IS (Infinite Stratos) – Final thoughts

Ichika and his harem

I freely admit that this series is a guilty pleasure to me. Though it makes me a bit irritated as well, by taking the concept of a man in a female-dominated world and using it as a basis for a cliché-ridden mecha/harem show. It could have focused on the gender-switched world, see how different aspects of life would translate to that situation and generally toyed around with gender roles but noo~, all we get is a harem, and a pretty standard one at that. The mecha sequences on the other hand seem to be of rather high quality. Now, mecha isn’t among my primary interests, so I’ll just say that the battles are fluid, the final fight has a grand feeling to it without being ridiculously overexaggerated, and there are some really beautiful skies used as backdrops from time to time.

The above picture sums up the harem part of the show pretty well: Ichika chased by five girls, among which we find not one but two childhood friends, Houki and Rin. Could having two of the same cliché be considered an attempt at originality? Or does it just show a lack thereof? Hmm, this might warrant further investigation. The other girls are Cecilia, British lady-type, Laura, enemy-swayed-by-the-main-guy’s-kindness-type, and Charlotte, girl-saved-from-undesirable-life-type. Pretty much the only thing missing is a true tsundere to round out the group. Ichika, of course, don’t notice the girls’ attempts at getting into his pants no matter what they do. Classical case of harem lead denseness, which doesn’t even really disappear during the final episode. Kind of a shame, could have been fun seeing him try to please all of the girls, or having a hard time picking a favourite without feeling like he’s betraying the others.

While it would have been nice to see some innovation, relying on tried and true formulas isn’t inherently bad. I’d call this a case of “if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it”. There is something in harems that draws viewers, and indeed it also keeps me interested, even in shows that I feel I should find boring.

 

Now that's a gorgeous sky...what, I'm supposed to focus on the mecha?

Just to sum it up: average quality harem show coupled with nice mecha parts that I’m sure is deeper than they seem if you’re a fan of the genre. Watch if you like either or both of those two elements, if not you won’t miss much if you give this series a pass.

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