The episode leaps into a start with Houki, Cecilia, Rin, Charlotte, and Laura all fighting the Gospel. They begin to get the upper hand on it, and nail it with a couple shots, and Houki manages to smack it into the water. The Gospel doesn’t go down that easily, as it proves when it reemerges from the sea and performs a Second Shift, growing a pair of massive energy wings. Of course, it’s much stronger now, as shown when it shoots down Houki and then crushes Cecilia with a rather flashy move.
Meanwhile, the injured Ichika is having visions/dreams/hallucinations with a girl whom I believe is a manifestation of Byakushiki’s consciousness. She offers Ichika power, which he accepts. This power comes in the form of a Second Shift of his own, changing the Byakushiki to the Byakushiki Setsura. A nice bonus is that Setsura is able to heal Ichika’s own wounds – allowing him to leave his hospital bed and join the fight.
Houki and Cecilia reemerge, having recovered themselves. With Ichika’s aid, they are able to turn the tables against the Gospel, bringing us back to the opening scene three months ago. But this time, we get a conclusion to it – Ichika barrels the Gospel down onto the beach and pierces it.
Chifuyu has a conversation with Tabane that strongly implies that Tabane masterminded the events with the Gospel through hacking military computers – for the purpose of giving Houki a chance to show her skills and use the Akabatsuki. Moreover, Tabane’s manipulating goes as far back as Ichika back when he first activated and IS – Tabane meant to make it seem like he could use IS (for whatever purpose), and was surprised when he actually could use the Byakushiki, commenting that she didn’t even understand why it worked.
The last scene of the show concerns Ichika and Houki meeting by chance at the water. Houki apologizes for letting Ichika get injured during their first throwdown with the Gospel, and Ichika forgives her with a gentle forehead flick. The mood turns romantic as Houki asks whether Ichika considers her as a woman. It seems that at long last, Ichika realizes – as he bends to kiss Houki.
The fighting was as thrilling as usual, and in fact I thought the Gospel was the coolest IS out of the whole bunch, especially after its Second Shift. Ichika’s Second Shift, on the other hand, didn’t look as good as the original Byakushiki. Meh. More plot-centric was the conversation between Tabane and Chifuyu – strongly proposing the idea that Tabane was behind both Ichika’s IS piloting and the Gospel. While it could be some conspiracy theory involving intricate plots and motives, it felt to me as if the producers just wanted to find some explanation for both of those things to avoid plot holes. Still, I feel as if the plot became more holey than before, as I wonder why Tabane would want Ichika to seem to be able to pilot an IS and why she would spark a worldwide crisis to let her sister show off. Maybe geniuses just think differently.
Ah, right. The moonlit ending was rather open and also quite satisfactory for me. Houki’s concerns and feelings of guilt were resolved. I enjoyed the facts that Ichika finally took his own initiative and that Houki finally got her own moment with him. Ichika’s in Houki’s grasp now – or is he? He won’t be if the other girls have anything to say about it. And hey, it might be another misunderstanding 😀
I would have to say that it seems generic and doesn’t stand out in terms of plot summary, but Infinite Stratos has been really enjoyable. Though it definitely doesn’t have much plot depth, it’s engaging, has a cast of great (and cute!) characters with varying personalities, and balances out romance and mecha action well. It was mostly light-hearted, and the good comedic moments combined with the quality art and voice work made it great for me. My biggest lament is that we didn’t see any interaction between girls, but it was only 12 episodes with 6 main characters. Kudos to IS!