The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

Infinite Stratos

Title: Infinite Stratos aka IS: Infinite Stratos
Genre: Comedy/Action
Company: 8-bit
Format: 12 episodes
Dates: 6 Jan 2011 – 31 Mar 2011

Synopsis: The Infinite Stratos, or IS, are highly dangerous mechanized armor suits that can only be piloted by women. They are such fearsome weapons that all countries have signed a treaty banning them from military deployment, relegating the usage of them to mere sport. Regardless of this, whole academies are built to teach girls how to use the IS. Orimura Ichika, as the first male that is able to pilot the IS, is whisked away to one of these academies, where he meets his childhood friend Shinonono Houki.

The Highlights
Harem setup: Distilled to its logical conclusion.
World building: A mess of poorly thought out facts and contradictions.
Characters: Stereotypes that have been used to death.
Plot: Another permutation that achieves the same goal as all other harems.
Fight scenes: Good choreography makes good eyecandy, but tactics are just absurd.

If there is one bastion of creativity left in the harem genre, it’s the inconceivable scenarios that first land the character into his harem. Everything else has been distilled by decades of rehashed ideas into the common forms we’ve all come to expect. It is on such a pretense that Infinite Stratos begins, promptly breaking its own rules to insert its main character into a suitable environment for jealous hijinks. What follows is merely the nth iteration of the harem canon that adheres to nothing but the law that a sizable number of females with different idiosyncrasies must congregate around an irredeemable male.

Infinite Stratos sticks to this ideology so tightly that it discards any semblance of consistency. The most egregious of these is the absurdity and floundering logic of its own reality. Facts are given about the world that aim to make the setting more plausible, which would certainly be admirable if not for the ironic twist that they do the exact opposite. The academy the characters attend is built for something that’s supposedly used for sport, yet the Infinite Stratos is used for the entire series as a weapon. Large markets constantly produce equipment for this fantastical machine, but only a single person owns the specs to it. More examples are apparent, but let’s not mind them. The two already presented cause enough confusion, especially in tandem. Such are the mysteries of a world that gives weapons to adolescents.

In continuation of the poor harem tradition, Infinite Stratos presents a cast of lazily conceived stereotypes that deal with poorly constructed plot devices. Nearly every girl is pigeonholed into an expected archetype, running through the usual qualities or scenarios each one is required to go through. One harem interest stands out for breaking out of the predictability that encroaches upon all characters, but she is gradually relegated to the same position as the rest. It also doesn’t help that Ichika, the main character, is the perfect copy of his mediocre predecessors. With enough foolishness and density to exasperate even the characters in the show, he plods along with one stupid action after another. Perhaps that is the most that can be expected from an empty shell.

The drama surrounding these characters serves only to befuddle the audience further. Major fights are interspersed throughout the show, but they merely act as excuses to force development. Characters are usually saved or defeated by Ichika, culminating in their official induction into his harem. This often results in an inexplicable change in personality as a formerly hostile character suddenly begins fawning over him. For the rest, the fights act as reasons for poorly conceived angst. Again, the only solution to these problems is the unfathomable power of the main character. So much for plot. If it’s any consolation, the fight choreography is fluid and entertaining, making it one of the few redeeming qualities of the show. Sadly, even this is marred by absurdly stupid tactics and strategies no sane person would try.

Infinite Stratos is a marriage of typicality and inconsistency. Its characters are a group of premade constructions thrown into a world that simply doesn’t make sense. Nearly all of the standard harem expectations are touched upon, including the ones that cause conflicting characterization. Plots act as reasons to throw the helpless damsels into the boring main character’s arms. The only conclusion one can draw is to randomly shelve this in the annals of the harem genre; after all, it would be impossible to distinguish it from the similar chaff that came before it.

The Rating: 2
2/10

Reviewed by: Elineas

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