Deep Striker: in depth look into Houki and Ichika’s relationship in the Infinite Stratos Anime

Deep Striker is a deep look into a series, usually done in more words than it looks. Houki and Ichika’s relationship is dived into this part 1 of the “I love Houki” series of editorials from The mangatron.

This post is available for down in: TXT MS WORD PDF

(Do NOTE that this is the longest editorial that I have ever typed, it is also the most informative, and it is very lengthy as it is preferred for one to read along as they watch the entire 12 episodes (though if you remember much of it, you won’t have to re-watch). This should be read while one is at leisure, and not while one is in a foul mood, just got out of traffic after a long day at work, it should not be read while on the bus or while in the john, and while it is preferred, you don’t have to watch the entire series again but it does help, and rest assured, despite being a Houki fan, this editorial pulls facts and descriptive explanations of what was seen and heard throughout the series’ run. The mangatron tries his best to note what is personal opinion and what is Anime fact, as the mangatron has covered the entire 12 episodes and explained as much as he could in detail. Do try to keep an open mind, and remember, this is an offshoot of The mangatron’s Final Approach, in that this Infinite Stratos editorial is not personal rambling, but rather an entire series review, episode by episode. Think of it as the mangatron reviewing each ep, but instead, reviewing the Houki and Ichi moments of each ep.)

Originally these series of write-ups were meant to be before the series ended, while I was healthy. Alas, that didn’t happen, but I’m still typing it. And with the season ending ep 12,  we’ll start with Part 1 in the series, “Inspecting Houki’s relationship with the Ichi throughout the series.” We are going into this looking for some answers, and our main guidelines will be:
-To find out if Houki really was shafted in the series.
-To calculate the density level of Ichi’s brain.
-To see whether or not Houki cares for Ichi.
-To see whether or not Ichi cares for Houki.
-To see whether or not I.S. actually has a plot.
-To answer the question of whether or not Houki short-changed the other haremette’s and stole the last ep away.
-And to delve as deep into meanings as much as possible.

THE sub-bosses of this level are:
-Which girl actually got shafted.
-Is Ichi a siscon?
-Should Shirley have won?
-To be as accurate as possible when it comes to episodic facts.

NOTE that this editorial is not designed to:
-Turn you to the dark side of the Houki forces.
-Justify the end of episode 12 as an undisputed Houki victory.
-Defend the denseness of Ichi’s brain.
-Pull fact from thin air.
-Ambush the Shirley fans with a wall defense that is over 9000 words.
-Cause you to buy anything I.S. related (though it would help if you do XD).

In order to make life a little easier, this editorial is split into 3 parts: There is the “Main part” (which is reading the editorial from beginning to end), there is the “Answers to the Questions” (Episode 10 closed up), and then there is the “Conclusion” (Episode 12’s controversial scene). Continue reading for the most informative look into the I.S. Anime, or search in your browser for “mangatronloveshouki” (minus the quotes) to go to “Answers to the Questions”, and search for “mangatronreallyloveshouki” to go to the conclusion part. Or type “Episode xx” where “xx” is the episode number in “00” format. It would really help if you are very knowledgeable about the series as much as I am, as I have watched each episode on average 3 times each, some over 5, and so treating this editorial like a read-along will really give you a more in-depth feel of actually understanding the meaning of why I believe I.S. is not generic harem fodder in any way whatsoever. And for a reminder, Rinny = the twintailed girl, Cecy = Cecilia, Shirley = Charlotte, and Chi-chan = Chifuyu.

Let’s begin.

It’s easy to say that Houki’s handling in the writing of this series was off and on, to say the least. It looks that way, sure, and some may find it a little hard to connect with her, but as it always is with me; I never see things simply and instead see things much more complicated than the usual, which is my patented “alternate hilarious view”. I’ll explain why the above line about the series handling of Houki’s screen time is in actuality, bogus, and how the entire series was quite a bit more of a Houki X Ichi rundown than for anyone else.

 The rooftop scene of Episode 01

First, let’s go to the start of the series, episode 01. Houki’s actually quite happy to see the Ichi, to which she calls him out, but our first sign is the silence of a girl. As speechless as Houki was, mankind knows that females are the most mysterious creatures of the universe, and whoever the genius was that said “actions speak louder than words”, he just showed right here why the Ichi is actually no fool. Having caught on to Houki’s fidgeting, he carries the convo on his shoulders, pretty much answering any questions she had for him, or her concern thereof. This scene is probably one of the series’ most important ones, as this showed several things: 6 years doesn’t erode the Ichi’s brain in regards to anything Houki, it can be implied that he’s been keeping tabs on her so much so to read the papers, he was quite clear that he couldn’t forget her, and at the end of the series there’s the important detail he makes in this scene in regards to her hair. Houki rarely says much here, but what she does is important enough: she’s playing with her hair (you’ll need to see a girl playing with her hair in real life to fully understand this >__>, but in retrospect, it “usually” means the girl is shy). In the end you may not have found out why she wanted to speak with him, but she heard a lot of some happy things.

The Room. With a kitchen!

While the next scene is largely centered on Cecy-chan, the scene when Ichi heads to his new room was a little more than just some Houki fanservice. This is a part when we see she’s actually kind of content being with Ichi, but he is dense, I’ll admit that much. This scene is comparable to the rooftop scene, actually, as we see another expectation from Houki (in regards to Ichi’s room choice), but this is our first look at Houki’s hopes being dashed when Ichi gives her a “Really? No kidding!” response. Try to remember this part, actually, of Houki getting her hopes dashed. Now, right after, you’ll see again she’s so content with Ichi living with her she sets up some rules. You’ll see Houki bring into question what 6 years can do to him, and right after the Bra incident, he then remarks something completely dense, which was something he should have said 4 years ago. These two were just getting to know each other after so long, eh? You’ll do well to note by now that he’s really not up to speed on the apparent change Houki went through since she last saw him. Because the next scene when the two are having a meal, is a really important scene you will remember by series end. First Houki gets irritated by his use of her given name, very much to his displeasure. The next scene worthy of noting is his reminiscence of the past, where he goes on about his childhood experience with Houki, then…. apparently not remembering anything else afterwards (connect this with my comments about the rooftop scene.)

 

Episode 02, before he drags her to lunch.

Let’s take a peek at Episode 02. First we see Ichi concerned about Houki’s relationship with Tabane, so, he tries to cheer Houki up by, well, once again calling her “Houki”, and inviting her to lunch. Here’s another important detail: she shoves him. And he’s like “I see you what you did there” and she’s like “aren’t you just weak?” Here be our first sign of Houki not knowing her own strength, in which she literally implies that there was nothing gained over her original strength, or simply put, she thinks she’s always been that strong with very little effort. I guess one of this series finest moments is when he tells her to shut it and just go lol. He says even more interesting stuff once in the cafeteria, like how he wouldn’t drag any girl out to lunch even if she’d ask, and the special reason why he’d go out of his way for her. Seems like his concern of Tabane X Houki comes into view again, something she’s reluctant about. Who knew the Ichi was a private detective. Oh by the way, she’s no longer protesting his use of her name ie she likes it that way, and they are eating together yet again. But we’re not stopping, because he needs her help with IS stuff, and she’s rather miffed he got himself into that mess in the first place. But when another girl offers her help to the Ichi, Houki insists that she’ll be the one helping, and one of her reasons is…. she is the Tabane’s sister. Why do I even mention this? Well, Mr. Considerate was concerned for Houki and her relationship with Tabane, and in his act of kindness towards Houki and her family, gave Houki a somewhat valid reason to teach Ichi about IS, and we all know admission is the first step to recovery, and by declaring herself as Tabane’s sister, it’s Houki’s first step on the road to amends with Tabane.

