Strain: Strategic Armored Infantry

Alt title: Soukou no Strain

TV (13 eps)
2006 - 2007
Fall 2006
3.542 out of 5 from 1,665 votes
Rank #5,423

In the future, mankind is divided between two powers: Union, and Deague. For the young Sarah Werec, watching her dearest brother Ralph depart for the front lines of the war was a fate worse than death; for even if he were to survive, the 130 light year distance between them dictates that even if he were to return, she would be long since deceased. Thus, in an effort to see her brother again, Sarah sets out to become a pilot of the Strain – Union’s mecha force; but on the eve of reaching the first step to her goal, her only chance to succeed is stripped from her. Haunted by the many ghosts of her memories, Sarah must now endure an endless series of sacrifices as she struggles to discover the truth about her brother...

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Reviews

HarioSagara
6.4

 A mecha space adventure that's better than the average mecha out there, though nowhere near as good as some of the better mecha anime. Featuring decent characters, decent storyline and decent action, this show is definetely decent, but not much better than that. Story: 6 Sarah Werec has joined the Strain (Strategic Armored Infantry) academy in order to chase after her brother a famous Strain pilot. While things seem to be going well for her, the academy is hit by a surprise attack led by her brother! The rest of the anime is about Sarah joining a space fleet and trying to figure out what made her brother betray everyone in the union. The motivations and intentions of the original enemy, the Deague, is never explained. Being only 13 episodes, the storyline to this show is not very intricate. After her brother attacks her academy Sarah becomes kind of a melancholic loner. The only thing that brings her any joy is a doll that also happens to be a key component to her new strain. This doll also happens to be consequential in the storyline. Overall, not a bad storyline, but not a very consistent one either. Animation: 7 For a space mecha anime, Strain does a pretty decent job with the action sequences. A lot more exciting than several other space mecha counterparts. The strains have cool designs and the battles are fun to watch. Nevertheless the anime isn't anything too far out of the ordinary and nothing too spectacular. Sound: 7 The opening is average and somewhat forgetable and the closing is even more so. The voice actors did a pretty good job and several of the characters were made more interesting by good voice acting. Characters: 7 The characters are kind of a mixed bag. Some characters you'll like, some you'll hate, and some will annoy the hell out of you. Our heroine, Sarah Werec, has a one track mind that stays focussed on her brother throughout the anime, with the exception of the time she spends talking to her doll. She seemed like she was going to be an interesting character in the first episode, but she was a let down. Several characters have limited personalities and Sarah's would be boyfriends don't really have much of a chance for character developement in this show. As such none of the male characters ever have a chance for full character development, not even Sarah's revenge obsessed brother, Ralph Werec. I enjoyed the performance of most of the other strain pilots, including Lottie, who was the only initial character that tried to snap Sarah out of her perpetual funk. She goes through similar experiences as Sarah, but doesn't become introverted like Sarah does. Overall: 6.4 This show is fun to watch, had interesting characters and decent fight scenes. The story didn't have much of an impact, however. It seemed to only exist in order to create conflict between Sarah and her brother. While this show does have it's faults I'd say it's still better than half the other mecha anime out there, but only half. <div id="_dyhb23rg4374"> </div>

