Lostorage Conflated Wixoss Series Review: The Final End of the Battles?

If you haven’t watched the previous three seasons of this franchise, I’d strongly suggest this isn’t the place to start. That said, if you’ve been onboard through Selector Infected WIXOSS up until now, you will probably quite enjoy the latest round of Selector Battles.

Review:

Where many continuing series go wrong is they end up either feeling totally disconnected from the previous story or they feel like a complete rerun of the original story with maybe a new villain tacked on. While they might end up feeling better or worse than the original, the fact remains that they don’t really need to exist as they don’t add anything more from a thematic or world building point of view and ultimately it just depends on whether they have a more interesting character or a bigger budget as to whether people enjoy it or not. WIXOSS avoided this handily when it first moved to Lostorage Incited WIXOSS through introducing new protagonists and very much focusing on the relationship between Suzuko and Chi and changing up the rules of the game sufficiently that it added new threats and new considerations.

Wixoss4e

Lostorage Conflated WIXOSS then makes the bold move of fusing together characters and ideas from the original two seasons with the first Lostorage season and it does it in a pretty interesting way. The rules of the game are murkier than ever, and that’s kind of the point that the anime is ultimately making. The game isn’t fair and the rules have always been open to exploitation.  Through this approach, Lostorage Conflated WIXOSS has managed to avoid feeling like a tacked on extra and feels like a genuine conclusion to a story that started three seasons ago.

Wixoss6b

It isn’t all smooth sailing. The inclusion of Carnival as the primary antagonist for most of the season is a definite hang-over from the prior season and it almost feels at times like Conflated doesn’t really know what to do with this character other than have them be horrible to everyone else. While the Bookmaker was a fantastic character for stirring things together in the previous season, Carnival lacks subtlety and while they are the catalyst for so many events in this season, they are definitely a weak link and even their appearance in the final episode felt more obligatory than necessary.

Wixoss5c

Fortunately, the rest of the cast are working hard to overcome that weakness. It is clear even early on that the greater challenge is the system that allows the Selector Battles in the first place and that is what they are fighting to overcome, Carnival is more an obstacle to that. In this season we see old relationships re-examined and the impacts of prior battles on characters. It feels satisfying and these characters don’t remain stagnant in this season but continue to work towards becoming the people they want to be.

Wixoss2c

Perhaps the biggest issue remains the WIXOSS game itself. As I mentioned earlier, the rules are even murkier than normal, and normally it is hard to follow what the rules are as sometimes the characters take turns and other times they just annihilate each other. There are also more random power ups and sudden victories that seem unwarranted here than ever before. While emotionally it makes sense and if the game just serves to show the mental state of the characters it works fine enough, but it really doesn’t lend itself to making the game feel like a real game. It is ultimately just a plot device to get the characters to where they need to be.

Wixoss10d

The other overall issue I have, on looking back, is that WIXOSS has always gone for a bittersweet ending. Things are gained but things are lost and that which is lost is gone for good. It makes a nice change to the overly twee endings found so often. This most recent ending however actually undermines that by essentially resetting things. The characters still have their memories of the painful times, in fact they’ve gained memories of pain back, but so much of the damage of the prior seasons is erased in this ending. It almost feels like a cheat this late in the game and it takes a lot of the weight of the prior battles away.

Wixoss9b

Still, WIXOSS is a great franchise. While it isn’t as exciting as some and doesn’t quite pack the punch it might, season after season it has provided fairly consistent and decent story telling and this latest season does that again and provides some closure on this franchise. Is it the complete end? It feels like it should be but you never know with some stories.

As always, I’d love to know your thoughts so please leave me a comment below.


Product Link:

Lostorage Incited Wixoss Official Fan Book
Lostorage Incited WIXOSS Official Fan Book


Previous Reviews:


Thanks for reading.

Karandi James

avatar

Consider supporting the blog by:

Patreon2
Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Advertisements

Lostorage Conflated Wixoss Episode 6: It’s Totally Unfair, And That’s The Way It Is

Carnival has had things going all their way since this anime returned and now we see they have rule breaking abilities. I have to wonder how they could possibly be defeated given everything seems to be in their favour this time around.

Wixoss6b.JPG

I guess the more difficult they are the greater the triumph when they come crumbling down, but realistically it seems impossible that the girls are going to overcome Carnival at this rate. They know more about the rules and can clearly access abilities the others cannot, including introducing a third LRIG into a fight when it has been clearly demonstrated the other characters can’t do this, so their defeat within the game seems nearly impossible.

Wixoss6c

That said, the power of friendship, determination, and being the protagonist will probably persevere eventually though I wonder what the cost will be. WIXOSS always ends with a minor triumph but it is always a bittersweet one because the costs of victory are high.

