Selector Infected/Spread Wixoss: A Life of Cards

Oh hey, I’m finally here. In thinking about why I haven’t checked out Wixoss beforehand, I think was in my own box of shows I watched at that time. I wasn’t seriously into seasonal anime in 2014 yet, the show was a card game anime that I wasn’t interested in checking out at the time, and it smelt vaguely of a Madoka thing from a distance. Yeah, I was in that zone of my existence before I stretched out more sense most of those things are wrong. This isn’t an anime about the cards, but the players themselves. Wixoss also takes some inspiration from Madoka, but put its own spin on a lot of different concepts from that show. Wixoss is a completely different kind of existential horror story centered on wishes that can’t be seen on the macro level. There is also a sincerity to Wixoss that helps it feel real.

The game of Wixoss is interesting. It features a player centering all their attacks and plays on a cute anime girl avatar, an Lrig, against another player with the same set up. There are multiple types of styles and elements to play with and each avatar has a certain amount of hit points before an Lrig and player is defeated. There isn’t a lot of gameplay focus in this show, but that is why another attribute is added. What if a new mechanic is focused on the player’s wish? A female player is called a selector because they are selected by a Lrig that is actually alive to fight for the selector’s wish. If a certain selector and Lrig combo win, the selector turns into an eternal girl and gets their wish fulfilled. If the selector loses three times, their wish is corrupted and they are out of the game. This is how the Wixoss goes.

This is the story of Ruko Kominato who was chosen to be a selector by an Lrig named Tama. Also, this is the search for Ruko to find friendship after moving to a new town which is, surprising to no one, the main theme of this story. Not to mention the fact that Ruko doesn’t have a wish at first unlike all the other characters around her, but playing Wixoss as a selector has opened that door to friendship with their own wishes. Yuzuki is in Ruko’s class and becomes her friend after a short match that gets cut off early and has the taboo wish of dating her twin Kazuki. Yuzuki and Ruko also become friends with a shy girl named Hitoe who struggled to become friends with anyone, so Hitoe wishes to have friends. The unfortunate thing is these girls are good, but were subjected to both consequences in the series by winning and losing respectively. Ruko gains her own wish by seeing the full range of madnes on display.

The evil model Akari is the first villain in Wixoss. She is a popular, a model, and has plenty of people that follow her for vain reasons. She is also the most fun character in my opinion because of how unhinged she gets when battling other selectors. It’s not just her brutal nature in the game where she takes no quarter, but she actively goads people into battling. Very energetic, very fun. The other apparent villain is also a model, but is softer and more mysterious until the right moment happens. Why? We don’t know until the end of the first season, Infected. Since the first season set up the stakes of the hidden Wixoss game and the world it’s in, it wouldn’t make sense to reveal it until later on. The midpoint is the location where the stakes change and this is how Wixoss went about it and it’s very well done.

Spread is the second portion of this season and it’s the solution season. How can Ruko get Hitoe and Yuzuki out of their conundrums? Ruko’s next wish is focused on making this situation return to normal somehow. There is also the main theme of friendship that appears even deeper than before when Tama goes missing and is who knows where and her Lrig becomes Iona which means the mystery goes deeper. Also, the main force behind the Wixoss game appears and causes the whole major conflict. It’s all tied together with Ruko breaking out of herself isolation to break someone out of their own eventually. The darkness and manipulation of the world must be defeated for the good to win in the end and peace to be restored. Yay, the cycle no one ever sees is broken. I like how everything works so well here.

I think Wixoss’s story and characterization is decent. Very well thought out, very well paced, the mystery reveals were done at the right times, and everything. My major complaint goes with how Mari Okada usually writes things. She is a very all-in sort of writer and there is no room for nuance anywhere. There are almost no moments of quiet that allows the characters to emote or express themselves through facial expressions or direction. The pacing is just too tight for that to happen at all. The one moment of attempted nuance is the building that Ruko’s grandmother talks about being almost finished like tetris, but it’s over written in a way that we know what it means. Some more nuance would be nice after all. Still, the ride is good and emotional in its own right even if the viewer knows exactly where it’s going. That’s good story telling.

