The Infinite Zenith

Where insights on anime, games, academia and life dare to converge

Infinite Stratos²- At the halfway point

It’s no secret that I lag behind the rest of the world when it comes to things like anime and games, so it shouldn’t be unexpected that I’ve only gotten around to writing this post for the halfway point in Infinite Stratos². By this point, I see an anime that is, for all intents and purposes, a continuation of its predecessor, armed with similar jokes and situations. As such, today’s talk is shorter than usual, because I don’t have many remarks I can say about Ichika’s situation. I can, however, talk briefly  about the introduction of at least two new characters, Tatenashi Sarashiki, the school council president and Madoka Orimura, Ichika’s sister who is part of the so-called Phantom Task organisation. The former adds a bit of complexity to the number of individuals out for Ichika’s heart, while the latter’s organisation is strikingly disorganised and appears to have no further purpose beyond stealing IS. Previously, I noted that Infinite Stratos‘ strength lay within its humour, while more serious moments tended to lose their weight. Infinite Stratos² appears to be continuing in its predecessor’s direction; while Phantom Task’s appearance does not fit well with the rest of the series, I’m continuing to derive enjoyment from seeing Ichika presented with a bewildering array of uncomfortable situations no matter where he goes.

  • Every conceivable high school cliché is given a unique twist in Infinite Stratos, being exaggerated by the presence of funding coming from international sources, thereby making them unique and entertaining. The first few episodes in the season are largely driven by daily life at the IS Academy. From a personal perspective, life at the IS Academy for a guy would be pretty chaotic, since there’d be no way to study or relax in peace without some form of distraction.

  • I’m not becoming lazy: the reason my current posts have ten screenshots as opposed to the twenty (for most halfway-point talks) or thirty (seen in most movies) is a consequence of the time elapses between when I first finished the series and when I found time to write. Late November was pretty much a firestorm as far as coursework was concerned, hence my lack of time in posting. While I enjoy blogging, other obligations come first.

  • Tatenashi operates the Mysterious Lady and is the most capable IS pilot at the academy: the title of Student Council President is assigned on this basis. It seems that skill with an individual IS forms the basis for the amplitude system at the IS academy, which is ranked by a letter grade.

  • The combat sequences remain colourful, exhilarating and oftentimes, too short.  Infinite Stratos² is technically more of a romance-comedy than it is a mecha series, so anyone coming in looking for Gundam battles would be disappointed. On the other hand, the presence of mecha add a certain amount of flair to the girls’ constant bickering about who would be best suited for courting Ichika.

  • I’m not sure how often it is that one can forget it’s their own birthday, although I’m probably not one to talk, since my birthday lies in the depths of summer, away from exams, grant proposals and papers. However, in the present era, there’s actually no excuse in forgetting one’s own birthday, since their Facebook profile would see a surge in activity then. The exception to this is where an individual doesn’t use Facebook, but even then, birthdays cannot be that easily forgotten.

  • Admittedly, episode five was the most entertaining insofar, and of the ‘service’ viewers are presented to, I found Houki and Cecelia’s to be the most entertaining. In Houki’s presentation, Ichika expresses an interest in messing with her fox ear ornaments, leading to some humour. Cecelia pushes the envelope for what is technically permissible when trying to teach Ichika how to play nine-ball billiards by pushing her assets against Ichika, much to Houki’s chagrin. This entire episode was amusing to watch, and given its contents, I’m thankful I do have time and space to peruse this series in peace.

  • Insofar, those with personal IS display disappointing combat capacities, relying on brute force to get things done in place of strategies for the most part. The main exception to that is whenever Charlotte and Ichika fight as a team: they are able to capitalise on their IS’ capabilities to effectively control the battlefield in ranged and melee combat.

  • I was speaking with a friend the other day about so-called “mooks” (i.e. standard forces) in any given form of media and their tendency to be shot down without any effort, implying that they are untrained or incompetent. We both enjoy a show considerably when mass production units (such as Jeagans, ReZELs, GN-X IV) perform as expected for a trained armed forces and fight aces to a standstill. This has been noted somewhere else before, probably the Strike Witches Movie review, where I surmise the reason for this is to make for a more interesting story.

  • Because this blog is supposed to be reasonably safe, I make it a point to minimise unflattering images to the best of my ability. There are exceptions, of course, as I do field such images sparingly for the sake of discussion. In the case of Infinite Stratos, I cut back and choose safer images simply because the more unflattering moments could probably get me into a bit of a situation.

  • The image above is precisely why the addition of mecha-like implements makes Infinite Stratos unique. Apparently, all of the IS personal units are derived off a Gundam of some sort. A non-exhaustive list is as follows: the Byakushiki bears a resemblance to the GN-0000 00 Raiser with its wing binders; its primary armament resembles the GN Sword III. Blue Tears is a sniper-type with funnels, similar to the GN-006 Cherudim Gundam, and there is a green jewel present on Cecilia’s hairband that is reminiscent of Dynames’ Sniper Mode camera. Akatsubaki has foot-mounted blades that are similar to the hidden beam sabres in the GNW-20000 Arche Gundam, while Shenlong has similar shoulders as the Gadessa-line, Rafale Revive Custom II has some structural similarities to the GN-007 Arios and its successors. The Schwarzer Regen is similar to the  GNW-001 Throne Eins, GAT-X102AS Duel Gundam Assault Shroud and the GAT-X105E+AQM/E-X09S Strike Noir Gundam.

The contents within Infinite Stratos² make me incredibly thankful that I can watch this on a mobile device away from other observers: Infinite Stratos in general does not initially appear to be something I would willingly watch, but its use of anatomy lessons to drive the humour ends up being one of the more entertaining aspects of season two. Of course, I’ve heard much talk concerning Ichika’s incapacity to really decipher what is going on around him, but if I were to add my two cents, I would tend to believe that Ichika is deliberately feigning ignorance to continue with life at the IS Academy without breaking the hearts of six out of seven individuals. I’ve noted that I’m predisposed to seeing Houki getting together with Ichika in the end, although rumour has reached me that the light novels are suspended right now over a dispute around overseas distribution. I’m not sure what impact this will have on the anime, so for the present, I’ll continue rolling along and draft out a final impressions post once the finale airs, for better or for worse. I will retain my promise that I won’t go Behind the Nihon Review-style and use jargon to shred Infinite Stratos for not being thought-provoking, because sometimes, excessive fanservice can be entertaining.

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