Archive for the 'infinite stratos' Category

Infinite Stratos

Thursday, December 9th, 2010

The Infinite Stratos‘ concept should have been applied to Strike Witches if AIC writers had a modicum of imagination. Too late now. Except in fanfics.

UPDATE: Steven is concerned:

Pete has an idea. I’m leery. Who’d want to watch a guy flying around without any pants on? (Ick)

If I remember right, it was ok for men in SW universe to wear pants. Some Fuso servicemen even wore shorts, which should not interfere with operation of a Striker unit.

Commenters seem to take it a different way, assuming a rough equivalence — Rough Rowdy Boys for Power Puff Girls, if you will. I assumed that such freak of nature would be exceedingly rare, as in the premise of IS [And Kampfer‘s, too — Ed.].

UPDATE: Now he’s answering seriously and says that adding the guy in the mix would’ve turned the show into a harem. This is again not quite what I had in mind, although I realize that anime industry as we know it is institutionally incapable of producing a show that focuses outside the formula. It is not likely to be a success, and who wants to exchange the pandering money for critical acclaim? Not even Shinbo.

The past has some hints how it could be approached. Remember, for instance, Hanaukyo Maid Team, which took upon issues of trust. It also stayed true to harem formula. The difference with today is, nobody would try even that much.

He’s alive

Tuesday, February 8th, 2011

Look who’s peeking through the Great Firewall of China:

The recap episode to Kimi ni Todoke was one of the stranger ones I’ve seen. To watch it you’d think that Kurume was the main character, a lonely, flawed girl, desperate in love, and that the shy, gangly, long-haired thing who popped up later was just the latest of her rivals. It was an unexpected and elegant way to reintroduce the series. Alas, since then the show has continued to showcase our would-be lovebirds second-guessing themselves into an impasse.

Hell yes.

Kore wa Zombie desu ka? is NOT executed well. They had great potential in hand when amiable Ayumu absorbs some powers and so becomes not only a zombie but a magical girl. Adding Sera, not only a ninja but a vampire ninja(!), should have made it even better, but they’ve botched every attempt to cash in.

SDB seems back to enthusiastic. Botched, how exactly?

I’m a little surprised I’m still watching Infinite Stratos. Maybe it’s because I’m amazed how far they can take harem and tsundere stereotypes without making it completely dull. And by the way, can we get a tsundere out there to NOT say “It’s not that I (did something nice) because I like you or anything.” It’s getting annoying. Maybe I like Ichika’s predicament of being the only male at the school, or his growing confidence inside his IS. Or maybe it’s because they’re finally getting to an actual story arc.

Clearly the series I would love to love. I only pray the ending does not suck.

Infinite Stratos begins

Sunday, July 3rd, 2011

Now that I’m done with Railgun, I can watch Infinite Stratos, which also comes with a high load of expecations — only the positive kind. I stashed quite a number of links to various worthy reflections, and they all point in one direction: I’m going to love this show.

I was afraid to jinx it by posting an opening bracket too early (remember Arashi 01?), so I am already 3 episodes in. IS warms the heart like nothing else. It is something long forgotten from the times when anime was not trying to outpervert itself.

These days, if one wants to watch something joyful and live, he has to refer to rare adventure titles like Rocket Girls (which was not all that great; about the only compliment to it I can make is how it was more real than Allison and Lilia). Sure, there were things like GA, which tried to freshen the theme about which K-ON seemingly said everything… The way its dull successor carried the mantle was part and parcel of it. But now, this. Is this the dawn of anime’s new future?

Mike on IS

Monday, July 4th, 2011

One of the saved links was Mike’s confession to Charl(otte), which I noticed only because I knew him from back at #animeblogger, and he always was leaning to artsy anime. He’s the biggest fanboy of Tatami Galaxy and the like. If IS can find a way to the heart hiding under the veneer of a high-lit-reading snob, there must be something redeeming about it.

BTW, Mike’s entry is naturally spoiler-heavy. But it’s a great example how good anime cannot be spoiled. I already know that Houki wins, too.

CKS on the dark side of IS

Tuesday, July 5th, 2011

His take is basically that watchers like me have to be in certain denial:

If I take IS’s background seriously I have to conclude that the whole ‘IS military use is prohibited’ thing is propaganda, and not very convincing propaganda at that. IS are armed, IS pilots are taught weapons and combat operation, competitions between IS pilots are combat duels instead of any number of other plausible tests of IS pilot skill, IS piloting seems heavily militarized, and so on. I can’t think of a single non-combat use of IS we see in the entire series.

