Infinite Stratos – 10

In a way, I’m glad this was the first series I reviewed after the news of today’s earthquake in Tohaku reached our shores. I’m not sure I would have been in any emotional condition to discuss, say, Madoka Magica – with all its death, despair and smoldering buildings.

Fortunately that’s not even close to an issue with Infinite Stratos. This is not a series that asks a lot from an audience, really – just a sense of humor and enough knowledge of anime tropes to realize just how shameless it is in sending them up. And this ep was certainly no exception.

It looked like another light-hearted shipping ep in the beginning, with the gang ensconced at a hot spring retreat and Cecilia aiming for some alone time with Ichika. We never did find out why he wanted to “see her alone” later in his room, as poor forgotten Cecilia got plot-trumped again – first by Chifuyu-nee and later by the renegade IS o’ the week. With the Orimura siblings sharing a room you knew things would get racy, but it turned out to be nothing more than a massage – for now. Ichika is apparently possessed of magic fingers, but the real pleasure in the scene was the way Chizuru served some humble pie to the 15 year-old pretenders in the Ichika derby.

The renegade IS plot seems pretty standard issue – a “joint US-Israeli” third-generation IS goes crazy and conveniently heads for Japan, where only our heroes can stop it. But this is a good excuse to expand the role of our newest cast member, Tabana Shimonomo – Houki’s older sister. Arriving in a giant carrot wearing bunny ears and voiced by genki-girl legend Yukari Tamura, she bursts onto the scene like a moe-nado, embarrassing her sister and climbing all over Chifuyu-nee. She also happens to be the world’s foremost IS developer, and she’s dropping off Houki’s personal machine, the world’s first 4th-generation model. In addition to finally getting Houki back in the game Ichika-wise, the machine’s super speed is conveniently just the ticket to combine with Ichika’s finishing blow to dust the renegade machine.

Perfect timing, indeed – and watching this was perfect timing for me. I needed a break from serious stuff and a mindless bit for entertainment, and this show fit the bill quite well. In times like these we need diversions more than ever, so that’s certainly nothing to apologize for.

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