The battle against Cecy-chan.

 The Kendo training afterwards does show how weak Ichi really is, and how surprised Houki was about it. During her changing room scene, she goes on about how lax he’s been for 6 years, and, apparently, how disapointed she is with that. Uh-oh, someone’s too strong. Seems like she’ll want to enjoy some alone time with him by continuing to train him. And, after the battle with Cecy-chan, Houki doesn’t look too angry that he lost, and on the way home, she’s really set on teaching Ichi about IS stuff, and one of the surprising things Ichi says this whole series, is quite literally “I feel better dating you than other girls” lol (he actually says here that he’s more comfortable with her). Oh she was happy alright, and I was happy too…. to see Cecy-chan’s bathing scene XD. Note that he brings up Tabane again during this conversation, the same thing she said during lunch earlier.

Here Houki decides to teach Ichika about I.S. stuff.
  Nice rack(s).

Episode 03 may have looked like it was getting into its harem roots, but there’s a few noteworthy things in the progress of Ichi X Houki. Namely, I’ll start the Chifuyu conspiracy theories by noting that she coincidentally interupted Cecy-chan when she was trying to have an intimate convo with Ichi, and then the little training session didn’t go so well for Ichi, and Houki clearly was unhappy with his utilization of her teachings. You’ll also see Ichi totally unaware of the “other” meaning behind the girls’ bickering with each other in regards to him. During that celebration afterwards, though, he’s particularly concerned with Houki’s tsun-tsun, again due to his inability to decipher the jealousy of a girl. And, when the picture was taken, Houki clearly stepped inbetween Cecy-chan and Ichi. Hmm hmm. When they are together in their room, Ichi is still concerned about Houki’s rather hostile attitude, but something else in the advancement of their progress, was his remarks during the bedtime scene when Houki is changing. Firstly, Ichi still doesn’t get why Houki is miffed towards him, and the other thing, he noticed Houki was wearing a new Obi (sash, tied around waist). Sounds like a simple  thing to say, but recall the previous 2 eps where I’ve been noting how these 2 have spent many a years away from each other, and that they are just starting to get to know each other. Well, Ichi makes it clear, he’s very perceptive and mindful of Houki nowadays, and her actions, attitude, etc. going so much as to notice a change in attire. Houki of course, is quite happy in how daily interaction between the two holds little secrets. Do note why I keep mentioning Ichi being concerned over Houki’s tsun-tsun, it will be fairly obvious come series end.

Yeah dude, she’s not mad at you.


When Rinny joins the fun, this is where I have to laugh for a bit. Ichi recognizes her right away, even though we saw back in ep 01 he “didn’t really remember much of the past” lol.  The lunch with Rinny at the same table was standard “it’s been awhile” stuff from 2 people who haven’t seen each other for so long. But when Houki and Cecy-chan jump in and inquire about Rinny, Ichi is just so-so with his “we’re just childhood friends” bit, which, again, he’s unaware of the “other meaning” of a girl’s feelings. Although, it seems like Ichi has told Rinny about Houki before, so once again Houki’s been on his mind even when talking to another girl. But as the 3 girls bicker amongst one another, Ichi just… doesn’t really do anything. Because he knows not of a girls’ feelings. Oh boy, this might become a recurring joke. But you should be able to see it by now, he’s not holding any special feelings for Rinny, as he makes no effort of concern over Rinny’s hostility towards the other 2 girls, compared to the way he gets concerned over Houki’s hostility.

 Lunch with Rinny.

Now, we need to move on to the training bit afterwards, and when Ichi goes against Cecy-chan and Houki, he of course fails miserably. But Houki still shows contempt towards him, further fueling her distaste for his weakness. It builds up, you know. Now I know the next scene deals largely with Rinny, but even here you need to note even the tiniest of details. Rinny chats with the Ichi, and while she tries to make something special about it, he totally ruins the mood. To make it worse for her, he proceeds to cut her off and tell her he’s heading back to his room, and…. Houki should be done showering. Let’s think about the other type of human behaviour. A different type of guy would try to hide the fact that he’s rooming with a girl, when it’s not a common thing in the dorm, and it’s definitely not something you tell another girl. In this case, tie this particular scene together with what I mentioned earlier, during the lunch with Rinny, “Although, it seems like Ichi has told Rinny about Houki before, so once again Houki’s been on his mind even when talking to another girl. ” Ichi apparently usually talks about Houki to other girls. Even about Houki’s shower details. She sure is special to him, ja? 😉

 Houki attacks Rinny.

When Rinny tries to get Houki to switch rooms with her, it gets fun. Houki clearly doesn’t want to switch rooms, and Rinny tries to pull the “Promise” card. Cecy-chan doesn’t like to be ignored, and the best she does is mouth off, but Houki too doesn’t like to be ignored, and quite literally attacks Rinny. This scene is special because of my earlier comments at the Animesuki Forums about Houki’s power abuse, here Houki tries to use force against Rinny, and we can see the Ichi clearly doesn’t like what Houki has done. Other important bits are, Houki is largely unapologetic, even though she looks that way, and Ichi lets it slide. For now…. and then he brings up the promise, as if totally ignoring the previous event of 2 girls fighting over him. Now when the promise is gone into detail, it spirals out of control because he apparently doesn’t know the “other meaning” to it. Detail here is Houki surely knows the meaning, and she too is angry with him after Rinny leaves. With him and his patented “Eh?”.

 One of many dedicated camera views of Houki

Episode 04, and siscon conspiracies arise during the battle against Rinny (Ichi, just because you’re using Chifuyu-nee’s sword, doesn’t mean you’ll wield it the same way). Standard mecha action except for the occasional concern Houki has for Ichi (them special Houki views), while others are concerned of the tchnical side of the battle. I’ll start the conspiracies by saying this unknown I.S. that invaded the arena was there to stop the battle so no clear winner will emerge in the “meaning of the promise” bet. Hehehe… but there’s one shred of laughter one can get from this invading I.S., no one in the control room seems to be concerned about poor Rinny lol. Now, while Cecy-chan and Chifuyu do the “by the book” talk, Houki goes her own way to give a little motivational speech to Ichi. Now, one can look at it this way, that while Rinny and Ichi were talking about life, Mr. Drone paid them no mind. But as soon as Houki got to talking, Mr. Drone takes aim at her. Now, she’s a non-combatant, and not a target of opportunity, but this could be Mr. Drone’s way of getting Ichi to get his butt moving. Or something, right?

  Houki, meet the Drone.

