Infinite Stratos is an anime series based on the light novels by Izuru Yumizuru. At the time of writing UK viewers can purchase the first season from MVM Entertainment, who have released a collection containing the show’s first thirteen episodes. Set in the near future, Infinite Stratos focuses on aerial power armour known as IS. The IS units were originally developed for use in the vacuum of space but, due to fears that they may be adapted for military applications, are now limited to being worn for sporting events. What’s interesting about the IS suits is that they can only be piloted by females. That makes no sense! Women can’t parallel park yet you expect me to believe that they can control advanced robotic gizmos? Ah crap, there goes my female readership.
Although I said that IS can only be adorned by persons missing a schlong there is an exception to this rule – Ichika Orimura who happens to be the younger brother of former IS champion Chifuyu Orimura. When the series begins Ichika enrols at the prestigious IS Academy, which has been setup to teach students how to safely operate said contraptions. As you may expect, having a teenage boy attending an all girl school leads to plenty of hijinks. In the real world this would be a horny teen’s dream come true, but like most harem anime leads Ichika seems completely oblivious to his popularity (no matter how unsubtly his oestrogen fuelled classmates throw themselves upon him.)
Said classmates include Ichika’s childhood friend Houki Shinonono, a kendo whizz who harbours a secret crush for the protagonist. She’s useless at expressing romantic feelings though, which often leaves her jealously scowling at other girls who are more adept when it comes to flirting. One of her chief love rivals is Chinese transfer student Huang Lingyin who is also a former acquaintance of Ichika. Huang peruses Ichika with gusto after misinterpreting his feelings for her. In the past a ravenous Ichika gladly accepted to eat Huang’s cooked meals on a daily basis, which she misconstrued as an interest in marriage. Wait a sec, does that mean that the lady at McDonalds who says she is happy to make me burgers everyday doesn’t want to be my bride? Nooooo.
Not everyone at the IS Academy is smitten with Ichika though. Early on Britain’s own Cecilia Alcott challenges our hero to a duel for the honour of being class representative. Thankfully she didn’t challenge him to a cooking contest, as food preparation isn’t her strong suit (as the ghastly taste of her homemade sandwiches will attest to.) Once that matter is settled the Germans invade the scene when Laura Bodewig turns up on campus. She is a former apprentice of Chifuyu Orimura and resents Ichika, who she blames for costing her mentor a second successive IS title.
My rating for the first season of Infinite Stratos is four stars out of five. Visually this is a very impressive show that seamlessly integrates 2D characters with 3D mechs. The series delivers on laughs, fast paced action and light fan service although I cannot help but wish that it had a more substantial story. Over the course of this first season Ichiko’s class has to come to grips with welcoming a second male student, participating in a fighting tournament and battling rogue unmanned IS. All these ideas are potentially interesting, but never get fully developed as the harem antics of the cast end up eclipsing the plot. Hopefully they flesh things out more in season two, although my experience with Japanese animation tells me otherwise. Anyway, that is enough for this review. I’m off to apologise to my female readers for those earlier chauvinistic remarks.