Lostorage incited WIXOSS
Episode 4

by James Beckett,

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Lostorage incited WIXOSS ?

Hello everyone, I'm James Beckett! I'll be taking over for Rebecca on these WIXOSS writeups starting today; she's done an awesome job covering the last few weeks of the show, and I'm honored to be picking up where she left off.

WIXOSS has something of a special place in my heart, since it was the first series I ever got to review here on ANN. That was almost a year ago now, so it seems fitting that WIXOSS would eventually find me again, as we approach my first ANN-iversary. If you'd like to know my thoughts on Selector infected WIXOSS, you can find them here.

The short version: I wasn't exactly a fan. The original WIXOSS series had some interesting ideas and strong visuals, but most of it was squandered on a premise that was trying so hard to be the next Puella Magi Madoka Magica that it forgot to tell a cohesive, engaging story of its own. The script was so wrapped up in surprising the audience and torturing its characters that it left little room for any narrative or emotional development. It wasn't a terrible show, and the second season improved in fits and starts, but even a year later, Selector infected WIXOSS stands largely as a wasted opportunity to me.

So imagine my surprise when Lostorage incited WIXOSS turned out to be a surprisingly engaging and entertaining show! It's no great work of art, but so many of my problems with the original series have been ironed out in this follow-up. Suzuko and Chinatsu are immediately more compelling characters, largely because the show is willing to explore so much of their relationship, even when it has taken them four episodes to meet up again in person. I find the exploration of their conflicting personalities and circumstances to be much more interesting than the overwrought dramatics of the original series, and the supporting characters are also more capably written so far.

The biggest improvement this iteration of WIXOSS has demonstrated is its willingness to prioritize narrative development and character development over artificial surprises and suspense. The new series writer, Michihiro Tsuchiya, isn't obsessed with playing coy. From the get-go, both the characters and audience have understood that this game has palpable stakes for both winners and losers. This has allowed the slow reveal of just how serious those stakes are to play much more organically. Instead of desperately aiming to sucker-punch the audience with an avalanche of misery and reversals, Lostorage seems content to slowly whittle away at our hero's resolve, testing their mettle in a manner that's less gut-wrenching but far more satisfying from a narrative perspective.

This week, we finally get to meet the bookmaker, and he adds a welcome layer of mystery and danger to the proceedings. It especially helps to keep the tension going while Suzuko and Hanna slowly puzzle out the nature of the game they're trapped in. The bookmaker is obviously more involved in this ordeal than he lets on, especially since he goes out of his way to set up Suzuko and Chinatsu's reunion at the end of the episode. While I'm not a fan of the “Predatory Homosexual” stereotype they seem to be leaning on, I'm excited to see how his schemes affect Suzuko and Chinatsu going forward.

I also enjoyed seeing Hanna and Suzuko's relationship move forward into “friendship” territory this week. They play off each other well, and since Chinatsu is being set up as more of a villainous rival type, at least for now, the show needs someone for Suzuko to interact with in a more positive way. (Not to mention the fact that Hanna's role as a researcher of WIXOSS fits naturally into their investigation of the game's secrets.)

Suzuko is still more of a cipher, but learning more about Chinatsu has helped put her into better perspective, and I am hoping that the two of them will have some time to play off each other next week. The flashbacks we've gotten have done a good enough job selling their childhood relationship; now the series needs to contrast that with where they are today, especially as Selectors. The show has done a good job setting up the conflict and reintroducing the stakes of the Selector battles to series newcomers, while adding a fresh twist to excite returning viewers. I'm fully on board to see where things go next, and that's coming from someone who had very mixed feelings on the first season. Now that the pieces are in place, the series can safely ratchet up the action and the drama while keeping its narrative cohesion intact.

Rating: B

Lostorage incited WIXOSS is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

James is an English teacher who has loved anime his entire life, and he spends way too much time on Twitter and his blog.

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