The rest of the ep had a couple of bright parts in it: Rinny failing to kiss Ichi, and despite having 3 girls fighting over him, the first thing Ichi says since the 2 girls entered the infirmary was…. “Where’s Chifuyu-nee?” Oh you siscon you :p By the way, I just love how Cecy-chan walked into the room, swaying left to right with those drills flailing about… XD

 I feel like re-animating this scene to make their lips touch…

Episode 05 rolls around, and I just wanted to take a moment and say Ran-chan’s hot pants and tanktop is super effective to my tastes. Anyways, not to ignore the tiniest of details, note here how the episode starts, and Ichi goes on about being glad Rinny came aboard as he had very little people to chat with. You’ll also see how he is completely unaware of Ran-chan’s advances, and yes, by eating at their place we now know Ichi is a food freeloader, and that’s all he cares about. Poor Rinny, who was only a source of food for Ichi. The next scene shows that apparently, Ichi can have his own room now, much to the protest of Houki. Ichi is once again completely unaware of her concern, but you don’t have to view it as him being utterly dense yet again. One can also view his wishy-washy attitude as simply as a basic concern for Houki, as we should remember it’s been a little inconvenient for Houki (as a maiden) and Ichi (as a gentleman), with inconveniences such as conflicting shower times, lack of a changing room, and the moral side of it. Houki though just doesn’t like how Ichi is unaware of “the other meaning” of a girl’s feelings, and so at that moment she got fed up and scrammed, with Ichi yet again and his “huh?”, but Houki comes back all dere-dere, and tries to do her version of a bet, or rather, an agreement. This is a little bit of an important bit here, as Houki’s riding her kendo powers in thinking of winning the championship… without a personal machine. Hmm hm.

 Even Houki’s boobies get zoomed in…

During Shirley’s (Charles. Charlotte. Charred.) transfer into the school, even something like this is attention to detail. Namely, when Ichi drags Shirley out of the classroom, you get a couple of seconds of a shot of Houki looking on. You’d have noticed these Houki shots as this series goes on, as for some fantastically absurd reason we saw nothing of Cecy-chan from the moment Shirley walked in till the class training (though we saw her only once before the class assembled. Poor Cecy-chan is getting shafted and it’s just ep 05). The training bit is amusing though, as you’ll see Rinny apparently gets along quite well with Cecy-chan when they both suddenly share a common interest. This is amusing because of the episode 03 Rinny x Ichi lunch scene, when Rinny practically tells Cecy-chan that she doesn’t care about her. Then you just gotta love Yamada-sensei, since she seems to be fine joining Ichi’s harem. Oh bugger… I love her breasts I mean I.S., green is Green 😀

 Hardly addressed by her first name, she reminds me of B Gata H Kei‘s Yamada…

When the personal machine holders play show and tell, I have to admit I can’t take it anymore, the mass amount of girls in their bodysuits ahem I mean Houki managed to be in Ichi’s group, but she’s miffed as usual when he’s surrounded by girls. When the time comes for Houki’s I.S. hands-on, she gets princess-carried by Ichi. I’m not going to go into specifics on how significant this means as I’m sure everyone knows, but there’s something to consider: Ichi held Rinny in a similar way (during the Drone battle), but that was in battle and Rinny was Mechanized and tried to stop him, while in this scene Houki is literally carried (while bodysuited), and she makes note of it. Enthusiastic about the whole thing, she invites Ichi to lunch on the roof, to which he agrees.

  The princess carry. Every girls’…. dream?

Score one for Houki…. except when everyone else joins the fun. You’ll need to keep in mind Ichi apparently hates being alone, and likes to talk to someone, anyone, and apparently, the more the merrier. Nice going dude, not only do you get to touch a bodysuited Houki, you get to eat lunch with her too, I am enraged… (I have to admit Rinny sitting cross-legged has an alleged reason, aka sitting seiza (Japanese sitting (like kneeling) position) is not friendly with those boots. See, minor details are fun to look out for.) Uh, yeah, so this luncheon the group is having is a significant jump in the building up of Houki’s relationship with Ichi, and some other details to take note of. First of all, Ichi’s continually remarking about Shirley being a boy and just how much he’s apparently happy to have someone to talk to [that’s not a girl].

Now the eating part, can hold my particular method of thinking of the meanings behind Ichi’s actions. Let’s begin with Shirley having absolutely no part in this harem (sorry Shirley fans!), so we start with Rinny (poor girl), who shows off her Sweet and Sour Porky pig. Ichi’s all “wow!” and no sampling. Poor Rinny, apparently the promise of if she could make it again he’d have free food, was just for looks. Next, Cecy-chan and her sandwiches, which Ichi does sample some, but just doesn’t want to go through with it. Which could also mean, sorry Cecy-chan, UK food may be tasty to you, but not to me AKA we’re not compatible (sorry Cecy-chan fans! XD). Here’s the meat of the lunch scene, as we get to Houki’s turn. It moves every bit in her favor, even backed up by Shirley, all to the dismay of Rinny and Cecy-chan. I’d call this the Battle of Midway, the Battle of Gettysburg, The Battle of Stalingrad, The Mother of All Battles, heck it’s the turning point of when Houki’s progress in this series in her relationship with Ichi goes to new heights, and it is an undeniable truth. Ichi does sample Houki’s lunch as well, she’s concerned about the result, and he likes it. He praises her for it. She replies that she spent a great deal of effort on it, and that she consumed the failed attempts, and that as long as he’s happy it’s cool. Ichi though is so happy how it tastes, he proceeds to stuff one into Houki’s mouth. You will (can) view this 3 ways; Ichi’s so happy he wants Houki to “get some”, Houki is so full giving her more is like making her fat, and the 3 other girls see it as the “Open wide, the airplane is coming in for a landing”. I have sounded like a father just now. Yippee kay yay. Oh by the way, that was so cute the way she covered her mouth after he fed her. Now while Ichi absent-mindedly says okay to Shirley’s suggestion that they share food with each other, he apparently forgot he doesn’t like Cecy-chan’s food, and perhaps we may never know whether or not he did even sample poor Rinny’s food.

 Swallow it, don’t let it drip. BTW, this is not a hentai doujin…

Here we go the scene afterwards, and Ichi’s remarks of being with a boy is… disturbing, to say the least, but this stems largely from his inability to decipher a girl’s feelings. Do note that Shirley is playing spy at this moment, and shows absolutely no interest in Ichi otherwise. Now, when we go the class the next day, Laura is introduced, and much to my surprise when she slaps Ichi, only 2 of the 3 other girls in the harem react: Shirley and Houki. I bring this up because not only do we get another shot of Houki, but yet again Cecy-chan is left out of even saying anything at all this entire time. Shafted, I say! Blasphemy to the Cecy-chan fans!

  

    It’s a great view in Episode 06

Episode 06 rolls around, meine gott we’re just halfway and this wall of text supercedes anything I’ve ever typed, more so than business plans and contracts/agreements. It’s far from over, though, and even this little bit of I.S. training in the very beginning  has significance. Look at the 3 girls’ training methods for the Ichi: Houki here is clearly trying to brainwash Ichi with her methodological power mentality, Rinny is going mental on him (Chinese proverb) and Cecy-chan is is going all tactics on him (Japanese technology powered by British wit!). While I’m basically laughing at my explanation for Rinny and Cecy-chan (the Rinny joke is something everyone knows, but the Cecy-chan joke is a Company of Heroes joke), you will pay attention to Houki’s methods, and it is significant because clearly, she relies simply on power and 6 episodes in it’s building up within her, as we’ve seen this from her a number of times already. You’ll see after Ichi spar’s with Shirley that he somewhat understands Shirley’s technical explanation, and not Houki’s power trip, Rinny’s mind games or Cecy-chan’s complicated methods. The thing to note is Houki still seems to want Ichi to rely on power, which his I.S. clearly does have, but he’s just not into that.