If I try hard, I can make the background covered on the Wikipedia .. make some sort of sense. Clearly ‘IS will never be used in combat’ is a highly unstable balance of power that no one expects to actually last once things get serious, so everyone is frantically trying to get powerful ISs and stockpiling trained pilots (and keeping a careful eye on each other).

Honestly, at first I thought that a lot of this styling was thoughtlessly carried over from Strike Witches, Sky Girls, et al. and is just adornments playing no role. To think otherwise were like claiming that boyscouts’s training and rituals are born of some military-industrial complex conspiracy. But he’s right. Considering the power of IS, stakes are too great.

Infinite Stratos ends

Sunday, July 10th, 2011

And so! it all passed so quickly. Although I finished watching yesterday, I haven’t decided yet, if it’s a keeper; should I rush to buy R2 DVDs, or wait for R1s.

The reason for the hesitation is that although IS delivers what’s promised, I want even more. For example, back when I and Steven hashed the “SW+man” concept, he was adamant that Japanimation is institutionally incapable of delivering on anything that is not a harem in this context. He was right, of course. But still, disappointing. Even within the confines of IS, there was space for improvement, I felt. For example, I wish that Charlotte did not join the rest of the cockblocking gang in the end. I expected more from her, under Mike’s bad influence, even after I noted in ep.10 “Charlotte’s superiority is not as dramatic as I thought.”

All this is perhaps grossly unfair, since with anime decidedly drifting into nasty recently (see Madoka), IS stands out in a nostalgic way, a reminder of what we lost (well, AsoIku was supposed to be that too, but you know…). So, I am going to be inconclusive here.

Liked: Yes
Rewatch: Undecided

UPDATE: Evirus says:

How things would have been different if she had been absent from the series’ final scene!

Great minds think alike or what?

Nova on IS

Sunday, July 10th, 2011

While Madoka Magica and Yumekui Merry are trawling the depths of emo and suffering, and Freezing is busy mutilating poor girls with pointy things, Infinite Stratos just goes “Hey man, why so serious? Here, have some slick CG mechas and a comedy harem. You’re welcome.” It was a weekly breeze of fresh air that I grew to appreciate, even if it did smell a bit like mold.

I think he’s selling IS a little short, but it is a valid way to look at it, and the one with which I sympathize.

BTW, there was one fall-and-accidentally-grope moment – on a teacher.

Infinite Stratos retrospective

Sunday, September 4th, 2011

With the passage of time, I still see IS as an anime of missing opportunities, but it acquired more of a warm and fuzzy feeling to it. Charlotte, yes, but hey… It is what it is and let’s make beautiful memories, as “they” say.

This is a slightly spoiling entry.

Here’s the warship in the harbor that prompted CKS’ post. I identified it as a destroyer, but on second thought it’s more of a frigate. It also sticks like a sore thumb on its background.

The menu in the school’s cafeteria is heavily biased towards carbohydrates. Fortunately, they are young and exercise a lot, and hopefully they select the Salmon with Mushrooms now and again.

The art of IS is of a “flat-shade” variety, which unsurprisingly goes well with their mecha designs. The detail varies in general, but does not fill out for the greatest zooms. It generally leaves a surprisingly positive impression. Note the elaborate hair styles.

However, adding a little blur does a lot to make the picture warmer. How’s that.

Another curious thing is how the school uniform varies on the main cast. Laura wears pants. Rin’s shoulders are open. Cecily wears a long skirt. I guess the mere variation of boots was deemed not enough, even though K-ON and GA:GADC managed to show personalities through uniforms without this outright break in the disbelief.

Laura also wears a real tie, although of the same colour. Interestingly, either there was no 3-year rotation in IS, or I missed it. There must be, it is too much of a staple. But Ichika’s class had no kouhai and did not have a chance to interact with sempai, not even in cafeteria.

Cartoon violence: the only instance, actually.

BTW, note how Houki executes the kick. If you try that, then it makes a certain sense, for someone who’s extremely flexible. But my muscle memory just does not allow for it. My arms automatically fold up for protection against a counter, and although I let the hips lead, the chest follows.

