Infinite Stratos: First Impressions

If you’ve ever watched the Simpsons, there was a time (maybe they still do it now, I don’t know because I haven’t watched it in like 7 years) where something inopportune would happen and a character would grab his collar, shake it, make a sheepish grin and let out a groan that sort of sounded like “iiiiggggg.” I remember this, because they did it once in one season, and it was amusing for that first time. But then they started doing it all the time. Multiple times an episode. This is about the time that the Simpsons started sucking, so I’m going to say somewhere around season 9 or 10. I only mention this because that’s the first thing I thought about doing once I started watching Infinite Stratos.

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If you squint real hard... you might see some mechas in there

The episode starts off by tossing you right into the middle of a random battle. Exciting deshou? Eh, unfortunately, it’s better in concept than reality, because the action scene wasn’t terribly interesting, nor impressive from an animation/visuals standpoint. Lack of detail, lots of incredibly wide angle shots, just a surprising lack of flow from a director that handled the supposedly pretty well received Macross Frontier movie. Sadly, this mediocre start would be the best it gets, because the show goes straight down the harem hole afterwards.

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Why do harem girls always keep a sword closer to them than their underwear? It's like they're waiting to be peeked on.

Coming in to the show, I was a little worried by the harem-by-the-numbers setup: the one magical boy somehow has special abilities that lets him enter, train and live in a school full of girls (no truth to the rumor that Infinite Stratos was originally called Starry Day). I figured, that’s just the setup, if they can do something interesting with it, maybe have some interesting characters, it could still be entertaining. Well, the first girl we meet is our main man, Ichika’s long-lost tsundere childhood friend. I seriously grew up in the wrong country, because apparently the only thing more plentiful than the long-lost tsundere childhood friend in Japan, is the domineering,  alpha sister/mother figure – specifically, Ichika’s older, mysterious sister, who no doubt likes taking the S role. The next character we meet is the haughty ojousama from Brittania Britain, Cecilia who challenges Ichika to a dual (clearly unaware that she’s not only going to lose… but also be stripped naked through some circumstance or another). Cecilia’s also unaware that Britain does have terrible food. But she was the best part of the show, only because I loved hearing Yukana’s Tessa voice again. For all the great roles she’s had, Yukana does not get enough cred in the seiyuu world.

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UGH! GIRLS! COOTIES! KIMO!

Well, what about our main man, Ichika? I like that he seems to be confident about battling. I hate that he has the typical harem lead mindset of “oh, I’m the only male in a schoolful of girls who all seem to want to jump my bones… WHAT A DRAG!” Next he’ll be talking about how all he wants is the peaceful life.

So stereotypical characters, weak action, harem-by-the-numbers story, and add to that some pretty awful animation throughout: inconsistent character models, long static pans… it’s a really bad sign for a first episode.

I wanted to like Infinite Stratos. I was pretty confident that this would be one of the few shows I’d watch this season. I hoped that it’d be a less ambitious, fanservice-heavier Macross style show. Instead the top two comparisons that come to mind are: Asu no Yoichi (mediocre) and Princess Lover (terrible). So sadly IS is getting the boot. I want to try to be really picky this season so I can focus on my more interesting backlog.