The next scenes with Shirley training with Ichi is probably what Shirley X Ichi fans were sure of: except for the fact that Ichi still sees her as a guy in that “chat buddy” kind of way. You should also remember that Shirley is still in spy mode, and she’s made several findings here in regards to Ichi and Byakushiki. Sorry guys, no Shirley X Ichi going on here. By the way, I want to take this moment and say… damn, we were so close to seeing a bodysuited Chifuyu-nee… *sob*. The rest of this is standard plot stuff (hoho! Plot in I.S.!), Shirley gets revealed in more ways than one, and while some may argue that that was some pretty serious Shirley X Ichi stuff, remember this guy wants someone to talk to, and he’s not a heartless person to just ruin their life over, and most importantly, his concern for her just never enters that “other meaning of a girl’s feelings” zone that he’s so dense over. I could even view his reaction to Shirley’s breasts as a reaction to his previous encounter with Houki’s shower scene way back in ep 01, perhaps afraid to feel the wrath of Shirley, as when she asked him if he wanted to see, and when she called him a pervert, this is a similar response he gave to Houki, about why they have to label him as a dirty thinking pervert, so nothing special there except in regards to Ichi.
     

    She wants you to commit seppuku, dude.

I’m going to point out this little scene afterwards when Cecy-chan drags Ichi out for dinner. They just so happened to run into Houki on the way there, and Houki’s not happy about Cecy-chan clinging to Ichi. Do note Ichi finally said something smart, when Cecy comments about a gentleman escorting the lady, and he quips “more like I’m being escorted.” I bring this into attention because the Ichi’s usual response is “eh?” or “Huh?”, although it also can be pointed out that he really didn’t realize the “other meaning” of Cecy’s clingy attitude. This is also the second time we see Houki eating a little more than usual all for the sake of Ichi, as we can see she is carrying around a real sword (big question: why?) and she assures them she can burn off calories with that. I’m going to bring to light, yet again, she’s brandishing a sword as a playing card in trying to gain upper hands when it comes to Ichi.

   

Houki, in the middle of Akihabara 😛

Episode 07 starts with some very important Houki stuff, and we yet again have a camera pan of Houki looking very concerned towards Ichi. I think it’s safe to say we’ve had a little over 7 of those special shots, just about 1 per episode. Afterwards, she’s up on the roof, and this is where the previous 6 eps led up to this moment: you see why power was the driving point of her training with Ichi, and a bit, or rather quite much about her past, which wasn’t a rosy one, and just about as cloudy as Ichi’s past. I’ll also need to point out that she’s been doing kendo as a means to decontaminate the depression she went through while growing up, and she has been doing that for a long time. It was her only connection she had to Ichi, something they both did in their early years, but she had grown complacent as she continued to beat down her opponents through sheer power, and in doing so it no longer became a connection to the Ichi but something dark growing within her. And she made her decision, at the end of that rooftop scene you’ll see she wants to do this for herself, and in doing so began the distance between her and Ichi. See the pattern? Over the past few years these 2 have been regularly thinking of each other. When they finally meet, the changes each other have gone through is the testing period of their relationship, and whether or not they will come to grips with each others feelings towards each other is that other view of this series so far. Episode 07 just started and I’m seeing some heavy development between these two.

She wants to fight too.

Moving on, I’ll just have a quick word with Rinny’s training against Cecy, and their yummy “transformation” sequences. And I like Laura’s smirk. Ahum, this is largely a mecha battle going here, but even it has it’s Houki and Ichi moments. It’s funny that we first see Shirley and Ichi heading to the arena to check it out, and Houki shows up too, hmm coincidence. Let me tell you something. If the director/writer was going to shaft Houki, they’d have not have her show up at this moment. But the important parts of her and Ichi here are not to be overlooked, as you’ll clearly see here, Ichi’s not going after Laura to put her in her place, he’s doing it for Rinny and Cecy. Houki can only look on as she does not have a personal machine, but she clearly wanted to do something, and if you look at her brief flashback during this scene where she pummeled a kendo opponent, you can think of it that right then and there, Laura was clearly doing the same thing, and I can only guess a strong guess here that Houki really wanted to lay the smackdown on Laura if she had a persona machina.

After that battle, while in the infirmary, Ichi is being plain old Ichi, but I don’t need to remind you do I? His concern over Rinny and Cecy are clearly on the friend-zone side, and never romantically. I can’t even blame him anymore, because what else can he do? He clearly see’s them nothing more than friends, and quite frankly, with the way those 2 girls used to bite each others head off, and then act buddy buddy, even I would wonder what it is that had them go at each others throat one minute, then the next minute they’re friendly with each other and have teamed up to boot. The next bit of importance about Ichi, is when he decides to team up with Shirley for the tournament. Some may see it as the next step in the progress of Shirley X Ichi, but you’ll find out later that he did so merely to continue the facade of Shirley’s true gender. I’ll then point out what happens next between those 2 in the bedroom, is once again Ichi’s same kind of concern for Shirley as he’s shown to the other girls, and he so conveniently was asleep during the rest of that incident, that whatever Shirley did afterwards was invalid in his eyes. Poor girl, you’d see it by now, even she has already been friendzoned.

Worried about Houki, just like always.

Because before the tournament starts, guess what’s on Ichi’s mind: he’s concerned about Houki, and what her decision is in regards to a partner, which she hasn’t decided on yet. Shirley’s first mistake here is she misinterpreted that, which really isn’t her fault, but here’s the important bit: he doesn’t admit it. He fumbles with his reply, but why hide it? He thought nothing of Laura, yet he didn’t let Shirley know why he’s eating serious soup. I don’t need to explain that behaviour just then. Judge it on your own, but I’m sure I know what your thinking. Because at the very end, when Houki’s partner was decided, there we go again where we see how conflicted she is, the frightening similarity between her and Laura, and that decision she made earlier, as now she cannot fight for herself, and so the conflict within her gets even more cloudier than it was before.

  Laura: Clear and Present Danger

Episode 08 starts, and this is a battle where some need to remember that things of note usually come in two’s, and there’s a bunch of that here. Houki’s been going after Ichi during the battle, and this can be seen as her clearly aware of his weakness, which is…. him being weak. But while Ichi has been counting on Shirley to back him up in that regard, no one accounted for Laura to treat Houki like the 3rd opponent. Here’s the start where Houki just about couldn’t do anything with the training machine, her persistence to target the weaker of the two (Ichi), which ultimately led to her logging out quite early, mostly due in part to the one-sidedness of the battle, which clearly was a Laura versus all. And then Laura kept going after Ichi too lol. I also wanted to take this moment to say, that Laura “losing” this battle was clearly because it was 2 against 1, and her decision to take out the weaker of the 2 led to her demise. Noticed the pattern already? Which is why I want to take this opportunity and say no 1 I.S. was stronger than the other in this battle, and for those that say Houki sucks, Ichi sucks, Laura sucks, what the heck man I say it’s a writer’s decision and that’s that. I admit, I grew a little tired of seeing a character put down for something that clearly is not their style, it’s not who they are, just call it the story and let’s move on.

 At least Houki followed the unspoken rule of online gaming: go after the weaker guy.

