Selector Infected WIXOSS – 06-09 Review
Well, ‘anything’ is a bit of an exaggeration, I would say…
Why does it always have to be plottwists? A story can be dramatic without those, too. But there always needs to be a shocker as if it’s impossible to move into a new house without encountering a resident poltergeist that turns out to be someone’s racist grandma and that someone… is someone the new people in the house know! Then the shocking truth: The new people actually helped that guy kill that racist grandma! Plottwist! The ghost is not haunting the new house – it’s haunting THEM! Now it isn’t just another haunted-house-horror-story, now it’s a noir-criminal-story as well! Because of course it’s always a GREAT idea to just pile on the complications that make a simple story the biggest pile of shit imaginable because every simply story needs to have a lot of shit on top of it to become complex, right? *sigh* I just hate it when stories mistake complicating things for making them more complex.
Puberty – it’s a time of obsessions. Every teenager-girl has ONE thing she wants that’s worth destroying her personal life and everyone else’s that stands in her way. Luckily in the world of WIXOSS, they can make that thing come true and pay the whole price of destroying her personal life and everyone else’s that stands in her way.
Yuzuki was such a person. She loved her brother – and everybody was disgusted. Guess, they haven’t seen an anime in the last twenty years or so, otherwise the only thing they would frown upon would be the fact that he’s not older than her. Incest really only works with imouto-sterotypes… if animes are to be believed. Anyway, luckily she lives in the world of WIXOSS where she can ruin a lot of girls’ lives so that she can make her dream of incest come true. And she did! She ruined the life of innocent girls whose only fault was to want something.
BUT! Seems like somebody didn’t tell her the whole story because in reality the whole WIXOSS-thingy turns out to be a really shitty deal. Well, she knew it was shitty – but really… it’s even shittier than that.
A plot-convenient chain of coincidences later… Hitoe, Yuzuki and Ru, the old trio of friends are reunited to deliver the bad news to Ru: Turns out WIXOSS is an even shittier game than everyone thought.
Ha, the irony! Good thing, they flashed back to this scene in the 9th episode, it really IS way funnier the second time around knowing now what would happen after this. Seriously, only jokes should deliver irony that’s SO on-the-nose.
It’s fair to say that plottwists should be game-changers for a story. A plot-twist takes the dramatic arc and just pushes it into a completely different direction. Like a story about a knight that saves a princess from a dragon but ends up sacrificing the princess so that he could conquer his own kingdom with the help of a dragon. That’s what plottwists are: You build up a certain expectation – and then you just crush it. Drama is all about conflict and there can be a conflict between the story and the audience that is beneficial to the story’s quality in the end.
There’s one kind of plottwist that just changes the direction the story is going but then there’s also the plottwist inherent in a mystery’s solution. Posing a question to the audience and the characters in the story, the answer to the mystery can twist the plot as different answers demand different perspectives and with each new insight that gets the audience and the characters closer to the revelation their perspective of what happened changes. The revelation to the mystery puts all the details surrounding it into a new perspective and may end up changing the tone and atmosphere drastically along the way. The card-game WIXOSS was also quite the mystery. It was a wishing-well that forced you to crush other people’s wishes to get your own wish to come true.
It was a sinister plothook and the tone was appropriately dark showing that compassion and empathy had no place in the pursuit of your own dream with the help of this card-game. It also showed in a heightened psychological-driven way how pursuing wishes via supernatural means led to compromising your capabilities to make the wish come true by mundane means. But of course that hasn’t been enough for this series and so it turned the game into a mystery. Mind you, that original setup without all those mystery-aspects was a clearly psychological-driven story. The focus was on the girls, their wishes and how they balanced their normal life with their repressed desires that could only come true by leaving the mundane life behind. Hopes and desires actually seemed pretty bad considering how steep of a price it took to make them come true with the easy-sounding supernatural option.
But the game turned into a mystery and so its plottwists were all about changing everyone’s perspective on the game by introducing new details. And the first reveal of the cost of losing was actually an okay one. The delivery of that reveal was a bit heavyhanded but conceptually it added to the general darkness inherent to the game and it raised the stakes. Drama is all about conflict and raising the stakes creates a bigger conflict. And having a conflict means pushing the story forward which means developing characters which means continuing a dramatic story arc and so on and so on. Conflicts are essential to any drama.
What, is she auditioning to be the Joker or something? As if the whole WIXOSS-business wasn’t fucked up enough already. Now there’s a straight-up psychopath on the loose as well…
I already said in my first review of this show that its biggest flaw by far is the fact that its drama is just TOO forceful. Drama just doesn’t appear out of thin air, there’s a reason why dramas can be represented by curves. It all comes back to how the conflict is handled in terms of drama and in WIXOSS’ case this means the way it just goes and throws its story out the window to introduce a new one. It may not be obviously apparent but the latest plottwist has fundamentally changed the story of this series and it’s done in the worst way imaginable.
The card-game is a mystery-box and there was already one reveal that added another detail but the newest revelation simply creates way more conflict than is necessary. The plottwist in typical mystery-fashion is all about getting a new perspective and this new perspective offers a new villain: the game itself. The series started out by showing just how sinister the game and its influence on its participants are but the conflict was still between the girls with their respective wishes. But with the newest reveal the game becomes SO evil that you just gotta wonder why anyone is even playing the game in the first place. Considering how easy it should be for a closed community like the Selectors to realize when one of them suddenly behaved completely different while also not having a LRIG anymore, word of mouth should’ve gotten around long ago about what the hell is really going on in that game. But plot-logic aside this also means that there’s no point in winning the game at this point. Also, considering how personal the wishes of the girls portrayed in the series are, there’s no way in hell they’d be satisfied with someone else benefiting from them coming true. So, the conflict now is between the game and the good guys.
And here’s why it’s so forceful: It invalidates the whole drama of the first half surrounding the game. Because with that new reveal it doesn’t matter anymore! It’s basically just a weird sham that for some reason nobody has caught on up to that point. This reveal changes the drama of the show in such a basic way that it basically transforms the point of the story. And that isn’t to say that the show couldn’t actually get better with a transformative plottwist of this caliber. All the series that have a lackluster beginning ‘and then became really good’ all go through that. But the problem is that it takes time to get to such a point – and that all the time before that is basically wasted. By changing the direction of the story in such a drastic way, the story basically restarts as everything before the plottwist becomes aimless. The thing the story was going for before the plottwist will never be reached. And assuming this is a 1-cour-show, there really isn’t enough time for such a transformative plot-twist this late into the show.
Also, the plottwist is quite forceful on a logical level. Seriously, if your story has to spend a third of an episode basically explaining the plottwist – then maybe the story didn’t have sufficient build-up for the whole thing in the first place. Another thing is that this scene is VERY concerned with the audience maybe not getting the plottwist. Why would you create a plottwist that is SO complicated as to change the nature of the dramatic conflict? And first of all, why does the plottwist need to be SO complicated anyway? I mean, I have a lot of problems storytelling-wise with this latest reveal but ignoring all that: This is a plottwist that unnecessarily makes things more complicated. This reveal took the basic conceit of the story – and just took a huge dump on it. And now everyone’s gotta deal with this shit because what the fuck else are you gonna do with it?!
Forceful is the watchword, I guess, when it comes to this series because Selector Infected WIXOSS really doesn’t do subtle at any point. So, Yuzuki becomes a LRIG and so her first Selector is… Hitoe! The girl with no friends just can’t get a break apparently! And what do those two as soon as they get their unlikely reunion? They run to Ru to give her an infodump and want to fight her… for some reason. I mean, Ru really got it right by simply quitting. But hey, every story needs a hero, doesn’t it? Apparently my dark interpretation of Ru that saw her as a twisted version of the pure-hearted super-talent was more like a prediction for what she would become once she realized that the true enemy – is the game itself. Guess nobody in this show has ever heard about the whole “The only winning move is not to play.”-mindset from WarGames.
With its eighth episode the series changes the direction of its story in a very drastic way. While it’s not clear yet whether this will benefit the series in the end, the plottwist leading to this change is delivered in a flawed fashion. Forcefully trying to redirect the conflict while staying dramatic, the series becomes a somewhat heavyhanded affair that exchanges its sinister atmosphere for cheap melodrama.
- It kinda confused me as to why they spent so much time with Hitoe’s plight after losing three times. But I guess she’s just conveniently been put back into the race. Not really sure why the series had to spend SO much time with detailing the tragedy of the situation if it can be reversed by one simple coincidental development.
- The way the girl who loves Kazuki deals with the situation of Kazuki’s possible love for his sister is kinda… counterproductive. I’m not really sure it would’ve taken supernatural stuff to make Kazuki fall in love with Yuzuki considering what the other girls are like in that school.
- And the whole reaction from the school should’ve played a far bigger role than just leading to the two getting even closer. It seriously would’ve been a great way to support the sinister atmosphere of the show. It could’ve actually showed how the world isn’t even nice enough to become a better place despite your most important wish coming true. But instead, of course, the series rather wants body-switching-shenanigans to be the focus of the drama.