First Impressions – Selector Infected WIXOSS

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When an Okada train leaves the station, you better be damn sure you want to be on-board.

I’m never going to skip the premiere of an Okada Mari series, because the curiosity factor if nothing else is enough to draw me in.  And in truth, for all her flaws as a writer her shows are rarely boring.  We’ve just finished a long, trying ride with Nagi no Asukara which displayed all that makes her so exasperating (and enticing) when she’s in her comfort zone.  But history tells us that when she leaves her usual template, the potential for disaster is enormous.  And Selector Infected WIXOSS is a departure from that template.

What do we have in this series?  Well, the Okada show it most obviously calls to mind is Black Rock Shooter, and the premiere also has echoes of Madoka Magica.  What those shows have in common is that they both fall under the banner of the messianic teenage girl – anime as glorification of their noble suffering, sort of the logical extension of its long-standing worship of a non-existent template for idealized teen girls.  As I said in my post on BRS, the central tenet is that no one is as noble and pure as a cute girl, and therefore their suffering makes for great entertainment in fantasy and sci-fi scenarios.

Now, that’s not a model I find especially appealing – in fact I find it broadly detestable and disturbing.  But there’s a big difference between Madoka Magica and BRS, which sort of represent the extremes of quality within this sub-genre.  It seems self-apparent that Urobuchi Gen is much better-suited to this type of exploitation horror than Okada, and self-evident from the synopsis of SIW (and hints in the premiere) that that’s the direction this series is taking.  And in fact, I find my reactions to the premiere here quite similar to that of BRS – I enjoy the stylishness of the piece (that series had Imaishi Hiroyuki as Director for the first four episodes) and the true fetishistic nature of the series wasn’t yet excessive.  When it became so, I was forced to check out.

Will that happen here?  We’ll see.  I didn’t find the premiere great or anything, but it did indeed have a nice look and an interesting feel to it.  There are standout names all over the staff list and that shows through in the style and flair SIW brings to the table, but I’m weary of arbitrary premises (playing cards which only talk for “selectors”, part of a game to choose the “ultimate girl” who gets her wish granted) designed to get cute girls in ridiculous situations at any cost.  I also found the performance of Kakuma Ai as female lead Kuminato Ruuko and Kuno Misaki as her hyper-cute avatar Tama extremely grating.

It’s easy to see all this is heading to a bad place – and that may apply on both sides of the screen for me.  Card games that lure in little girls with the promise of wishes?  Subtle this isn’t.  I’m also less than optimistic that it’s going to work for me over the long term – Madoka Magica is pretty much the only series of this type that really has, and I honestly don’t believe Okada is capable of writing this sort of material with anything like that dexterity.  As expected the first episode wasn’t boring, and it was actually pretty distinctive, so I’ll give Selector Infected WIXOSS at least one more week to surprise me in a good way.

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  1. S

    I'm a card game enthusiast so I was looking forward to this as I'd enjoy a show that's about TCGs but does not follow the typical "YuGiOh" shonen-y template (not that I didn't enjoy YuGiOh in a way, but that was mostly like a fast food pizza: cheap, sort of addictive, and with a ton of cheese on top). Cue this less than stellar premiére with hints at some kind of darkness that doesn't really seem to have much edge and lots of obvious product placement ("WIXOSS will make you get many friends!"). I hope this element is at least subverted in the future – though considering that the game comes out on April the 26th, that's probably wishful thinking.
    Also, the sister lusting after her brother and wanting to conquer him through magic. SO EDGY. Eugh.

    Three episode rule applies, but I don't expect much at this point.

  2. R

    And so begins anew our dance with the writer known as Mari Okada.

    Most of the ep actually had that Yugioh/Fantasista Doll (I know. I know. I watched it up until ep. 6, then dropped. horrid.) feel for me. Then the battle scene got under way and Hanayo makes that off hand comment of Yuzuki wish being to make Kazuki hers. That was pretty much the Okada bait for me. I can see it from here, the Yuzuki-Kazuki-Ruko triangle going Mari Okada-awry,

    "Well, the Okada show it most obviously calls to mind is Black Rock Shooter"

    Agreed, that's also the first thing that popped into my head when I saw this. But I must say that, while I still stand with my assessment of NagiAsu, BRS is something that I am particularly not too fond of. All that shouting on the show just irked me. so let's how this turns out.

