An exoskeleton weapon engineered by Japan, Infinite Stratos (IS) can be piloted only by women. Its power and combat prowess are so immense that an international treaty has been signed banning its use as a military asset.
When it is discovered that 15-year-old Ichika Orimura is the only male capable of steering an IS, he is forcibly enrolled in the Infinite Stratos Academy: an all-female boarding school, the students of which graduate to become IS pilots. At this training school, Ichika is reunited with two of his childhood friends, Houki Shinonono and Lingyin Huang, and befriends Cecilia Alcott, an IS representative from the United Kingdom.
Guided by the legendary pilot Chifuyu Orimura—their strict homeroom teacher and Ichika's older sister—Ichika and the girls will need to use everything at their disposal to defend themselves and their academy against the dangers that will arise during the course of their thrilling school life.
#1: "SUPER∞STREAM" by Yoko Hikasa (ep 1) #2: "SUPER∞STREAM" by Yoko Hikasa and Yukana (eps 2-3) #3: "SUPER∞STREAM" by Yoko Hikasa, Yukana, and Asami Shimoda (eps 4-5) #4: "SUPER∞STREAM" by Yoko Hikasa, Yukana, Asami Shimoda, and Kana Hanazawa (eps 6-7) #5: "SUPER∞STREAM" by Yoko Hikasa, Yukana, Asami Shimoda, Kana Hanazawa, and Marina Inoue (eps 8-12)
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 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.
With the dawn of the second season, I think it's time to revisit an old friend. In this review, I will attempt to describe IS: Infinite Stratos and it's components, then give you it's worth as a series.
The basic premise of Infinite Stratos is set in a world where armored mecha suit, the Infinite Stratos is invented, thus rendering all other technology obsolete. One catch, this suit can only be worn by women.
While this was an interesting premise, the setting itself just attracts questions. Why can only women wear it? What has the effects of this technology had on society? What happened to the political
relations of the world after this technology? What governments has used it?
Sadly, none of these questions are satisfyingly answered, because the next portion of the premise is going to make the TRUE premise apparent. While the original premise demanded world-exploration and examination, none of that is shown because the series basically only sets in one place: IS Academy. The place where Students aspiring to learn the techniques of IS from all over the world, where the armor/suit is used as an entertainment device(I will get to this later).
Our Main Character is Ichika Orimura, an average High School student and the only male on the planet so far to discovered to have had the capability to use Infinite Stratos. And because of circumstances, he has to head to IS Academy, a place where he will be the only man.
And because of this setup, the show faithfully follows the route to harem, where 90% of the girls wants the Main Character's D, otherwise is interested(and certainly the main protagonists). Since it sets itself up as a Harem series, what is should do is explore the characters who are complex and makes us care for them, let's see the components of this series:
Coherency/Continunity: While the series sets itself up as a series that begs exploration of the world's politics and what happened in the world after the invention of IS, this is merely a setup where the main character can have a school full of girls all to himself.
The idea that women started to dominate the world is hardly ever shown, since the show secludes itself in the IS Academy. Where contrary to common sense, depicts females just about every other Harem series does! I will get into the characters later. The main point is, the social/political changes is shown without any changes!
And the fact that IS is a weapon(more powerful than any, mind you) begs the question on why has it not been used militarily? A weapon this powerful would have the government SCRAMBLING for it, and certainly not only used as an entertainment device(LOLWUT?). The idea if that if it is women who controls it would lead to world peace is completely illogical and is given as a fact. Any person has the power to commit evil, and being a part of a gender does not exclude you.
Characters: The worst aspect of the series are the characters. Virtually all but one of the female cast is depicted as a Tsundere, and often violent too and nothing outside her stereotype. Rin the Chinese girl and Houki the Japanese girl are basically the same in terms of personality. While Cecilia the British girl have nothing really defines her other than "Ojou-sama" type of character. The only one that is not depicted as a Tsundere is Charlotte, whom is wonderful.
And the main character? About as generic as you get, and so dense that you can't even find it on the periodic table. Ichika is a self-insert character that has to deal with the woes of "GIRLS ALL AROUND ME! OH NOEZ!!" Difficult to achieve an level of empathy to and overall a dumbass to peoples' feelings to an unrealistic degree.
