This is review number two hundred and eighty eight. This anime is still part of the Spring 2014 lineup. The anime I’ll be reviewing is called Selector Infected WIXOSS. It’s a twelve episode anime about Madoka playing Yugi Oh. Ahahahaha. I’m laughing at myself. Let’s read on.
This anime is about a girl named Ruko Kominato who has no friends and she didn’t really care. With her brother’s insistence that she make new friends so to not worry her grandmother, Ruko agreed to play this popular card game called WIXOSS. She received a starter pack from brother and it contains a special card that talks. It appears that there is a card called LRIG where talking girls acknowledge the pack owner as their master. It appears that Ruko is now a “selector” and she is able to become an “eternal girl”. These are girls whose wishes can be granted. Any wish you desire and all you have to do is challenge other Selectors in a fight. What can possibly go wrong? Ruko is making friends and getting a wish granted in the process. Of course, it isn’t as straight forward as that. Ruko soon learns the repercussions to being a chosen girl.
Taking the Pants Off
Selector Infected WIXOSS is just one big surprise at every turn. The idea that JC Staff, who I consider to be wallowing in horrible mediocrity these past years, released this anime is really unexpected. The best show they had in the past two years is…well, nothing really. It’s all middle tier bullsh*t ever since they lost momentum some odd years ago. I think it was after the third season of Shana where you can see JC Staff just didn’t have the magic it once had. Even the To Aru franchise wasn’t as satisfying as it used to. The last studio I would think of to deliver us WIXOSS would be JC Staff. I didn’t think they had the balls to do an original screenplay. The fact that JC Staff handled this anime was a good surprise but I think the fact that this Trading Card Game (TCG) themed anime slowly turned into a great Madoka Magica riff is the best surprise of all. It didn’t have as much impact as that magical girl show but I think Selector Infected WIXOSS is actually the first to follow the footsteps of the legendary anime without turning into a rip off of Madoka. It didn’t go quite as far as Genei wo Kakeru Taiyou which literally ripped off every notable element of Madoka. Selector Infected WIXOSS took the elements that made Madoka awesome and made it its own. Of course, the close similarities to Madoka dos ruin the fun a bit but I think the way WIXOSS embraced its TCG element and fuse it with Madoka is what makes it one of the best surprises for Spring 2014. Unfortunately, this show isn’t for everyone though. As much as it majestically presented a gripping narrative, the story badly lags and the pacing feels too stretched out. As I always say though, I can sit through all the boring crap as long as there is a deserved payoff in the end. I believe WIXOSS delivered that but it’s really leaning on both the good and the bad. I considered the plot really satisfying but it was a bit annoying knowing so many loose ends are left untied.
The show started out innocently enough. Ruko is introduced as this normal girl living with her grandmother. In order to gain new friends, she decided to play this popular card game called WIXOSS. One thing led to another and she soon becomes a Selector. These are girls whose wishes can be granted as long as they challenge other Selectors to a card battle. The idea of being an eternal girl with her wish granted sounds like a fun time for Selectors so they do their best to challenge others to get that certain wish granted. The anime gave you the impression that it’s going to be a Yugi Oh rip off. It has a complex card game, interesting players and talking cards for chosen ones. It’s as cliché as you can spin it. Of course, there is the added notion of friendship and cute girls doing cute stuff as well. Things really feel pretty formulaic starting out. I was actually a bit worried that I might not be able to fully understand the rules of WIXOSS in the beginning. When the first battle started, I was absolutely lost. It didn’t seem right that a card game would skip explaining the rules since it’s so pivotal in enjoying the game. You soon realize though that the card game aspect of the anime is just a convenient plot device. It does nothing but move the story forward. I think after the third episode, you soon understand what the show was actually going for. Selectors are given a rare opportunity to get a wish granted. All they have to do is fight. If they win a certain amount of battles, their wish will be granted. Oh, if you lose three times though then something bad will happen. It’s not as worse as a magical girl getting her head bitten off by a cute acid trip monster but I think the dark implications certainly transformed this TCG anime into that familiar bittersweet magical girl show.
