Infinite Stratos, ep. 06

Note: my articles will have no pictures until I get a graphics program reinstalled.

Way to get off the bubble.

So, after episode 5, with an obvious trap, and a new girl (Laura Bodewig, the German) who hates Ichika, but presumably will want to have his babies by end of the next episode, I was fairly “enh” about this show. I downloaded it today, but didn’t get in any hurry to watch it. Then I ended up with a lot of time to kill, for reasons that will have to remain unexplained. So, what the hell, let’s fire it up and see if we can find a good reason to drop another show this season.

Did I ever get a surprise. First off, lets get it out of the way — yes, Charles is a girl. I don’t consider that a spoiler, because they were dropping hints with all the subtlety of a 16-ton weight in a Monty Python skit. The rest… well that’s different. Below the fold, folks.

Ok, Charles’ backstory is about as cliche as you can get. Illegitimate daughter, brought “in the fold” after the mistress dies, but not really brought in, as she doesn’t seem to live with the family. Only met her father twice, for an hour. Medical tests determine she’s got a high aptitude for IS, so she’s employed as a test pilot by her father’s company. She’s posing as a boy (on orders) to generate publicity for the company, which is in trouble because it hasn’t yet produced a third-generation IS. Ok, logic time. If there’s only 486 cores in the world, how are they profiting? Not like there’s an endless supply being made and sold to all comers. Go figure.

But anyway, Charles’ mission (on orders from dear old da) was to gather data on Ichika’s mech and Ichika himself, which she confesses. Now being busted (in both senses of the word; my, but her cleavage seems to appear and disappear magically), she figures that she’ll be sent back home to France and probably be prosecuted for fraud. But Ichika points out that the only person who knows is him, and as her roommate, he’s perfectly placed to cover for her. Oh, and also, there’s a rule in the school handbook that states that while enrolled, students belong to no other organization or country, so she can’t be extradited, meaning they’ve got three years to solve the problem. I’m assuming between that and all the foreign students, the school must exist under some sort of international treaty. That or my high school seriously underutilized its authority to nullify international treaties, back in the day.

But it’s the other reveals that surprised me — holy cow, this thing’s actually developing a plot! It’s been criticized by some as being a “mecha show.” I wasn’t so sure about that around ep.3, but now I’m positive: This is not a mecha show. It has some of the trappings of a mecha show, such as the individualized units, but that’s about it. Those elements are probably there to draw in mecha fans and keep them mollified. But almost invariably, they only introduce them, have the characters show them off, have a line or two about their capabilities, and then get on with the character interactions. Oh, there will be at least one fight every episode and they’ll show off the cool CG stuff for a bit. It’s been observed that this is a cross between a harem and a mecha show; I’m now convinced that it was a conscious decision in order to appeal to both sub-groups of fandom, and they are deliberately balancing fanservice with mechaservice in order to not drive away people who object to an excess of either. The plot, on the other hand, has taken a vacation while they introduced the girls and let the primary harem settle into place.

But this was the episode of big reveals… I’ll put them behind a spoiler tag:
#1: Ichika and his sister were abandoned by their parents, who are apparently still alive somewhere. Ichika has issues; he doesn’t even want to meet them anymore.
#2: Chifuyu-neesan won the world IS championship about three years ago, in Germany. She forfeited what everyone assumed was going to be her repeat championship the following year by not showing up for for the final match, because…
#3: Ichika had traveled to Germany with her, and on the day of the match, he was kidnapped for reasons that either were never discovered, or perhaps never told to him. State security? Chifuyu was given information on where Ichika was being held by the German army, which raises all kinds of interesting questions. She left the match to go rescue him personally.
#4: To repay them for the favor, she spent the next year being an instructor for the German army, which is where she met and trained Larua Bodewig, who resents Ichika for “causing” his sister to forfeit the championship. She’s got a severe case of hero worship for Chifuyu, blames Ichika for what happened, and she wants to “destroy” him to avenge her hero’s loss — and also so Chifuyu will come back to Germany to teach her personally. I think I see a flaw in that plan…

Now you add in some of the reveals from the first episode that have been left dangling… Houki’s sister is the only person who can create IS cores, and she’s either missing or in hiding…and Houki is a childhood friend of Ichika. Then in Episode 4, we have the attack by the robotic IS, with an unregistered core.

Strange things are afoot at the Circle K….but can the authors actually put a coherent plot together out of these elements or will it all fall into chaos? Well, that’s why we watch the shows, to find out! In short, this one’s back on my “definitely watching” list for a few more weeks. Wouldn’t be the first time we were surprised by a plot developing in a “fun” show.

Edit: Oh, I forgot to mention. Laura doesn’t want to have his babies just yet. But I think that was kind of obvious from #4.

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