IS: Infinite Stratos Review

This is review number one hundred and fifty nine. This anime is part of the Winter 2011 lineup. It’s IS: Infinite Stratos. It’s a twelve episode anime where a guy and his harem pilots some mecha because thety want to or something. Hey, it’s a good show. The anime had potential. Let’s read on.

Story

The anime is about the world of IS or Infinite Stratos. These are mechanical robots designed to travel to space but the plan was halted after it was discovered the IS has potential to become a weapon. These robots are now used for sports and tournaments. Only girls can pilot these robots and only a select few can fully master the controls. There is an academy dedicated to train girls to become experts on IS. The first year students of this academy are shocked to discover that the very first male pilot is also in the academy. That’s right. Ichika Orimura is the only guy to ever pilot an IS and he is in an all-girls school surrounded by a lot of people who admire his status as the only male pilot. He’s so popular he might even get his own harem.

Taking the Pants Off

This is a Mecha anime where girls are piloting robots. Well, it’s more like half a robot but the spirit of the genre is there. This anime is not just fighting robots though. It’s also a Harem anime. This is probably the first time I’ve seen the two genres mix and I was a bit skeptic on how the anime will maintain balance. After all, how the hell can you feature awesome mecha battles while making sure the main guy has some moments with his harem? The two genres will definitely clash. The anime had to downplay one element so it can fully feature another. Can you guess which genre got toned down? I did enjoy the anime for the stuff it presented. It was enjoyable despite the two genres not bring fully integrated. Some fan service can easily wipe that away though.

The premise of the anime is pretty nice. There is only one guy in the school and girls are attracted to him. If you add the promise of cool robot action then there is a lot the anime can do. It can present awesome mecha battles while slipping in some flirting among the characters. I’ve seen the same exciting premise done in Aquarion Evol. In that anime though, it’s youthful romance coupled by awesome mecha battles. This anime had a harem added to the mecha. It’s risky yet it also had a lot of potential that really gets me excited. The proper execution and balance of elements will easily make this anime awesome. It had tons of potential but sadly, the anime wasn’t able to present it.

The mecha aspects of the anime are pretty great. It has a lot of technical terms and talks about the different functions of the Infinite Stratos to fully support its mecha elements. The robots all differ in classifications from short range, long range and full on offensive types. There are different generations of the robots to signify how advanced its abilities are. There are some nicely thought out designs in the weapons of the robots and the functionalities it possess. Given that the original material is a light novel, I’m not really surprised that the mecha elements of the anime are deep. Some scenes of the anime even got super technical that I had to let some facts fly over my head.

The mecha aspects didn’t just stop at the terminologies. There was also a nice backstory about the existence of the Infinite Stratos. Every country develops their own robots and they want to have the best in the world. They would go as far as to experiment on girls to better improve synchronization to the robots. They would send their best pilots to collect data on the robots of other countries. Some places even went as far as to develop unmanned Infinite Stratos that very much act like weapons. There is this deep backstory to the anime that I really admired.

The mecha aspects are topped off by an underdog protagonist. Females are suited for Infinite Stratos because they can pilot them easily compared to males. So here comes a male pilot that starts at the bottom of the step ladder. He is weak, has very little grasp of how to fight with his robot and he basically sucks at fighting. The only thing keeping him going is sheer determination and never gives up attitude. He has a chance to become better with constant training and deeper understanding of the robots. With the way the mecha elements are set up, the story basically writes itself. Seriously, you can create your own scenarios with the mecha aspects of the anime. I was excited on how the anime will execute its mecha. After all, it’s all here. It just needs a good push to the right direction.

The anime had other plans though because it needed to explore another genre. It wanted some harem elements in its story to awkwardly mix with the mecha. The two genres cannot be properly balanced and one had to step aside for the other to shine through. The mecha stepped aside. The first half of the anime was dedicated solely to the relationship of the girls to the only guy in the school. Each girl was nicely introduced, their backstory nicely established and their relationship with the guy slowly formed. I do admire the anime for presenting the harem pretty clearly. It never rushed anything when it comes to the girls. In fact, the five girls all had their own time with the guy and it was heavily focused by the anime. Most anime would start the anime with the harem already setup. This anime took its cherry time introducing each girl. They started out as indifferent to the guy and the show tracks how each girl slowly falls in love with the guy. There was a proper flashback on some of the girls but it basically ends with the girls liking the guy. The first half had nothing but this. It was only focused on making the girls fall in love with the guy. So five girls and the various incidents on how they fell in love with guy is the main focus of the anime.

The mecha aspects of the anime were a means to an end. Sure, there are some flashy mecha battles but it was solely so some of the characters can build a relationship with the guy or explore it some more. The anime is missing crucial elements of mecha like a good antagonist and some war of sorts so you can basically tell the anime was more of the harem after the second episode. I was more romanticized by the mecha though so I’m a bit crushed. In fairness, I admire how the anime took time to introduce each of the girls. They all had decent screen time with the guy and they are all cute. They also had a decent transformation from the first impression you had of them. It’s surprising how much attention is given to the harem and I give points for that. Naturally, after the girls are introduced. The next thing is to have them fight over the guy. This flirtatious part of the anime isn’t complete without another genre. Yeah, what pairs great with Harem? Ecchi, of course.

IS25

The anime build you up on the relationship of the girls so you can expect the Ecchi parts of the anime to be pretty awesome. There were a lot of times where the girls were super sexy, some flashed their boobs, some were super daring and some were pretty direct. The various characters added a lot to the Ecchi. The awesome part is that you will eventually fall in love with one of the girls and its pretty fun to see your favorite girl do her best to catch the guy. The different scenes where the girls flirt with the guy is pretty fun to watch. I’m still bitter with the mecha but, hell, get the coldest character to be the most shy in wearing a swimsuit can wipe that bitterness away. Don’t you just hate it when your primal instincts force you to love the fan service? Shame on you all.

