S2). Unfortunately, these moments are too few and far between to actually tie into the story in any way that could be described as cohesive or coherent, and they’re more akin to endcaps to boring fight sequences or intros to deliberately unsexy harem arcs. For a series with such endearing characters, it’s a real shame that the anime itself doesn’t seem to care about them. The actual animation is pretty standard, if uninspired, and the CGI and stock 3D explosions do get grating very fast. For a series that tries to be a mecha, magical high school, harem anime and fails at all three simultaneously, the fight scenes come off as more polished than the whole. On an emotional level, the fights and story arcs are uninspired and unimpressive, usually fitting neatly into a single half of an episode, but the longer fight scenes (especially the two “boss” scenes from the last few episodes of S1 and S2) do hark back to some of the more impressive mecha combat of earlier Gundam series. We also see novel solutions to overcoming enemy mechs (sorry, ISs) that would be more at home in an Evangelion or Fate title than here, and those scenes do add some fresh originality into otherwise staid and boring fights. The Bad The soundtrack. My God the background music to the fights was not meant to leave 2011. For what it’s worth, mid-2000s-era electro/Eurosynth that would make McFretN proud does have a legitimate place in anime. That place is not a mecha harem high school anime. I mentioned it being a shame that the characters are forced to be in this anime, but I don’t think it’s really possible to convey just how much this series hates its own characters without actually seeing it in action. They don’t get their own story arcs or personal development; nor do they really get any fleshing out. They’re dropped into the series with significant baggage, ranging from personal issues (like Laura’s background as a military test subject) to outdated and borderline ridiculous cultural views (see: Ichika’s White Knight Syndrome and Cecilia’s absolute vitriol for anything that doesn’t smell like the UK), and then they just don’t get over them. Not only do the characters not get any development, but that same baggage becomes the ammunition for a slapstick joke the next episode over. It’s certainly not for a lack of trying. We’re given so many moments throughout both S1 and S2 that have the potential to be breakout moments for various characters. The tournaments, especially, are set up as perfect events for the cast to deepen their relationships with each other, develop their skills in their IS suit, and get over their fears. It’s a well-worn trope in magic high school fiction, but it’s a trope that works. If only it ever worked in Infinite Stratos. Instead of going through those trials and tribulations; of facing their fears or becoming better friends or lovers or fighters, what this show does is align all the set pieces perfectly and then drop all pretense of moving the plot along. Every single event, without exaggeration, throughout S1 and S2, from the school tournament to the one-on-one fights to the beach episode is interrupted by some sort of Enemy of the Week™ or “terrorist attack”. There’s less dramatic tension to the show and more of a feel that it’s a series of increasingly disconnected events designed to showcase panties and guns. Actually, I take that back, because there’s an anime that is a literal series of disconnected events designed around panties and guns (Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt), and that anime is an absolute gem. It’s a sad day when a throwaway dick joke from other ecchi anime are more memorable and enjoyable than fleshed out fight scenes and story arcs from a wannabe mecha anime, but here we are. It’s particularly telling that the absolute best episode of this series does away entirely with the harem ecchi or mecha high school premise and simply follows Cecilia around as she tries to learn how to cook with the other girls. Stripped from all the elements that distract from the actual events happening onscreen and Infinite Stratos can actually be quite charming and humorous. We see that the characters can open up to each other when they’re actually given time to do so and are invited into the small intimacies of their lives together (like Charlotte cooking supper for Laura while she’s sick). Quiet moments like these pop up ever so rarely and their scarcity doesn’t give them a bigger impact but makes it so damnably apparent that Infinite Stratos had every opportunity to be an engaging show and squandered every last chance to do so. Closing this section, I should probably add that the contrived plotlines compete with the worst soap operas for pointlessness. An enemy organization and its leaders are introduced, rather late into the series, but their goals are as ambiguous as their methods are tame. Most fights occur against unmanned drones, and while they’re certainly formidable against most of the heroines, they certainly leave much to be desired in terms of emotional impact. The Disappointing What’s worst about Infinite Stratos isn’t anything I’ve mentioned so far, but that it legitimately had a lot of potential in a lot of areas and failed in every single one of them. Harem anime, by themselves, aren’t bad. Neither are mecha anime or magical high school anime. They’re formulaic, sure, but so long as the characters have semi-decent chemistry, they’re almost all passable. Infinite Stratos made the cardinal sin of taking on too much at once and watering down everything that could have possibly shined about this series. The girls are just introduced roughshod, never given any time to properly grow or even demonstrate their personality outside of boring quirks, stereotypes, and fanservice. There’s no tension, romantic or otherwise, and so watching the show is akin to getting excited over a plate of crispy fried chicken or empanadas only to discover that your meal is thoroughly soggy with oil. There are too many characters introduced too quickly in succession to work as a mecha or magical high school anime but the entire premise of the show is differentiating it from other harem/ecchi shows by building this unique world where only women can use mechas ISs, and so the action elements in themselves detract from the harem aspect. It’s too intense – building too much chaos in too quick an order. Do yourself a favor and skip this one, there are better panty shots out there. This review was added as part of A-P Secret Santa, 2019.
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