Ok I’m not gonna lie–Charlotte Dunois of Infinite Stratos has charmed her way into my personal top 10 female anime characters. For those of you unfamiliar with Infinite Stratos, I will be doing a review of it when the show ends on March 25th. Here’s a quick overview. Infinite Stratos is a comedy/harem anime, meaning there are lots of pretty girls and one lucky guy with plenty of outrageous situations. For good measure, mechs are also thrown in. This is as generic an anime as it gets; however, I personally love this stuff.
In this show, the protagonist is a Japanese guy name Ichika Orimura, who happens to be the only guy in the world who can pilot the mechs of the series known as IS. As such, he is enrolled in IS Academy, which is naturally full of only girls. There he meets childhood friend Houki Shinonono of Japan, the snooty Cecilia Alcott of England, other childhood friend Fong Lingyin of China, the stern Laura Bodewig of Germany, and the topic of today’s discussion, the super cute Charlotte Dunois of France.
Without giving away too many details, Charlotte first enters IS Academy posing as a male student by the name of Charles (unoriginal, yes). Predictably, Ichika finds out that she is indeed a girl. This is an example of a reverse trap, and in my opinion, if it wasn’t for this small plot line, the show would be have been far less enjoyable. What is a trap you say? Basically, the denizens of 4chan twisted the Admiral Ackbar meme “It’s a trap!” to mean a guy who looks so much like a girl that by the time you get in bed with him it’s too late, thus falling into a trap. Bridget from the Guilty Game fighting game series is an example of a trap.
Charlotte won me over almost immediately; from the way she frantically tries to hide her real gender to the awkward shower scene, Charlotte never ceases to make me smile. Not only is she smart and aware, but she’s also a hell of a fighter, even with an outdated IS. And to top it all off, she’s even better after she starts acting like a girl; that school uniform of her’s is awesome! Can that skirt get any shorter? Her swimsuit is also the best of the five girls in my opinion as well. I don’t know if it’s coincidence, but her seiyu (voice actress) Hanazawa Kana also happens to be one of my favorites. She’s portrayed Tachibana Kanade (Tenshi) from Angel Beats!, Zange from Kannagi, Futabi Aoi from Asobi ni Iku yo!, Ikaruga Kagome from Asu no Yoichi!, Nadeko Sengoku from Bakemonogatari, Sonohara Anri from Durarara!!, Kusano from Sekirei, and Rana Linchen in the currently airing anime Freezing; I have liked all these characters, most notably Kanade from Angel Beats!
Anyways on to the second part of the article. At one point during episode nine of Infinite Stratos, Ichika gives Charlotte a nickname. This nickname happens to be Char. Now the first thing that came to mind was Char Aznable from the classic Mobile Suit Gundam. Char is my favorite male anime character; he’s just so badass. And who wouldn’t like a guy with the nickname “The Red Comet”? The reason I want to write about Char is that he has become a cultural icon in Japan, much like Darth Vader here in America. One of Char’s most infamous quotes is his “3 times more faster than a usual Zaku” like Darth Vader’s “I am you father.” This quote has been used to identify anonymous posters on 2channel’s Gundam forums (which is named Char custom) by replacing “Zaku” with “anonymous” therefore turning the phrase into “3 times more than usual anonymous.” Char custom is a reference to Char’s tendency to use customized red mobile suits (after all he is the “Red Comet”). The Japanese have had a tendency to label anything red Char custom; for example, a red pencil might write 3 times faster.
Bandai has also tried capitalizing on this. For example, Bandai teamed up with Nintendo to create a Char custom Nintendo Gamecube and a Char custom Game Boy Advance SP. On July 25, 2006, GE Consumer Finance released a Char Custom credit card, which receives 3 times as many bonus points per 1000 yen spent compared to their other Gundam-related credit cards. These are but a few examples of Char’s impact on Japanese culture.
Lastly, Char has spawned a number of “Char clones” or look-a-likes/characters with similar personalities to Char in other Gundam shows. My first encounter with a “Char clone” was while watching Gundam Wing on Toonami (like so many others). This show’s Char was Zechs Merquise. Gundam Seed had Rau Le Creuset. The currently airing Gundam Unicorn has Full Frontal. So as you can see, Char’s impact is felt long after his end.
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