  3. t

    Okada has good starts, and WIXOSS is a demonstration for that.
    it's not that it was great, but it's interesting enough. she laid down the foundation in a welcoming tone – it's easy to understand the characters and we can feel there is a room to further developments. as for story, although not much explained, it was sufficient enough for 1st episode. we could also feel some sort of dark element/atmosphere crawling there a bit.

    but since we've been with her for quite a while (especially in NnA), I can sense her motifs.
    first, Okada isn't Urobuchi with horror and dark stuff, she can bring gloomy atmosphere and/or involve elements here and there, but it's not as strong, so I wouldn't jump to say "madoka" or whatever. However, in order for this to really work and not end up "dissolved", she must stay focus on this.
    also, I sense she might manipulate feelings again. I already see some triangle there and I won't be surprised if there is more to it. I have no problems with triangles or love complex, quite the contrary. but I dislike when manipulating strongly the reader/viewer (oy oy NagiAsu..).

    all in all, a decent start that makes you wanna continue with that next week and see to where it's going to. I hope they can form it into something good, but I am careful with that Okada…
    I am pretty doubtful if the prologue was really necessary. I understand it might be relevant for further development, but in the end of the day (or the ep) it was just…unnecessary (for example, unlike magi 2nd season prologue in first episode).

    Tama VA also did Kate in sekai seifuku. sounds like the two characters share similarities not only the VA…LOL

  4. R

    "However, in order for this to really work and not end up "dissolved", she must stay focus on this."

    It's going to be tricky for her to do that this season, since she has two shows. there is a big chance that she could mix and mess up the themes from each show. though, since it looks like this and M3 are going for that "dark" feel, there would at least be a sort of consistency in the tone of both.

  5. M

    I found this opening somehow mechanical. It was like I could predict each scene as it happened, and its intended purpose in the episode. But I enjoyed it all the same, especially for Tama and her deliberately cringeworthy cuteness.

  6. m

    I'm waiting for a few weeks before checking this one out. I'm with you on the disdain for the way teenage girls are portrayed in anime, and everything that that leads to. If I see people saying there's a reason to start this up then I'll get into it. But unfortunately I get wayyy too curious about how stories (moveis/books/shows/comics/manga/games) I start will end and that has caused me to stick with things I wasn't a huge fan of more times than I'd care to admit. It's ridiculous, but I just get so curious about what will happen, and usually wont drop anything unless its an absolute nightmare.

  7. Because you piqued my curiosity, what would be a couple examples of those absolute nightmares?

  8. m

    Well there's a decent amount of anime that I started when I started to become a serious anime fan, and didn't know about what harem/other horrible trope anime entailed. So I dropped a few harem anime after an ep or two. Then there's Aquarion Evol bc of the indescribably absurd "shes my smelly B****" or whatever nonsense that guy would say. (not to mention the sexualized piloting stuff). Then there's the Jump sports stuff like Prince of Tennis and KuroBasu which are not horrible per se but I just don't like superpowered sports. I also found Phantom to be unwatchable. There's probably not too many more bc I eventually started to read reviews or previews from sites like yours instead of just random summaries before starting a show.
    Haha how could I forget High School of the Dead….just awful on all accounts. 11 eyes as well. Maken-Ki 1 prob the most recent harem. I thought it might be a battle anime, but was sorely mistaken and didn't even watch the whole first ep before dropping that nonsense. I never much understood the idea of being attracted physically to animated characters, and don't think I ever will. I get being a fan of a characters personality or the way they are developed in the story just like in any type of show, movie, book, or whatever but not in a physical attraction way.

  9. m

    And I've finished shows like mondaji-tachi, dog days, guilty crown, genshiken nidaime, medaka box, and even watched the whole English dub of Little Busters with an obvious female Riki, and the absurdity of a awful attempt at a Russian accent having Kud, who in order to make fit the storyline of not speaking English well, never says a legitimate coherent sentence ever…

  10. m

    Speaking of curiosity, you once mentioned there was maybe one or so EngDub that were as good/better than the original Japanese cast. I have no intention of trying to debate you, or start one of the out of hand discussions this topic can lead to, but I was really curious as to which show/s you meant.