Let’s move to the part when Laura gets eaten by her own I.S. I have to say those siscon jokes about Ichi are really strong here, heck I would have absent-mindedly just tossed it aside as an Ichi-loves-Chifuyu scene, but lookey here, Houki is still in the arena. While I’d call plot-hole to the witness stand (still on the premises while a heated battle goes on?), I established already that Houki doesn’t just show up now and then by coincidence, every appearance she’s made so far means something. In this case, Ichi wants to go at Laura barehanded, but Houki does her best to stop him (and slaps him! Yeah!). While I’m all fun and games, truthfully, listen to what’s being said here. Houki’s concern clearly is about Ichi and him throwing his life away. Ichi on the other hand, shows why he wants to go on: because he wants to. He wants to end Laura’s Mimic attack with a genuine Chifuyu-nee attack, and you see he does it in the one strike way. This is important because we’ll go all the way back to the Drone fight with Rinny, and how he notes that being an unmanned drone means he can go all out, well, here he clearly does so in a way that does not hurt Laura. His way: the protector way. Houki’s way: Beat upon the strong.

Houki, if he wants to jump a cliff, let him be.

Do note though, before Ichi takes care of Laura, Shirley comments about him promising her he won’t lose. I’d point out Houki’s reaction to when Shirley says if he loses he’d have to go to school wearing a girls uniform (I want to ask, just which one exactly? Laura’s probably doesn’t count as a girls uniform, Rinny’s is a little hard to tell, and just what does Shirley wear anyways? Bad joke, Shirley.), but the important part comes after. Houki tells Ichi not to die, again concern, and Ichi tells her to trust him. Okay, I’ll make this simple. Shirley, joked. Houki, serious. So, we’ll skip a bit to when Ichi and Shirley are having dinner, and I have to laugh a bit and note Ichi’s bored attitude when Shirley is talking to him. I mean, table manners dude. He notices 2 things other than Shirley, and one of them is Houki. Ichi agrees to go out with Houki, and she’s very happy, but the fun part is when she asks him why. He says because it’s a childhood friend’s request, she says yay, so that they can go shopping, and she figured as much (remember when she got her hopes dashed back in episode 01? Look at the second paragraph of Episode 01). I bring this scene into question because she pretty much has him figured out (so she did spend enough time with him), but these last few episodes will show why she was a bit hasty with what she thought of him, while on the other hand, Ichi just plain thought well of Houki, but didn’t get a good response.

 Aw, they look so cute together!

Uh, the bath scene with Shirley is next, and while the Shirley X Ichi stuff is strong with the force, I need to point out some things about Ichi only. Clearly he wanted to get out first, again that caring side so as not to inconvenience a girl, and he only stayed because Shirley wanted to talk to him about that Article stuff the other day. Wait… I know I’m throwing personal opinion around here, but we’re well over half the eps in, and it’s so obvious now he’s never showed personal concern for any other girl(s) besides Houki and Chifuyu, so I don’t need to do any more of this right? Sorry, no secret I hate the guy simply because he’s the object of my Houki’s affection, but seriously………. Let’s end the episode with the classroom scene where Shirley reveals herself to the class as a girl, and again I will point out the special scene that the camera focused on Houki for a second or two, AGAIN, while Cecy-chan, who I’m guessing is there AGAIN, had no reaction. Heck, where is Cecy-chan? She’s been left out of all this for several times already, clearly a shafted girl who can’t even get a reaction in for a split second. I’ll close this episode up by noting Ichi took 3 seconds to realize Laura’s kiss. Ha. Ha. Haaah……

 Houki’s reaction when the reverse trap was… reversed.

Episode 09 was probably a strange episode to many viewers, and for good reason too. I’ll try to make sense of this as best I can, and remember, this is about Ichi and Houki, and Ichi is pretty much at the center of everything this ep. But to start things off, we see Tabane for the first time, with Houki giving her a ring. I know this scene is fairly obvious, Houki wanted a persona machina, the all-knowing Tabane has one for her, more power and a good match to Ichi’s. But what I wanted to bring up, was… if everyone who’s anyone is looking for Tabane, why didn’t some government tap Houki’s phone or something. Trace her call, it’s a no brainer Houki’s the only link to finding Tabane, but that’s something of a detail Anime usually doesn’t dig into. I say Tabane is in space, condisering her closed surroundings, and maybe the OP confirms this too what with the word “stars” being heard when we see Tabane in the OP. Ah nevermind, let’s move on, and we see Ichi is having a good morning thanks to Laura, and his reaction to a girls’ advances is the same as usual. But I find it no coincidence it is Houki who walks in, ready for the usual training and all (they’ve been training every morning all this time?), and she’s very pissed at Ichi. Or Laura, I don’t want to say Laura’s yet another girl to be attacked by her, but I want to note, that I was lamenting Cecy-chan’s lack of development in this series so far, but I have to admit she did have a knack for walking into rooms that Ichi happens to be in. But not this time, as Houki deserves yet another spot in the light. Let’s also not forget Ichi was clearly trying to explain to Houki it’s a misunderstanding. Tell me he would do that for other girls, tell me he doesn’t want to make the other girls angry, so far it’s usually been Houki that he doesn’t want to anger. If he didn’t care about her, he wouldn’t give two jacks about explaining to her about things. I’ve read too much manga.

 Only she can pull off this reaction to Laura’s advances on Ichi.

He finally does go shopping though, and Shirley fans can’t help but feel bad for her, being shot down not once but twice. First we’ll make note of Ichi being clear he’s out for some swimming trunks and he thought he’d bring Shirley along for the ride while he’s at it. Concern for her because she didn’t have a swimsuit, but no concern for her as a girl by dragging her along since it so happened to be convenient. And then, when she tries to make up for that insensitive revelation from Ichi, she wants to hold his hand, and he takes it as a sign to avoid her getting lost. I need to remind Shirley fans that Ichi has been like this from the start: he’s not giving a damn about any other girls’ feelings except for the occasional presence of Houki. I know this editorial is largely my opinion, but facts are facts, and you gotta admit, you can’t deny some of that. But I need to say here, this is my opinion, about when Ichi thinks about giving Shirley a nick, as much as it romantically sounds, he kinda defeated that by what he thought after seeing Shirley’s reaction: she hasn’t looked happy one bit since going out, and (in my opinion) he tried to cheapen the whole thing by seeing if giving her a nickname would make her happy, which he so eloquently notes that it worked (he remarks that she cheered up afterwards). Oh man… I like my nickname for her better 😛

Let me guess… you walked around the mall holding it like that? Way to go, Ichi.

 Back to facts lol, here’s the next part about Ichi we’ve seen before. He then admits to Shirley that she should go on without him because he has some “other stuff” to buy. Remember that part before the tournament fight with Laura, and he thinks about Houki, and Shirley says he’s thinking about the coming fight with Laura, and how he tried to go along with it. Seems to me he has some secrets, eh? OMG he’s actually smart! Of course, I want to take this moment to say the world needs more Ran-chan. Or maybe the issue is she’s still in middle school or something. I like her tastes in swimsuit usage though. Ahem, I do find it odd no one noticed the interesting looking box Ichi is holding, and he avoids that subject too. Of course, poor Ran-chan is not on his radar so he doesn’t get the “other meaning of a girls feelings” vibe right here when she goes on about joining his school. Shirley though goes and pulls Ichi away which we later find out this all a part of her plan, which he doesn’t seem to care much of until she shows him her swimsuit, and he goes and says it’s cool. I’ll tell you this, I would too, as my top favorite swimsuits a girl wears is triangle top followed by halter top, gotta hand it to Shirley for the choice, except…. I detect an anomaly. We see she’s wearing a normal bra, just how does her breasts get so compacted in it, and then whenever she takes it off her breasts practically double in size. Not healthy wearing a small bra Shirley, time for you to watch Chu Bra!

Chifuyu-nee’s spider sense was tingling because of that dressing room.

