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Infinite Stratos: Complete Collection (a J!-ENT Anime DVD Review)

March 30, 2012 by  



Fantastic!  “Infinite Stratos: Complete Collection” is an anime series that combines sci-fi, mecha action with harem comedy, cool characters and a beautiful visual presentation plus a DVD release with plenty of special features plus a musical soundtrack.  A wonderful release from Sentai Filmworks and is highly recommended!

Image courtesy of © Yoshitaka/Houbunsha/”Dream Eater Merry” Production Committee. All Rights Reserved.

DVD TITLE: Infinite Stratos: Complete Collection

DURATION: Episode 1-12 + OVA (325 Minutes)

DVD INFORMATION: 16:9 Anamorphic Widescreen, English and Japanese 2.0, English subtitles

COMPANY: Sentai Filmworks

RATED: TV 14 V

Release Date: March 27, 2012

Originally created by Izuru Yumizuru

Directed by Yasuhito Kikuchi

Series Composition by Fumihiko Shimo

Music by Hikaru Nanase

Original Character Design by okiura

Character Design by Tomoyasu Kurashima

Art Director: Shunichiro Yoshihara

Chief Animation Director: Tomoyasu Kurashima

Mechanical Design by Takeshi Takakura

Animation Production by 8-Bit

Featuring the following voice talent:

Kouki Uchiyama/Josh Grelle as Ichika Orimura

Yōko Hikasa/Monica Rial as Houki Shinonono

Asami Shimoda/Hilary Haag as Lin Yin Fang

Kana Hanazawa/Shannon Emerick as Charles Dunois

Makoto Yasumura/Chris Ayres as Dan Gotanda

Marina Inoue/Tiffany Grant as Laura Bodewig

Megumi Toyoguchi/Luci Christian as Chifuyu Orimura

Noriko Obata/Luci Christian as Ran Gotanda

Noriko Shitaya/Cynthia Martinez as Maya Yamada

Yukana/Brittney Karbowski as Cecila Alcott

Yukari Tamura/Allison Keith as Tabane Shinonono

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!

In 2009, Izuru Yumizuru created the Japanese light novel series “IS <Infinite Stratos>” with illustrator Okiura.

The popularity of the light novel series would lead to a manga adaptation by Kenji Akahoshi and was serialized in the seinen magazine “Monthly Comic Alive” in May 2010.  An anime adaptation would air in January through March 2011 and an OVA which was released in December 2011.

The anime series is directed by Yasuhito Kikuchi (“Macross Frontier”, “Shadow”, “Noein”, “Aquarion”), series composition by Fumihiko Shimo (“Air, “Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya Movie”, “Full Metal Panic!” series, “Clannad”), music by Hikaru Nanase (“Ichigo 100%”, “Gravion”, “Canaan”), character designs by Tomoyasu Kurashima (“Kakyusei 2”, “Magical Kanan”) and art direction by Shunichiro Yoshihara (“Ah! My Goddess: The Movie”, “Saint Seiya: The Lost Canvas”, “Slayers Gorgeous”, “Star Ocean EX”).

And now the 12-episode anime series + the OVA and soundtrack will be released by the Criterion Collection in the United States on April 2012.

“Infinite Stratos” is set in the future during a time where Japanese engineers have created a powered exoskeleton known as “Infinite Stratos” or “IS”.  This technology is the most advanced combat weapon system in the planet and can easily destabilize the world.

The nations of the world have enacted the “Alaska Treaty” which states that IS can never be used for military combat and that IS technology must be equally distributed to all nations to prevent one nation from domination.

But the creation of IS has changed society, mainly because only women can operate IS and thus, women now dominate society over men.

But things have changed ten years since the creation of IS as one male, a 15-year-old from Japan named Ichika Orimura has the capability to operate an IS.  How is this possible?  No one knows but seeing the potential of this new development, the Japanese government has Ichika attending the prestigious Infinite Stratos Academy, where IS pilots from all over the world train.

