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)
With the arrival of Laura and Charles in the last episode, life at the Academy appears to be getting interesting for Ichika. Charles joins in with Houki, Cecelia, and Rin to help Ichika catch up with the rest of the school in the use of an IS, and his less intense methods of instruction seem to work better with Ichika than that of the girls. This, of course, frustrates the girls as it seems that Ichika is bonding more with his effeminate roommate than with any of them. But even the typically non-observant Ichika realizes something is up with Charles when he realizes that Charles gets unusually nervous and embarrassed in the locker room after practice. Ichika's relationship with Laura is far rockier, as she seems intent on crushing Ichika for reasons unknown to him. She tries to challenge him during practice time; when he declines, she attacks, only to be thwarted by Charles and the teachers. But she is determined on defeating him at the earliest possible opportunity.
I was left a little frustrated by the last episode when episode four introduced something of a reveal, only for episode five to completely ignore it in favor of returning to the status quo of Ichika being pulled in many directions by his various paramours. In some ways, I am left with the same frustration, as much of what went on in this episode was little more than character development, and there has still been nothing more about the mysterious rogue IS that attacked the school two episodes ago.
The flip side, though, is that it seems that things are starting to happen a little bit with the characters. First off is the expected revelation that Charles is actually a girl. This 'surprise' was telegraphed from about forty miles away, so it made me glad that they did not try and stretch his deception out any farther, and it potentially adds a nice'"if not entirely original'"twist on Ichika's daily life as he is currently the only one that knows Charles's secret.
More importantly, we get some back story of Ichika and his sister, and therefore why Laura might hold a grudge against Ichika. We learn more details as to the expertise Chifuyu has with an IS and why she is held to such high esteem as an instructor. It is also revealed exactly how she and Laura know one another. While we have not yet been told exactly why she holds Ichika in contempt, he is even able to make an educated guess as to the reason. It opens up some possibilities going forward.
Infinite Stratos continues to go at a maddening pace, and I am still frustrated at it completely dropping the plot thread from two episodes ago in favor of the formulaic harem stuff the rest of the series has been. However, at least this time we have been given some decent character building that promises some intriguing possibilities down the road. It is still nothing particularly original, but it has its moments. Now we just need the action to start catching up to the character development, and we might have something on our hands. Mildly recommended.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles