Ichika’s STILL a Dumbass … But so’s Houki

So I was threatening to derail a conversation over at Chizumatic into a two-sided discussion of Infinite Stratos, and decided to move my response to Topkiller over here. I’ve only got a few minutes on lunch, so I’ll be brief.

He and I were going around about the identity of the sixth haremette. Her actual identity is not who any of us predicted (Ran, the imouto of Ichika’s friend Dan). Instead it’s the younger sister of the student council president, another freshman. She’s Japan’s actual cadet candidate, who got shoved behind Ichika in the priority queue, so her personal IS isn’t finished yet. She has a major role in the sixth through eighth novels, and after the seventh one, the other five girls acknowledge her as a “formal” competitor.

We also get a second unofficial haremette besides Ran, the student council president herself, who blackmails/teases Ichika into partnering with her sister, because she’s Tabane to her imouto’s Houki. The realization that she’s falling for him too gives her a quandary, as it puts her in competition with her sister, who becomes the first girl to actually confess successfully to Ichika. (I’m not counting Laura, who just assumes, or Houki who keeps mumbling.)

It’s all fairly interesting in a fun way, but I’m completely kicked out of my suspension of disbelief over Ichika; it’s not that he doesn’t realize that they all like him — it’s that he doesn’t think they like him in that way. And frankly, by the end of book eight, he has to be either retarded or under some kind of mental control. Seriously, he has to haul them (except for the new girl) out of “Matrix dream-worlds” staring each of them with a fake copy of himself, in increasingly sexual situations. As in the various versions of himself are:

  • stripping a jr.high Rin in bed,
  • bathing a nude Lady Cecilia and nibbling on her breasts
  • about to get it on with naked-apron husband Laura on the kitchen table
  • taking advantage of maid Charlotte in his castle
  • practicing swordplay in the dojo with Houki

…Huh? Whuzzat?

Good lord, she’s as stupid as he is. She’s also the only one who broke herself out of the dream, as Fake Ichika kept defeating Real Ichika until she realized that nobody but Real Ichika was that stubborn.

Still, if I were confronted with evidence that at least four girls were having wild sex fantasies about me, I don’t think I’d be as ho-hum about it as Ichika. He naturally assumes that it was something the system was doing to them (they were trapped and mind-altered to think their worlds were real, of course), and not a reflection of their actual desires. He doesn’t even get why the new girl becomes increasingly angry as he hauls one naked girl after another out of their dreamworlds.

Oh well. Reboot or continuation, we’ll see. I don’t see the point in a reboot, unless they’re telling an entirely different story. Maybe bring the MC from Antihero in to replace Ichika… he’s just as oblivious to his effect on women, but at least it’s understandable that all the women would fantasize about him….

Update: ANN already mentions them and confirms it’s a reboot, so I’ll dispense with the spoilers: the two new girls are Takenashi and Kanzashi Sarashiki from Izuru Yumizuru’s novels. Takenashi is the student council president, and Kanzashi is the imouto/cadet/haremette. To get them in the anime, I’m expecting more than a single cour. Since they were “invented” for later novels, but really should have been around at the beginning, I suspect the reboot is mainly to retcon them into the early story. Whether Tabane gets reworked, that’s another matter.

Update 2:
Some of the comments indicate that by “reboot” they mean the change in publishers, and the second season picks up where the first left off. Apparently changing publishers is highly unusual, and there’s a bit of “language adaption decay” going on here with the Japanese meaning something different by reboot.

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6 Responses to Ichika’s STILL a Dumbass … But so’s Houki

  1. topmaker says:

    Ah! A new book is out. I will need to read that. Thanks!

    Ichika’s obliviousness towards his team mate’s feelings are getting harder to justify. By this point, it comes down to either idiocy or such a degree of self consciousness that he would be paralyzed in any dangerous situation. Since neither is the case, how does the author keep this act up? Isn’t there a danger that the reader will start to get frustrated at Ichika to the point of giving up on him? Is this an issue with most long format unresolved harem stories? I haven’t read an awful lot of harem novels, but doesn’t this present a nice possibility to move the series along once this issue gets resolved?

    I really did like the way the author showed us what went on in Ichika’s mind to justify the misunderstanding. It may well have run its course, but it helped keep the illusion for me.

    Also, as far as confessing, didn’t Houki confess, but was not heard through he fireworks at the festival? Does that even count?

