IS: Infinite Stratos 2 – 09
「ヒーローの条件」 (Hiirou no Jouken)
“What It Takes To Be A Hero”
Fer chrissakes, can we at least see a little of the tournament before some mysterious enemy barges in and screws things up? Gah!
And the Tournament Start–Oh Come On!
Seriously, what the hell! I mentioned on my post two episodes ago how much I enjoy tournament arcs, but they didn’t let us sink our teeth into one because nooo, they had to interrupt it with a drone attack. Yeah yeah pushing the plot forward, but I don’t care I wanted to see Kanzashi & Ichika vs Tatenashi & Houki, not to mention Laura & Char vs Ling & Cecilia! Those could have been amazing battles, and I would have wildly preferred some anime original material here rather than what we got in some other episodes. I guess 8-bit assumes everyone is here for the harem hijinks, but IS works because of balanced harem (trope!) + good mecha action + a sprinkling of service. Stop neglecting an important part of the formula!
Shouldn’t ALL IS be Anti-IS?
Though it wasn’t the action I wanted to see, the action we got this episode wasn’t bad, visually. If you dig into the tactics and logic though, it starts to fall apart.
First of all, shouldn’t all IS be Anti-IS? This is a world where there is no more powerful weapon than the IS, so even if not all IS need be designed to fight other IS, a damn large percentage ought to be! And maybe they are – I don’t think Ichika’s or Ling’s swords would be very useful against a barrage of missiles, though the famous White Knight may disagree – so perhaps I’m nitpicking, but them being surprised when someone made and deployed IS that can tear away their opponent’s vaunted magical protection field seemed silly. If it were me that would be the first thing I’d try to develop so I could get at their squishy pilot centers and squash their internal organs like they’re made of jell-o. Though maybe that’s just me. (It’s not).
Defend & Delay – Don’t Almost Kill Yourself!
Next, why were Tatenashi and Houki going so hard against the drone? If they were fighting intelligently they should have been focusing on two things: protecting the other students and trying not to die. And since the drones were after them, goal one should have been easy. Defend and delay until reinforcements arrive! Maybe those teachers Chifuyu-nee ordered into battle who never came. There was no reason for Tatenashi to nearly kill herself when defeating the enemy shouldn’t have been their main priority, and when they hadn’t even exhausted all their other options yet. I mean, Ling x Cecilia and Char x Laura managed to finish off a few, so apparently a near-suicide attack wasn’t necessary. Though I guess that was because the plot no longer required that the enemies be dangerous. Enemies that weaken when the drama is past? Feh.
Tatenashi was mad badass, though. Russia-tan is GARest-tan.
Aren’t These Kids Supposed To Be Soldiers? (Of Sorts)
Aren’t these kids supposed to be soldiers of a sort? Because if so, Kanzashi needs to go back to basic training. I have no personal experience in the area, but my understanding is that soldiers are trained to have the physical and psychological skills required to not fold like a pile of wet rags the first time an enemy appears, and if IS are the strongest war machines in the world, these kids need a little of the same. I guess I never noticed this before because every other main character was willing and psychologically able to fight. And yes, I know grueling basic training isn’t conducive to high school harem hijinks, but if they’re gunna fight they need to be trained to fight.
Heroes Are A Lie
Certain other shows have more to say on this subject, so I’ll keep this one brief – heroes are a lie. And they should be! Kanzashi wanting a hero not only points out that she’s psychologically unprepared to fight in real combat, but it also reveals her mindset as dangerously naive. No heroes are flawless, not even the fictional ones, or at least not unless they’re kind of shit characters because flaws are what make fictional characters interesting. This isn’t a bad theme though, save that I feel Kanzashi is too old to still believe in heroes. Especially since she has the closest thing to a hero likely in her own big sister. Open your eyes, imouto!
There Are Other Characters Beside Ichika!
Have you all ever heard of the Bechdel test? I don’t go into a harem anime like IS expecting it to conform to that rule almost at all, but it was getting pretty silly this episode. Tatenashi and Kanzashi were estranged, and them finally talking to one another again should have been a touching moment between sisters…and then Ichika butts in. Not only does he appear in their dream sequence, every time they should have been thinking about one another, their thoughts immediately floated back to Ichika!
Despite it all I still found Tatenashi and Kanzashi’s reconciliation to be touching, but Ichika’s intrusion was extremely unnecessary. Characters are better when they have more interests other than the one thing, and female characters are better when they’re not solely focused on a man. Yes I know this is a harem anime, and I expect them to be focused on the boy 95% of the time, but when it’s wildly inappropriate don’t shove him into the scene. It’s not like we’re watching this show for Ichika anyway.
Looking Ahead – Back To The Silly
I feel like all I did this post was point out flaws and complain, mostly because it’s true. I apologize, because it wasn’t honestly a bad episode. It annoyed me in the way SAO annoyed me, which is that it could have easily been so much more. The Sarashiki sisters reconciling was very nice though.
Regardless, it looks like next time it’s a Cecilia episode. Which could be good or could be bad. There’s not much time until the end of the season, and since they introduced the whole Madoka et all thing I’ll be annoyed if there isn’t some resolution to it, but if we get more hijinks like back in episode five… Meido Chifuyu-nee OH MY!
tl;dr: @StiltsOutLoud – Where’d my tournament go!? The sisters are speaking again, but this could have been so much more. Like a tournament GAH! #is_anime 09
- Drones, drones errwhere! It’s like this is the middle ea–fiction. Total fiction.
- One thing I wished they went into more was Kanzashi realizing that she should try to work things out with her family because you never know when they’ll disappear. That’s a poignant theme which we all could do with some reminding once in a while.
- I like berserk Kanzashi-chan. Can we have this Kanzashi more often please?
- Ichika is useless. Kanzashi nearly kills one of the drones solo, while Ichika gets knocked out and used as a projectile weapon. What a lamer.
- Houki gained enough battle experience points to unlock a new ability mid-battle? I’ve never understood why IS arbitrarily function like RPG characters, and I wish they would stop. It’s just silly.
- It looks like Tatenashi is finally truly falling for Ichika, rather than just flirting with him. There goes my Tatenashi x Houki ship. Frack.
- For once it wasn’t Ichika’s fault for not understanding something. Kanzashi loves anime? Welcome to the club, comrade!
Check out my blog about storytelling and the fantasy novel I’m writing at stiltsoutloud.com. The last four posts: What I’m thankful for, On writing fast, writing well, One short story, one week – buzzer beater, and Writing challenge – one short story, one week.
ED: 「BEAUTIFUL SKY」