I must apologize though. As much as the show isn’t really a Madoka clone, I still can’t shake the similarities away so I might keep mentioning the other show from here on out. It’s my damn review though and I’m not being paid to write such a long winded one so f*ck you. Selector Infected WIXOSS isn’t your typical trading card game anime. It has some elements of it since the girls do battle each other from time to time but the actual focus of the show is elsewhere. This anime is actually about the different Selectors that try to get their wish granted. It’s a really character driven show. In fact, I think this anime is actually more of a character study than anything. It’s rare to see such approach in anime but a character study is less about the plot and more about the main character’s personality and emotions all throughout the progression of the show. WIXOSS doesn’t really have a clear focused plot point to present. It is obvious though that the various experiences of the characters being Selectors and trying to get their wish granted is the main appeal of the show. Be warned, the pacing of this anime is really slow as it introduces characters, explore their backstory, flesh them out rather than developing the plot points of the anime. This leads to too many boring scenes and a dull progression story-wise. The anime balances things out though by showcasing stunning card battles and the occasional girl freak out moment to re-new our interest to the story. This anime was able to create a really satisfying experience despite all the glaring negative aspects it has stuck to it.
This show is about the five different girls who are Selectors and the experiences they had while trying to become an eternal girl. First up is the show’s main character, Ruko Kominato. Ruko is as normal as you’d expect. She is actually content with her life and the only reason she plays as a Selector is because her friends are also Selectors. She doesn’t really have any big wish she wants granted. She just plays the game because it’s fun. This sounds familiar, right? A certain pink haired girl also didn’t have a wish from the beginning. Pink hair girl just eventually realizes the dark truth behind being a magical girl and she soon watches her friends get their life ruined by making that unfortunate choice. Ruko is exactly the same. Since she doesn’t have any wish, she just supports her friends and enjoys battling other people. Being a Selector has an unfortunate twist to it, as they all do, and Ruko soon watches her friends get their life thrown in the crapper. Much like Madoka, she was just this bystander unable to help her friends. As much as she wants to help, there really isn’t anything she can do for them. That is, of course, do what Madoka did. Make a wish. Yeah, it’s really the same. The anime mostly just buildup the moment to when Ruko would decide on a wish and what lengths she’ll go to save her friends. While the plot progression might be the same, I can definitely say that Ruko is no Madoka. Madoka is a sheltered girl who was introduced to a nightmare she does not enjoy and eventually martyred herself to be the hope in the Pandora’s Box. Ruko is quite different. First of all, the inclusion of the TCG elements build her up into a girl that actually likes to battle other people. This is quite a disturbing notion considering the twisted stipulation being a Selector has. Knowing the repercussion of being a Selector, Ruko actually enjoys battles even if she doesn’t accept it herself. Secondly, there is this line that her mother said. She said “I don’t know what she is thinking” and it continues to trouble me personally. She seem to have a really rough past and all the bad things seem to resurface as she lies in a state of confusion about what to do from here on out. Her loving relationship with her grandmother was featured too much. I can only guess it has a deeper meaning to the show. What if that love is no longer there? What will happen to Ruko? Basically, Ruko is as mysterious as the TCG she is playing. WIXOSS holds many secrets and it seems Ruko has some as well that casts doubt and uncertainty towards her. Her love for her friends greatly defines her character though but majority of the time, Ruko also seems to be battling with her guilt as the show progresses forward.
