Infinite Stratos 2 is the sequel series to the previously reviewed Infinite Stratos. After going on summer break for a little while, Ichika and his harem are back for another series of adventures. Well... did we get anywhere?
"Geez Dex, that was a really absolute and blunt way to start what is supposed to be an objective review, wasn't it?"
Yes, it's hard to be objective after I said this in my last review:
I've gotta say though, sometimes you've got to wonder if this show is going anywhere in particular. I realize that the plot isn't exactly a selling point but come on, is there anything else here? For nearly 14 episodes now (I've seen the first two for season two) the question of why Ichika can use an IS hasn't really even been mentioned. I'm hoping that season two starts picking up the slack on this one.
Well, at the very least, we got another season. That's something to be happy with. Infinite Stratos 2 continues the tradition of being lighthearted harem/actiony fun for the fall season.
There's plenty of fanservice and episodic content for the casual watcher that wants something that's easy to watch if you need something fun to offset a bad day. It's still basically the definition of an anime popcorn show, it never takes itself so seriously that it loses sight of the humor, but it never gets so humorous that it goes into total absurdity.
Ichika continues his tradition of being totally and utterly oblivious to his harem. Whether this is on purpose or he is genuinely oblivious is (hilariously) a hotly debated topic in the community, but the harem doesn't care. The number of times he gets hit or the "I'm going to kill you" look is directly proportional to how oblivious he is. It can be at least chuckle-worthy sometimes.
You know what? I liked the new character Kanzashi. She's the socially awkward (partial) Rei Ayanami expy that I once harped on rampantly, but I liked her for some reason. Maybe it is because she seems hilariously normal next to the somewhat insane nutters that Ichika has following him around all the time. Kanzashi and Charlotte (we've all given up on spoiler tagging this by the way) represent my favorite characters on the show, so that should tell you something.
It actually looks like the show might be setting the stage for an actual romantic resolution instead of the infamous resolution dodge that most harem shows do at the end. Houki appears to have a rather suspicious clear lead this season (writer on deck?) due to rampant ship teasing and what the fandom has agreed is a reinforcement of her feelings once again (the third time, although only the second that Ichika has heard).
Hey, moving toward some kind of resolution is a plus in my book.
That aside, it seems like we started to get some sort of plot development here! There's a new secret organization lurking in the shadows this season called Phantom Task! There's stuff going on! Ichika's older sister seems to have some knowledge of what's going on! Oh I wonder if this has some relation to why Ichika can pilot the women-only IS! I can't wait-
Yeah, I'm really just squeezing this one to be nice. The plot development didn't do much except add another plot thread to the table. As far as you can tell from this season, Phantom Task has nothing to do with Ichika's own plot. We're still avoiding the issue of his IS usage. Adding another plot so hastily and not sufficiently resolving anything at the end of the season backfired on this one. The plot development of season two was even less than that of season one, which is saying something considering there wasn't really any in season one.
At least the first season had some nice action sequences going for it to cover up the plot shortfalls by way of the rule of cool. This season suffers from the fact that instead of action scenes, they swung the episodic content distinctly into the "harem antics" direction. I don't necessarily hate harem antics, but it feels like the writing staff of the first season was replaced entirely for this season. Yeah, it's that different.
I do believe that it was the 6th episode that pretty much defines why I disliked this season. It had absolutely maximum filler (you could have dropped this episode and no one would have noticed ever), had utterly ridiculous episodic content, had utterly ridiculous fanservice, and had absolutely zero plot development.
I don't even feel the need to properly spoiler tag this (but if you really want to, skip this), but just know that this season's ending is really damn familiar. This finale is a thematic, chronological, and fundamental carbon copy of the last season's finale. It seriously is.
Infinite Stratos 2 is a textbook case of an anime adaptation kind of losing its way. It's still fun, but I don't think the director/writers realized that a big reason for this series' popularity was because of the IS action, not the damn harem. The IS action was seriously downgraded this time around. Maybe there was a budget cut, but the show suffered.
The plot stagnates for the most part. Ichika's condition still isn't explained, the new Phantom Task plot doesn't go very far, and the harem plot is largely unresolved (as expected).
Instead of the action of the last season and whatnot, Infinite Stratos 2 went the way of the harem antics. There's a whole ton more of harem madness going around that I didn't enjoy as much as some will.
This is for those of you that enjoy harem series. You enjoy those comedies that put the characters into awkward and crazy situations. Much like myself, liking the first series might not be enough since this season is fundamentally built differently.
Credit where it's due though, 8-Bit studios has turned the ending credits sequence into an art form. It is incredible. How much money do they spend on it?
As usual, I claim no ownership of the images herein.
A Gundam series is on deck. Code Geass is on hold because I've gone off schedule because of delays.
This is part of my Anime Review Marathon that I began in October 2013 to record my thoughts as I watch a variety of anime on my ever growing backlog. These reviews won't come out on a consistent basis, they'll come out when I feel I have seen enough of a series to pass a judgement on it, although I will usually finish the whole series before the review.
You can see all my articles on Dex's Corner.