Infinite Stratos: A Frozen Dinner

Something’s infinite alright — the infinite denseness of male protagonists in harem anime.

Repetition isn’t always bad. You know what’s repetitive? Comfort food. Comfort food is a trip down memory lane. We don’t want our comfort food to be wacky and different. When we dig into that plate of spaghetti and meatballs (substitute in whatever works for you — for me, it’s spaghetti), we want it to evoke childhood memories of, well, itself.

I dunno how comfort food does it for everyone — maybe it brings some people back to safer, happier times. It’s not quite so dramatic for me. All I know is that comfort food is comforting (tautologies own) in all its stark familiarity, its frank repetitiveness, its bewitching nostalgia. Why ruin a good thing and try to reinvent the wheel?

Well, what does repetition do for anime? Is there such a thing as comfort anime? When we trample upon oft-trodden grounds, does any of it bring us back to better, simpler times?

In enters the obligatory lunchtime scene in which all of the fairer sex get to fight for the approval of the pathetic male. They hurdle over each other to feed him meals they so faithfully and dutifully slaved over. The tsunderekko playfully resists,

but her intentions are all too familiar as she death-stares the main character gulping down a chunky brown anime thing.

In this scene, and all other scenes like it, what do girls like Houki get out of wasting their precious time and their (parent’s) hard-earned money? A single utterance of “Umai~!” from the dickwad who probably came to the meal empty-handed, ready to be gorged and fed like some soulless cow. More importantly, what do we get out of these scenes? Why must they be included?

There are a myriad of fight scenes in Infinite Stratos full of flashy lights, haughty posturing (OMOSHIROI), incomprehensible moves invented out of nowhere, so on and so forth.

Come at me bro~

It’s a simple dance long perfected by DBZ. The “good guys” play a high risk game, putting forth all their effort. Alas! Have we subdued the “bad guys?”

(They’re all classmates so what difference does it make?)

The billowing column of smoke clears.

W-what’s that? She’s ALLIIIIIIVE!

Other fight scenes are followed by static scenes of higher ups spewing forth a verbal broth of blandness in the most monotone voice possible.

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Oh yeah, baby, tell me more~

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I’m so… so… hot and bothered. Reusing the same background and frames for these scenes help to conserve money for the exciting battles, after all!

At the end of the day, comfort food tastes good. It might not be new and exciting, but it’s delicious. As such, it doesn’t have to re-invent the wheel. Does Infinite Stratos evoke anything special in its flagellation of the undying anime tropes? Do we squee with delight every time the main character is being treated to three different bento boxes? Are we dangling precariously off the edge of our chairs when every special move and strategy is painstakingly hammered out in words following the very fight scene we just watched? The show’s iteration of the childhood friend being two childhood friends instead of one (and even ranking them) is like some corporate chain restaurant bragging about breading their mac ‘n cheese with panko bread crumbs and patting themselves on the back for this revolutionary twist.

Other bits and pieces:

We have a bit of a multicultural theme going on: each girl pining for Ichika comes from a different country. It’s like Strike Witches x Hetalia but uglier and dumber somehow.

I think the Japanese girl is Houka? Check out her tsundere demeanor juxtaposed against the soft, floral Nipponese patterns. If you think she’s a grumpy sourpuss, LOOK CLOSER LENNY:

Camera swerves in close and her expression goes from mouth agape to hands-crossed, deredere sensibilities. “If… i-if you had only taken the time to gaze deep into my frivolous soul… you’d see what a vulnerable, delicate flower I really was~”

Brit girl gets this simple yet elegant pattern cause she’s Brit, man. They’re like classy and shit. Teas and crumpets?!

Chinese girl gets dragons ’cause she’s Chinese. Dual dragon racing strips down the side of her car and everything. And I love her theme song. It’s this stereotypically Chinese sounding thing that sounds like someone plucking cats. It stops here, unfortunately. Frenchie gets her own theme song too and is added to the ED along with everyone else but she doesn’t get fancy frames in the OP.

Oh, we can’t forget the main character.

His frames are… chain links. Colorless, soulless, drab chain links.

Your moment of zen:

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10 thoughts on “Infinite Stratos: A Frozen Dinner

  1. thoughtcannon

    I’m still not sure how Ichika managed to get his hands on those panties. It’s like they are magnetically attracted to his hands.

    I think the answer to the question you posed is: mostly no. I think most of the tropes are more than likely just going to force the viewer to facepalm. However there is an overall dynamic about his harem that I like. It seems lately in harems the girls have been either totally oblivious to the other competition (think something like To Love-ru) or seem completely okay with the dude playing the field (think something like To Love-ru…kill me). It seems lately the haremettes have just been too damn nice too each other. I like how the girls in Infinite Stratos hate each other and actively try to get a leg up on the competition. It brings me back to Tenchi Muyo and the Ayeka/Ryoko rivalry. The hate feels good.

    1. E Minor Post author

      I dunno — to me, it’s like they already don’t have a reason to like him, but to display passion and actually fight over him is even more… insulting somehow.

  2. KizukuKanshi

    I would like this show more, but I’ve taken to slapping myself in the forehead every time something happens that is either cheesy or repetitive. In other words, every episode, my headache gets worse. Still, I’ve adopted the policy of only dropping when I see no reason to continue. Usually that’ll mean between arcs and whatnot or if I just can’t justify watching. Why do I want to continue? To see what they do with Laura Bodewig. If Laura stupidly falls in love with Ichika, I’m quitting the show because that’s just plain dumb. Honestly, after that, it’s not like there’s going to be any kind of proper end to a show like this anyway, so I may as well jump ship.

  3. A guy from /m/

    Took me two episodes to classify this as uninspired garbage with mecha elements as the icing on a poo infested cake. Screw engaging thematics and believable conflict, we got fanservice and Otaku projection tools that we call main characters.

    1. E Minor Post author

      I even find the “mecha” elements hard to swallow. They look weird — like Mega Man rejects or Strike Witches on steroids.

      1. A guy from /m/

        Their combat suits or whatever you want to call them, do indeed look awkward and silly. What’s the point of having a mini sized mech-esque power armor if all your vitals are deliberately left open.

        The fact that the characters operating them are cynically put together by a checklist of database-driven tropes and clichés doesn’t help either. One could basically attach entire personalites to them without having seen a single episode, and nonetheless be spot on.

        Japan, stop making this drivel.

  4. adaywithoutme

    The line about the guy being fed like a soulless cow gave me this image of a generic harem sharpening knives and grinning while the guy sits there stupidly. Hmm. Now there’s an idea…

  5. E Minor Post author

    Kinda makes me think of A Boy and His Dog.

    Topeka meets its need for exogamous reproduction by forcibly extracting sperm from men with machines and artificial insemination, yet the city with its limited population needs donors. Anybody who refuses to comply or defies the committee is sent off to “the farm” and is never seen again.

  6. dakki

    I could endure all the cliché (it’s everywhere!) if only they could write a proper story progression… and I’m not even refering to the possibly nonexistent main one . I gave up after one of the girls pratically tried to murder her classmates and didn’t get expelled, not even a lecture.
    What about the reason for all that property damage? Child play?? Who pays for all of this? LOL
    Oh, and the main character denseness is not even funny anymore… so why bother? /o\


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