  11. R

    gotta agree with you with regards to Prince of Tennis and KuroBas. i just don't understand why these two just have to turn their athletes into shounen superheroes who just have to shout their "super moves" while playing. it's as if they think their viewers are stupid and won't appreciate sports for what it is. the only sports anime that i really watched is Takehiko Inoue's Slam Dunk and it was just sheer joy to watch the series portray basketball realistically.

    Aquarion Evol was just atrociously silly that i can't help but grin every time i watch it. that Andy-Mix storyline (and the fact that he confessed when she was already a he) just makes me laugh.

    Btw, is the Phantom you are referring too Phantom of the Inferno?

  12. m

    @roger haha yeah when you think about the fact that someone basically wrote "we'll have a character sniff the one female lead and say she stinks and she is his smelly wench" and then everyone who is involved in the making of the show got up individually and said "sure sure, that seems good to me" is pretty funny.
    Phantom: Requiem for the phantom is what I meant. Just that bland btoooom esqe "oh we'll have a lot of blood and mark it seinen and itll be deep and dark" its not dark its poorly written. Sometimes it feels like creators make something seinen so they can add violence, blood, and language instead of having plot. And people will act like I'm the weird one for not appreciating it.

  13. R

    Ah, right. turns out i was referring to it by the VN's title of Phantom of Inferno. wasn't really that outstanding to me either. the central story of Reiji and Ein was okay, that of Cal/Drei and the rest of the plotlines, however, crumbles and just ruins everything. Must admit that i am always a Sucker for Ali Project's music though (the ending songs).

  14. m

    Yeah the ED was good. It was one of the few songs from anime I'll listen to while driving. But I couldn't get through the show. I don't think Phantom had it, but I hate when similarly "dark" seinen just are nothing but murder, violence, blood, and bad language, Not that any of those thing bother me in and of themselves, but when that's all there is to a show I don't like it. It's like I get it people are evil…come up with a less mopey and clichéd theme. Though the worst is the copious amounts of rape in anime…I can't think of one other country that uses rape so often in the way that Japanese anime uses it. It's very off-putting to put it mildly.

  15. R

    Them don't even dare try watching Filipino teleseryes (soap operas. I am Filipino btw). the sheer amount of murder, violence, adultery, etc. will probably boggle your mind. and they do all that for you to simply go "Awww, our poor heroine" and "Die villain! Die!"

  16. s

    @maverick I think i can explain the physically being attracted to animated characters thing;….the thing is; you're not actually physically attracted to the animated character (except for those who loose touch with reality whether its due to self-esteem or some other underlying reason). It's the idea that the animated character has proportions or physical attributes, which then induces spread activation within the brain that remind you of certain things that you are attracted to. Say for example, the art in question is a detailed drawing of a female with great curves, a well-endowed chest and back (if you're into that), nice legs, and beautifully styled hair. The drawing will activate certain parts of your brain that will remind you of that feeling of attraction you get when you see the real thing. Taking it further, we as humans are flawed, and therefore are not completely symmetrical (as im sure you know, symmetry plays a huge role in the level of attractiveness in a person). With animations however, symmetry is usually something that is key, which leads to the drawings looking more flawless, which activates the parts of your brain that localizes what you believe to be what an ideal woman of attractiveness looks like, which then spurs on a reaction to that animated character. Most of the time (in normal situations) people are not attracted to the animated character themselves; it is what it reminds them of is what matters, the template itself is what the person is attracted to and since they're not real, it makes it that much easier to have that activation without worrying about whether you can actually attain that person in real life or not (attainability also plays a role in how we perceive attractiveness).

  17. m

    Yeah when you explain it like that I can grasp the concept, but I still prefer my girls to be 3d so to speak.

  18. s

    But of course; and i think most people who can find animated characters sexy always prefer reality at the end of the day no questions about it, but the concept is very plausible and very real. The misconception that you cant find animated characters to be sexy is very off but that's understandable.

  19. Y

    I gotta say, out of all the new shows (not counting Mushishi of course), this one is both one of the most retarded and best looking so far… So I'm torn. But… Call me superficial: for me the animation quality in anime is paramount. So I'll stick around at least for a while longer and see how it goes…

  20. A

    Madoka the only show of this kind that has worked? Surely you must only be talking about recent history right? Right?

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