I enjoyed the Wixoss matches themselves, even if they are only expressed through cute anime girls in different costumes firing laser beams or attacking each other physically to cause damage. As I stated previously, there wasn’t as much focus to game mechanics, and I find that fine myself. The ah ha’s and turn arounds were able to work on emotional beats when self confidence in the selectors game was either found or lost in the middle of a match. I think that works considering that having a character grow and gain a new form, fire laser beams at each other, or even perform a physic attack replace the emotion from moody direction. I find that acceptable. Having a larger amount of mechanics in the wixoss game explained would not allow this to happen at all so Wixoss itself, the show, wouldn’t work either. This was obviously the choice that came into play when writing the series and many people might have problems, but I don’t. This is where some of the nuance went.

That moves into how the show looks itself and I think, in general, it’s above average and efficient. I say this because of how the show is put together. The Wixoss fights are 1 v 1 and rely on one Lrig doing a combat action followed by the other doing something similar while the selectors making the decisions are standing still behind their own consoles. Within the text of the show, that is all very effective. Especially since the realm selectors play in is very minimalistic, yet full of otherworldly atmosphere and mood. There are decently detailed backgrounds for the outside world though and massive bits of movement when needed. I like the character designs themselves. Each of the girls looks so different from each other in terms of outfits and clothes. Selectors wear their normal human clothes and come in different shapes and sizes while Lrigs wear some wild and other worldly clothes which makes sense in context.

So, I am going to give Selector Infected/Spread Wixoss a good. I enjoyed watching it quite a bit because it is mostly well written. Mostly. Within the emotional context of the story and series, Wixoss is very well thought out. It is well paced on a very emotional core and I think the logics of the series are very sound too. I just think the characters are written in a somewhat bland way? I mention how everything feels a little autopilot a few paragraphs, right? In terms of facing and fighting the fate each character is going to deal, I think that works very well. I just think that the characters are a little uninteresting because of that fact because of how deep characters are in their roles in the story and not knowing about them more as people besides the minimum from how story focused this series is. Still, I will continue my Wixoss journey because I really do like this show. I wouldn’t give it a good otherwise. I will move onto more in the future.


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13 thoughts on “Selector Infected/Spread Wixoss: A Life of Cards

  1. I really liked this anime, I do think it has problems but for a card batteling anime this is quite good! Even though a lot of people die in Yugioh the punishments here always hit me more.
    I do kind of dislike the ruleset subsequent instalments took but all in all I think this was very much worth the watch!
    I always felt a bit alone in that stance so I am happy to see people rate it on a good spectrum as well 😀

    Liked by 2 people

    1. As a new comer it franchise, there is a few people around our blogging sphere that like Wixoss quite a bit, so you aren’t alone. It’s kind of the reason why I tried it out myself 😁

      Like

  2. WIXOSS is one of my all time favourite Anime franchises, with the Selector series in particular being in my Top 5, so it’s really nice to see some praise for the series and an actual understanding of what it was trying to do.

    People tend to get hung up on the card games mechanics not being explained, without ever really acknowledging that the card game is just a vehicle to tell the story and explore the conflicts between the characters.

    I highly recommend the spin-off/sequel series Lostorage. A lot of people weren’t as keen on it, but I think it has its own charm, even if it isn’t as good as Selector.

    I’m still waiting to see how the currently airing spin-off will play out, since it seems to be a completely different type of series, focusing on idols and being a lot more lighthearted. I suspect there’s a dark twist coming but… We’ll see!

    Anyhow, I’m glad you enjoyed this one! Really refreshing write up, and welcome to the few!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It has been a lot of fun getting into this franchise and I have gotten some good guidance from Jon Spencer on the franchise.

      I will jump into the sequel eventually. I’ve just been all over the place with what I’ve been watching recently.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Nice, it’s definitely cool that you’ve now gotten into Wixoss! Personally I consider the sequel to be even better although I know most prefer the original. I’d say there’s a bit of a trade off with the sequel having less interconnected plots like this one but you do get more gameplay and mechanics involved.

    I really liked the animations for the contracts in Wixoss where they grow a win and everything. At those scenes I always thought the animation was at its peak

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I haven’t either honestly besides Yu-Gi-Oh when I was a kid Ok, maybe Chihayafuru but that is a very special case where there aren’t holographic avatars of anime characters.

        Liked by 1 person

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