Friday, October 4, 2013

IS: Infinite Stratos 2

Adapted from the light novel series by Izuru Yumizuru, the anime returns with more harem silliness and mecha action. While the first season of "IS: Infinite Stratos" is not without fault because it succumbs to the usual pitfalls and issues most franchises in the harem genre suffer from, it was nonetheless a very enjoyable series full of cute girls.

"IS: Infinite Stratos 2" is a fun series to watch when you keep in mind that next to a sci-fi action show about girls doing battle in flying mecha suits, it is at its core a predictable harem series. Its strong suit however is a main cast of lovely girls that are the staple of their character type.

Considering the overall animation level presented in the first season by studio 8bit, must admit I was underwhelmed by the animation quality seen so far in this sequel. Usually a studio will go all out for the opening episode, but here the quality just wasn't what I had expected nor what they previously achieved.

Although most of this episode was dedicated to Charlotte and Laura, with only a little screen time for Cecilia, Lin, Houki or even Ichika, the scenes those characters did feature in were quite well done as they perfectly showcased each girl's main trait and overall character type.

Of course, this episode also sets up the new plot by showing us Ichika is plagued by feverish nightmares, it gives us a glimpse of an intriguing attacker out to capture a mysterious IS, as well as advertising the upcoming debut of new character Tatenashi.

The subplot of Ichikia and the girls going to a waterpark and evening summer festival felt very out of place since it was condensed to a few brief cut-scenes with dialogue that did not sync with what happened on screen. Suspect this could be because those events will be shown in detail in the "IS: Infinite Stratos 2 - Hitonatsu no Omoide" extra long OVA episode that will be released later this month.

While I can fathom the studio wants to keep fans in suspense to see what transpires in the upcoming OVA, personally feel they should have either kept it out of the opening episode altogether or spent more scene time on it to make it flow better. Especially considering some earlier scenes of Charlotte and Laura's day out, including the action scenes in the restaurant, felt needlessly stretched out.

As a yuri aficionado and a fan of Charlotte, very much enjoyed the focus on her as well as her interaction with Laura, but do regret that some scenes, especially those during their shopping trip and sudden sidestep working as a maid & butler, felt rather ill paced with awkward pauses and were poorly executed in some frames.

Luckily, all of the voice cast seem to reprise their roles. Hikasa Youko voices Houki, she previously voiced Nobara in "Inu x Boku SS", Mio in "K-ON!", Shino in "Seitokai Yakuindomo", Emi in "Hataraku Maou-sama!" and Rias in "High School DxD".

Hanazawa Kana voices Charlotte, she has voiced Matou in "Black Rock Shooter", Aoi in "Asobi ni Iku yo!", Kobato in "Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai", Ruri in "Ore no Imouto ga Konna ni Kawaii Wake ga Nai" and Nadeko in "Monogatari Series Second Season".

Laura is voiced by Inoue Marina, who also voiced Kana in "Minami-ke", Yozora in "Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai", Natsuno in "Inu to Hasami wa Tsukaiyou" and Matsurika in "Maria Holic".

Yukana voices ojousama Cecilia, she's tackled roles like CC in "Code Geass", Ai in "Amagami SS", Tessa in "Full Metal Panic", Ohno in "Genshiken Nidaime" and Shoko in this season's "Unbreakable Machine-Doll".

Lin is again voiced by Shimoda Asami who previously voiced Kotomi in "Seitokai Yakuindomo", Ami & Mami in "The iDOLM@STER" and Ginbei in "Onii-chan Dakedo Ai Sae Areba Kankei Nai yo ne".

Am looking forward to new character Tatenashi since the preview suggests she might be quite the tease and she's voiced by Saito Chiwa who also voiced Lucchini in "Strike Witches", Aika in "Aria", Homura in "Puella Magi Madoka Magica" and Senjougahara in "Bakemonogatari".

Those of you interested in this series, do recommend you watch the first season to have the full background which will make it easier to follow this sequel. To people looking for a fun harem series with cute girls or a mecha show with action, this series might appeal to you as long as you keep your expectations in check with what the show wants to offer.

Personally, I'd like to see more Charlotte x Laura please~
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