Anime of Tomorrow
Infinite Stratos (last thoughts)
Final impression – could have been better 6/10
In the future, the Infinite Stratos (IS) is an armored suit system that is at the forefront of international pride, research and competition. The catch? IS can only be piloted by women. That is, until Ichika Orimura blundered into a laboratory and activated an IS suit by himself. A whirlwind of events lands Ichika in the prestigious IS academy, where he is of course, the only guy. Being socially awkward around women further complicates Ichika’s situation. But he’s fortunate enough to have a childhood friend in his class, Houki Shinonono. Reunited after six years, will she be able to help him adjust to the pressures of being the only male IS pilot?
Infinite Stratos was a little more interesting for me perhaps because I’m an English teacher in Japan and I can appreciate the position Ichika is in. For those not familiar with this aspect of Japanese culture, in schools the boys and girls don’t associate with each other very much socially. Aside from boyfriend-girlfriend relationships, there’s a distinct system of cliques that develop around the genders. The American perspective that Ichika is in a fortuitous situation is definitely not a shared perspective within the Japanese culture and he’s likely dreading a high school experience devoid of friends.
One of the glaringly annoying points of Infinite Stratos is how it’s never explained why only women can pilot the IS suits or why Ichika is the only male pilot. But IS wins some major points in my score book because the mecha musume genre is very underrepresented. With only Strike Witches to serve as a genre-to-genre comparison, IS looks pretty darn good. However, the structure of the plot lacks focus. Despite the problem of things moving wildly from mecha battles, political wrangling, and romantic comedy, IS has fun moments and can appeal to its fringe audience.