DVD Review: Infinite Stratos – Season 1

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What do you get when you combine mecha-suits, girls and rivalry? a whole lot of trouble and Infinite Stratos but with that aside what exactly did we think of the series and MVM Entertainment’s DVD Release? Find out in our DVD Review of Infinite Stratos – Season 1.

Synopsis:

Ten years ago, the development of the revolutionary Infinite Stratos powered exoskeleton changed the world’s balance of power overnight. Unfortunately, while the distribution of IS systems to every nation on Earth has ushered in a new era of peace, the fact that only women have thus far been able to pilot the Stratos systems has sent the relationship between the XX and XY-chromosomed halves of the human race into a spiraling tailspin!

When fifteen-year-old Ichika Orimura is suddenly discovered to be the first male with the ability to control an IS, whatever plans he might have had for his own future are tossed out the window even as he’s thrown to the wolves and enrolled at the otherwise entirely female Infinite Stratos Academy by order of the Japanese government!

Our View:

Infinite Stratos is one of those anime series that you have to experience for yourself before you understand the bigger picture, mainly because it covers a variety of different genres, such as Love, Friendship and Sci-Fi, but at its core it’s basically a harem with a half-decent plot.  That’s not necessarily a bad thing as compared to other harems of recent times (Is This a Zombie, Samurai Girls) the overall presentation and pace of the series is more entertaining, not to mention  Sentai Filmworks actually provide a decent English Dub for once.

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It’s been ten years since the Infinite Stratos, an exoskeleton styled mecha suit, was first created and ushered in world peace, since then every country has been attempting to create their own suit, with the UK, Germany, Fance, Japan & China taking centre stage in its development. It’s a backstory that’s not really brought up within the series, but it explains why each country is attempting to build their own suits, as the country that has the superior machine technically controls the world.

Fast forward into the present day and the real story gets under way, as we see fifteen-year-old Ichika Orimura enrolled into the IS Academy, an Academy designed to teach students everything there is to know about the IS Suit and give them combat training. Amusingly Ichika is the only male student enrolled at the school and it’s soon explained why, only females can pilot IS Suits. Ichika is the first male in the world to pilot an IS Suit and because of this “unwanted” fame the whole school starts to adore him and this is where the harem goodness starts.

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You’d think with a school full of girls that some of them would be infatuated with Ichika and become the main female cas, instead only one of them has any real interest (Houki Shinonono) and she keeps her desires hidden, that is until “her female rivals” are introduced. These new female characters are introduced through various “transfer students” and we eventually see a simple pattern occuring whereby each transfer student has a ‘attachment’ to Ichika. Each of these attachments are different, some are childhood friends looking to rekindle a relationship while others are students from another country sent in to spy on Ichika’s ability to operate an IS.

The pattern is that each new character at random in nearly every episode, but what makes it fun Is that at first these characters have no real interest in Ichika, some of them infact want to kill him. It’s only when Ichika does something “appealing” that they fall in love with him and that’s when things start to heat up.  As you’d expect from a Harem series the rest is filled with the girls fighting for Ichika’s attention, however since everyone can pilot their own IS Suits then they to fight it out in Pratice matches which creates some explosive battle scenes.

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It’s not all about the battles and Harem filled comedy though, as there is a story to be told – namely the mysterious unmanned IS’s attacking the school and the various organisations attempting to obtain data on Ichika, however all most of these are overlooked for the more playful storyline of the girls admitting their love to Ichika. Luckily there is balance, some episodes are more “fighting” focused (such as the Class Tournament) while others are more “Ecchi” focused and as you’d expect the traditional beach/bikini episode is included and promises to provide plenty of laughs for harem fans.

 Extras:

Infinite Stratos has the best variety of extra content you could imagine from a UK DVD Release, with Cast Commentaries, Interviews, Special Broadcast Events and Text less songs filling out across both Discs.

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The Second Disc is where all of the worthwhile content is included, however the first disc does have some useful features of its own, that is if you are prepared to read the subtitles. All of the Cast Commentaries are from the original Japanese version, and as such they are subtitled, but they are definitely worth a listen as it provides insight into how the show was produced.