    My personal choice would have been Charlotte, as she has treated him the best, and seems to understand him the best, but if the first is last rule is in play, then the choice becomes clear.

    Thanks for carrying the discussion over!

  2. topmaker says:

    I just read this from an earlier post you wrote:

    “Charles/Charli may now be public as a female but is still his rommie. Ichika is being so dense it’s GOT to be on purpose, or someone removed his testicles. (My guess: Houki has them in a jar beside her bed.)”

    Hah! Good comment. I can see you have been stewing over this for awhile.

    Is it an indication of the quality of writing to see how long an author can convincingly keep a protagonist ignorant of his growing harem? I have to say the Index series, by playing it down, seem to be doing well, even in the novels, where many of the female “Touma Faction” seem to be on board or at least considering it.

    With Index and Misaka the only ones to have actually sot of confessed (if you include Misaka’s comment in Hawaii), doesn’t that even the confession with Infinite Stratos? Yet we are more tolerant of Index and the cluelessness of Touma, even though there is more content written in that story.

  3. Ubu Roi says:

    I swear your comments weren’t in my moderation queue up to a week after I posted the article… Found them today. Weird, maybe I have lost my mind.

  4. topmaker says:

    I was a little worried after reading your posts about being in less than tip top shape.

    Let me condense this down: Who do you think is handling harem development better: Izuru Yumizuru and Infinite Stratos, or Kazama Kamachi and Index?

    I don’t have a long history with light novels, but I was struck by how well the medium works with explaining the ignorance of the main character in a harem story. It seems easier to listen in on the protagonists inner thoughts, showing why he does not think the situation is what it really is, but at the cost of having the reader increasingly think he is an idiot not worth our time.

  5. Ubu Roi says:

    (Edit: pasted the wrong name, fixed.),

    Kazama Kamachi for two reasons.
    #1, Ichika is faced with women who are much more aggressive, across the board. He’s also a cipher. Why does he have no memories of his parents? Why did terrorists kidnap him in Germany? He’s a high-status male just by virtue of being able to operate an IS, yet there’s just no internal recognition of that fact. The author hints of answers, but at times I have to wonder if Ichika is even human (especially given some of Tabane’s revelations in the last novel). His lack of curiosity about everything, not just the girls, is not believable.

    #2, Touma isn’t so unbelievable, because he’s not being faced with super-aggressive women. He’s also focused on protecting Index, dealing with his misfortune, helping others he comes in contact with… I’d say “and his studies,” but we never see anyone in a class anywhere in Index/Railgun (except in follow-up to Kiyama-sensei’s gambit). We also see a lot more “behind the scenes” information and have a basic knowledge of what’s going on.

    In short, IS really is a harem series, with a thin mecha coating, but I feel the author doesn’t have a real story to tell. He just wants to write about cute girls chasing a clueless guy. It’s a major failure to have “stupidity” as the reason one (or more) of the girls don’t catch Ichika. On the other hand, the girls are cute. Most of Index’s are just… weird. (Side thought, a warped universe in which one or more do succeed, and a “Nice Boat” ending ensues. My money’s on Rin being the one to snap first, but Laura to be the sole survivor.)

    almost has too many stories, and the the harem aspect is just one minor part of the story being told, so it doesn’t have the pressure of carrying the raison d’ etre for the series.

  6. topmaker says:

    Kazama Kamachi seems to be an idea factory, to be sure. I’m trying to get through the side stories and am in the middle of the Russian mall thingy with Misaka Mikoto. Pretty good as a side story goes, but I wonder what happens if she ever meets Lessar again (I don’t think they met in Russia, did they?)

    To tell you the truth, I am having an increasingly difficult time keeping everything straight in that universe, even in the main timeline. It looks like we have most of a new translation up, so I assume we will be looking further into Othinius/Ollerus, which will be opening even more gates through which more stuff that needs rememberin’ will flow.

    IS, on the other hand just seems to be getting deeper into whatever story Izumu Yumizuru is working out. I am worried that I will lose interest in Ichika before it gets deeply into it. Your idea about him (and his sister[s]?) being not quite human has merit, buut might also be a deal breaker for me.

    So, as you alluded to, one has too little a story and one has possibly (for this reader) maybe too much of one. I do wish I had the capacity for ideas that Kazama Kamchi has.

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