Wixoss6e

Well, by the end of this episode all the players are in place from the previous versions of the selector battles and I guess now that we’ve hit the half-way mark we’ll start to see what we’re really up against and maybe they’ll come up with an actual plan for victory. I’m betting there’s a lot of pain coming first though.

Previous Reviews:


Thanks for reading.

Karandi James

avatar

Consider supporting the blog by:

Patreon2             Thoughts on Anime             74iz

Lostorage Conflated Wixoss Episode 5: The Rules Are Breaking

As rule after rule seems to be overturned, Wixoss is making it hard to understand the game at all at this point as it seems characters do what they wish. While this anime has never been amazing at explaining the game’s rules, this is the first time it has felt like it is actively ignoring them.

Wixoss5c.JPG

In many anime the established rules are bent or broken, usually in a power of friendship or determination moment toward the end of the season. In Wixoss, the rules have never been all that clear about how the game itself works. There are some rules established each season that seem absolute, but the turn taking and the like always plays a bit fast and loose. This is the first time that even the game’s established rules have felt really over-turned and it doesn’t seem like the anime is too concerned about giving characters more or less power based on their desire at the time. It is all just a little bit hard to follow when the coins seem to no longer serve any purpose and characters are gaining and losing LRIG’s very quickly.

Wixoss5b

And yet, for some reason, none of that is taking away from my enjoyment of the series so far. That is really bizarre because normally discrepancies like this within a narrative bother me. I guess part of it is three previous seasons of Wixoss where rules have been relatively flexible have made me accept it, and the character drama is the more significant part of the show and it remains pretty solid. Still, things are not going well for our main characters this season and it will be interesting to see how dark things are going to get before they start turning it around.

Previous Reviews:


Thanks for reading.

Karandi James

avatar

Consider supporting the blog by:

Patreon2             Thoughts on Anime             74iz

Lostorage Conflated Wixoss Episode 4: It Just Got Real

These characters have been here before. They thought they knew what to expect. This episode helps the characters and the viewers realise that this isn’t the WIXOSS we’ve seen before.

Wixoss4a

Wixoss has always been an anime that collected some crazy antagonists. The battle junkies who were getting off on the horror of the Selector matches. Yet in previous versions of this franchise I kind of always felt that sooner or later they would fall and the sweet girl protagonist would eventually triumph even if that victory was incredibly bitter sweet. And maybe Lostorage Conflated WIXOSS intends to follow that pattern but right now it really feels like being the crazy fighter type is about the only way to survive the current battles in tact.

Wixoss4d

The rules have changed and while they still haven’t addressed how a Selector is supposed to battle without a LRIG, it seems kind of like they are going to have to put themselves on the line. A number of statements this week made it feel like the LRIG was protecting the Selector from actual damage in the fights and that may very well be the cost that is coming. In which case, I’m feeling really bad for Hanna right now.

Wixoss4b

Okay, I’m going to stop speculating because I know I’m usually wrong with WIXOSS anyway. It takes some interesting twists and turns and somehow it all works itself out. This episode continues to dive deeper in the new matches and draws even more characters back into the fight. While you could accuse it of being set-up, this is what WIXOSS does. It focuses on the characters finding their way through the mine-field. We’re well and truly in the thick of it and things are only going to get worse before they get better and I’m really wondering how we can get to a positive ending on this one but I’m really looking forward to watching more.

Previous Reviews:


Thanks for reading.

Karandi James

avatar

Consider supporting the blog by:

Patreon2             Thoughts on Anime             74iz

Lostorage Conflated Wixoss Episode 3: New Rules; Same Trauma

Some solid ground work is going in to bringing the cast of this anime together and I think the end result might be quite interesting. Though, early days yet for the battles.

Wixoss3b

It seemed inevitable that characters I didn’t like so much would also return as well as ones that I had fond memories for. And one thing this episode did very well was remind us that while the girls playing a card game premise might be pretty ordinary, this anime knows how to deliver healthy doses of pain. One of the more interesting parts of this season so far has been seeing so many of the characters after they thought they were free of Wixoss and the selector battles and their various responses to realising they are all still caught up in it.

Wixoss3a

That said, the rules of Wixoss, outside of the few they choose to share, remain as ambiguous as ever with things like turn taking and when they can attack being confusing and at times contradictory. The matches always look good and the better battle is the one between the selector’s mental states rather than the cards they are playing. Still, another twist on the game, which makes me wonder how the game will be ongoing so I guess there’s potentially another twist still to come.

Wixoss3e

This series continues to be doing an excellent job of getting me back into Wixoss and I look forward to the next episode.

Previous Reviews:


Thanks for reading.

Karandi James

avatar

Consider supporting the blog by:

Patreon2             Thoughts on Anime             74iz

Friday’s Feature: Is Brand Familiarity Influencing Our Anime Viewing?

