If you ever felt as though your decks of Pokémon cards just weren’t gloomy enough, Selector Infected WIXOSS would like a minute of your time. Looking to add a more dark and serious narrative to the typical shounen-heavy card battle genre, Selector stumbles a bit in its quest, but it’s not for want of trying.
The plot of Selector Infected WIXOSS centers around a card battle game named, you guessed it, WIXOSS. What at first seems like an ordinary game is revealed to be anything but, when special cards called LRIGs seemingly come to life and team up with select card holders called Selectors, players who are striving to become an “Eternal Girl”. The rules and intricacies of the game aren’t given proper attention within the anime, so viewers could be left scratching their heads a few times over the course of the series’ 12 episodes. That’s not a huge setback, but something that is far more unpleasant is drama that feels forced at times.
On a brighter note, the finale ends on a dramatic cliffhanger that will surely leave you wanting more (assuming you don’t hate it by then) and serves as a good springboard for the second season, Selector Spread WIXOSS. Even though it wasn’t specified from the outset, Selector was probably conceived as a two-cour show from the get-go, and the story unravels in a fashion that makes it apparent that you’ll have to watch the second season to garner the slightest sense of completion. Comparisons to the Madoka★Magica franchise are often brought up when discussing this anime, but those are lofty heights that Selector doesn’t approach in any facet.
This is another show where practically all of the important characters are female (Kazuki might qualify as an important character to some, but he doesn’t quite qualify as one to me). Ruuko is the protagonist of the series, and I didn’t find her to be a particularly good one. If you like uninteresting and forgettable characters, then you might disagree, but I found her to be very underwhelming. Yuzuki is definitely an improvement in that regard, just not an extraordinarily substantial one. She makes her mark largely due to her love for her brother, but other than that taboo, she’s pretty average. As for the other notable characters, Tama blurs the line between cute and annoying, Hitoe is your typical quiet loner who’s longing for friends, Akira is a two-faced nuisance who’s easy to hate, and Iona is the obligatory mysterious girl. There’s some good and bad mixed in there, but as a whole, the cast doesn’t do enough to be anything more than just passable.
The card battles themselves are of course the visual highlight, but there are also the foreboding moments that exhibit a dreary art style that suits the series very well. In between these moments of doom and gloom and flashy card combat, Selector is content to settle back into its comfort zone as an average-looking anime. Overall, it’s the card-based action scenes that provide the needed eye candy that elevates the show to an above average level. On a side note, Selector might have some of the worst noses in the history of anime. I know it’s a relatively minor thing, but it’s still surprising just how strange they look.
The audio is probably the least notable aspect of the production, in my opinion. That’s not to say it’s bad, but there wasn’t anything that really steals away your attention like the visuals or story do at times. For example, the background music is more on the subtle side and isn’t quite as memorable as it could have been. Other audio elements like voice acting and opening/closing themes are up to snuff and maintain the consistent adequacy of the series. Good, but not quite very good, the audio isn’t likely to be a deterrent nor an attraction for many people.
Even though the yuri score is low, it still feels somewhat generous to me. Aside from some slight subtext between Ruuko and Tama—which disregards the fact that Tama acts like a child for a majority of the series—there’s essentially nothing of note to speak of. Just like how Hitoe likes friendship, Yuzuki likes her brother, and Akira likes being a bitch, Tama likes being with Ruuko (and battles. Tama likes those too). It’s very innocent stuff that could easily be dismissed as nothing more than hyperbole, but that’s the extent of what’s there. To be honest, I expected more subtext, considering the series made its way onto the Yuri Anime 2014 list. Regardless, I think yuri goggles will definitely be needed to observe what (little) subtext the series has to offer.
There are a lot of things that Selector Infected WIXOSS isn’t, but what it is is a different take on a well-worn genre that does some things right, but also comes up a bit short in some key areas. The lack of yuri could be off-putting for some, and the need to watch the second season could be a turnoff as well, but as it stands, there’s still some enjoyment to be had by giving this anime a chance.