Now, I have a confession to make before this review. For about half of the show (and probably the whole previous series as well), I was taking things too seriously. With that in mind, I’ll get on with the review.
The background to Infinite Stratos II is largely similar to that of the first season. Ichika and his harem of girls, now well establish, return to the IS academy after the summer break. The threat to the group and the academy has become tangible in the form of the ominously named ‘Phantom Task’, a group of IS unit thieves whose greater objectives in the world are pretty much unknown (and actually they remain so throughout).
If you remember my review of the first season, I said that there isn’t really anything unique about the plot line. Well, that’s still true, but this time I’m not going to be so harsh about that fact. So let’s split up the plot as best as we can: firstly, Ichika meets a new girl- a senpai this time- secondly, after new girl has a bit of an arc, she convinces Ichika to befriend her sister (who also joins the harem), and be her partner in a tag team tournament (which doesn’t actually ever happen)- and finally there’s a bit of a stand off and fight with the ‘bad guys’ that Ichika and the girls have to deal with.
In this season, perhaps unsurprisingly, we see much less development of the original five girls than in the first season. That isn’t to say that the original 5 are ignored. In fact, as you might have read yesterday, one episode focuses almost totally on Charlotte, while there is another that focuses largely on Cecilia. Houki appears to be the girl that is being pushed closest to Ichika so she is involved more often. The other two girls are not focused on quite so much, but again, that doesn’t mean they are ignored.
The problem, as I’m inclined to view it, is that these episodes that focus solely upon an individual girl doesn’t further the plot in anyway. Yes, I appreciate that the point of the episode and the show as a whole is fan service, but why try and fit a plot in around that at all then?
There are two new characters to talk about as well, the Sarashiki sisters. Tatenashi and Kanzashi. Now, bearing in mind that, as has been mentioned, this anime should be viewed as fan service, I have to say I liked Tatanashi as a character. Yes, she has big boobs and yes she’s sneaking into Ichika’s room and waiting for him naked. However, she does actually have a point to her beyond that, which you can’t actually say for any of the other characters. [Spoiler] (novelty right?) As the strongest student in the school, she was secretly asked by Ichikia’s sister to act as his protection. Nor does she just fall into the harem after her arc finishes, but instead she goes off to do other things that are relevant to the end plot. Her sister, Kanzashi, on the other hand, is about as stereotypical a harem girl as they come. Quiet, a dandere if ever there was one, she is completely useless until Ichika helps her out (I mean come on!). It’s nice to see a development of the fractured relationship between the two sisters, but passed that, there aren’t many redeeming features to Kanzashi, who unlike her sister slips seamlessly into the harem.
Sound, artwork and animation:
The artwork and animation hasn’t changed much since the first season. The mechas don’t stand out from the norm all that much, but that’s a pretty tough aim if that’s what you’re after. On the whole the girls art design is pretty cute, apart from Houki who, personally, I find off-putting. That is just me though.
The opening and ending soundtracks are alright. Nothing spectacular but perfectly listenable too. It would appear the producers liked the tracks from the first season and asked for a couple more that were very similar, and that’s what they got. Not bad, but not incredible either.
You could say much the same about the opening credits as well. The scenes used might well have been recycled from the first season, however, the focus on the five girls is a bonus though. Not only does it break things up from the disproportionate amount of mecha, it also gives you an idea on what the anime is actually about.
Episode 9: What it takes to be a Hero
If you’re in this for the comedy, which you might well be then I’d probably have gone with Episode 10. Cecilia and cooking is very funny, but it’s laden with fan service and is yet another episode that contributes scarcely to the plot. Instead, I’ve chosen an episode that contributes to the anime as a whole. Episode 9 is where we see the bonding between the two Sarashiki sisters. There’s a fair amount of action, which is linked to the main enemies in the show. Yes, it is another example of Ichika making one of the girls (who are all, may I remind you, much more experienced than he is) seem like a complete idiot. That said, at the end of the episode there is a genuinely real emotional dialogue between the two sisters. It’s an episode that might even fit into a pretty good anime.
Best piece of music:
Really there are only two to choose from given that there aren’t any significant tracks used as inserts. I’m going to go for the ending theme. I can’t really say much about it, it’s your reasonably generic J-Pop song, but I quite like it, so yeah.
Infinite Stratos II doesn’t do a lot different from it’s predecessor. It’s a harem show that relies of fan service to get you through it. If you remember that when watching there’s no reason why you won’t enjoy it. Don’t expect anything substantial from the plot, because by investing yourself in it only slightly, you are damning yourself to end up disappointed and let down.