Infinite Stratos 02: Haven’t I seen this before six years ago?

I heard you like beam spam“We meet again Kira Yamato….now *I* am the master…”

So against all better judgement, here I am writing about Infinite Stratos part Deux. To be fair to the series, it does get better once they get SkyMio’s (predictably trite) antics over with and get to the duel proper, which is generally well animated unless you really squint and pick bones out of your CGI egg. Setting aside the anime fetish of once again bringing a sword to a gunfight, we get the over the top action we expect from a less pantsu oriented version of Strike Witches, down to the usual hewing down of projectiles as if they were redneck beer cans and even a “Shaving off my life by putting my energies into my attack!” attack, which would have elicited a groan from me if I hadn’t used it on the unwelcome Gundam Seed memories this fight brought back.

We also get a bit of backstory on her Mio-ness and her sister, who is chief boffin behind the mysterious IS system, complete with DUM-DUM-DUM a black box of a core. The sister (who I see is voiced by her petite Shiro Akuma-ness), is either a wanderer or has gone missing, and the two are estranged. All this I guess is meant to set the stage for later Shocking Developments(tm) where their WHOOSH WHOOSH battle-armour is not as simple as it seems to their young users.

The harem aspects kick in hard again at the end of the show (once the duel ends and Cecilia starts to feel the ramifications of that inconclusive encounter), and I’m still shaking my head at the preview, which promises YET ANOTHER osananajimi, unbelievably presented as a fang-tan twintail from CHINA. This is going to be one of those anime of two halves, and in the scenario of liking one and disliking the other, how much of the disliked portion you can stomach.

Gosick 02: A Berry Trip on the High Seas

“Oh Victorique, you and your impeccable social graces….”

(The second episode picks up from where the first left off, with Kujo and Victorique aboard the mysterious ship. Things soon come to a head with the usual mysterious deaths in/aboard the Locked Room/Villa/Ship and we soon find out what the box/hare metaphor refers to, as the players are whittled down one by one….)

Gosick 02 has some of the common trope issues that Japanese tantei tales have, such as the over-reliance of the Scooby-Doo setup mechanic. Still the whodunit elements aren’t as predictable as what was delivered in the first segment of this arc, and we get to see more of Victorique’s behaviourial tics and welcome comedy relief through the Holmes/Watson exasperation dynamic, including a truly priceless scene after Kujo nearly bites it from a trap. The introduction to a large cast of new characters is a bit of a wash with half of them predictably removed from the picture quickly. The events that set the grisly chain of events in motion are rooted firmly in the sins of the past, another common element of Japanese anime/manga detection.

The interplay between Kujo and Victorique, although reasonable and generally quite amusing, was hamstrung by Kujo being a typical patronizing shounen git, with his laughably cliche backstory leading to the annoyingly paternalistic behaviour we get to experience in excruciating detail, including a doubled flashback.

Now, it’s a reality that Gosick is generally targeted towards the otaku market, and using Japanese characters to placate the ridiculously insular modern manga/anime domestic consumer is seemingly a must these days, but Kujo seems completely like a shoehorned fish out of water, and generally his character buildup only detracts from the story, unlike instances such as Monster, where a foreign surgeon is an acceptable premise and has further plausible plot consequences, as loser-x reminded me.

Still, as a side-effect of all this, we also get another great scene where Kujo saves Victorique from something her lack of inches would never have put her in danger of. Predictably, nothing comes from the anime ever acknowledging it. The cliffhanger at the end of the episode is also extremely pointless, not only because it highlights the above issues, but because we know nothing is going to happen to both the main characters within less than an hour of the season.

Gosick continues to be solid but unspectacular, but that’s enough in these diminished times for the industry. What’s needed is to build on Victorique as a character, since she’s the selling point of this story, and to polish the whodunit elements. Everything else should be second priorites, including wasting valuable time on Kujo’s Japan-ness.

Hey This Looks Familar…

J-Lo in all her cartoon glory

Just happened to catch a teaser for American Idol Season 10 (view the AI Launch 1 video) on the local TV channel and the Jennifer Lopez caricature made me think… hey, I’ve seen this before.

Oh Goddess…

And then it hit me, the depiction of Lakshmi in Sita Sings the Blues, of course.

Probably all a coincidence.

You can download or view the entire show on YouTube . Highly recommended. And then either donate or buy some merchandise to support the creator, Miss Nina Paley, who have so kindly given this work of art to us for free.