One of Ruko’s close friends is this girl named Yuzuki. If Ruko is the Madoka of WIXOSS, Yuzuki is definitely the Sayaka of the anime. In Madoka, Sayaka was the poor girl who sacrificed herself to make her wish come true. I think it was to help a guy she likes to be able to play his instrument again or something. Her wish came true but it thanks to it that Sayaka both lost a close friend and the guy she like. She then lived a miserable existence until she finally died a miserable death. You gotta love the Urobutcher coming up weird sh*t like this. But you know what is even weirder? Incest. Yuzuki is the girl who is in love with her twin brother and eventually wishes for him to reciprocate her feelings. It starts out as a fluffy dream and a bit playful actually. It’s just a harmless crush so there’s nothing to be worried about. Yuzuki soon convinces us that this isn’t just a harmless crush. This wish of hers isn’t something she made up on a stupid childish whim. Oh no, this sh* is real. In fact, it’s too real. It’s uncomfortably real. Yuzuki is badly dedicated to get this wish come true. She will freaking do anything to get it granted. Things got a bit darker though when Yuzuki learned the dark twist WIXOSS has for Selectors. Is her incest love stronger than that? Do you honestly want to find out? I love this character because of how polarizing she is. As much as you find incest creepy, you still feel a bit sorry for Yuzuki and you still want to cheer her on. She fell in the same depression hole as Sayaka but Yuzuki got herself out of it. Yuzuki is a good example of the kinds of girls that become Selectors. It’s all fun and games at first but what may look like a harmless wish may mean more to them than anything else in the world. I mean that in the literal sense as well since most of them are willing to accept the repercussion WIXOSS has to girls that lose a Selector battle three times.
Hitoe Uemura is one of those unfortunate bastards that lost three times. In the anime, I guess you can consider her the Mami of the show. She’s the poor girl that got her head eaten off. I honestly think Hitoe had it coming though. She battled a bit carelessly and lost two battles before the anime got to episode three. She is the same as Mami in the sense that we discovered that certain dark element the anime had hiding thanks to what these two girls experienced. One is forever immortalized as that headless magical girl and Hitoe is that one poor bastard you just can’t help but feel sorry for. The moment she lost her three battles and the rest of the girls discover the dark stipulation of WIXOSS, it’s where things got progressively serious. The first four episodes was about girls and friendship and that one b*tch you want to slap but after Hitoe get her metaphorical head eaten, it’s all one harsh dose of reality after another. Throughout the rest of the anime, Hitoe played the role of an injured cat too pathetic to even walk. I am personally drawn to her simply because of her misfortune. It was fun seeing her suffer and part of me believes that she really had it coming. Is that too mean? Of course, seeing Hitoe suffer is also pretty heavy. The poor girl didn’t want anything bad to happen and her wish is really harmless so to see her suffer is pretty hard to watch as well. It’s especially stinging when Hitoe’s mother is involved. The poor woman has no idea what is happening to her daughter and she’ll go to desperate limits just to make her daughter cheerful again. While I believe Hitoe f*cking deserved it, her mother certainly did not. Seeing her at wits end trying to be there for her daughter is just really hard to watch. Since Hitoe never died like Mami though, she was still a huge part of the story. I actually like how she represented that “humanity” element of the show. She represented what makes a human really fascinating in a sense that even all the pain in the world wouldn’t keep a strong person down. People might get hurt and cower in fear but they still have some courage inside them that drives them and it’s impressive seeing Hitoe possess such a complex personality.
Next up is Akira Aoi. She’s the popular high school model or something like that. She is super manipulative and one of the few Selectors who really just want her wish granted. Friendship? That concept can go f*ck a can. All she wants is to win enough battles so she can get her wish granted. She is a really evil girl. In the show, she picked on beginners forcing them to lose a miserable battle. She targeted Ruko, Yuzuki and Hitoe early in the show and constantly stalked them if they wouldn’t battle. She’ll use every possible tactic just so she can win. She’s a bully and a maniacal b*tch in every sense of the word. She’s a pure antagonist who is begging to get her comeuppance. I love how Akira transformed in the anime. As much as she is an antagonist, I also believe that she is just a poor defensive little girl who is just acting out. She fully embraced the darkside of WIXOSS though without any regards for others so it’s really only a matter of time before Karma catches up to her. Akira is another good example of the Selectors trying to get their wish granted. While Yuzuki’s approach is stubborn, Hitoe’s approach is hopeful and a bit naïve, Akira’s approach is definitely obsessive and a bit evil. It gives us an idea just how varied these girls are. They aren’t just here to have fun and be friends with everyone, some are out for blood. They’ll prey on the weak and just play dirty if they have to. Akira is actually pretty interesting though because I guess, I can relate. It’s easy to pick on someone weaker than you and trash talk all you want to hide your insecurities. Everybody does it. It’s because deep down they know someone is better than them and it’s eating away at the fact that they can never be better than that person.