The characters are all one dimensional. Some of the girls started out with a different personality until they fall in love with the guy but they then stuck to their generic personality all throughout. The anime made sure though that you will like the characters but it heavily focuses a lot of the episodes on them. They all had their backstory decently told so you have an understanding of the characters. Their alone time with the guy was also a great way for the girls to show their vulnerable side that will make you like them more. The anime had all the chance to develop the characters but it didn’t because they had certain roles in the harem. The childhood friend, the rich snob girl, the polite girl, the loud girl, and the b*tchy one all had a place in the harem. It’s also their contrasting generic personality that sets them apart so you can fully appreciate them. The interaction among the characters pretty awesome though. When they are flirting, you just can’t help laugh at how hard the girls try only to be shot down. When they are fighting in their robots, you can’t help but admire the awesome display of camaraderie and friendship among the characters. The decent teamwork displayed and the understanding of each character’s strength and weakness was also pretty impressive.

The guy is the typical harem/ecchi main character. He is indifferent towards the girls and he is unable to pick up the different signals the girls throw at him. He is the dependable type though those harem girls easily fall in love with. In the mecha side, he was “the chosen one” because he is the only male pilot to ever control a robot and he has a fight until you’re dead mentality despite being weak. It’s a shame the anime couldn’t explore his heroic side more. Being an understanding and caring guy is all that matters for this harem show. He is also the lucky type though that gets into various Ecchi situations. The typical falling down and grabbing her boobs or walking into a bathroom seeing the girl naked or spreading sun lotion on a girl’s ass kind of main character.

This is a great anime for harem fans. The girls are really likeable and the anime made sure the harem is fully developed that it sacrificed all its mecha potential. Instead of a show like Aquarion Evol, this is more like a much better harem show than you’re used to. It’s pretty incredible despite my complaints. It’s a solid show that you just can’t stop watching.

Sight and Sound

The character design is pretty great. The girls all had different styles to them and different body frames that I really admire. Also, the breast sizes are different. Each girl in the anime nicely stands out with their own outfit, hairstyle and even skin color. The anime had the girls originate from different countries so the stereotypical attributes are maintained. The English girl has blonde hair and fairly white skin. The Chinese girl has dark colored skin and a short built and the Japanese girl has jet black hair. There is variety among the designs that even side characters nicely standout. The uniforms are also a nice touch. The white ones are nicely made with nice red lines and a cute ribbon. The outfit used for training sticks to the body and you can see the sexiness of the girls along with the awesome breasts. The guy is the typical main character with a normal build and normal black hair that is a bit stylized. He comes off as normal though like any ordinary male lead.

The mecha designs in the anime are fantastic. I love how the pilots literally become one with the robots. The pilots are mainly the torso of the robots that supports every other part of the mecha. The limbs are huge robot parts with nice layers on them. The different weapons of the robots and their individual designs are also pretty awesome. The studio that designed the mecha is also involved in Aquarion Evol and Busuo Shinki so the mecha designs are easily one of the strongest elements of the anime. I really love the design that I was a bit bummed that the anime didn’t focus much on the mecha.

The animation is pretty awesome. The fight scenes are incredible. The robots usually fight in the sky and they do a lot of flashy moves when they fight. The animation is super detailed and the frame rate is high. The way the robots avoid flying projectiles and the way the attack with their swords are so flashy that you just can’t look away. The best part is the camera angle. It isn’t fixed and dances along with the robots. It’s also in the sky so you’re really in great view of the robots as they go nuts in the sky. The fight scenes are pretty short though and there isn’t much build up to them. They were used to strengthen the relationship of the characters so there is only enough to really make the characters look flashy but there isn’t enough to really make the scenes dramatic.

The fan service in the anime is pretty great as well. The girls got a bit rowdy at some of the episodes and I really love that. There were also a lot of Ecchi scenes on some of the episodes. They are when the characters flirt but nothing super daring. The daring ones are in the later parts of the anime. The simple look of the girls is enough for me though. There aren’t a lot of standout Ecchi scenes in the anime that I can recall.

The anime’s OP is “STRAIGHT JET” by Minami Kuribayashi. It’s a pretty decent song and Minami’s voice does nicely stand out. The pace was pretty normal though and it’s not catchy for an OP. The anime sequence features all the characters of the anime and some of the important events nicely wrapped in a montage. The awesome camera shot of the anime is employed in the OP and smooth animation is in it as well.

The anime’s ED “SUPER∞STREAM” by Yoko Hikasa. As the anime progresses though, various voice actors of the anime join in on the song. This is a pretty awesome song because of how well the voices of the characters blend together and I love the progression of the song as it progresses. It starts out with one of the voice actors and others join. The song itself is pretty nice talking about determination and stuff. The ED sequence features the characters running in a loop. There is nothing fancy but as the anime progresses, other characters join in on the run. It’s pretty cute.

Overall Score

7/10 “The anime had issues on the way it balanced the genres but the overall appeal of the anime is pretty strong.”

If you love harem anime with different girls crushing on one guy then you’ll love this one. The mecha is more of a bonus package to enhance the harem and that’s fine by me. The anime could’ve been better but a good anime is a good anime. I recommend it.

7 thoughts on “IS: Infinite Stratos Review

  1. I thought the premise of IS is pretty nice too. I dont mind guy’s harem or girl’s harem as long it can keep stupid down and be entertaining and intelligent a bit too.

  2. Pingback: anime with op male lead and harem | Kuplux's

  3. i like the underlying idea of the anime, where there is a co-existance between harem and sci-fi. Whatever this anime is great, and liked it. Think Director should continue this anime for fans like us. ThankYou

Thoughts~

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