Infinite Stratos – 8

It was only a matter of time before Laura joined Inchika’s harem, though I have to give these writers credit for the inventive little twist they took on that front. The rest of the episode was pretty standard issue, but standard issue is what Infinite Stratos does so that’s fine.

Not too surprising that the cliffhanger at the end of 07 – the tournament draw – served up a match between Ichika/Charlotte and Laura/Houki. This episode started badly for Houki and never got any better – she has to fight against the guy she loves, bad enough, but her partner ignores her totally and she’s summarily dispatched by Charlotte before she can become any kind of factor in the match. And that ends up being the best part of her day.

The stellar teamwork of Ichika and Charlotte proves to be too much for Laura. Just when she’s on the ropes and about to go down, however – at the hands of Charlotte, interestingly – we see via flashback the (rather silly) source of her hatred for Ichika, as well as the fact that she’s something of a genetically engineered warrior. Then comes the first Laura twist of the episode – her IS turns into a sort of gray-black Michelin Man and appears to consume her, then proceeds to wreak havoc in the ring. For what seems like the hundredth time in the series the klaxons ring, the blast doors come down and the instructor machines are summoned to restore order. But before they can take over Ichika – pissed that the Laura monster is using his sister’s signature moves – gets a power-up (and a sexy finger-point) from Charlotte and proceeds to defeat her, quite literally one-handed.

At this point Charlotte appears to have moved well into the lead, much to Houki’s chagrin. She’s clearly set her marker on Ichika, she’s developed a close bond with him, and her behavior in the bath – snuggling her breasts against his back – suggests she’s not taking no for an answer. When she declares her true gender to the world the next day the rest of the harem is understandably pissed – but it gets worse when Laura enters the classroom, blocks Rin’s killing jealousy-blow, and promptly French-kisses Ichika and declares that he is to be her wife. That last bit was a nice touch.

Ichika’s proving to be quite the stud indeed. both on the battlefield and off. He’s quite talented and forceful, for starters, but also refreshingly willing to stand up to the girls in his life. As entertaining as Laura’s entry into the fray was, I don’t really consider her a serious factor – she’s more in Cecelia’s class, a distraction. Houki has a fighter’s chance as the main tsundere and osananajimi #1, but Charlotte seems to have all the momentum. Her relationship has a level of comfort and familiarity with Ichika that belies the short length of time they’ve known each other. And one suspects that if Ichika were going to fall for Houki or even Rin, he would have done so before now…

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