Enter our last girl, the bane of Akira’s existence, senior fashion model Iona Urazoe. Iona didn’t do much in the show. She only just stood very arrogantly on top of the other girls. She always has this dark aura about her as if she’s a soul-less monster happily watching little girl squirm in pain. She mostly just annoyed Akira because the girl believes Iona is better at everything. Her hatred for Iona is actually her driving force to being such a massive b*tch. Iona is different though. She’s mysterious but she has also openly accepted the stipulation of WIXOSS. Her true intentions are unknown but it appears that she serves as somewhat an antagonist for Ruko. When she realized that she fancies Ruko a lot, for gawd knows what, she started to give a lot of her time to the confused girl. It’s as if she’s asking Ruko to join the dark side. Iona is a really weird character. For now, she’s just that antagonistic personality in the show that has the same ideals as Akira. Selectors are fair game if they can achieve their wish but Iona’s approach is a lot more different. Shrouded in mystery, her actions are questionable and her wish is something very hard to understand. The anime did promise to reveal her intentions soon enough though. I like how the show handled Iona. She’s such a strong presence and you really just wait for the moment where she finally makes a move. I dare say that the wait was worth it. She was really antagonistic that it really looks beautiful. If certain characters display a human element to their personality or actions, somewhat relatable and agreeable to a degree (even the incest), then Iona would be the anti-thesis wherein she really doesn’t feel human. She’s like a void you’ll most likely deeply stare into and what lies beneath is something you may not like entirely.
The show has a structure to it despite being character driven. This anime has one distinct plot point and that’s the WIXOSS card battle. The rules for the card battle itself aren’t really explained. I know for a fact that WIXOSS will be an actual card game and this anime was used to promote the card game. They’re doing the same approach as Yugi Oh. The show doesn’t really do much to entice you to buy the card game though. It glossed over the rules and attempted to just grow curiosity with all flashy battles in the anime despite lacking context for it. As far as I can tell, LRIG’s are like your gun and the other cards act as bullets. Each phase, you can grow by one level and it helps you access stronger cards. When you reach level four, you can summon level four cards and so on but with the risk of your opponent pummeling you with level one cards if you’re not careful. There are arts card which is like a special skill maybe exclusive to your deck color and spell cards that tip the favor of each battle. Again, the anime never explained the rules so you’re really just blindly guessing as you keep watching. I was hoping I’d get a gist of what the hell is actually happening but once things turned a bit dark, the rules of the game is soon forgotten. The thing that irks me is the lack of life points. For gawd sakes, I can’t tell who is winning each time I watch a battle. Things just happen sometime until some say “I win”. It’s certainly not a smart way to promote an ambitious trading card game like this one. Also, suggesting to little girls that you can have an LRIG in real life that may very well ruin you is like a cop giving out free drugs to kids so they won’t use drugs when they grow up. It just sounds like a bad idea. As compelling as the character driven story is, I don’t really think the WIXOSS trading card game is featured properly.
Story wise though, the mysterious workings of the WIXOSS game is really an intriguing aspect of the show. Again, it’s very much like Madoka and how to be a magical girl. Selectors are given a chance to get their wish granted. If they lose three times, something very bad will happen that will probably suck as much as innocent girls fighting monsters until they turn into one themselves. To grant a wish though, it was never specified how many wins you must obtain and there seems to be more to it than that. This one plot point explored the two possibilities for being a Selector. The show nicely gave us an idea of how it is to lose the right to become a Selector. Different girls with different wishes all met a somewhat bitter sweet ending after losing three times. Each experience is unique but the feeling is still the same. There is a lot of emotional pain, regret and some anger thrown about. After understanding the characters and the rich back story the anime gave us, knowing that their wish won’t come true just feels really heavy. I also quite like Ruko’s reaction to it all unable to move forward after knowing what happened to her friends. As the rules of WIXOSS slowly become clearer, she was often left alone fending off her thoughts on what to do next. It’s not just about losing though. I think the one shocking thing this plot point gave us is the fact that someone actually got their wish granted. The process to granting a wish is really something unique. I love the whole narrative of it. When Selectors become Eternal Girls, well…things happen. It’s a very bittersweet experience and something very hard to comprehend. Much like Madoka, even with the girls getting their wish granted, the magical girls still didn’t feel happy and, in fact, some of them met a very tragic end simply because they longed for something. It’s kind of the same for WIXOSS but also a bit more complex. Obviously, I’m trying hard not to spoil the whole thing but I also want to talk about it some more. I think it all boils down to this one bitter irony you’ll learn after seeing the Selectors struggle. Some of their wishes are very personal and it’s often something very hard for them to face. For them, it’s an unreachable goal that only the power of a wish can help them achieve it. For them, it’s making the impossible possible. Of course, some people can overcome that hurdle. In the end, those personal wishes are nothing more than a useless longing for something they know they can’t have. It’s somewhere along the lines of that. It’s very damn deep and I could spend hours talking about the themes and life lessons tuck in the folds of this anime.