I want to bring those Chifuyu conspiracy theories into this next part I’m going to detail. I’m going on a limb and say Chifuyu-nee has been so cunning the whole series. She’s okay with Ichi going up against Cecy-chan’s I.S., she acts as if Rinny doesn’t exist, her attitude with Shirley was “she’s just another girl”, and I’d say she literally told Laura to piss off. My conspiracy is that she’s keeping tabs on Ichi and making sure he doesn’t go the extra mile on his harem, as we see here she just so happens to be in the same swimsuit shop as Ichi. Hmm, specially picking out a swimsuit for the upcoming trip, eh Chifuyu? Or was there something else on your mind? Shirley getting to close to your shota? Try to smile at least once lol….

 Ichi’s sister complex is obvious here…

The beach ep is fairly standard stuff, but it only looks that way. While there’s no watermelon splitting, as always with me there’s something else. First off, we’ll take note that Ichi apparently made a couple of promises during the trip, and keeping up with them is keeping him occupied. Then let’s note when Cecy-chan gives him a facial punch, he once again doesn’t understand why he has to get pummeled. “Other meaning” hmm? This bloke will keep it up. I’ll draw your attention next to when Shirley and Laura show up, Shirley, in all ker kindness, makes it clear to Laura her intent to enjoy some time with Ichi. I envisioned her with Sekirei’s Miya and her devil mask. Note that Ichi gives the same reply to Laura when she reveals her swimsuit, ie she’s the newest friend-zoned member of the harem. Now I’m going to bring up those Chifuyu-nee conspiracy theories again, as when she shows up, she totaly entrap’s Ichi with her…. dual top? What the heck, twice the bikini up top and a Laura-esque Strike Witches bottom? Oooohhh… I don’t blame the siscon, but Shirley makes it clear his reactions to herself and Laura were clearly in the “just being a nice guy” zone while Chifuyu totally won him over without a single word (remember this part!). Now you can’t help but feel bad for Shirley, as she points that out, and she quips about the harem getting bigger, and yet again Ichi forgot the “other meaning” to that and misunderstood Shirley and thought she was talking about volleybal. Oh well, the friend zone is a lot better than the no fly zone…

Oh look, Chifuyu-nee found Houki on a cliff. [Robert Stack voice] She finds… anyone…..

I’m going to end this ep when my Chifuyu conspiracies show up again, this time she knows where Houki is. Hmm hm, I wonder how she does it, and in her use of words, she’s kind of making vague implications that she pretty much knows what’s going on, and she seems to know what’s going to happen. Grr. Houki on the other hand spent much of this episode in the background unseen, but that in itself means a lot: once she obtains real power, her decision she made earlier to fight for herself, and the realization of beating upon the weak, her determination she shows when the ep rolls into the credits shows she’s made her decision, and so we will see it development in these last few eps. The only downside to this ep was that during the beach scenes of the day no one remembered Houki, but there’s an upside to it: Ichi and Houki have started to go apart from each other; with Ichi and his mind set on his version of power (which I will cover in the latter eps) and Houki, who is about to receive ultimate power, which again, the last eps will show what these 2 feel about each other.

Chifuyu… wait, you like to see a girls’ pantsu?

Episode 10. Fun episode I should say, mainly because of Tabane. She makes clear some revelations though, which I found interesting. First off is dinner of pretty much the same day that episode 09’s beach scenes took part in, and while it’s pretty standard stuff in the ways of a harem Anime, Ichi spies Houki when Shirley tells him the obvious that the room is full of girls. As if Dan the Ran-niichan was there as well, like, hello? Girls school, which I have never seen even a male janitor anywhere near these girls. Whatever, as if Shirley magically told him that Houki was spying on him, these 2 think of, quite honestly, the same thing they’ve always been thinking: Ichi is still wondering why Houki has that scowl on her face, and Houki’s hoping he didn’t forget [when that special day is]. Look how these two just love to convey feelings without saying a word! lol That’s love right there XD. I have to admit, Cecy-chan got a lot of screentime this ep, and rightfully so. She’s so cute this ep, it just saddens me that I never got a good view of her pantsu. The scene when Ichi is massaging Chifuyu is a noteworthy one, and I loved the squeal Cecy-chan made when Chifuyu looked at her pantsu. But the interesting part is when Chifuyu remarks that the girls should be like a woman and grab life by the horns (in trying to win Ichi over). Ehhh? Was that the secret to the harem all along? How these girls have just indirectly made advances on the Ichi, only for him to respond “eh?” or his patented “huh?” as if he’d known already? The only real advance I can think of is Laura’s kiss, but she messed up the atmosphere with her words right after that, which of course would make him go “Huh?”. If she’d said “I love you! Go out with me!” then maybe he wouldn’t have said “Huh?”. Well, let’s see if anyone got Chifuyu’s message. Hehehe…

 Tabane is surprised at Houki’s growth? How long did she neglect poor Houki?

I find it no coincidence that the first person Ichi runs into in the morning is Houki, and we get our first taste of the squabbling Shinonono sisters. Ichi though does Houki a favor, and summons Tabane to the field in Attack Mode. Tabane clearly is nice towards Ichi as if he were her own brother, and it’s funny how Tabane hadn’t found Houki until the group was gathered later on. This part I bring into the light because seriously, Chi-chan is the best nickname for Chifuyu, and Tabane makes it clear here that she hasn’t seen Houki in what amounts to years. Add salt and pepper to the dish as Houki has grown, according to Tabane, which basically translates to she’s been away from Houki for a considerable amount of time, further cementing the fact that Houki’s past 6 years or so was in an Arkham Asylum world, and not a Disneyland. That’s a significant detail right there, as Houki’s isolation led to her use of power to carry herself through the years, while Ichi’s close relationship to Chi-chan is the source of his ways. Uhm I wanted ask, when Tabane was adjusting Akatsubaki, just where were the wires plugged into? Tabane? Oh golly she’s a robot! Ahem I know, she can materialize things out of thin air. Back to Houki though, she’s plenty pleased of her new power, but Chi-chan looks on with… well what the heck, she rarely smiles, so you know what face she’s putting on here.

 Remember Houki, the power source must never exceed the available output. If you were a robot.

 I had to laugh a bit though, once the group assembled for the meeting, Ichi is surprised at some stuff and Rinny calls him out on it. Don’t be surprised about this though, we get another of those 1-2 second camera pans of Houki. How many has it been already? About 2 per ep so far I’d say. Hell, she’s like the only character to be having those special views. Oh come on, when the group decides Ichi has to do the kill on Silverio, we get another shot of Houki.

 Another dedicated camera view.

So, closing out the episode, Tabane being fun just like always, but before the adjustments to Akatsubaki, Ichi gives Houki a contented look and Houki smiles! Poor Tabane though, when she butts in Houki goes back to scowling and Tabane wants her to smile. Oh lookey here, I guess only the Ichi can make her smile, hah? Once again Houki is pleased with her newfound power, and the next episode looms on the horizon…

Smile! Because smart phones nowadays have smile detection.

mangatronloveshouki

Open za Geito! Yeah, I have a love-hate relationship with Gatekeepers.

