Ichika Orimura is the only male who can pilot the IS (Infinite Stratos) mecha, so he is the only male at the Infinite Stratos Academy, which is otherwise only populated by schoolgirls of the silliest sort. Since the use of IS by military forces is forbidden- and since there's no invasion by anybody, Angels or otherwise-the whole point of the school seems to be for the students to be trained to kick each others' rears in competitions. Ichika spends maybe 20% of his time on this endeavor; the other 80% of the time is spent dodging the females who crave his affection.
Ah, where to start? Well, let's first meet the mecha itself. The IS is not full-enclosure body armor; it's a mechanical exoskeleton with flying capability as well as the usual oversized weapons. Curiously, parts of it are not even attached, but seem to obediently float near the operator. Even more curiously, whenever it's required, the whole thing can be conjured apparently out of thin air through devices worn by the operator. (Ichika uses a wristband, but one of the ladies is able to materialize hers with just a bracelet.) The IS machines are all built by Tabane Shinonono, the least believable scientist/engineer I've ever seen. She wears what look like rabbit ears- I'm sure the show would explain them as some kind of electronic device, but I'm just as sure that the ears, along with the dress she wears, are really all intended as an Alice in Wonderland cosplay reference. (And they're DROOPY rabbit ears at that, but then if she really did build hundreds of these things-AND single-handedly save the world as well, according to one of the backstories-maybe she hasn't been getting much sleep.) Of course she comes across as a total airhead. She vaguely reminded me of Nanvel from the Burn Up W/Excess shows, though with more clothing.
Tabane has a sister who's a student at the school, so this gives us a nice segue to introduce Ichika's classmates. Tabane's sister is Houki, a "childhood friend" of Ichika, and a Kendo master, which means that she will frequently be going Motoki on Ichika's butt whenever she thinks he's doing something "perverted", and of course she thinks that all the time. (I'd SWEAR I've seen something like this before...) There's also Cecilia Alcott, from England, who fills the "rich bitch" role; Rinin Fan, yet ANOTHER "childhood friend" of Ichika's, who fills the moefang quota; and perhaps the worst stereotype of all, Laura Bodewig, a German who IS the Nazi stereotype right down to the eyepatch and baggy military trousers. All of them do a great deal of posturing about their martial superiority before they actually enter the ring against Ichika, but when they lose to him-or are rescued by him-or most curiously of all, even when they WIN against him-they all suddenly come to believe that Ichika is "the one" for them. And as if that's not enough women chasing him, there's also one named Ran, who, when she's not pursuing Ichika, spends most of her time bossing around her brother; and there's also...
...but I'm not sure I should go there, lest I be accused of spoiling, though it's really not much of a surprise; the show started dropping hints about it almost immediately after the character was introduced. Suffice it to say that there's a "surprise" that's really not, and which only doubly reinforces the show's harem identity. (The show does have one minor, but genuine, surprise when the operator of an IS turns out to be someone you would never suspect to be capable of doing it.)
Of course it's hard to have a mecha drama without SOME kind of serious threat, so during its course we have two (yes, two) fully-automated IS units apparently go berserk and require our little cast to go into a real battle. The second one is supposed to be an "American-Israeli"robot called "The Gospel", a name which was surely a major concession for the Israelis at least. I was generally not that impressed even with the combat scenes- things tend to happen at a distance, or with quick cutaways.
On the other hand, the show does have some lovely clouds and sunsets. Too bad the backgrounds are so much better than anything that happens in the foreground.
This is a rather undesirable milestone- my first “one star” review. I’m not sure whether I should be proud, or NOT… — Allen Moody
Recommended Audience: It's a harem show, so there's some nudity, but not much- the show is even inadequate at THAT. Older teens and adults should be OK as long as they don't want anything that's actually intelligent or interesting.
Version(s) Viewed: Stream from The Anime Network (subtitled)
Review Status: Full (12/12)
Infinite Stratos © 2011 8-Bit / Izuru Yumizuru
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