DVD Review: Infinite Stratos – Season 2
10/12/2015 Leave a comment
The girls (and boy) of IS Academy return and are once again under threat; but how does it compare against the first season and is this long-awaited DVD release by MVM Entertainment any good? Find out in our DVD Review of Infinite Stratos – Season 2; otherwise known as Infinite Stratos II.
There are probably worse things that could have happened to Ichika Orimura than being the only guy in a training academy filled with military hardware and several battalions of highly competitive and extremely boy-crazed teenage girls. Being caught in a five-girl crossfire between his obsessive childhood friends Lingyin and Houki and the even more zealous British, German and French pilots Cecillia, Laura and Charlotte, at least turned out to be survivable. But surely Ichika’s finally put all his female troubles behind him, right? Oh, don’t be ridiculous.
None of the femmes fatales in his life have canceled their conquest scenarios. There’s double trouble arriving in the form of the Sarashiki sisters, the rest of the school is still waiting in line to take their shot. and when a whole new set of female pilots working for the bad guys shows up with a new generation of stolen IS hardware, things are about to get utterly lethal!
Infinite Stratos II, otherwise known as Infinite Stratos – Season 2, continues to follow the exploits of Ichika Orimura and his harem with the multitude of girls of IS Academy… and it doesn’t get any better. The original Infinite Stratos was a well-balanced show with a mixture of CGI swordfights in mecha-styled suits and a constantly growing group of girls dying for Ichika’s affection. In this second season however all logic is thrown out the window and the mixture of two become unbalanced; which results in a rather unpredictable viewing experience.
It all starts at the beginning; the first episode, which is available as Broadcast or Extended Versions, sees the entire female cast of the show trying to win-over Ichika’s affections; meanwhile throughout this episode we see an unknown woman breaking into a facility of some kind and stealing a test-type IS mecha suit. It’s a combination of what made the first season great, a slice of ecchi harem with fast-paced-action, and yet here it doesn’t work very well as it makes you feel disconnected from both of the events. The biggest disappointment however is that, as a viewer, you expect this unknown assailant to make a move on our cast of characters but instead the second episode dives into another ‘harem-filled’event that just doesn’t seem needed. It’s a common theme in Infinite Stratos II, whereby you are teased the appearance of an upcoming threat only for it to not appear for several episodes, and yet when it does arrive it offers a great story to tell.
So what’s the story this time? Well following on from the attacks of the mysterious IS in the first season our cast of characters, namely Ichika, Lingyin, Houki, Cecillia, Laura and Charlotte, attempt to lead a regular school life at the IS Academy but during a routine training session the Student Council President, otherwise known as Tatenashi Sarashiki, arrives on the scene to announce she will be Ichika’s personal trainer. It’s an interesting scenario; but its one that leads to even more headaches for the lovable ichika. For starters Tatenashi puts Ichika through rigorous training and then starts a ‘man-hunt’ with the other girls in order to build morale; elsewhere members of the unknown organisation plan their attack on Ichika in order to capture his IS – the Byakushiki.
Interestingly enough however there is a ‘third-wheel’ to add to this mixture of Harem and Warfare; as Tatenashi requests that Ichika helps her younger sister – known as Kanzashi – by taking part in the tag-team IS Duel in order to build her confidence and in the process sets her on a strong of whirlwind emotions that change her personality and feelings to other people; and once again add’s another character to mix of Ichika’s on-growing harem.
This is the pretense for Infinite Stratos II; a new organisation known as Phantom Task – which made up of powerful IS users – attack the IS Academy in hopes of stealing the Byakushiki and causing misery to the members of the school. Elsewhere however the female group attempt to show their affection for Ichika by any means necessary. From this persective it looks like a great story – which it eventually does turn out to be – but the constant harem and ecchi theme does overshadow it; for instance the episode after the attack of Phantom Task sees Charlotte’s underwear mysteriously disappear as a result of an accident caused during a mission. To some it will be a relatively amusing story; but to me it felt like it halted the events of the main story at hand – the introduction of Phantom Task and the events that followed after it.
This DVD release of Infinite Stratos II is separated onto three DVD Discs and as a result the bonus materials are all spread across the discs as well. For instance the first DVD disc has access to trailers for other anime releases and textless songs while the remaining two discs have other textless songs; such as their alternate forms.
It’s also worth mentioning that the original Broadcast version of Episode 1 is also included on the first disc as bonus content; the episode is a few minutes shorter than the directors cut and features the same type of content – its just shorter than that of the Directors Cut. For instance a scene involving Ichika and Houki in the dojo is a lot longer in the Directors Cut than it is in the original broadcast.
Media: DVD 9 x3
Running Time: 1:17:09 (Disc 1), 1:42:52 (Disc 2), 2:08:35 (Disc 3)
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
Infinite Stratos II attempts to continue the success it had within the first series; however somewhere along the line the balance of Mecha Action, Tactical Threat and Harem-filled-goodness has been lost and as a result the show opts to go down a more ‘harem’ filled route than a mixture of everything. The story once again focuses on Ichika but as opposed to multiple girls grabbing Ichika’s affection and a single IS Unit trying to destroy them it’s about a larger group known as The Phantom Task trying to take control of his IS. Of course overshadowing this new threat is the girls constant attempts at getting Ichika’s approval; be it food, specialised events or training regiments.
This is where i believe Infinite Stratos II falls down compared to the previous series. A new threat emerges and leads to interesting prospects; but instead we see how the girls trying and get Ichika’s affection. If they did tried different tactics – or something more suitable to the situation at hand – then it may have had a more enjoyable factor to it; but in my eyes it just seemed to get in the way of the Phantom Task storyline being told – which is a real shame.
Another shame would have to be the English Dub Cast for Infinite Stratos II as while the original voice actors of the first series return the varied amount of ‘accents’ on offer just makes it difficult to understand whats going off.Of course this was apparent in the first series; but with new characters come new accents and, in the end, i reverted to Japanese dialogue with subtitles just to make it easier on the ears (and easier to understand). You have to commend Sentai Filmworks for performing the accents, as it could add to the realism, but during my viewing of the show it just seemed to disconnect you from the experience. DVD wise then there’s MVM Entertainment have done right by its release; sure its had plenty of delays but the picture and audio quality are of both to high standards and because the episodic content is spread over three discs – as opposed to two – it doesn’t suffer from the pixilation and distortion you may experience from other sentai produced shows.
Overall Infinite Stratos II is another solid DVD release by MVM Entertainment as it offers everything it should; a clear and presentable release with a selection of bonus materials. Its just a shame that the episodic content isn’t as entertaining as we had hoped; however on the flip-side theres plenty of harem to look forward to and some intense mecha styled fights (if only briefly) that will peak your interest. Infinite Stratos II is definitely worth seeing if you have seen the first season; but be prepared for more harem than sense.
Infinite Stratos – Season 2 will be available on DVD from the 14th December 2015 within the UK.