But I don’t need to go there, do I? It’s fairly obvious what happens in these last 2 episodes, we see the decision Houki made earlier in the series, and to start the episode she’s fairly happy with her newfound power and she’s really giddy to use it. Ichi and Chi-chan detect that, though, and we all know a happy soldier carrying a gun and heading to the front lines is a dangerous sight. Now during the battle with her intent to obliterate Silverio no matter the cost, Ichi talks to Houki in a virtual world and he asks the all important question, does she really hate weaklings? And how all this time Ichi believes Houki isn’t like that, and that it’s just not good for her to be doing that. He cares for her, and he risked his life for her, and it was enough to make her think again about what it is she really wants. The scene where she has her flashbacks to when she was younger, shows all that lead into what I’ve been alluding to throughout this editorial; those bullies were looking down on her, as if she was weak,  and about Houki’s connection to Ichi, how she wants him to call her Houki (remember the first time they ate a meal together in the present day), and despite that, she’s always called him Ichika since, and how he’s always called her Houki, even when she said not to, and there’s also the part where he quips that her ribbon is cute and that she should wear that again (remember the rooftop scene way back in episode 01 when he remarks he recognized her hairstyle). It’s this moment where we see how these two have thought about each other all these years, and that despite whatever they didn’t like about each others’ changes, she had worn that ponytail up until now, and they still maintain a first name basis in a much different way than how he deals with Rinny, or Shirley, and Ichi cares for Houki, and Houki cares for him.

Uh… I ran out of punchlines. Sue me.

Episode 12 is where she makes her decision though. As that second battle against Silverio goes on, Houki knows what has to be done, but not what she really wants. Then there is this part where Ichi is having his nice dream. Some viewers may have been confused about the whole thing, but I made clear enough already, remember? Why Ichi fights the way he does, where he gets that power, and why it works. He fights for others, he has saved others, most importantly he cares, and that’s the power granted to him by his Byaku. Why the dream? Well, he was knocked out, and while I’m no I.S. scientist, I can basically just say it was the thing on his wrist that was talking to him. They are, of course, tuned to their wearer, and it’s no surprise the White Knight was talking to him; in basic folklore terms, the White Knight has always been regarded as the one who serves and protects the people, whilst the Black Knight title is usually attached to the ones who use their power purely for defeating those who oppose said knight’s will or desire. Let me throw in a personal opinion here. If you asked me “which knight would you fear most?”, I have to tell you, and I don’t remember if this was said before, a movie or what not, but it’s something I remembered from the back of my head, if you ask me, I would seriously fear the man who has something he cares about and wants to protect, than the man whose personal desire drives his insensitive actions. I think the basic wording was “beware the man who has something worth fighting for” or something… anyways, it’s no surprise Ichi is based on this, as he saw first hand Chi-chan cared enough for him to forfeit a very prestigious title just to save his butt when he was kidnapped.

 Ichika is undergoing Inception. Best punchline so far.

I’ll then call into question the part when Silverio The 2nd blasts Houki, and she falls into her own mini-dream, she makes the first part of her decision, and she wants to see Ichi. Maybe it’s not related, and maybe it’s my opinion, but the blue light Houki is seeing is actually Ichi and his Byaku, as I would say it’s the ony I.S. that emits that color, and how Akat and Byaku are pretty much a pair to complement each other, and so it’s nice to know that the Ichi is even in her dreams. Then there’s this nice scene where he congratulates her on her birthday, and how he thinks Houki looks better ponytailed. Well, I guess that made her happy, but this part is funny in a different way. You know that manly thing of saying something, then turning to leave and never looking back. Well heck, Ichi did it right here lol, dude didn’t even wait up for her, he just upped and “see ya, I’m going to go and beat the living daylights out of the dude that burned your old ribbon, making me buy you a new one!” lol. By the way Silverio has boobies. The sound of a thousand pins dropping is reverberating around my room.

 Uhm… Twilight Zone, weeknights at 11pm.
Aha! Gundam Unicorn, and GATx Aegis! Do I win a prize?

Now let’s get to when Houki finally decides on what she wants to do, and well well, Akat goes one-off on her, *cough*power of love*cough*, and it seems her decision to want to serve and protect Ichi, as a compatible match to Byaku, is rewarded with a… solar recharge? Maybe Tabane shoved a GN Drive in there somewhere. But what the heck, Houki is able to recharge Ichi without invasive tentacle cables or requiring a bluetooth pairing password. Yay for the power of love *cough*.

The Decision.

mangatronreallyloveshouki

 Cliffhanger, starring Sylvester Stallone. Or Cliff-sitter…

It’s the end of the episode, and probably the most controversial of the entire series. By now you’d have read all that Gorbachev wall of text of mine, and you’re probably thinking right now as a Houki fan, my bias is clouding my judgement. Well what have we been watching up to now? Clearly Ichi and Houki have been thinking of each other all these years, we’ve seen in all these 12 eps what these 2 thought of each other, we’ve seen how much they care about each other, and how the production staff so stealthily placed Houki’s involvement in this series from start to finish, how the source of each others powers clashed with each others feelings, nearly causing them to drift apart, but that they both  really wanted to see each other, Ichi to keep his promise of her birthday, and Houki wanting to see Ichi. Now is the part when he’s thinking he did the job of protecting everyone, and, out there, practically the middle of nowhere, Houki happens to be around. Hmm, Chi-chan happens to know how to find the Shinonono sisters, I guess that way Ichi was able to recognize Houki counts here as well, and we now see Houki knows where to find Ichi. Okay, maybe it’s not so hard to see someone perched atop the edge of a cliff, but it’s night out and maybe I could also say her Akat wristband was attracted to Ichi’s Byaku, that sounds like a convenient plot element. Enough of my conspiracies, you need to pay attention to what Ichi does when he see’s Houki. He gapes at her, huh. You know… SIMILAR TO THE WAY HE LOOKED AT CHI-CHAN. See the difference? Laura and Shirley can’t compare to the… quad strapped top, Strike Witch bottom that Houki has going here. I need to ask why Chi-chan and Houki have to wear quad strapped tops, surely I understand they hold up well, but…

 The N-tranced Ichika.

Whatever, this scene is far from over. These two have that lover’s awkward atmosphere hovering over them, and Ichi tries to start a convo (ach! He starts the conversation again just like in ep 01!)…. by asking if her hair is alright. Look, he’s still concerned about her, and she follows up with concern for him. She doesn’t like his wishy washy attitude of trying to brush off his injuries as “nothing”, and she’s clearly aware he got hurt because of her, and she wants to continue thinking about him. Hmm, my rage is boiling right now, her mind is filled with nothing but Ichi… ayup anyways, he wants to punish her. Like the Punisher er I mean S&M play? Too bad, while that would have been fun to see, he just does the usual forehead flick. Houki is miffed, bringing in her kendo spirit into this, and the fun part is where he reacts to Houki’s boobies touching him (curse you Ichi feeling up my Houki). I’m going to trample on everything you ever thought about this scene, as once again, we’ve seen it before.

 She grabbed him. That’s a misdemeanor.

