I hate to harp on it, but the last time I blogged an episode of this series was before the earthquake. It hardly seems possible, but it’s true – it’s been almost two weeks since that fateful day that changed everything for Japan and those of us that love it. I blogged this and went to bed that night, already excited about the flight I’d be taking to Tokyo in 5 days. When I woke the next day, the world had changed – and in ways we could only suspect at that moment.
As for Infinite Stratos itself, this has been of those old reliable shows that doesn’t ask too much of the audience and doesn’t deliver anything unexpected. And no surprises this week either. The ep can pretty much be summed up this way: the first half was combat, and the second half was Houki sulking. Unfortunately neither of those elements is a strength of the series, so as a result we end up with one of the lesser episodes so far.
The battle was pretty well set up by the end of episode 10 – Ichika and Houki against the mysterious enemy (they’re all mysterious in this show) Orimura-sensei starts calling “The Gospel”. The fight looks to be pretty much a draw until Ichika notices an illegal fishing boat down on the sea below them, and holds back on a crucial attacking opportunity out of concern for the vessel. Houki berates Ichika (why should he care about protecting criminals?), Ichika lectures Houki (you’ve become strong and forgotten about the weak) until finally Ichika stops a bullet for her, as her IS is out of shield power. Cut to the eyecatch, and then he’s in bed, unconscious, and she’s brooding over him and feeling sorry for failing him in battle and in his esteem. Finally Rin comes and slaps some sense into her (literally) and then she and the others invite Houki to join their war party, off to attack The Gospel in defiance of teacher’s orders.
Pretty much all textbook stuff, though that’s not a major problem for me with this series generally. I just enjoy it more when it’s being silly than when it’s being serious – a show this formulaic and predictable doesn’t do too well in serious mode. The relationship-based eps show a self-referential, mischievous tone that reveals a series that takes itself lightly, and I think that’s something it really needs to click on however many cylinders it has. Next week is the finale, so hopefully we’ll get back to at least a little of that once this combat sequence is wrapped up. I don’t expect a conclusion on the relationship front, of course, but I’d at least like to see a little closure – especially between Ichika and his sister, Houki, and Charlotte.