Also, it needs to be mentioned that Selector Infected WIXOSS would’ve given us a more meaningful anime experience if Madoka Magica didn’t exist. Of course, that’s a stupid thought because WIXOSS wouldn’t exist without the influences of Madoka. For me though, Madoka was really a life changing anime. Literally nobody saw the twist coming. As in no one knew Mami would get her head eaten and the show would blow up into one nihilistic bomb. People were caught off guard by Madoka and it now has a legacy of being that one depressing magical girl show everyone didn’t see coming. While watching Selector WIXOSS, I noticed the Madoka themes immediately. I try to be as impartial as I can but the moment I see those Madoka elements permeate, I already had my guard up. I was expecting the Mami moment and I was soon expecting that familiar progression happen in WIXOSS as well. WIXOSS tried its best to set itself apart from Madoka but I think it’s because of the latter’s strong presence that you often end up comparing the two then immediately conclude that WIXOSS is inferior. I know it’s wrong and you’re not supposed to do it. I couldn’t enjoy WIXOSS as much because I keep my guard up all the time and I keep looking back at how Madoka did the same scene. To be fair, WIXOSS did a lot of things better than Madoka but it’s often not enough. I expected WIXOSS to be Madoka and it ruined the experience for me. I hope you don’t do the same. WIXOSS has a lot of great things to offer outside the Madoka spectrum. The appearance of an antagonistic character, the heavy focus on Ruko’s mysterious past and the mysteries surrounding the trading card game all have enough unique elements to set itself apart from Madoka. I blame Madoka. It was too damn perfect that I often expect other anime to be as perfect as well. Trust me when I say there’ll never be another Madoka because it was just too damn perfect.
The characters are all pretty interesting. They carried the show through and through so it’s no surprise. Their existence is actually more important than the story itself. Aside from the five main girls, there are also a lot of important side characters than made this show interesting. There is Ruko’s grandmother who is this supportive character than often help Ruko back into shape. Let’s just say this anime had a lot of darkness in it, both metaphorically and literally, and Hatsuko Kominato often served as the light for Ruko. She would support her in time of need and her caring personality was so rare in the show that it actually leaves a strong impression afterwards. There is also the whole thing about Ruko and her mother that Hatsuko seem to know about. It wasn’t explained in the show but I often think her caring personality was compensating for something else Ruko’s mother failed to give her. It’s all up in the air for now. There is also the twin brother of Yuzuki, Kazuki Kurebayashi. He really didn’t do much in the show. He acted like the typical supportive brother but the promise of incest kept him in the loop. The thing I like about Kazuki is the company he keeps. He often has really b*tchy friends that would bully Yuzuki at times. Some of them would be so stupidly annoying that they’ll tease Yuzuki about her incest crush just so these girls can keep Kazuki for themselves. It was a strong component that it makes Yuzuki’s story such an interesting thing to watch. Kazuki cares a lot for her sister but really, I only cared for him so I can find out if he reciprocated the incest feelings of his twin sister. Yeah, the whole incest thing was a big doozy.