Disc 1:

  • Episode 4 Japanese Cast Commentary with Yoko Hisaka (Voice of Houki) and Asami Shimoda (Rinin)
  • Episode 7 Japanese Cast Commentary with Yoko Hisaka (Voice of Houki) and Kana Hanazawa (Charles)

Disc 2:

  • Episode 12 Japanese Cast Commentary with Yoko Hisaka (Voice of Houki) and Yukana (Voice of Cecilia)
  • Infinite Stratos Behind The Scenes: An Interview with the Director (Yasuhito Kikuchi)
  • Radio IS
  • Textless Openings
  • Textless Closing

The second disc is where all of the worthwhile bonus content is included, namely the Behind The Scenes Segment and Radio IS Broadcast. The Interview is basically a Q&A with the director, as he shares his opinions on the show and what he did during its production, the Radio IS segment on the other hand is a 41 minute broadcast that sees the voice actors Yoko Hisaka (voice of Houki) and Asami Shinmoda (voice of Rin Fan) get up to all sorts of mischief.

The Radio IS Segment is slightly complicated to explain as both Yoko and Asami not only provide information on what it was like working on the series but they also play all sorts of game, including a version of Pop-Up Pirate with a cut-out of Ichika receiving the attention, and answer fans questions about the show. Its an interesting watch, especially to those who like the series, and is another insight into the ‘real-life-working-side’ of anime.

It’s also worth noting that none of these extra features are in English, all of them are only available in Japanese with English Subtitles and more importantly each one was a part of the original Japanese DVD/BD Release, so it’s nice to see them being included on this UK DVD Release.

Specs:

Media:  DVD 9 x2
Region: 2
Running Time:  2:42:31 (Disc 1), 2:21:22 (Disc 2)
Video: MPEG-2
Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0 224kbps (English & Japanese)
Subtitles: English (Yellow)
Resolution: 720 x 576 (576i)
Aspect Ratio: 16:9 Widescreen
Frame Rate: 25 fps

Overall:

Infinite Stratos combines Mecha-Styled Combat with Comedy filled Ecchi/Harem and while most series of this nature tend to become boring after the initial introductory episodes this one provides the right amount of entertainment at the right time. While Harem lurks around every corner it is not always noticeable, sure enough the girls are fighting over Ichika but since they are doing it in Mecha Styled suits with Guns, Swords and Explosions it provides entertainment rather than an eyesore. Of course the traditional scenes of Bikini’s, Panties and Nakedness do appear but they do not that often, however when they do they are ones to remember with nothing left censored.

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While I do have high praise for the series the English Dub does have some minor issues, but these are down to personal taste. The Characters from Germany, France and the UK speak in an accent and as you’d expect American people can not put on an accent and so they sound pretty bad. I assume this was done to preserve their characters integrity/authenticity, but it can sometimes be difficult to work out what exactly they are trying to say. It’s not a big issue and like I said its down to personal taste and can take a bit of getting used to.

The rest of the DVD on the other hand is better than I expected it to be, the menus are easily labelled and easy to navigate, the picture quality is detailed, with no distortion or pixilation on screen, and the audio tracks are presented clearly through the speakers. Some viewers may have issues with the subtitles (as they are yellow) but with mostly white backgrounds and outfits the yellow text is easy to read. Even the additional content, which there is a lot of, is a welcome addition as there is some unique content to go through and its the type of content you would not expect to see on a UK DVD release.

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What I find most entertaining from Infinite Stratos is that for once the complete packaging is enjoyable, the series is fun, the animation is detailed, has a strong list of extra content and more importantly the English Dub is very good. Who does Infinite Stratos appeal to though? Well that’s a difficult question, fans of the Harem genre will no doubtedly like the series, however fans of Gundam anime series (especially Gundam Seed) will also like it due to its high octane fight scenes and developing relationship stories, so the series really does appeal to everyone.

Score: review-stars-5

Infinite Stratos – Season 1 will be available on DVD from the 17th February 2014.

About Scott Emsen
Scott is the Founder and Executive Editor of AnimeBlurayUK but in the past he has worked at ZOMGPlay, Rice Digital and Funstock and was once a Community Moderator for the Nokia N-Gage forums. Based in the UK, he loves anything related to Games & Anime and in In his spare time you'll mostly find him playing on one of his many gaming consoles; namely the PS Vita, PS4 or Xbox One.

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