Review: Infinite Stratos


So last week I finished the mecha show, Infinity Stratos. Before I say anything on this anime more specifically, I should probably point out that I’m not a big fan of the mecha genre. I get why big robots with swords and guns and all other manner of exciting and explosive weapons is attractive to a lot of people, but it’s not something that has really ever overly interested me – animated or otherwise. Regardless, I decided I’d give Infinity Stratos a go given some of the positive reviews I’d read, plus I’m a big fan of both Brittney Karbowski and Josh Grelle.

Background:
The back drop to Infinity Stratos goes something like this. A few years ago a type of human controllable robot was developed call the Infinity Stratos, or IS for short. Along with their only be around 350 of these robots, the biggest restriction of these machines was that they can only be controlled by women. Our story takes a boy, Ichika, the brother of pretty much the best IS pilot ever, who turns out to be the only guy that can control an IS. We join the world when he starts at the IS training school in Japan.
Plot:
Infinity Stratos is unashamedly a harem show and before I say anything on how well that works, if you don’t like harems, then don’t watch this.
1375873885-infinite-stratos
No escaping the fact that this is a harem.

After discovering he can use an IS, Ichika joins the IS academy where he meets various people (all love interests), saving them from various bad guys and each other. I can’t say there is anything really unique about the plot line, although it does seem reasonably well paced and each character plays their part in the story well, even if it is a little rushed.

Character Development:
Besides Ichika himself there are essentially six other people we need to worry about in terms of development. His various love interests you can see above, who each have a varying degree of significance to the story, but all have a moment in the spotlight. The other character is his sister, who appears to be the schools most revered teacher and generally most badass IS pilot. With only 12 episodes developing each of the characters in any depth was always going to be quite difficult and it goes without saying that you don’t know all that much about any of them.

Although some people might say this isn’t an issue given that the focus is on Ichika and as a result his interactions with each of the individuals act as a periphery factor, I would be more inclined to say that if you’re going to involve characters so much in the ‘lore’ of a story, you need to develop them. In my opinion, IS really does suffer as a result.

Sound, Artwork and Animation:
The artwork in Infinity Stratos is really crisp, and it stands out particularly well in the many action scenes that frequent the anime. The sound is fittingly epic given the action, over-the-top nature of the show, though it isn’t anything to shout about in the grand scheme of things.

Favourite Episode:
8: Find Out My Mind
Choosing a favourite episode for this series was quite difficult given that most of the episodes follow similar plot lines. I went for episode 8 because it brings everything the show does well together in one episode. All five of the main female characters are involved, without them falling over Ichika backwards too much. The action scenes are probably the best of the whole series and we’re offered up the biggest sort of plot twist the show can offer.

Overall:
As I said when I started this review, loving this anime was always going to be a long shot given that I’m not a big fan of mecha. And I don’t. Don’t get me wrong, it does a lot of things very well: the artwork is very good and the action scenes are animated very well. Ichika isn’t the worst main ever written and Josh Grelle does do fit his character very well. However, there are problems, and unfortunately it comes primarily from the plot.

The girls love Ichika too much simply because he is a boy. Despite having no training, he is by far the strongest IS pilot. And finally, and probably most obviously, he is the only boy and at no stage are we given an explanation as to why.

Who knows, we might find out in the second season, but it won’t be at the top of my list for things to watch soon.

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