Infinite Stratos 2

Infinite Stratos definitely has its flaws: all-too-nebulous protagonist who needs more personality; the childhood friend who can’t make up her mind; the annoyingly brash foreign rival, and the constant reminder that Ichika is the only male in the school, essentially making it a superharem. It already seems like way too many girls will be smitten with him throughout the course of this series, much like Leyfon in Chrome Shelled Regios.

Ichika brought a knife to a gun fight, but he soon finds a weakness in Cecila’s sniper IS with support bits (a la Gundam) and his IS soon formats to his specifications. The fact that Cecilia had a technical victory rather than pounding him into submission didn’t deal the blow to Ichika’s public image as I had hoped. Infinite Stratos may not excel at characters or realistic social situations (Houka’s sister just happens to have invented the core of the IS? That’s a handy Coincidence!), but there is at least one thing it does do well: aerial macha battles.

It is here where he finally shows that he can do something. Though his little speech about ending his need to be protected was kind of silly and obvious, the battle itself was kinetic and fun. The backgrounds and music were also noticably decent. IS isn’t deep, but so far its pros are standing up to its cons. This second episode was also better in almost every way than the first, which is encouraging. Rating: 3

Fractale – First Impressions

I immediately took to this series’ first episode. Sure, it seems to shamelessly ape three or more Studio Ghibli films in its first five minutes, but I don’t have a problem with that as long as it tells its own story. The variables are there, though: an era somewhere between the past and the future; an earnest kid (Clain) who saves a eccentric princess-type girl Phyrne), an amulet of some unknown power, and a trio of hapless “villains” who don’t come off as evil so much as crafty and enterprising.

The look is very Ghibli, too: great vistas of what looks like Ireland; very clean and simple yet emotive character designs; and airships. Underlying this world is a strange network called Fractale that basically allows people to create whimsical “doppels” of themselves, including Clain’s parents and dog.

There’s also a very nice tender romance brewing between Clain and Phyrne. She books it in the first episode, but I’m sure she’ll be back, while a third character, Nessa, just pops up at the end, so we’ll see where this goes. Whether it has anything truly original to offer is definitely up for debate, but there’s no doubting this show looks and sounds great, and has immediately captured my interest. Rating: 3.5

Yumekui Merry 2

This week sets up what’s going to go down for this series: Yumekui wakes up in “reality”, at Yumeji and Isana’s house. She experiences their kindness and some of what life in the real world is like (like donuts). It’s nice, but she knows she needs to go back to the dream world.

She’s convinced that the only one she can depend on for this is herself, she doesn’t want help. But Yumeji, doing a fair impression of Kamijou Touma (albeit with a less extreme power), resolves to help her all the same, even though he doesn’t even know what to do. Seems a little hasty of him, but he does have that dream-predicting power. There’s definitely a use for him; he just has to convince Merry.

We’re also introduced to Chizuru Kawakami, the mysterious, aloof transfer student, as well as Yumi, a girl who has allowed a dream demon, Serio, to “possess” her, only to see Serio callously destroyed by the hands of another demon. I got the impression this was Chizuru’s demon, but we’ll have to see. So far, Yumekui is off to a good start. Rating: 3