Combining the fun of an anime about card games with the classic idea of “be careful what you wish for,” I genuinely enjoyed Selector Infected Wixoss. It explores the lives of various girls sucked into a zero sum occult game, with a protagonist who defies the rules in the sense that she plays for the love of the game, which has its own consequences. Selector Spread Wixoss is an immediate sequel that follows up on the cliffhanger from the first series, and it tries to take all of the disparate information strewn throughout the series and thread it together into a coherent story. The results are mixed.
At the end of the first series, protagonist Kominato Ruuko has a climactic battle with the fashion model/fellow “Selector” Urazoe Iona, but in spite of Ruuko winning it is Iona’s wish that triggers. Iona, wishing to battle alongside the strongest, becomes Ruuko’s Lrig—her main card. Along the way, Ruuko and her friends have also learned the terrible truths of the Wixoss TCG: those who lose three times have their wishes reversed (someone who wishes for friends can never make friends again), and even those who win have their minds swapped with their own Lrigs. Selector Spread Wixoss explores the origins and reasons behind the Selector battles as well as the truth of a mysterious “white room” and the girl that resides there.
As elaborate as the story can get, plot was never really the strength of Wixoss and it shows in this second series as there a number of huge inconsistencies. While sometimes narrative consistency can be set aside for dramatic flair and strengthening characters, with Wixoss those plot holes are really impossible to ignore. I won’t go into detail about them, but there are certain explanations, connections, and reveals that just don’t quite make sense if you think about it for a few seconds, and more often than not it’s to instill a major change in a character. The story resolves well enough, and Ruuko’s stance is ultimately an interesting one, but it could have happened without all of the attempts at intricacy.
Even so, I still hold Selector Spread Wixoss in high regard. While the “conspiracy” behind the Selector battles kind of falls flat, this second series still maintains and even amplifies the strengths of the original, namely the exploration of various characters’ psychologies and the idea of wishes and desires born out of suffering, ambition, and various other emotions. For example, after Ruuko learned the truth about Wixoss in the previous series, she and her friends become dedicated to never battling again. They’ve lost too much, and are too conscious of the dangers. However, Ruuko loves Wixoss, and along with prodding from Lrig Iona she comes across as a recovering addict. “One more card battle, just one more, no biggie,” Ruuko says, as her friends try to pull her away from he deck, which she actually keeps in her pocket the whole time. At the same time, while she eventually finds a reason to battle and a noble wish to grant that is very fitting for her character, it is a bit disappointing to lose her Ryu-like status from the previous series.
I had previously compared Wixoss to Puella Magi Madoka Magica because their similarities make it almost impossible to ignore. In looking at these two works again, I realize that they essentially have opposite strengths. Whereas Madoka Magica thrives on its twists and manages to bring it all together in the end at the expense of characterization (which often feels stiff and unnatural), Wixoss as a whole manages its characters’ stories, feelings, and humanity much more deftly with the overall plot holding together like a game of Jenga. In the end, I find Wixoss to be a fascinating series that doesn’t deliver on all of its promises, but the ones it manages to fulfill are satisfying and thought-provoking.