Epimondas
5.5

Strain looks common and cliched in many ways but it utilizes many of them in much better ways than the usual mecha type anime.  In the first episode, you can already see how common the setting, theme, and basic story are.  Yet even though it is a pretty common story, it successfully pulls you in enough to want to see more.  The drama might not be the best in every way, however, it is good enough to spark interest and keep that spark ignited over successive episodes.  Sara captures viewer attention and keeps them in her world through out the series.  You can sense her pain and torment after her traumatic past turned her into the cold dispassionate person she is now.   There are a few major inconsistancies and serious logic errors though such as the Deague ship that can launch thousands of AI bot ships to no apparent end.  No matter how many they lose they never seem to run out.  Some scenes have ship bulkheads exposed to open space but there is no vacuum, freezing temperatures, nor anyone getting sucked out.  Sara suffers at least one major flaw in how unemotionally she seems to ignore all the friends including best friends and boy friends she's lost to the murderous traitor.  That unfortunately does alot to undermine all the good work and positive ascpects spent in developing her character.  The fact they totally forget perhaps the single biggest thing about her past altogether and how it seems to have no impact or effect on her or her new friends is just mindboggling.  Not even when she finally discloses her past does what happened to her friends and her school come into play.  It would have sharpened the bond with the queen character and her new crew but it was a massive lost opportunity.  Instead if feels as if the show created a monster of an enemy character and tried to foolishly back track all his misdeeds by downplaying the horror and the pain he caused to Sara at the school and later at the supply station.  Bad form.  Though Sara does mention some of these loses breifly in the last episode but, that is a classic case of "too little, too late" because at that point it has no impact.  She is so casual and breif about it even though she is screaming like in pain, it just doesn't sound genuine at that point.  In a way, it makes the fact she never discloses the full story to any of her new friends even more pronounced how strongly a great missed chance it was to have done so.  Sadly, I have to deduct several points after seeing this miserable display and lost chances despite having initiallly rated it fairly highly from its many good points.  These serious gigantic flaws are too severe to let pass however so I must drop the score. The ending is a bit lame and tacky.   Ralph as a character as a few flaws of his own such as the reason he did the things he did sort of condradict why he was motivated to do them consideirng his background and the emotional flashbacks that clearly indicated who he was thinking of when he wanted to save the girls he found.  His reasons were never that profound or strong either given how long ago much of it happened and the fact that most he saw as responsible had no knowledge of it whatsoever.  It makes him look like a complete fool.  This is shown more so when talking to the ones he wanted to save and their response and reaction to his actions.  There isn't really enough backstory or emotional draw or connection to establish any kind of strong understanding or attachment to his character.  Nor do I find sufficient comprehensible within light of the full story as to why he ends up doing the things he does.  Queen has an even breifer backstory but a connection to her is far stronger and more understandable than Ralph's and almost as much as Sara's since despite all her backstory not all of it is used wisely within the story to fully take advantage of her complex past and role in her present.  Carris was used to establish a new connection to Sara's current life and friends but was underused and his part of the story was concluded before a much more dramatic connection could even be established which would have made her more emotionally invested in her current life.  You see a vague half hearted attempt at showing this but since he wasn't utilzed as properly as he could have been it is another lost opportunity. The situation with Emily while very dramatic and painful in it's own right is so quickly run through with so little emotional or dramatic of a pull, that it fails to fully demonstrate what kind of an effect a feedback of her memories would have caused.  This in turn lessens the impact and understanding why the main enemy took the path taken.  Another and perhaps the single worst lost opportunity or exploit of a character is what happens to Isabella, I did not even know her fate until nearly an episode or two later.  I would say Sara's connection to other characters is flat but it isn't even as good as flat.  Her character and dramatically traumatic introduciton is more than enough to link her with the viewers and pull you into the story but her distance from others is too heavily played on so that when she finally does begin to open you, you won't feel anything since so many chances to really establish how powerful of an influence all that was is mostly a collection of lost shots to do so. Strain is worth watching at least once. You may miss out on the full story because of how poorly so many side stories and chances to create a powerful emotional story failed to be exploited for the great additions they all could have been.

9Ranger
1

Oh man, Strain: Strategic Armored Infantry was a show that was going really well, but the ending is pretty horrible and fails to tie up loose ends. The premise focuses on Sara WEREC as she tries to find out why her once kindhearted brother suddenly becomes a cold-blooded killer. Throughout the anime, Sara develops relationships with other characters, experiences struggles, tries to survive with her new friends, and discover the truth behind her brothers actions. This anime's way of storytelling is like one of those things where most of the episodes have a lot of set up mysteries that will be answered in the last few episodes. Unfortunately, the last few episodes of this anime were truly unsatisfying.During the series, Sara also forms a relationship with a mysterious entity named Emily, who is revealed in Episode 10 to be the very thing that turned Ralph murderous. In fact, Emily is actually a member of an alien race that consisted of identical beings centuries ago and scientists constantly tortured them to access their technology. This lead to the surviving Emilys trying to rescue the captured ones and during the scene, Ralph realizes how wrong it is to treat the alien species unfairly and one Emily brainwashed him.Shocking right? Well sadly, that tragedy was heavily trashed because after Sara learns the truth to everything, she suddenly becomes unlikable, mean-spirited, and misunderstanding; she somehow and literally blames Ralph for everything and treats it as it was all his fault (even though she's aware that Ralph was being mind-controlled). Even the Emily Sara became friends with somehow antagonizes Ralph all of a sudden even though it was her technology that controlled him. How does that make sense? It's like the explanation to everything was all put to waste and now, the writing neglects that and goes incredibly confusing, cynical, predictable, and unsatisfying.The final battle is just plain horrendous as it shows Sara being downright cold and remorselessly killing her own brother, not even trying to view him as the kind person he once AND ALWAYS was. Right before Ralph dies, his last few words proved that he never became evil and was controlled by Emily. What? Were the creators not self-aware or something? Did they actually know that the explanation meant something and yet they chose to make the main characters unlikable (with poor motivation), misunderstanding, and inconsistently portrayed? Just what is going one here?The ending is just a blatant, anticlimactic cliffhanger that shows the surviving characters landing on a planet and Sara and Emily start walking on the planet, unsure of what to do afterwards. How does this work as an ending? All the characters don't develop properly by the end of the series and their arcs end horribly, the writing is filled with misunderstanding and poorly-explained parts; and several questions remaining unanswered; the entire finale is just nothing.

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