And because he is the only male IS pilot, how will the female students treat him when he enters Infinite Stratos Academy?  And because he is considered a male and thus seen as weak, what will happen when he proves that he can be just as good as the female pilots and perhaps even better?

The “Infinite Stratos: Complete Collection” also includes an OVA which revolves around Charles coming to visit Ichika Orimura at his home (after he didn’t come back to their room).  Will Charle getting the opportunity to spend some alone time with Ichika?  Of course, in Ichika’s life…the other ladies also decide to stop by and check on Ichika.

The main characters of “Infinity Stratos” are:

  • Ichika Orimura – The main protagonist of the series.  The only male who can pilot an IS and has entered as a first year student at the IS Academy.  His older sister is Chifuyu, the legendary IS pilot who has raised him.   He is completely oblivious that many of the female pilots are in love with him.
  • Houki Shinonono – A first year student at the IS Academy and Ichika’s childhood friend who has liked him for a very long time.  She can get quite angry at him and beat him at times when she is jealous.
  • Cecilia Alcott – A first year student at the IS Academy and an IS Cadet Representative of England and is part of the British Aristocracy.  She challenges Ichika on the first day of class in an IS battle and although she won the IS match, Ichika was actually defeating her and could have won had time not expired.  Because of the strength he exhibited in battle, Cecilia has fallen in love with Ichika.
  • Huang Lingyin – A first year student at the IS Academy and IS Academy representative for China.  When Houki moved away from town, Huang Linyin became Ichika’s new childhood friend. Because Ichika protected her from bullies, she and Ichika made a promise that if she became an excellent cook, he would be her boyfriend.  But unfortunately, he has no recollection of their promise.
  • Charlotte Dunois – A first year student at the IS Academy and IS Cadet Representative o France.  Her government forced her to pretend she was a male student named “Charles” and the second male “IS” pilot in order to spy on Ichika and learn how a male can pilot an IS and acquire data.  And because she was to be a male, she was made a roommate of Ichika.  But Charle ended up falling for Ichika while living with him and eventually Ichika finds out about her secret.
  • Laura Bodewig – A first year student at the IS Academy and an IS Cadet Representative of Germany.  She joins the Academy in order to bring her teacher Chifuyu back to Germany and blames Ichika for taking her away.  But when she starts to learn more about Ichika’s strength, she declares Ichika as her wife (a misunderstanding between the meaning of “wife” and “husband”).
  • Chifuyu Orimura – Ichika’s sister and instructor.  Despite Chifuyu having raised him and is his older sister, Chifuyu is very strict towards him and others.
  • Maya Yamada – An instructor in charge of Ichiga’s class and the IS Representative Cade of Japan.

VIDEO & AUDIO:

“Infinite Stratos” is presented in 16:9 Anamorphic Widescreen and in English and Japanese 2.0. It’s important to note that if you want the best picture and audio quality of this anime series, “Infinite Stratos: Complete Collection” will also be released on Blu-ray and is the version that fans will probably want to get if concerned for quality.

As for the DVD, for the most part, 8-bit studio has done a wonderful job in creating a sci-fi visual look for “Infinite Stratos”.  A good use of CG is utilized to create the surroundings, but the art backgrounds are beautifully painted as well and manages to capture sunsets and beautiful landscapes, especially the skies.  There is softness as one would expect from a DVD release, having not seen the Blu-ray version, I’m not sure how much of a difference there is in picture quality but for the DVD in general, the series does look good!

As for audio, both soundtracks are in stereo.  Voice acting for both soundtracks are well done.  I watched the series in Japanese and then in English and possibly the biggest different is more of the emotional scenes towards the end, as I felt the Japanese version was much more emotional.  But for the most part, both voice acting in Japanese or English are well-done!