Aside from the side characters, there are also the LRIGs the Selectors use to battle each other with. LRIGs are the talking cards that contain a pretty girl inside. All of the LRIGs are sadly one dimensional and they didn’t really do much in the show. Hanayo-san, Yuzuki’s LRIG, explained a few of the battle rules and some of stipulation for being a Selector but these characters don’t possess the rich development the main girls received. At best, they were a side kick for the main girls often just being an onlooker during the high and low moments of their Selectors. They do seem to hide a secret themselves but it’s not really mentioned properly in the show. They have cool fighting moves but that’s about it. Of course, the fate of an LRIG is closely connected to the fate of a Selector so they do have a purpose in the anime. I think the show is just getting around to actually revealing the LRIGs part in the story. It has something to do with the mysteries of WIXOSS so LRIGs will only assume a huge role once that mystery is revealed. Each LRIG has a unique personality though often complementing their Selector’s persona. Akira has an LRIG that trash talks as much as she does and Iona has a super sadist as an LRIG so I think these minor characters do add insight to the girls that owns them. Aside from that and fighting in cool battles, LRIGs are really nothing more than be a mascot for the WIXOSS card game. I’m guessing they’ll be like the Dark Magician or the Blue Eyes White Dragon, strong characters you associate with the card game.
By the end of the show, WIXOSS season two is already announced and soon to make its appearance on Fall 2014. As far as building up the story and developing the characters, this anime really did a magnificent job at it. The best part is that the comparisons to Madoka will soon lessen as WIXOSS finally takes on a life of its own. I’m hoping it stray as far away from Madoka while making sure it still possess the elements that made the magical girl show legendary. It’s a strong thing to expect from the second season but I think there is enough presented in the first season to give us a really powerful second season. I’ve learned from experience though that second seasons often disappoint so I am not getting my hopes up just yet. All the things beautifully presented in the first season have a chance to turn ugly in the next season. It all depends on how it’s utilized but really, the story is so strong at this point that a score of seven below would be a crime for the second season. Again, I love the fact that JC Staff gave us this anime. I never took them to have enough balls to do an original screenplay. O. Screenplay is anime that aren’t adapted from any source material. It’s all original ideas presented by an anime. Doing an O. Screenplay is a massive risk since they have a good chance to fail (see: Nagi no Asukara, Galilei Donna, Genei wo Kakeru Taiyo and Tari Tari) A lot of them actually suck and some are just slightly below the middle (see: Dog’s Days). It’s rare for shows like these to come out right and I think WIXOSS has enough wonderful elements to set it up above the rest. JC Staff often relied on tried and proven methods to keep themselves floating off total mediocrity. I think their last attempt of adapting a work by ToraDora’s author, which ended in utter disaster, helped them open their eyes a bit. Still, a trading card game with Madoka elements is something I’d expect A-1Pictures would do, not a studio as soft as JC Staff. I always believed that they’ll climb out of their rut and do something amazing. I’m actually a bit teary eyed knowing that I’ll be able to type “Good Job JC Staff” after so many “I’m hoping for something great from this studio”. Now it’s just up to JC Staff if it can keep it the momentum and finally reclaim their lost glory. Takuya Sato directed Steins Gate. That’s all you need to know about this man. He knows how to flesh out a character and he knows to do a proper character driven story. Those types of stories are hard to pull off but Takuya does it nicely with how he presented WIXOSS. I have such high hopes for the second season. With JC Staff on a high, I sincerely hope Selector Spread WIXOSS is going to be near perfect. Let’s face it, Madoka is perfect but I think WIXOSS can just slightly go for near perfect. JC Staff better f*cking deliver.
