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Selector Infected WIXOSS
Selector Infected WIXOSS is pretty much what you get if you cross Madoka Magica with trading card games. Matter of fact, the series is used to promote an actual card game in Japan that started up a few weeks after this anime's first episode aired last year. WIXOSS attempts to implement a plot structure similar to Madoka Magica in that the card game that Ruko and a bunch of other girls get entangled in have more darker and sinister elements to it than it would seem on the surface. But while Madoka Magica had characters with depth that made it possible for you to relate to their issues, the main girls with WIXOSS mostly have stock character archetypes that they fulfill and are actually rather limited in depth and make it hard to give a hoot about them. In addition, the series does not wrap up its mysteries in one go like Madoka Magica as there is more to the game that has yet to be revealed and things are left open-ended until its second season, Selector Spread WIXOSS. The card game aspect to the series is also a bit hard to get into since it mostly serves as a backdrop for the problems plaguing the major characters in the series and as mentioned, that aspect is just as hard to give a hoot about. As it is, WIXOSS is mostly typical fare for me as the anime exists to promote a card game and attempts to be like Madoka Magica, yet without the genuinely suspenseful mystery and fleshed-out characters that Shaft's famous magical girl title offers up. This isn't really worth checking out unless magical girl and card game anime have your interest.
Last updated Sunday, December 20 2015. Created Sunday, December 20 2015.
Selector Infected WIXOSS
(All episodes watched):|
WIXOSS turned out to be a show which wobbled back and forth between being intriguing and engaging and being confusing and frustrating. Almost to the very end I was uncertain if it would conclude in a satisfying manner or crash and burn. Fortunately, it ended on a high note, and I'm glad I stuck with it.
When I first saw the title of this show listed at Tokyo Tokoshan, I mistook it for software to fix some downloading problem and skipped over it. Anyway, episode one did a pretty good job of intriguing me. Ruu seems like a nice girl, and weird stuff is happening, but not the usual weird stuff. There's definitely something funny going on within this card game; Ruu ought to be a little more freaked out, though, since she has experienced terrifying nightmares and has been transported to and from some sort of alternate reality. One thing I hate is when fantastic, inexplicable things are revealed to anime characters--and they pretty much shrug their shoulders and accept them without a second thought. That was the first confusing/frustrating bit. This seems too weird to be based on a real card game. It was unclear after one episode how seriously we would be expected to take this; on the one hand there's the terrifying dream, while on the other the fighting avatar girls seem kind of cute (except when they're actually in action). Also unclear is what, if any, explanation for this business there will be. I wish it were more focused. But it might be good, so I decided to continue watching.
It took awhile for me to decide whether this would be a clever and novel story or a pretty predictable and unremarkable one. In order to be good, it seemed to me that it would have to keep expanding, with more details about how WIXOSS works and how it can claim to make dreams come true. What I feared was that the series might end up as nothing more than Ruu's struggle to be the best at an unexplained game and win some sort of wish. Fortunately, that didn't happen; 'battling' actually takes up relatively little of the show. WIXOSS is mostly about the psychology of the players—I just wish that this relatively ambitious and admirable approach had been handled in a less confusing manner.
For example, things got interesting again after it was revealed that not only does winning three WIXOSS games with 'Selectors' supposedly grant a victor's wish, but losing three times carries a heavy cost. But why didn't the LRIGs—the virtual reality fighting avatars--tell the girls about this danger long ago? If I were informed of this risk, I'd promptly throw my cards away and never play WIXOSS again. It turned out that they had a good reason to keep the answer secret, but it wasn't revealed until many episodes later and in the meantime the unfocused manner in which the story was being told left me with no reason to think that we would ever get any reason at all, which, again, is frustrating. It seemed that the one reason for main character Ruu to keep playing (the chance of undoing the effects of Hitoe losing three times) is declared impossible. So, it was hard to keep track of what the characters' reasoning was and the story sometimes didn't make much sense from my point of view. It was often in a state of flux; maybe it would get better, maybe it would get worse, but at the moment I had little idea which.
Going into episode six I was tempted to abandon WIXOSS altogether, since I was frustrated with the lack of a basic explanation of the game. But I decided to give the show one last chance, and was pleasantly surprised to find that this episode made some sense and expanded on the story in an interesting way. For example, Hitoe's mother getting involved can only be a sign of quality, since parents are usually ignored altogether in anime (like being sent to work overseas). Yuzuki's unrequited love, and Ruuko's fear that she might be enjoying WIXOSS too much, are signs of sophistication. The fights themselves aren't all that exciting, but the story as a whole is OK.
