(Let the pseudo retro-blogging continue!)
No matter how deep the story gets with the history and mechanics of the personal IS units, one must never forget that the core of this series is still managed by five pubescent fifteen year-old girls out to capture the heart of one fifteen year-old teenage boy by using big guns and yandere facial distortions. ‘Gospel’ what now? That was so episode one.
Amidst growing foreign influence personified by each of the other girls in the harem, Houki still deserves to be the closest to Ichika. Her rise, fall, and eventual rise once more in the latter half of the series wasn’t the best executed for character development, but her overall victory was long overdue. Seeing her finally get a personal IS unit, to her growing ego getting the best of her, to finally accepting that she needs to work as a team with the others to bring down Gospel was something that could have spanned the entire twelve episodes rather than the last three or so.
LOL at Houki and Ichika floating in naked space so that Ichika could tell Houki to stop being so cocky. It’s as if 8bit got nostalgic all of a sudden or just got lazy with animation and transferred some animation cells from Macross Frontier to help this scene along. What’s next, Charlotte singing Aimo? Swiftly approved.
Second weird scene between the two episodes: Ichika’s dream sequence with a mysterious girl clad in all-white and an unknown IS giving a lecture. Plotholes, anyone? Absolutely no explanation was given for who these were and why they were even in his dreams in the first place. At least it gave him enough strength to somehow fully heal himself from his mortally wounded state and save the girls from Gospel. Apparently, it also helped him realize that it was Houki’s birthday and that a replacement hair ribbon would make a great present for her in the heat of battle.
Yes, Houki, all of us male viewers sure think of you as a woman at this point. I’m not so sure dense Ichika would, though.
Final Thoughts: A beautifully animated harem that delves into the culture of the IS school so well that I watched the first episode a number of times before moving onto the second. When a story gets you as immersed as, let’s say, the grandiose atmosphere of wondering what it’s like to actually go to Balamb Garden for higher education (a la FFVIII), you know it’s going to be promising to follow. As far as characters go, there were a handful of unique girls to appreciate, and the main guy centered around all of them was actually enjoyable to watch (atypical for harem shows I’ve seen). Despite some brainless moments, Infinite Stratos delivered a nice blend of action and comedy/romance to be considered a fresh and likeable take on the genres it represents. I vote for a second season!