Hooray, my midterms are over! Anyway, this episode centers around the Stratos duel between Ichika and Cecilia for the position of Class Representative.
It starts off with a rather awkward scene where we learn more about the Infinite Stratos, the key points being 1. There are only 467 of them, and 2. they can only be made by Houki’s sister Dr. Tabane Shinonono, who is mysterious and also missing. Also 3. they have some sort of connection with the user and something like a consciousness of their own. Additionally, Houki doesn’t like her sister, for whatever reason.
After her sister is mentioned, Houki goes into pms-mode, and it’s up to Ichika to cheer her up. A senior offers to teach Ichika about IS for his upcoming duel with Cecilia, but Houki declines it for him and decides to teach him instead – false advertising, since her ‘teaching’ turns out to be kendo. Between kendo lessons, Houki gives a soliloquy, showing that she evidently has a thing for Ichika, though she manages to convince herself otherwise.
Next order of business is the actual fight. Lasers flashing, missiles, and explosions with the occasional dialogue. Great fun.
Mid-battle, Ichika’s IS changes to ‘First Shift’, a stronger form more suited to him. Apparently, Ichika up to this point has been using his Stratos’ ‘initial settings’, which from Cecilia’s reaction is something like running a race without shoes. In First Shift, Ichika easily overpowers Cecilia and is about to strike her, when:
the match is called in Cecilia’s favor, since Ichika’s energy shields have run out. Lucky Cecilia. It is explained afterward by Chifuya that Ichika’s Stratos’ special attack drains its own shield energy to do massive damage. Unfortunately, with all the flying lasers and missiles and explosions and whatnot, Ichika didn’t have enough shield left to drain – you’d think there would be a safety device installed, but nope. Of course, it was a great showing considering that it was supposedly Ichika’s first IS battle, that he was in ‘initial settings’ for pretty much the whole time, and that he was facing the British representative – I guess he’s somewhat of a prodigy in Stratos piloting. After that’s over, Houki and Ichika walk back to the dorm together, and Ichika agrees to let Houki teach him about IS (I’m guessing it’s for real this time and not kendo). The final scene of the episode is a fanservice-less shower scene (they apparently exist) with Cecilia, who has fallen in love with Ichika.
The classroom part of this episode was pretty stupid… I think all they wanted to do was give out the information about personal Stratos and cores and stuff. What kind of class has students abruptly giving monologues during the middle of it, and teachers who are barely side characters abruptly commenting on their personal love lives? Well who really cares, I did get the info, and the rest of the episode is a lot better. The Stratos duel was great, and the Stratos themselves look awesome. I like the design of the Stratos type of mecha – a sort of armored body suit – over the sort of mecha that enclose the user.
The episode really showed how Houki felt towards Ichika and developed their relationship well. In a flashback we see that Ichika trained in kendo together with Houki as a child. From her actions in the episode, I would say Houki saw Ichika as a rival as a child, explaining her shock when she realizes that his kendo skills are now zilch. She probably still doesn’t realize her own feelings for Ichika yet, and I’d guess it will be a while before she does. She’s portrayed as a slightly tsundere girl with no experience in love.
Cecilia Alcott seems to have realized some feelings for our main protagonist. Whoop big surprise, pretty much everyone saw that coming. Cute, though. It will be interesting to see how Houki (and Ichika) react to this.