Tabane: much less annoying than expected according to her stereotype.

There was mecha: magic exo-suits.

And they have gone all Eva on us.

Finally, Charlotte, only because I think she deserves a picture of her own. The “wrong harem choice” setup pops up periodically in anime. Remember Siesta of the original ZnT? That was some blog-gnashing. Dual, too. I think it was done allright here.

N.B. Actually in ZnT, there was no way for Saito to make choices — only one-night stands — due to the terms of his magical contract with Louise. If anything went on with Siesta, it would’ve ended in tears. But IS allows for a complete freedom in theory. Big difference, and more the loss.

UPDATE: Hikago comments:

also for the menu, asians usually have a lot of carbs with each meal: bowls of rice with lunch, dinner, etc, so that’s probably just what the japanese find is the norm for meals

UPDATE 2013/01/18: Ana-sempai commented:

In the first (or maybe second) episode, there’s a scene in the cafeteria where another girl offers to tutor Ichika. She points out that she’s a senior and meaningfully tugs on her red ribbon.

SDB on IS: Yes! Yes!

Friday, November 18th, 2011

While cooking lunch, I checked Chizumatic on my Kindle Fire, and Steven is giving IS a second chance.

And while I won’t say it’s great I can say that it isn’t really too awful. I’m enjoying it, and it isn’t quite as dreadful as mecha shows so often are.

Yes! My capsule entry for IS is “Sadly the best fun anime Japan still can do”. Remember Sekirei? Kampfer? This is better than either of those. Not great, but we take what we can. It’s the same verdict that Jessie delivered after one episode: “The show attempts to establish an atmosphere of sexism” (heck yes!), but “I have little doubt that, in 6 months or so, most people will have forgotten that the show even existed” (yeah). Of course, “most people” forget everything that’s not being constantly re-applied to their brains. See my research into Haibane Renmei: does the result mean that it was a “forgettable” anime? If not, the fact that “most” people quickly forget IS means nothing in itself, too [1]. I am only quoting Jessie as an example of specific sentiment, arising immediately after seeing the show.

Of course, one thing that otaku will always argue about is which of the girls in a harem show really should win. For me there isn’t any contest: it’s Charlotte.

Cecilia is arrogant and obnoxious. So is Rin. Houki is too screwed up and angsty. Laura is a psychopath. Charlotte is kind, gentle, trying hard, and quite frankly is the best looking of the bunch. (Even in drag.) And though her backstory is among the more sad, she isn’t sunk in self-pity.

Yes! Paging Dr. Mike, Dr. Mike to the courtesy telephone please! Although, as I mentioned in retrospective, IMHO Charlotte was not as dramatically superior as everyone else thought. In the “ends” bracket, I wrote: “I wish that Charlotte did not join the rest of the cockblocking gang in the end. I expected more from her [..]”. Nonetheless, the overall picture is unambiguous, and Steven’s entry sums it up.

[1] They actually animated the meta story of fans moving on into a cute OVA Rescue me, Mave-chan!. It may be that numbers of people remembering Mave-chan are larger than numbers of those remembering Yukikaze!

CKS on IS, retake

Friday, December 30th, 2011

In today’s post, Chris goes out of his way to underscore Ani-nouto’s influence, which I work so hard to disclaim, because responsibility is too heavy. Fortunately, he’s staying impervious to the charms of Idolm@ster, so we’re good here. There’s also a judgement on the topic:

However, within its genre I think that IS is average. What brings it down to average is most of the characters, who are decidedly ordinary and even stereotypical (some of them almost painfully literally so, such as the pushy childhood friend). The best shows of the genre have always had quirky, interesting characters injected into their relatively stock situation (who could forget Tenchi Muyo’s Ryoko and Ayeka, for example). IS has, well, Charlotte and an honorable mention in Laura.

I would say that Ichika is far from stereotypical in the way harem leads usually are not. If they are not doormats, they are assholes, and there’s nothing else. I noticed that right away because I usually watch harems by sizing them for myself and in IS threre was painfully little that I could improve, even now, and what I remember of myself being Ichika’s age was not even at his level. Most of the time I feel rather superior, but not in this case.

It is also curious how our psychopath haremette gets points from Chris. My tastes lay, or actually run at full speed, in the opposite direction.

UPDATE: [more].