In episode eight one character achieves the exalted goal of winning a third WIXOSS match against another Selector, and the results aren't quite what we were expecting; this doesn't exactly seem like a wish being granted to me. It might explain where LRIGs come from, however. I wish exactly what has happened had been made more clear, but I was intrigued nevertheless. In episode nine we experience a fairly common problem: something which will probably be critically important to the story as a whole is revealed to us--but in a confusing manner rather than with the razor-sharp clarity which it demands. Here's how I think it went (Spoiler): In order for your wish to come true, you have to not only win three fights as a Selector, but afterwards be transformed into a LRIG and help somebody else win three fights as well. While you're doing that, your own LRIG transforms into a human, possesses your physical body, and substitutes for you. Yuzuki and Hanayo do this. But it seemed that Yuzuki's wish was already coming true, except it was Hanayo who was acting it out, not Yuzuki. I don't get it. Learning that LRIGs have been/will be human themselves is intriguing, but I am confused about the wish business. And what had happened to Hitoe? Was her former LRIG now in control of her?
OK, episode ten clarifies things somewhat (after giving me a first impression that it would only confuse things even more): Winning three fights as a Selector doesn't result in your dream coming true, no, it just causes you to be transformed into an LRIG yourself, and switching places with your former LRIG. The only way out is to trick your new Selector into making the same mistake and switching places with you. Come to think of it, this explains why Hitoe's LRIG didn't warn her of what might happen before getting into a third fight. It/she acted the way it did because it couldn't resist the temptation to pull the same trick on Hitoe but was ashamed of herself and wished there was another way out of trouble. I had given up on there ever being an explanation, but here it is, and it makes sense to boot. This is pretty neat twist; I just wish it hadn't taken so long for the secret behind WIXOSS to be made clear. What I would still like is an idea of who's behind all this and how it all got started. And why does losing three times have the adverse effect which it does? I was still uncertain at this point if everything would come together in the end and WIXOSS would be a neat story, or if it would remain confused and frustrating to the end. I felt as if I was narrowly holding onto a firm enough grip of the plot to enjoy the show, but feared that I might lose my grip at any time. This show jumps back and forth from intriguing to frustrating, and it could end in either mode. I wasn't sure if hearing that there would be a second season of this show, entitled 'Selector Spread WIXOSS', this fall was good news or not.
OK, well apparently episode ten clarified things too much, so episode eleven had to re-confuse me, with all the stuff about ordinary girls, Selectors, 'Eternal Girls', how and who grants wishes (I had started thinking that it was all a ruse and wishes never really came true), etc. Apparently the climax will have to do with Iona, the Black-haired model, holding a WIXOSS party, which I guess is bad because it will result in a wholesale amount of Selector girls being converted into LRIGs (or maybe something else). This show is frustrating because it seems to have the essence of truly entertaining intrigue and danger, but manages to keep things so damn confusing that it's hard to tell what to make of it. But the building tension was kind of cool, and gave me a distinct thrill. In particular, Ruuko making up her mind what exactly she needs to do and setting out to do it. A Japanese schoolgirl's gotta do what a Japanese schoolgirl's gotta do. This show is more than just fight and fight and fight again, instead it has some definite tragedy and drama to it.
Thankfully, for all the zig-zagging this show did between intriguing and frustrating, it ended on an intriguing note. I actually thought the way it ended was kind of neat. There never really was a complete explanation of WIXOSS, but the friendship and camaraderie among the characters developed to the point that I could watch just for that. I don't completely get everything that happened (what was that nuclear-like blast that rocked the tower near the end?), but I get enough and it's cool nevertheless. Here's what I think happened (spoiler): Iona's wish was to become the LRIG of the toughest, awesome-est Selector around, and she concluded that that was Ruu. Tama got shoved out of that job, and now she's missing, and no doubt some more battling will be needed to find her. Ulith has taken over Iona's real-world body. Tama said her wish had come true, but I don't understand what it was. Also, why did the Goddess of Wixoss (or whatever she's called) try to persuade Tama that Ruu didn't really consider her a friend? I guess that business about Tama and Ruu not completing their oath in time for Ruu's wish to come true was necessary to prevent Ruu from becoming an LRIG herself; I guess. I don't really understand what her plan was; did she really expect that her wish to dismantle WIXOSS altogether would be granted? Anyway, this final episode was kind of freaky, stylish, clever and existential. Basically, WIXOSS was a neat story which was told in a haphazard manner. I'll be watching 2nd season--I just pray the first episode of that refreshes our memories and explains what exactly is going on.
Last updated Friday, September 12 2014. Created Friday, April 11 2014.