What They Say:
Ruko is back in action, and this time she wants answers! With her friend Hitoe by her side, she embarks on a quest to find out what happened to her former LRIG, Tama. Along the way she discovers the secrets behind WIXOSS and the struggles between the light and dark sides of the game. After a few shocking revelations, Ruko sets out to correct the wrongs of the game and hopefully set the LRIGs free. She’ll have to battle other Selectors in her way first, and confront the game’s malicious creator. How far will Ruko go to save the LRIGs and uncover the many secrets behind WIXOSS? The truth lies in wait, but will Ruko be able to save the LRIGs from their fate?
Contains episodes 1-12.
The audio presentation for this release brings us the original Japanese language track in stereo along with the newly created English language adaptation, both of which are encoded using the Dolby TrueHD lossless codec. The show has a pretty solid balance between action and dialogue with what goes on here. There’s a lot of basic school and character interaction moments where it’s straightforward center based material to give it a full feeling. It has some nice placement from time to time but is otherwise solidly what you’d expect. When we get to the action side, mostly in the virtual world, it has a more engaging stereo design with the way the fights are set up and the impact from them. It’s a good sounding mix that keeps it moving about as needed and with some good depth and bass to make it feel like it’s working things well. Dialogue itself is clean and clear throughout and we didn’t have any problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally airing in 2014, the transfer for this TV serie is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. The twelve episodes for this season are spread across two discs with eight on the first and four on the second. Animated by JC Staff, the show has a pretty good look about it even as it tries to keep things under control with some minimal backgrounds. The real world sequences are generally pretty well animated with some very detailed backgrounds, but the virtual world sequences are a bit emptier with some basic color choices made, albeit with some wirls to give it life. The transfer pretty accurately conveys the look of the show so we get some striking sequences throughout with great color and pop and some really good detail. But there’s also a bit of a flatness about the show at times as well, which is properly representative of the material. The color levels are solid and pleasing, there’s no noise or grain to be found that’s not intentional and it’s generally a solid looking transfer that has enough pop to give it life, especially compared to streaming.
The packaging design for this release brings us a standard sized Blu-ray case with a bit of extra thickness and weight to it due to the hinges inside to hold several of the discs. The release for its first pressing comes with an O-Card on it that replicates what’s on the case packaging itself, just with a bit more pop of color to it. With the first set being done with darker colors and blues, this one goes for a lighter background that ties into some of the locations of this set while putting Ruko front and center. Having smaller versions of the other characters riding their WIXOSS cards around her is certainly cute. The back cover wraps around the background, providing more light purple and white space so you can read the premise along the right. The left has a pairing of Urith and Akira together with cards in hand, looking like they’re ready to play. The strip of shots for the show is decent, but with the shadowed edges just makes it feel like an even darker than normal show. The rest is given over to the usual technical grid that breaks down what’s with both formats and how they’re setup in a clean and clear fashion. No show related extras are included but we do get artwork on the reverse side with Urith from the back cover along the left panel while the right panel has Hitoe in a series mode.
The menu design for this series is pretty simple and familiar as we get a good series of eerie clips playing throughout the majority of the screen. They show off both backgrounds and character moments with a darker turn to most of it when it comes to the color choices picked, which certainly sets a mood. The logo is kept center-top where the style of it definitely has some good pop to it with the pink and white. The navigation strip along the bottom, which doubles as the pop-up menu, has a really nicely look to it as it uses the background from the packaging to give it a star filled look with blacks, blues and purples. The end result is a menu that’s functional and easy to use during playback and at the top level that sets the mood fairly well too.
The extras for this release are fairly standard and expand a bit from what we had with the first season. For English language fans, we get a pair of cast commentaries that talk about the show with the production team. The other extra is the clean versions of the opening and closing sequences, something that we continue to like getting with each release. This set also provides for a range of promotional spots, including home video releases, that are definitely fun to check out to see how the show was promoted in quick form.
The WIXOSS series saw itself get a split cour release, with the first landing in the spring of 2014 and then followed up with this one in the fall 2014. Interestingly, this one got the name Selector Spread WIXOSS as opposed to Selector Infected WIXOSS, something you usually don’t get with split cour shows. The first season was something that I certainly liked as we saw how the game was being directed towards young women while introducing the darker layer below it with the Selectors themselves and the kind of dangerous game they were playing. It worked a familiar angle with some light and fun pieces and all the social aspects at the beginning only to reveal the darker material as it progressed with what’s at stake for the players. That was something that worked well for me as it put the players on the line for real and made it far more engaging in terms of the action sequences because of the consequences and overall brevity of the number of matches needed for someone to get screwed with.
