Even before I touched the play button on Infinite Stratos (IS), all I've heard about it was "wow so generic", "so boring T_T", "another one of those stupid harem ones". Screw what people think, but I still started watching with a rather pessimistic opinion. IS is generic, but what's so bad about being generic? Isn't the entire definition of being general the idea that it follows the popular and majority trend? Truthfully, an anime that is only accused of being generic doesn't provide ample and concrete evidence of being a bad anime. In fact, I believe that IS is progressing rather nicely. Despite the setback from the uneventful first few episodes, the later episodes really suggest some exciting developments into this "generic" load. Nevertheless, before you read on, think about why you even watch anime. Is it only to avoid watching generic animes and, as a result, stuffing your brain full of random crap that you don't even like or are you truly watching anime for the enjoyments and benefits it gives, regardless of the peripheral labels and whatever's been said about it? Hopefully it's the latter, because if you chose the former, then there really isn't a point in reading on since I'm pretty sure you've already made up your mind about Infinite Stratos.
Despite the previous paragraph of me showering praises on IS, I'm getting out my flamethrower and shoop da whooping the story and setting. Seriously, the plot doesn't make any god dam sense. Infinite Stratos follows the life of Ichika, as he transfers to the Infinite Stratos (basically a mechanical body armor) Academy as the only guy since apparently only girls can use IS. There he meets a few childhood friends ( girls of course) and seduces a couple more distinguished students -- basically a harem type setting. When I first saw the mech stuff, I thought "crap, what a ripoff mating between code geass and gundam." Hey! We have these giant bigass robot suits and we're just going to fly around in them for fun! Achieving something with IS? Tehe no need for tha- OF COURSE YOU NEED A FOKIN STORY. Seriously, screw this plot. It's illogical and pitiful. This is where the "generic" accusation hits Infinite Stratos hard in the nuts (or somewhere else for girls). The lack of an adamant plot development, coupled with absolutely no innovation on the mecha aspect vehemently cripples the story potential of Infinite Stratos. Sometimes I feel like I'm just being pulled around randomly by IS. Suddenly there's this event, then there's that event, and etc... IS doesn't show the viewers the way it's heading, if it's even heading a way. For some viewers who are ravenously persistent for a bite of plot, Infinite Stratos has left them to starve in the crappy 3-D world.
The art... what can I say. I guess animes have large budgets nowadays because the art is absolutely fantastic. Ahh...Charlotte...she's drawn so cute and so awesomely 2-D styled that it really makes me feel better watching the parts with her in it and makes me feel nicer towards the entire series. If you take an incredibly obsessive preference in art like me, then Infinite Stratos will not disappoint you in that aspect. Prepare those pencils and papers, and the mouse on the pause key.
Everytime I decide to watch an anime under the harem label, I prepare myself for immutable facepalms and headdesks at how pathetic the male character will be. Lucky for my brain cells, Ichika didn't kill as many of them as other harem animes would have (It's ridiculous how much calculus I forgot after watching certain parts of To-Love-Ru). Ichika is a bit spineless at times but overall he has the right spirit. The problem with having that typical "I'll protect you" spirit is that it's overused to the point where they forcefully yell it out every, oh let's say 5 minutes. And of course, that'll cause this bunch of lovey-dovey mushy crap to magically appear and ruin whatever positive feelings I have towards the anime. Ichika had less of those experiences, but nevertheless, he is still lacking the standard of determination, seriousness, and independence that I look for in male protagonists. As for the girls, all of them (except for a few of them when they are in their super WTF tsundere mode) were decent and tolerable. Laura and Charlotte were probably my favorites. Laura, for the groundbreaking determination she shows later that's rarely seen in harem types, and Charlotte simply because she's so cute. Everytime Charlotte says "Ichika, you pervert" with that shy look on her face, my infinite quantum black hole of a heart melts a little. I would have given the characters a 10/10, but Ichika's lack of skill and an adamant personality, and the other average characters unfortunately lowers the aggregate score to an 8/10.
I certainly do enjoy IS very much. It gives me the feelings of living in such an academy and the excitement of endeavoring in those events (both unfulfillable in the mundane 3-D world). However, one thing that I find IS to be lacking in is consistency. During one fight, Ichika is suddenly god-hack mode powerful. In the next fight, he's pathetically weak and a pushover. This inability to adequately address his skill level on a stable standard shows mediocre planning and over-exaggeration on idea conveyance. Another hole in the enjoyment of Infinite Stratos is the predictability of some battles, and how incredibly annoying it is to always have Ichika lose the battle when he's about to win because of some retarded reasons like "running out of energy". Overlooking these two flaws, Infinite Stratos can be very entertaining for some personality of people.
Infinite Stratos has amazing art and pretty good characters, however, it only gets an average 7. It's tragic to see an anime with a high potential of proving itself despite being criticized for being "generic" only to fail miserably with the lack of a concrete plot. It's truly tragic. If the producers only spent a bit more time to develop a plot for IS, I believed that it could have well received higher scores and reviews. However to me, it seem like the producers kind of just half- assed their way through, trying to make an exciting action packed harem type anime, without actually having to plan for an exciting action packed harem type anime. You know what they say about life. "Nothing is free".