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Infinite Stratos: Complete Collection” comes with the following special features:

DISC 1:

  • Episode 4 Audio Commentary – Featuring Yoko Hikasa (voice of Houki Shinonono) and Asami Shimoda (voice of Lin Yin Fang)

DISC 2:

  • Episode 7 Audio Commentary – Featuring Yoko Hikasa (voice of Houki Shinonono) and Kana Hanazawa (voice of Charles Dunois)
  • Episode 12 Audio Commentary – Featuring Yoko Hikasa (voice of Houki Shinonono) and Yukana (voice of Cecila Alcott)

DISC 3:

  • Infinite Stratos Behind the Scenes: An Interview with Director Yasuhito Kikuchi – (10:25) Kana Hanazawa (voice of Charles Dunois) visits 8-bit studios and see how “Infinite Stratos” is made and interviewing director Yasuhito Kikuchi.
  • Radio IS – (41:08) Featuring Japanese voice actresses and radio hosts Yoko Hikasa (voice of Houki Shinonono), Asami Shimoda (voice of Lin Yin Fang) interviewing Yukana (voice of Cecila Alcott).
  • Clean Opening Animations
  • Clean Closing Animations

EXTRAS:

“Infinite Stratos: Complete Collection” comes with three DVD’s  including the OVA and special features plus a bonus soundtrack CD featuring the following tracks:

  1. Akaku, Akaku (Houki Shinonono)
  2. Super∞Stream (Houki Shinonono)
  3. Noble Heart (Cecilia Alcott)
  4. Super∞Stream (Cecilia Alcott)
  5. Haochi Smile (Rinin Fan)
  6. Super∞Stream (Rinin Fan)
  7. Mon Chérie, Ma Chérie (Charlotte Dunois)
  8. Super∞Stream (Charlotte Dunois)
  9. An Die Freude (Laura Bodewig)
  10. Super∞Stream (Laura Bodewig)

Are you an anime fan who loves sci-fi?  Loves mecha?  And loves harem anime storylines?

Well, if that is the case, you will no doubt fall in love with Izuru Yumizuru’s “Infinite Stratos”.   An anime series that takes comedy and fan service concept of other harem anime series but balances it with an intriguing sci-fi concept of a female dominated society and only women can pilot the mecha combat suits known as IS.

At first glance, I thought the series was going to be something similar along the lines of a “Gunbuster” type of series as a male pilot tries to prove himself in an all-female atmosphere.  But once you see one girl falling for the protagonist, then a second, you pretty much know where this series is going to be headed.

But while harem anime series tend to have its typical banality of all girls love one guy and one guy must watch his step at all times not to make the girls jealous, for “Infinite Stratos”, Yumizuru makes Ichika naive about the girl’s feelings towards him.  If anything, she tries to play off his strengths as a dedicated pilot and everything else, in terms of the harem storyline is just all comedy.

Possibly the most intriguing and almost perverted situation involves Ichika Orimura and the supposedly second male pilot Charles Dunois.  The viewer can tell this is a young woman trying to disguise himself as a young man, but it’s the slight naive teasing that we see from Ichika that is quite hilarious as he tries to get her to change in front of him (because they are both guys) and of course, when he does find out, he gets himself into situations that make him seem aggressive as he is mistaken as an aggressive pervert.

But this is what makes a harem anime series quite fun to watch and that is the miscommunication that occasionally happens as other girls compete in trying to gain his affections.  Of course, there is a mecha/action storyline that also is important.  While more important as the series progresses towards the end, the 12-episodes are good enough as it is in terms of character development and concluding the storyline for now.  The additional OVA is also fun to watch as we see the ladies compete for Ichika’s attention.

As for the DVD, I was quite surprised about the contents of this release.  You get audio commentary and additional Japanese featurettes (subtitled in English) plus the musical soundtrack as well.  For anyone who are anime fans know that its very rare these days to find an anime series with this much content. This really is a fantastic release but its important to note that if you want the best video and audio, the Blu-ray release is the version to go for!

“Infinite Stratos” was an entertaining sci-fi, harem anime series.  The characters are fun to watch, the storyline was quite hilarious and the animation and art backgrounds are well-produced.  And “Infinite Stratos: Complete Collection” is a fantastic DVD release because of the content that comes with this entire collection.

Overall, “Infinite Stratos: Complete Collection” is a set that anime fans will definitely want to pick up on Blu-ray or DVD.  Highly recommended!

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