Production: The production of the series is relative above average. By no means is it bad. but the sound is rather generic and nothing I could remember to write home about, although the opening song was somewhat memorable. The character designs are generic by today's standards, again, nothing to write to home about. Although there are several prominent Seiyuus acting in the characters, such as Kana Hanazawa. But obvious incoherencies is show, such as one episode, a character fights the main character but is somehow stopped by Chifuyu's sword... Out of nowhere
Being a mecha anime, there are also fight-scenes featuring the Infinite Stratos'. Probably the best part of the series, unfortunately, are short, insignificant, and CGI-animated
Plot: Wait, what? Oh, the plot. Simply put, there isn't much other than a string of events that puts Ichika in various situations where the main characters fall in love with him. Infinite Stratos, as well as the expected consequences of it existing, is not a part of the plot. A random IS does show up and destroy stuff, but next episode, that is no longer a worry.
If you are here looking for a good plot that maps out the consequences of it's premise, turn around. If you are here looking for an above average harem story with quality characters, go elsewhere. Truthfully, without the ridiculously unnecessarily armored IS, this series is just a generic RomCom Harem series that is barely funny at all.
There are bunch of holes in the plot and story. If you are looking for fanservice and cute girls(relatively) or Charlotte Dunois with a splash of CGI-animated Mecha fighting, come right in.
If there's one thing thats also great about this series, it's that the series does not pretend to be deep or anything that it is not, making it far less cringeworthy for some viewers to enjoy.
Infinite Stratos is a show about some generic Japanese kid (the intended audience) who gets put in an all girl's school because he's the only male in the world who can use a Gundam. This is a major plot point that is heavily referenced and alluded to but never actually explained beyond being referenced because this show doesn't need to have a coherent storyline or characters.
The only reason anyone watches this show is for the qt girls, Germany and France are qtest btw, whose personalities are just based off various pages from TV Tropes. None of them are really important to the plot at
all, they're all basically the MC's doms because he's useless as all hell throughout the plot and constantly needs to be coddled. He also can't seem to figure out that all of the girls want his D despite them all literally being on it constantly. Autism is a common trend for Harem MCs apparently.
Nothing from this show is really all that memorable, the art is ok, the soundtrack is what you'd expect from a generic harem show like this, the plotline can be compared to something like Spongebob or King of the Hill. It doesn't even try to push the fanservice that much until the next season or the OVAs.
I don't see how anyone could enjoy this show unless they've watched pretty much every other Harem out there. This show is basically To Love Ru if it were even worse.
There are many ways to describe your own thoughts about an anime: you might say you liked it, you might say you hated it or you might say it's Infinite Stratos.
Infinite Stratos is a major example of what a series about love, action, robots and comedy would look like if you were to remove the action robo-love comedy parts. Still, there are invisible quantic panties so yeah, that's science and storytelling for you.
As for the plot, it all revolves around naked girls and some kind of powerful lethal war machine that can only be used by naked girls called Infinite Stratos. You might wonder how
this is even possible to produce without anyone asking “Hey, is this really what our ultimate weapon is supposed to be like?”, but then again in the first minute of the show you learn that there is a single male who's able to pilot these mechas so it doesn't really matter. Not like there's a reason for him to be able to fly them of course. Either the author didn't have a better idea to shove a single dude inside a bunch of horny girls or the protagonist is actually a tranny himself, it's up to your own interpretation.
Luckly after a couple of minutes the robots will not matter anymore, and that's good since robots are bad because they don't have tits or quantic panties.
The focus then shifts to the world all-girls school of piloting the unimportant robots, which is located in Japan. And since it's an all-girls school located in Japan, all the girls are in heat 24h/24, and they ask for dicks. Probably even the girly man protagonist, but oddly enough that's never outright stated. That doesn't change the fact that he's got the only dick in the school, if not the whole planet, so that creates a very deep dilemma between supply and demand.
I could really empathize with the story since I really like girls who like dicks. Especially if it's mine.
The characters are divided between girls hungry for dicks and a girly man who's also hungry for dicks. The protagonist's sister also is supposed to have a dick her/himself, which explains the incest-homo vibe some episodes will give you. If you search on the internet enough you might also find pictures of him giving her a blowjob, so that's an irreFUTAble evidence. I greatly appreciated this freudian subtlety.
Art and sound could be better or worse but you won't get a chance to care either way. It's still not as majestic as Kanokon I guess, yet there's this pretty neat union between horrible graphics and horrible storyline which lets you wonder if the bad quality was done on purpose to create a better blend between the two feats. It's kinda like the shitty experimental style of some deep hipster anime, so I recommend elitists and pretentious viewers to watch this anime as soon as possible.
You won't be disappointed. It will be hard enough (to have any expectations at all, I mean).
Since this is my number 1 anime I will rate him first, so 1, but each category is rated objectively so my opinion is better than yours. Unless, obviously, you are a naked girl with invisible quantic panties.
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