Spring bloomed with a whole pile of new anime to watch and as usual, more than a few of these are returning franchises with spin-offs, sequels, and reboots a plenty to be found in the line up (of course there’s plenty of new titles as well to be found across the various streaming services). However, when I was reading various first impressions I just kept wondering if some of these premieres would have gone so well without the brand recognition behind them.

There’s no doubt at all that brand recognition is having an influence. Prior to the season beginning, some of the most talked about anime were the returning shows such as My Hero Academia. A week into the Spring season and if you sort the titles on MAL by score, of the top 5 Spring anime, 4 of them are returning franchises. And while there’s nothing wrong with people being excited that a franchise they love has come back, I have to wonder whether there were some other first episodes that maybe did a better job of setting up the season that were overlooked due to the power of some of these brand titles.

MAL - Spring.JPG

So let’s take a look at some of these first episodes and what they did and didn’t do. I’m going to look at My Hero Academia, Tokyo Ghoul: Re, and SAO Alternative: GGO. I’d look at Steins;Gate Zero but I’m honestly still trying to figure out whether it actually was a good start to the season or not. Keep in mind, I’m not bashing these shows. All of them have ended up my watch list and I anticipate varying levels of enjoyment from all of them, and some of them have actually delivered slightly better in their follow up episode, but I’m just going to focus on the first impressions we had of these returns. However, I’m aware that if I’d watched these first episodes cold, as an introduction to a series, there were some definite issues that lesser known titles would never have gotten away with.

My Hero Academia Season 3

With the exception of the opening song, which some viewers quite liked but for me just fell completely flat and kind of set the tone for the episode, My Hero Academia returned with its usual excellent production values including great animation and a vibrant colour palette that makes the whole thing just easy on the eyes. MHA is always a high energy and really engaging watch, even when very little is happening and this first episode was not an exception. So for those already hooked on the series and those who had waited with held breath for the return of their favourite class of super heroes, realistically it makes sense that the anime can get away with not doing much.

hero academia 3 three

But think about it. How many anime would get away with an almost entirely flash-back filled first episode with some minor filler story-line connecting the recap? No doubt this was high quality filler. There were some amusing antics, some reasonable character moments, and if you just wanted to re-engage with the cast it certainly succeeded. It even managed to hint at a direction for the upcoming season, though kept its cards fairly close to the chest so the specifics of what the season will focus on were still pretty much a mystery. But high quality filler is still filler and recaps are always best done as ‘specials’ rather than legitimate parts of the season. And episode 1? Really?

Couldn’t they have taken a page from Kimi ni Todoke and had an episode 0 for the season where we had the recap, if a recap was in fact needed?  The other excuses for recap episodes where the team have fallen behind don’t hold water when it is episode 1. This was planned recap. I know I’m letting my bias show here, but I just felt that after months of waiting for a new season this show needed to do more than this. Fans of the franchise don’t need a class roll call to remember the cast and newcomers won’t be jumping in at season three so this essentially served no viewers’ purpose.

Wixoss1c

I’d have to compare this episode of My Hero Academia to the first episode of Lostorage Conflated WIXOSS. Also a returning franchise and also running a fairly recap heavy first episode, WIXOSS managed to do a lot more in its twenty minutes than MHA. For instance, some of the flash-backs were actually new sequences that gave us additional information on events that had happened during the last round of card games. Also, the sequences in-between recollections and exposition of past events set up a very clear direction and conflict for the coming season. While I didn’t really need the reminders of what had happened prior in this anime either, I felt it was far better integrated into a new plot and the episode as a whole just felt more meaningful. Not as fun, but then again an anime about a magical card game that essentially plunges all its players into misery isn’t exactly aiming to be high energy fun.

Tokyo Ghoul: Re

Alright, again we had a well produced episode that showed off some quite decent animation as well as the general dark tones we expect from Tokyo Ghoul. We also meet the new characters, set up a current conflict, get hints of political tensions within the organisation, and at the end of the episode get a strong hint of the character drama to come. All and all, a pretty decent first episode.

Ghoul1a

No, Tokyo Ghoul: Re is on this list because it kind of assumes viewers have read the source material. Jumping from Season 2 of Tokyo Ghoul to this is sort of jarring and you are having to make a lot of assumptions and guesses about what has actually happened because season 2 didn’t follow events in the source and Re isn’t even trying to help fill the gaps. It’s just charging ahead full steam with its plot line. While fans of the source material are probably rejoicing that this has returned to the ‘story’ people following the anime are left more than a little confused and wondering if we’re going to get the explanations we need further down the track.