Sight and Sound
Character design is pretty decent for the anime. It’s not that big of a standout but I think cute girls are still appealing however you spin it. There’s not a lot to talk about here. The facial design is pretty normal. I love the expressive eyes with the cute hair design the character has on but everything else is really just decent. I guess if you combine the cute faces with the outfits then you have a good character design to talk about. The outfits are pretty ordinary as well since the girls usually just wear hoodies or their school uniform. Majority of them are flat breasted under developed girls as well so really, nothing is going on here. Combined with the cute faces though, it does border the line of costume making the girls look petite and cute in a certain manner. The character design is really just good enough to compliment the story since the content of the show is intriguing enough. I do think it was a bit wasted not to make the design flashy in away. Even the LRIG design feels a bit lacking. I love their cute costumes and the highlight on the flat breast but I think a brighter color palette or just employing a more seasoned designer could’ve made some big impact. Considering the TCG aspect needs to be represented as well, I think not giving us flashy characters is a disservice to the card game element of the anime. Simplicity goes a long way though especially when you have a compelling story like WIXOSS and I think the show walked on the side of caution.
Animation is decent as well. The card battles where the LRIGs rampage is pretty awesome but it’s not as flashy as you’d hope to be. I do love the way different camera angles are used to give us a different feel for the battle but I think it’s not enough. Since the card battle lack context, seeing an LRIG throw fireball just feels a bit lacking at times. The facial expressions are where the anime stood out animation wise. So many ranges of emotions were displayed in the show and I think each one was given justice. It often heightens the impact of the story to see the facial expressions twist and knot in the anime. Animation is all good and well but there are two things I really like about the show in terms of visuals. The first one is this:
Hand painted background. I dunno, seeing such an old school approach seems to give the anime some sort of life. Scarily enough, JC Staff is actually not responsible for this. The hand painted backgrounds is done by Studio Pablo who also lends their awesomeness for Flower of Evil. The painted background isn’t prevalent all throughout the anime but I think it really left a big impression on how you experience the show. It kind of gives the anime a rustic feel to it that seems to calm me down a bit. I think it’s a good approach since the show did go all Madoka on us. Secondly, the show employed a lot of darkness. I thank the director for this. Throughout the anime, there are scenes that are often just surrounded in black or darkness. These scenes are often the moments that forewarn us of something bad about to happen or when a poor girl is suffering. It’s also a very smart way for the director to visually tell the story. Take a look at this:
Notice Ruko and Yuzuki curled up on the bottom with darkness around them. This isn’t the director being flashy and displaying his chops. No, this is visual storytelling. Ruko and Yuzuki have learned about the dark stipulation of WIXOSS prior to this scene. The darkness now symbolizes misfortune and the poor girls are surrounded by it, consumed in it and helpless inside it. This is another rare thing you’ll see in modern anime. It’s such a wonderful addition to the show that really made the whole endeavor worthwhile. Of course, it can also be a bit of a nuisance. Too many scenes are often covered in darkness that I think it was a bit overdone. Still, visual narration. That sort of sh*t is hard to come by.
The anime’s OP is “killy killy JOKER” by Kanon Wakeshima. This is a really lovely song. Kanon’s voice is really amazing with the way she sets the song’s pace. The song is catchy by itself though. It has a well-paced verse that leads to a really energetic chorus. The OP sequence features all the characters and their LRIGs. It also has the dark element upfront so I think the OP is a good way to see if the anime peaks your curiosity without any spoilers to the plot. It also featured the card battles and all the LRIGs clashing. It looks as awesome as it is in the actual show.
The anime’s ED is “realize -Yume no Matsu Basho-” by Cyua. It’s another awesome. It has a really gloomy feel to it that I am oddly attracted to. Cyua’s voice is also especially haunting. She sets such a gloomy tone to the song that it sounds really beautiful in a dark and weird way. Hey, like the anime. The ED sequence features the stunning background work of the ashow. It’s all hand painted and rustic yet also a bit chilling as well. It lacks any character in it except for Ruko and a few flash of Tama, her LRIG. I think this is a good nod to Ruko, the character, as a whole. Empty yet chillingly beautiful.
8/10 “It’s a card battle game with familiar dark elements with a finely weaved character driven story compelling enough to be just as good as that magical girl show.”
As I said, WIXOSS is a great surprise all around. It might be hard to overlook the Madoka similarities but I think the way the characters are presented is still a strong component to make this show unique. The mysteries surrounding the plot are also something to admire. If you love Madoka then you should try WIXOSS. If you like seeing cute girls being miserable then this anime might work for you. It lags a bit but I think this show is a really wonderful anime people should see. I recommend it.