Selectors be crazy.
What’s the Story?
Ruko has always struggled to connect with other people and being the new girl at school doesn’t help. Her brother gives her a deck for this new game called WIXOSS in the hopes that it’ll help Ruko to make friends, but when she opens the pack she finds that the avatar card, known as an LRIG, can move and talk. Ruko finds herself propelled into a battleground with young girl’s hopes and dreams on the line, but does she have any right to take part in a battle when she doesn’t have a wish of her own to fulfil? Even when she finds her wish, it doesn’t matter because as the girls will soon learn, even if you win at WIXOSS, you’ll still lose.
Don’t come into this anime if you’re interested in the card game or if you want to watch an anime about a card game because you won’t get it. These first two seasons do a lot better job with the card game then the latest series, Lostorage incited WIXOSS did. I mean these two series actually show you the game mat and I have a very vague idea how the game is supposed to work with spells and energy and such, though my impression could be completely wrong. The card game isn’t what’s really important though, it’s just background noise, there as an excuse to force the girls through hell. The game isn’t completely superfluous though; you do feel the weight of the girl’s emotions behind them and as a representation of the struggles they’re going through it does work. Also they happen to be really prettily animated.
What makes this series is the characters and their stories, their crazy, crazy stories. I mean my heart goes out to these girls and the wealth of horrible things they have to go through just to get their wishes. Each character has their own stories to tell that will pluck at your heartstrings, even the psychotic twisted people (which is a good portion of the cast) made me feel sorry for them, I soon went back to hating them, but there was that moment of sympathy. I mean I can’t really think of a single character that didn’t have either some kind of psychological hang up or tragic path to walk.
There’s Ruko, our female lead, she doesn’t want to bother anybody so she never really puts herself forward or thinks of her own wants and desires, which tends to make it hard for people to get a read on her. She also happens to have a bit of an addiction to battling throughout the first series, though this is squashed not long after learning the real cost of the WIXOSS game. Then we’ve got Hitoe, a girl so shy and awkward that she genuinely believes the only way for her to make friends is to have a wish granted. Next we have Yuzuki, who is in love with her twin brother. Okay, personal feelings here, incest is icky and this part of the series was really uncomfortable for me, but at the same time Yuzuki really has it rough. I mean being in love with someone that you can’t ever be with? That is cruel, not the cruellest thing this show can come up with, but still pretty darn cruel.
Then we come to one of my favourite characters, even though I hate her so much, Aki-crazy, sorry that’s Aki-lucky A.K.A. Akira! Seriously this girl is a joy, I mean I know the pretty girl with a foul mouth and fouler personality buried beneath the skin is nothing new, but every time she’s on screen you’re just guaranteed for her to do something horrible or crazy and boy does she go crazy, especially during Spread. What can I say; I love to hate her.
Speaking of sadists, it was quite the sadist who came with the rules of WIXOSS and I do take a little bit of issue with this. There will be slight spoilers here, so skip to the next paragraph if you want to avoid them. Okay, I get the first tragic event, the girls are battling for their wishes so if they lose then their wishes will be corrupted, anyone could see that plot twist coming from a mile away. Where it starts to feel like overkill is when you learn that even if you, you become trapped in a card as an LRIG while your former LRIG takes over your body and fulfils your wish for you, whether they want to or not. I mean the whole LRIG taking over your body is a cool idea, but it feels like a bit much. It’s unnecessarily cruel and when I first heard it I wasn’t happy because it meant the game could never be won. I didn’t think it was necessary, but then the series went into Mayu’s story and explained why the rules are the way they are and that’s where I came to like the idea more. It makes sense in context and the whole point it that they’re unnecessarily cruel.
In all honesty when the first series starts out it does have a whiff of Madoka Magica about it, which is not when the series is at its best. Drawing a comparison is a bad thing for this anime because it’s neither as smart or as artistic as that series. Madoka Magica was a fantastic series that was intricately plotted and a story of hope overcoming darkness, even if it comes at a terrible price for someone. That series was beautiful in so many senses of the word and I can’t help but feel that WIXOSS was the lesser when it tried to go for the same kind of darkness and tragedy. WIXOSS isn’t anywhere near a bad series though, it really is good, it just needs time to find its footing. Once the series starts telling the story of Mayu towards the end of Incite and throughout Spread, that’s where these two series really shine. This isn’t a dark series, there are plenty of dark moments, but this is a series about making choices, how crushing loneliness can really be and the power of friendship to overcome all (yes it does come down to a sappy ending, and yes that does jar with all the swearing and violence earlier, still cried though).
In the end Selector incited WIXOSS and its sequel Selector spread WIXOSS do unite to make a pretty good story (though you do really need Spread to make this series work). It takes a while for the show to find its footing, but it really shines once it gets into the mystery of Mayu and the White Room and exploring how the rules of the Selector came to be. The card game is really just an excuse to have the drama occur, but it’s still good drama and however crazy some of the characters are, I’ve come to like them all in their own unique ways and its great to see them overcome the tragedy that was laid out for them. Friendship really is a beautiful thing.
Chris Joynson, aka the Infallible Fish, is a writer, blogger and lover of animation living in Sheffield. The blog updates every Friday.