Infinite Stratos 2, Episode 1: Silver and Gold

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I watch it for the plot. Also, I recall mentioning two years ago that I voted for a second season, so I’m happy to have made it this far to write about what might arguably be one of the most anticipated Fall anime titles. That is, if you are a fan of these harem/mecha-type shows.

That being said, I found the ones to stand out so far this season are Charlotte and Laura. It was hilarious for them to be referred to as ‘Gold’ and ‘Silver’ in the department store. Most of this episode comprised of their relationship as current roommates and reminds us of their level of affection for Ichika. Even the side story of the maid cafe they were so quickly convinced to work for (seriously, who is she and will she serve any level of influence beyond her random appearance?) served as an entertaining introduction to some fancy footwork and theft deterrence without the use of any form or level of IS gear usage. It’s also nice to be able to focus on anyone but the main character in a harem for a change, even if 75% of the episode feels like a filler. A very quick recap of season one and a lead-in to the current season after the break.

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The girls from left to right: Houki Shinonono, Charlotte Dunois, Lingyin Huang, Laura Bodewig, Cecilia Alcott; all surrounding a super-dense lead male character by the name of Ichika Orimura. Recall from the first season that Infinite Stratos is a highly powerful exoskeleton that replaced virtually every other form of armament in the world thanks to Japan’s discovery of the system prior to worldwide adaptation. The appeal beyond this type of typical girls-pilot-robots story is that Ichika seems to be the only male IS pilot in the world, which is further exaggerated by his attendance and day-to-day life at a school full of young girls who are all training to pilot said exoskeletons. The girls listed above are all Representative Candidates of their respective countries (Japan, France, China, Germany, England, in the order of girls listed earlier) and have learned in the first season to work together with their strengths to combat whatever threatens their way of life. Okay, I may have taken that to a bit of an extreme explanation. Really, this show is about how all of the girls try to win over Ichika’s immensely dense heart. Scatter in some drama and action sequences and you have what makes Infinite Stratos an entertaining harem-mecha.

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But wait! It’s not all fun and games and summer festivals with terrible voice-overs just to fill in 23 minutes of broadcast until we can get to the actual plot, right?! I suspected the unknown IS from last season (yay, outdated screen capture file name) to be a plot hole and completely forgot that, two years later, this season would begin to shed some light on it. Is it possibly linked to this mysterious ‘M’ girl who pilots Silent Zephyrus toward the end of the episode? What purpose does she have for attempting to steal the IS on lock-down? Why does she claim that her life has been on the line before? Why are Laura and Charlotte in neko outfits so adorable? Will Laura ever get her own Bond-esque series?! Okay, I digress. But only because the pacing of this first episode made me. I forgot what this show is even about now. Mecha? Harem? Mecha? Both? Impossible!

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Thanks a lot, Yarizui Sen Ayanamie Rei Sarashiki Tatenashi, for conveniently announcing your name under an exaggeratedly full moon. Who are you and are you only here to help Satou get another honor seal cause an actual Third Impact attempt to win over Ichika’s heart as well? Because more girls in the harem always means better content and more entertainment, I suppose. She seems a little more straight laced than Laura, so I will be intrigued if Ichika’s waifu status is stolen in favor of a Tatenashi route.

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I love to take pictures, as you can probably tell by the photography side of this page, so this particular scene was not only my favorite one. It also basically summed up the first episode of IS’ second season. This really wasn’t so much about the world of Infinite Stratos as it was a comfortable way to show off the personality quirks of each main female character once more. Laura and Charlotte have it best so far this season, and their scenes together made this first episode very fun to watch. But don’t expect a recap of the first season here. Exposition of characters and plot are particularly absent in favor of  fan service, fan service, and more fan service.

First Impression: The harem is strong with this one. While the opening scenes of Ichika floating against a blue sky next to a mysterious IS evoke nostalgia and set up a little tension leftover from two years ago when the Infinite Stratos animation first aired, the show quickly deflates into harem antics and fillers full of shopping, attempted robbery, yuri undertones, and typical summer festival activities (yukata, takoyaki, fish scooping, oh my!). If you are looking for plot, it slowly makes its presence known within the first few scenes and last few minutes of the episode. But that’s what made the first season of Infinite Stratos so fun to watch, right? Even the ending animation seemed to pay tribute to the series’ original ending sequence two years ago. IS has managed to mix up harem with some action and suspense rather nicely, and this  season already shows some promise despite feeling like the first episode had a little too much fluff. I certainly watch IS for the plot, but anyone would probably drop this show easily if that was all they were looking for out of this type of series. We all know Charlotte can be an amazing IS pilot and play a huge role in some of the more tense battles, but who wouldn’t also enjoy a break from the fighting and enjoy her dressed as a butler and handling your favorite hot beverage in a classy cafe?

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