Infinite Stratos as a whole really isn’t super special. Take one guy, drop a room full of girls, and you get something pretty much akin to Seitokai Yakiundomo without the sex jokes.
But what if you added robots? Not mobile suit robots, but more like Sky Girls or Strike Witches type robots, no cockpits required! Suddenly you have a harem series with a thin but viable plot centered around the use of these special robots.
Fortunately, this series, even for being an adaptation of a Light Novel, which seems to be the “thing” these days post-Index, does a little better than just being a generic harem series, it tries to put a little depth into the characters, even if they still have base molds. For example, we have:
Ichika: The clumsy, naive, oblivious male MC who seems to take the fact that he is in a school full of girls, the fact he is the only guy in said school, and the only guy who can pilot an IS, with incredible modesty that pretty much makes beta half of the male viewers of this show jelly of his style and wish they were him, and the alpha half rage out of their chairs at why he isn’t taking advantage of his position and mounting all of them in a row. Alas, we are given a character who pretty much makes us either laugh or facepalm horribly, maybe even into a wall.
Houki: known on /a/ as simply “Japan”, she is the token “childhood friend” of the male MC, and thus has the token tsundere personality, saving her maximum dere for moments alone with Ichika. She isn’t very quick to compete with other girls in the harem, but she will rise to the challenge if it suits her need. I feel that this story wants to be largely about her, but alas she easily falls to the wayside when the others come into the picture.
Cecilla: aka “Britain” is the snooty, privileged-type early on who challenges the MC to a duel simply because her stature must not be compromised. She wins the duel but seems taken back by his bold style and instead switches to maximum dere, making any, and every attempt to be near him as much as possible.
Rin: or “China”, is the second “childhood friend” whom Ichika knew from visiting her family’s chinese resturant. The energetic and spunky girl of the group, she fills the role of the pushy in-your-face type both on and off the IS court. Much like Houki however, she tends to get backsided for whatever is happening on screen at the moment.
Charles/Charlotte: or simply “France”, is first introduced as the second male IS pilot, but anyone with half a brain knew it was a trap, and what’s worse is they didn’t go through great lengths to keep it a secret not unlike Kaoru Daichi from Ladies vs. Butlers, they spilled the beans pretty quickly on this one. What’s surprising however is how well-balanced she is, moreso than the other characters, barely resorting to the usual gags when the usual ecchi gags are pulled.
Laura: aka “Germany” comes into the show with contempt and disgust for our male MC, blaming him for his sister’s tournament forfeit even though it was out of his hands. But much like Nanoha’s tactics, Ichika earns her lips and everything simply by saving her from herself.
The rest of the side characters, the other girls, the teacher, and Chifuyu, don’t have too much substance to them outside of their roles in the show. While they throw in little surprises here and there, like the teacher’s ability to match and beat the representatives candidates, they don’t go outside very far to tell you much about them. I like that only because some series spend an awful lot of time trying to delve into minor characters, taking away from the main set. Saki, even being a show about mahjong, was a huge offender of this, often spending an episode or two on characters we barely saw the rest of the series.
My initial impressions were pretty favorable, we have a show with a mainly non-shitty male MC, surrounded by girls that emulated a lot of what I liked about similarly setup shows, Sky Girls, Strike Witches, Gunparade March, etc. and even though I was prepared for the “harem” to be included, it didn’t seem to diminish how I felt about the show early on. Eight episodes in, I am still finding it enjoyable to watch, though now that the harem is assembled, I am a tad bit wary of where they are going to go from here. One of the problems I’ve had with the last few seasons of anime is a lot of 12/13 episode series spend the first 6-7 building up the cast and small bits of the story, and then just kinda slide into the ending without any real development, pretty much like a fanservice-laden cop-out. IS has the potential to not suck, and I’d really like it to not suck.
TLDR Watch This: You’re surprised France is depicted well, still waiting for Houki to stop Pouki’ng and grab Ichika already, Germany
TLDR Don’t Watch This: It’s too generic for you, not enough Britain DAT ASS (iknowthatfeel.jpg) or you wish they’d just replace Rin with Ran.
Sub Group: Ayako
First Rating: 8
Halftime Rating: 8