Then again, it is Tokyo Ghoul and it isn’t as though the first season wasn’t riddled with narrative and character issues, so maybe I should just make my assumptions and watch things unfold as they will without giving it too much though. The anime seems to go down better when you stop trying to make it be more than what it is.

Sword Art Online Alternative: Gun Gale Online

From reading other viewers first impressions of this, I’m guessing I was overall in the minority of people who found it kind of lacking. There were many reviews singing the praises of this new version of SAO. The regular descriptors included fun, ride, exciting, etc. One common comment came up again and again. SAO without Kirito. It must be better. Which I guess if Kirito is your main reason for disliking the original SAO that might be an appealing trait, but does that actually make the anime any better?

SAO1a

Possibly it might. That’s assuming of course that any of the new characters have interesting characters. Which is impossible to tell from this first episode. Basically, the first episode is like watching someone play a shooter. They are in a tournament and we follow a team of two as the discuss tactics and execute their plans. That’s it. It’s well produced with music, animation and visuals all working well enough and it all fits in with the general aesthetics established by SAO so this isn’t a jarring deviation from the anime and source that this has of course sprung from.

But after episode one, I had no idea what this show was actually about. Okay we have a girl playing GGO. I know from the synopsis she has a complex about her height. I still don’t know what the overall complication or direction for the story is going to be. In fact, I don’t even have a hint. There was absolutely no narrative construction in this first episode. It was watching two people play a game. We don’t know why these two are teamed up, or what they want, or whether there was any overall grand picture. All we know is, they played the game, and the pink bunny girl has got some moves – you know, she reminds me of someone.

SAO1d

All and all, this first episode of GGO left me with a pretty bad taste in my mouth. Sure, it has potential to be quite good. They could introduce the characters and have some overall plot going on, but realistically this first episode gave us nothing to go on and not even any reason to think maybe there’s something going on. As much as people like to criticise the original SAO I at least left the first episode knowing the basic personality of the protagonist and what the overall goal was for the story. It was pretty straight forward but it worked.

So what?

Ultimately, this isn’t news to anyone that brands and franchises influence our perception. There’s a reason the various super-hero movies keep making major money at the box office despite varying quality between them, and there’s a reason sequels, prequels, spin-offs, origins, and whatever-elses keep getting made from recognised titles and characters. They sell.

And when something is known to sell, it is more likely to be suitably funded in the first place. Bigger budget leads to bigger spectacle, so even if the story isn’t as rock solid and the performances and characters not quite as nuanced, the overall quality of the production will be there and sometimes that’s enough to keep people watching and happy. Plus, its entertainment. Provided it is entertaining, does it really matter if it isn’t the be all and end all in storytelling?

As much as I would love to be blown away by a narrative populated by incredibly diverse and fascinating characters who consistently hit their mark, I can’t say that I’m not happy just watching the kids from MHA play at the pool, or the ‘not-Kaneki’ reconnecting with himself, or even pink bunny girl going all rambo against professional soldiers. These were all fun first episodes in their own ways. But, I think sometimes even while having fun, it is worth stepping back and wondering what more something could be or do and more importantly, whether some of those dodgy first episodes with poor animation due to less experienced teams or smaller budgets, might actually have delivered a somewhat more solid narrative.

But that is probably a long enough ramble from me. I’d love to know your thoughts on the big franchise anime that have come out this season and how they’ve started.


Thanks for reading.

Karandi James

avatar

Consider supporting the blog by:

Patreon2           Thoughts on Anime           74iz

Lostorage Conflated Wixoss Episode 2: There’s Just No Escape

The rules of WIXOSS have never been overly clear in any version of this anime, but as seasons converge they seem to be trying to set a few things down in stone.

Wixoss2c

Again, this episode was heavily focused on prior events but it isn’t just walking us through prior seasons. It is genuinely giving us new information and changing how we see some of the events from prior WIXOSS battles and as a result by the end of this episode as Selectors are once again chosen by LRIG’s the audience is very much ready to see what might be the darkest iteration of WIXOSS yet.

Wixoss2d

What I think works really well about this new season is that characters who have made their peace or come to terms with the result of their encounter with the game are being forcibly dragged back into it. And unlike previous versions of the game, these characters are well aware of the high stakes that are being played for. These aren’t naive girls hoping for a magic wish at the end of a rainbow. These characters have already walked through hell and the fact that they came out the other side was a miracle the first time. The sheer fact that most of them flinch at the mention of the Selector battles starting again is testament to the scars that have been left on these characters.

Wixoss2a

With so many anime this season trying to get in on dark and edge, WIXOSS continues to show us that you don’t have to physically beat your characters to make them suffer and sometimes it is more affective to hold back on the torment and simply make the audience wait.

Previous Reviews:


Thanks for reading.

Karandi James

avatar

Consider supporting the blog by:

Patreon2             Thoughts on Anime             74iz