Bring on the clichés!
What They Say:
Infinite Stratos (or IS for short) has quickly become at once the greatest tool and deadliest enemy during world conflicts. Unique for the IS, however, is it's limitations: only women are able to pilot them. Enter Ichika Orimura, brother of one of the greatest IS pilots in history, and after coming in contact with an IS at 15, oddly capable of piloting one himself. This strange occurrence opens up new worlds for him, and he is immediately enrolled in a school that specializes in IS pilot training. A school...of just girls. Is this a dream come true, or a nightmare come to life? The greatest ride of your life awaits you, as comic mischief and daring dogfights combine in INFINITE STRATOS!
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Last episode gave us the (much?) anticipated duel between Ichika and Rin, only to be interrupted by a mysterious invading IS. The two quickly learn to work together, and in a twist that even M. Night Shyamalan would be proud of, the rogue IS is found to not only be unmanned'"a feat previously thought impossible'"but also not one of the 467 officially registered IS units. A mystery is afoot.
So, as is often the case when a major plot point is dropped on the viewer, this episode completely ignores said developments in favor of giving us more of the same that led up to the big reveal. In this episode, Houki and Ichika are informed that they are no longer roommates as a new boy from France'"Charles Dunois'"has entered the school, only the second male after Ichika to be able to control an IS. Ichika is happy to have another male around for some good male bonding. And, of course, the rest of the girls are happy to see Charles in school, if only to have another male around to lust after. Things seem to be settling into some form of normalcy until yet another transfer student'"Laura Bodewig'"from Germany arrives, and it is apparent from the outset that she harbors a grudge against Ichika.
Yet again, Infinite Stratos delivers a pretty trite episode in the guise of advancing the plot. Charles's introduction as another male character is a bit of a red herring because he is far more feminine than most of the other female characters in the show. It is pretty obvious that he will either be a male member of Ichika's harem or that he is actually a she in disguise. I suspect the latter. Either way, I don't trust his/her motives, though I do suspect he/she will come around sooner or later, because otherwise Infinite Stratos might get interesting. Same with Laura, who we already know is both German and strong willed because of her evil eye-patch, but I suspect that underneath that tough exterior is a young girl dying for love and acceptance. I am not sure what gives me this idea, but I suspect that I am clairvoyant.
And I was totally thrown by this episodes complete lack of focus on the big reveal from last episode. The fact that there might be IS out there that nobody is aware and that has abilities everybody thought was impossible might be formulaic, but I would guess that it is still a major plot twist for this story. But apart from the brief recap that opened the episode, it may as well have never happened. Things seemed to be building well beforehand, but the pacing just flew off the track in this episode.
I am assuming there will eventually be a second season, but we are currently almost halfway through the announced episodes, and I do not feel like we have really gotten anywhere yet. It is still in the holding pattern the first episode started in. Despite all of the clichés and well-worn plot and character ideas, I still find Infinite Stratos to be entertaining. I like the characters and the plot is not awful, but something needs to start happening soon before I begin to lose interest.
We're five episodes into Infinite Stratos, and I'm still not entirely sure what to make of it. It is cheesy, wholly unoriginal, and has some really bizarre pacing. Yet, somehow I remain entertained by it all. Sure, some of the entertainment is of the train wreck variety, but regardless, I continue to look forward to new episodes. I just hope something starts to happen in those episodes. Soon. Mildly recommended.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles