selector infected WIXOSS, out of J.C. Staff and written by Mari Okada, has been my most highly anticipated show this season that wasn’t based out of a preexisting franchise (Fairy Tail, Soul Eater NOT), and I’m glad to say I wasn’t let down by the first episode.
I still have yet to see a J.C. Staff show that I regretted (or even disliked) watching, so until something comes out that really lets me down, I have more faith in them than there seems to be out in there in the community at large. However, I’m not blind to their missteps (Golden Time could have been totally irredeemable if not for the content), and WIXOSS seems like it might be the type of show that needs everyone on their A-game the entire way through. Generally, I have liked Okada’s work, but I do fear a bit having seen the stumbles that Nagi no Asukara experienced during its second cour.
But as far as first episodes go, while WIXOSS’s wasn’t mind blowing, it was very solid introduction to the show, characters and world without being heavy handed or too expositional. The main character, Ruko Kominato, is a transfer student, it seems, and is worrying her grandma because she doesn’t have any friends. The dynamic between Ruko, her grandmother and her older brother is a refreshingly realistic one: the grandma worries about Ruko’s lack of friends; the brother is bit distant, but perceptive and caring enough to gently chide Ruko about worrying their grandmother; and Ruko feels a bit guilty for making her grandma worry. The grandmother is the typical grandmotherly type, and I can’t help think that she might end up as some sort of collateral damage in this game of wishes and battles.
Even in the first conversation between Ruko and her grandmother, there are some hints being dropped at where this show might be heading. There’s a beautiful symmetry between the grandmother’s fear about the city: “I feel this city might disappear,” which switches into a shot of the brother playing Tetris and dropping a tower-like block into the center, dissolving all the lines below it. That looks pretty clearly like foreshadowing of the coming fallout of the WIXOSS battles, and starts to draw a connection between games and reality without even needing to go to the titular card game.
Ruko’s encounter with Yuzuki Kurebayashi and her twin brother, Kazuki, serves as the main expositional sequence of the episode and starts floating around some interesting ideas. Yuzuki tells Ruko that selectors, those who posses the LRIG cards, have the ability to engage other selectors in battle with the ambition of becoming the Eternal Girl, or the ideal self. The danger of this game is already explicit; it’s self-actualization without any of the associated work (a miracle, as Yuzuki calls it later) and its entirely based on winning. Three strikes and you’re out, and your LRIG card disintegrates. I’m reminded of [C]: Control-The Money of Soul and Possibility, which had a similar set-up (win and things go better for you in real life, lose and things start to fall apart), which makes me wonder if losing has incremental effects, or if it is an all or nothing deal. I can’t believe that the only penalty for losing three times is just getting kicked out of the game. If winning has the ability to positively affect real life, then losing has to do the opposite.
It’s interesting that Yuzuki’s LRIG, Hayano-san, corrects Yuzuki’s initial explanation, stating that the Eternal Girl is one who can actually make “outrageous dreams and wishes come true.” It changes the agency of the entire set-up; it’s not that winning automatically grants you your wish, but it grants you the ability to grant your wish (and maybe those of others? probably not). And so, the prize isn’t just getting what you want, but getting the power to get what you want. It’s a power-centric ideal, because these wishes are, as Yuzuki says, “[something] that can’t be achieved through hard work.”
I also was getting pretty serious Black Rock Shooter vibes from the episode (coincidentally? also written by Okada), with the girls having avatars that fight for them and the color identification of the characters. The whole aesthetic of the show is quite interesting, as it gives off almost a children’s storybook feel with the backgrounds (which actually reminded me a bit of the art style from Kill Me Baby, another J.C. Staff show).
Overall, it was a very good first episode. There’s a lot here that can be unpacked and used in the rest of the show, and with a second episode title like “Poisonous Meeting,” it looks like the heat is going to get turned up on our cast very quickly.