But the result here I am going to explain the hell out of it. Recall those Shirley eps, when she was first revealed as a girl, and she got her big ones on his arm, what did he say? It bothers him, huh? Why the hell does it? Well I trust you’ve read enough Manga, and watched enough Anime, and hell if I’d be surprised if you’ve read a lot of H-doujins too, but it doesn’t take a Ishihara to figure out in Japanese literature/entertainment mediums, the usual response right here is “because I’m a guy!”. Well this is the one thing Ichi never managed to say in the series, so let’s go back to Shirley, and she asks him if he wants to see her big ones. She never shows, and he never see’s, so nothing happened there and nothing progressed. Recall Chi-chan’s words in episode 10, if they want to get a hold of him, they got to level up and grab life by the horns. This scene when Houki grabs his hand and places it on her soft ones, this is the defining moment as to why I believe Houki leveled up to Chi-chan levels and literally jumped ahead of the other girls. Rinny never got to get her infirmary kiss onto him, Cecy-chan never got to show her black pantsu, Shirley got deeply friend-zoned despite her method of advances, and if I had to say, I’d say Laura is the only real competition as she is the only one seen in the series giving him a good one on the lips. But Laura failed to garner any more attention from Ichi, which could largely be attributed to that otaku friend of hers in the Kraut Bunny Squad. Houki took charge, and grabbed life by the horns, she asked a question, and got a good enough response. While Ichi’s response is rather weak, it is unfortunately his character to react this way, this being the same guy who says Eh, Huh, Eto, Hmm, Uhh, clearly Ichi is not assertive, so imagine if he straight up says “hell yeah!” or maybe something more civilized like “yes, I do”, or maybe even a straight answer. He can’t do that, he never can, not even to his own sister, who made clear in episode 07, I believe, when he gave her a half-assed answer and she rebuked him for that. Of course he’s surprised to finally cop a feel, it took a lot of courage from Houki to do that, something we never saw these 12 whole eps, something Ichi was well aware she’s not like that.

I call shenanigans. This picture is proof their foreheads touched, making no room for Ichi to pull his head back, and then forward again only to bump into Cecy’s DRAGOONs. I AM THE WINRAR.

Let’s bring into question the instigated kiss. Well she was happy, you’ve seen in this series already how much Ichi wants to make a girl happy, you’ve seen how much he showcased generosity to the girls, so why is this kiss a surprise? Is it weird of him to do this? Come on people, we’ve seen already how much these two think about each other, and in this scene, he’s the one initiating the kiss, heck he see’s Houki is happy so why not reward her just like how he was nice to the other girls. Except this is special, because instead of giving Houki a nickname, instead of feeding Houki, heck he doesn’t even need to save her anymore, he levels up in his relationship with her by trying to kiss her. Hmm. It doesn’t work though, but I’m not done yet. Har har har and a bottle of Kool Aid, is this a harem series, or is this a harem end? I have a good question here. What’s the most recent Harem series you watched? Let’s say for example the end of the To Love Ru manga (not Darkness). If I recall this correctly, Rito ran for his life, having botched the confession. Did he say “Momo, let’s get out of here!”? Did he even bother to grab Sairenji? Naw, I don’t even remember much of that so maybe it’s not a really good example, but good enough to get my message across. Ichi wants to run with Houki, and he grabs her arm and in a single stroke princess-carried her. Okay I don’t need to trumpet this so many times now, but any other harem series, I bet the lead male would have left her, heck maybe she would have gotten mad that he left her behind and then she’d join the haremette’s into chasing him, but whatever the case, the message is quite clear enough.

Thanks for the memories, Izuru Yumizuru.

He cares for her, and she cares for him. And I like how the Anime ended.

It was a fun ride, and I really typed the hell out of my lappy, but we established a number of things, and saw things differently, but most importantly, I enjoyed the ride and what I saw.  We actually answered a lot of questions, most importantly these:

-Houki was not shafted through the entire series.
-Ichi is dense by nature/character, not by mental illness, and he is not gay. >__> Damnit Jim! I’m a scientist, not a doctor! The hell should I know if he didn’t bop his head when he was a toddler or something…
-Houki cared a whole lot for Ichi.
-Ichi cared a lot for Houki, like 6 years worth and counting.
-Recall earlier in the series, that Houki’s I.S. training for Ichi wasn’t really working out for him. He never needed the training, and this was why it was wrong of Houki to continue pushing power over anything else, early in the series she thought he had changed for the worst and she didn’t trust in him enough, but in the end she trusted him enough, and it brought them closer to each other.
-He is a siscon. Hell, with a sister like her, who wouldn’t be? If I had Tabane as a sister, I’d go hand in hand with her.
-Speaking of Tabane, she literally orchestrated the entire last part of the series, in turn assisting the relation of Houki and Ichi.
-As you can see now, I.S. actually did have a heck of a plot (or should I sugarcoat that as “subplot”?), and a lot deeper than it looks on the surface, and it sure as hell made a lot of sense 95% of the time. NO generic harem here, but instead an interesting Houki route from start to finish.
-Houki’s sense of power was the direct opposite of Ichi’s sense of power. A crucial story element, she had to accept her faults, find out what it is she really wants, and she had to decide what it is she really wants to do. Kinda like from Black Knight to White Knight, this is almost the same with her romance side of the storytelling in this series; she started out speechless when she meets Ichi for the first time in 6 years, the sudden involvement of other girls in the harem nearly caused a rift in her relationship with Ichi, and when she sees that Ichi meant more to her than all that strength she tried to live with in isolation, she found the courage to be honest with him and literally grabbed him for herself. From speechless to assertive, she matured over the entire run of the series. That’s development.

-I may have come off a little hard on Shirley, but don’t take it to heart. In the Anime, she clearly was never in Ichi’s strike zone, and her advances were either shot down or cut off abruptly.

We’ve also established that despite all her advances, Shirley never exited the friend zone, we’ve also seen that Rinny is by far the shafted haremette of the series, we’ve seen that Chi-chan has a gps tracking device on those closest to her, and we’ve also seen some great mecha action, we’ve seen some boobies, we’ve… wait a minute, I think I’m going way off here >__>

I now present to you the biggest question you will ever have asked yourself in recent times:

Did you watch Infinite Stratos for the plot?

I know I did 😉

But one might argue that I had a head start by re-watching this series for this editorial, which is actually incorrect as it’s been well known already I watch Anime differently than others, and I had to depend largely on my memory (from episodes 1-5 before the first sickness) because prior to my sickness in February, I.S. was my preferred series for Winter 2011, and during the dual sickness of February and March, I could only follow one series, and chose I.S. over the rest (you’ll notice my sudden disappearance from other Animesuki threads during this time, most notably Rio Rainbowgate). I really had very little time which was spent mostly on fighting two illnesses during Feb. and March, and 14 days into April was mostly spent on recovering from them (my serious lack in forum involvement for Spring 2011 anime is evident of that). I really suggest re-watching I.S. though, and remembering the words of this editorial, because not only will the entire series look completely different than it’s alleged “generic harem” tag, but you’ll get to see that it really wasn’t bad at all from the very start, to the very end.

(Infinite Stratos also provides (unconfirmed) evidence in The mangatron’s deep conspiracy theory of “The hidden message behind the lead females of Anime, Manga and Games”, an ongoing research into the subconscious mind of an artist’s depiction of cover art and promotional material. The research has not been posted yet in any form whatsoever.)

Stupid facts:  over 69,300 characters, over 12,000 words (estimated if we remove some non-IS stuff), this editorial was also partially typed on a HTC Touch Pro (suffered a crash in the editing program most likely due to the sheer amount of words). It took several weeks due to real life work, XDA-Developer stuff, and Spring 2011 Anime.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of the “I love Houki” series of editorials from the mangatron! (What? There’s more?) I don’t intend to make it 12,000 words though…

Post subject to proofread edits.

One response to “Deep Striker: in depth look into Houki and Ichika’s relationship in the Infinite Stratos Anime

  1. Nice job on the essay, it cleared things up for me. The series feels a lot more focused once a single romance is set. I guess harem set-ups just aren't my thing.

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