Ai KakumaJuri NagatsumaWIXOSSHaruki Ishiya
Selector Spread WIXOSS
Episode 1 also reviewed here: Anime 1st episodes 2014: S
Medium: TV, series
Year: 2014
Director: Takuya Sato
Actor: Ai Kakuma, Misaki Kuno, Ai Kayano, Asami Seto, Ayako Kawasumi, Ayane Sakura, Chinatsu Akasaki, Haruki Ishiya, Harumi Sakurai, Juri Nagatsuma, Mako Morino, Rie Kugimiya, Rina Hidaka, Risa Taneda, Satomi Arai, Tamie Kubota, Yusuke Kobayashi
Keywords: anime, WIXOSS, fantasy, incest
Country: Japan
Language: Japanese
Format: 12 episodes
Url: http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/encyclopedia/anime.php?id=16138
Website category: Anime 2014
Review date: 6 October 2015
Selector Wixoss
I really liked it. Much more satisfying than Selector Infected WIXOSS (i.e. season one). 'Infected' now feels like twelve episodes of set-up. Our heroines were trying to do things they really shouldn't, via. the poisoned chalice of "WIXOSS will make your wish come true". The obstacles they were struggling against were mostly themselves. It was good. Much character growth took place, albeit at massive cost.
'Spread' though is where the real story begins.
Firstly, the characters know the score immediately. There's none of that "don't do that, don't do that, no no no no, iyaaaaaaagh, she did it!" They can make sensible choices and make progress. Admittedly in Ruko's case this is usually "don't do WIXOSS battles", which of course isn't what we want to see. However: (a) it's the sane choice, and (b) events will transpire to force her into battle anyway.
Secondly, the characters are more entertaining. A cameo character, Chiyori, returns to become a main character and make us laugh. Chiyori is glorious. She's a super-enthusiastic brat who loves WIXOSS, knows almost all the bad news already and thinks it's great. She loves bouncing around at top volume and charging headlong at everything, despite being a weak player who's almost certainly heading for failure.
Humour is important. It brings stories and characters alive and, of all unexpected things, 'Spread' is funny. However it has heartbreaking characters too, e.g. Fumio.
As for the villains... whew. Akira was a massive, horrifying bitch in 'Infected' (e.g. being happy about having effectively murdered one of her opponents), but that's nothing compared with 'Spread'. It's an impressive trick to make the audience feel sympathy for a psychotically broken character who's sliding ever further into dangerous madness. That happens here. And then there's the person who's doing it to her deliberately.
Bring these people together and... bloody hell. There's a battle halfway through the season so electrifying that even the series finale can't match it for intensity. That's part of a run where I found very hard not to keep watching just one more episode.
Thematically, it's nearly as rich as 'Infected'. Obviously it's hard to compete with what was eating up Hitoe and Yuzuki in that season. However 'Spread' has one of the most interesting uses of lesbian subtext I've seen in anime, since the show's built around Selector-LRIG partnerships who are forced to get extremely close with each other and yet aren't necessarily permanent or either side's first choice. Sometimes the feelings are one-way. Sometimes you'll have a Selector going on and on about their old LRIG, to the point where you'll be feeling sorry even for the emotionless ice queen replacement. Sometimes this hurts like knives.
Anime tends to have a "lifelong love forever and ever" attitude to romance, but this is exploring something pointedly different. Plus, of course, calling it lesbian subtext is inaccurate since it's more like text in at least two cases (Akira, Iona).
I don't think the show quite sticks the landing. The Power of Love ending's a bit messy, with a massive coincidence that doesn't end up contributing to the plot except to give the audience a bit of information. (A certain place happens to be known by one of the characters and within walking distance, instead of, say, being on the other side of the world.) There's also a "guess my card or lose" moment that I, personally, had a little trouble buying. It's meant to be dramatic, but it's basically like "roll a 6 or get killed; good offer, right?" It's bad game balance, although admittedly the people involved are fairly unbalanced themselves.
I loved the "what happened to them afterwards?" epilogue, though, even though I wasn't sure who most of the girls were. Telling apart anime characters can be hard, especially when they're not in their usual clothes.
As a whole, though, it's a show I admire, respect and got a lot from. It's not always necessarily aiming at entertainment, especially 'Infected', but it's a rich and interesting exploration of spiky material. In a trading card game show. Recommended.