With the second season of the series, it really is like most standard two-cour shows in that it works some quiet material, adds some new reveals, and goes for the big finish with some personal stakes to it. The focus early on with Ruko carries through here, though to some degree it feels like her role shrinks a bit amid the ensemble nature of the show, as she’s doing her best to avoid things and getting involved in the game because of the stakes. She’s still struggling with what they learned the last time around and what happened to her friends with the swaps and the dreams. She gets to deal with a new player as well with the slightly younger Chiyori, who feels so utterly useless in this season that I’m not sure why she was introduced beyond adding someone who’s more colorful and upbeat. She understands the stakes but just doesn’t seem to care too much, instead throwing out a few wacky names for moves and the like and generally causing small bursts of meaningless trouble.
One of the early arcs that I actually enjoyed a lot with this set is the one that involves Akira. She’s pretty much in a bad place after the scarring that she got and how it nixed her modeling career and that has her in a really bad place. While she’s able to be drawn back into the game thanks to Urith as she’s manipulating things as best as she can at this time, it’s just good to watch the way the psychological breakdown side operates. Akira is so defined by her modeling and looks that the scar has created a real crack in her persona. While she can cover it up with makeup and is able to do some modeling again, used by Urith in order to draw out other Selectors, that personality breakdown is very much there throughout the season. And it’s fascinating to watch how she essentially gives herself over to Urith and her mission. While she was never a huge bonded friend with Ruko and the others, the shift in her personality is definitely something to enjoy watching play out here as the actresses for both tracks sell it as that near seething craziness underneath is ready to break through in full.
Where a lot of the show wants to go as it moves into its final arc is the reveal of the origins of this layer of the game. This initially comes from Chiyori as she talks about the light novel about the game written by Futase Fumio, something that the other girls have no clue about because they only played the cards themselves and never did any research past that even as things went south and dangerous. Futase is her own convoluted piece, something that I don’t think the show handled too well, but she provides the window into the White Garden world and how the LRIGS came into existence, the game itself, and the stakes for the game through a young woman named Mayu. It digs into how the black and white halves of herself ended up in the game as Mayu and Tama, representing those sides well, and how everything fractured from there.
It is all fairly well laid out and there’s more to it, but it all feels so superficial and disconnected that I had a hard time really looking at it in a way that made it click. The reasons behind it all are touched upon but it has that kind of aspect where things happen simply because they need to happen as opposed to something that feels concrete and solid, much like the way we get the two halves that come from her and lead us into the greater storyline. We do get some great visuals with the White Garden where Tama has been trapped and Ruko works to get to in order to save her, and the battles that exist at this stage with the higher end Selector players is solid enough, but it really feels very much like a by the numbers production with how it unfolds if you’ve seen anything of this nature before. WIXOSS isn’t unique here, though its trappings are well done, and it hews to the familiar structure too much. That causes some of the energy to drop out of it as it progresses because you see it all falling into place and that there really aren’t any sacrifices of note. Though there’s a tinge of sadness to it, it’s so outweighed by the hope and happiness toward the end that it comes across as undercutting things.
The second half of WIXOSS may have lost a bit of energy for me partially because it’s been about nine months since seeing the first season of it. I enjoyed that season well enough and it does take a little bit of time to reconnect to the work here after being away so long. This season is pretty much on par with the first with its overall quality of animation and style of storytelling and Funimation’s release continues on what we had before with the regular edition, though it adds a few more extras to it. The show works well enough and I definitely like that it hewed toward female players with reasoning why and it didn’t try to shoehorn in love interests or anything else that would be a weird distraction. But the show also simply played to too familiar a script as you could see most of how it was going to unfold fairly early on. It’s definitely an interesting show and I’m hopeful that we’ll get to see the theatrical film here as well.
Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0 Language, English Dolby TrueHD 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Episode Commentaries, Promotional Videos & TV Spots, Textless Opening Song – ”world’s end, girl’s rondo”, Textless Closing Song – ”Undo -Asu e no Kioku-”
Content Grade: B
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: B+
Packaging Grade: B
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B
Released By: FUNimation
Release Date: June 28th, 2016
Running Time: 300 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.