I promise it’s a coincidence that I ended up watching Mashifoni and the Infinite Stratos OAV on the same day – just the luck of the draw. But it certainly was revealing.
If you read my posts on IS when the TV aired, you know pretty much how I felt about this series. It was generally pleasant, and benefited from not taking itself too seriously. However, it makes a remarkable contrast with Mashiro-iro Symphony. IS doesn’t only include very romcom cliché in the books, it revels in them. It glorifies and deifies and celebrates every trope and carries it through to a ridiculous level. If Mashifoni is a show that never takes the expected approach, Infinite Stratos always does. The clueless male lead is beyond dense. The harem is so extreme that he’s literally the only guy in a school full of girls. There’s not just one tsundere, but three (and that’s being charitable). And you’ve also got two osananajimis, no waiting.
Of course, hand in glove with that is that the series is almost always predictable. The first girl always wins, and if she happens to be a tsundere, so much the better – and Houki was never in any real danger. I may have found Charlotte by far the most likable and attractive one of the bunch (certainly the most “Miu-like”) but she was too late to the game, and not a tsundere to boot. She had her moment in the sun, but she’s out. Yet even so the romcom aspects of the series were always much better than the mecha elements, which were handled in a rather sloppy fashion and rarely held my interest for long. As regurgitated as the romantic comedy was, it had the merit of being refreshingly free of pretense and seemingly came close to self-parody at times (though not quite).
So it was nice that the OAV made no overtures towards being an action show, and stuck with the tropes it knows so well. The first half was devoted to a “home visit” by everyone in the main harem during summer break, with Ichika again showing an astonishing lack of comprehension about the feelings of the girls. It’s always good fun to mock British cooking, and Cecilia gets her turn to be mocked. There are indirect kisses and oden-on-a-stick, and general silliness that goes for substance only when Chifuyu briefly shows up and realizes she’s made enemies of all the girls by her declaration of ownerhsip over her brother. The second part zeroes in on Houki, getting ready to do her ceremonial dance at the summer festival. Here we have the “interrupted confession” played to death, although after the series finale I would have thought even Ichika got the point. I’m still a Charlotte guy but I’ll admit Houki looked good in her miko outfit – I have a thing for Mikos…
In summation, this was very consistent with what the TV series was – silly, feather-light, eminently predictable and generally fun. Except with no censor bar over the boobs.