WIXOSS backwards is SSOXIW.
Having lived in Hokkaido for several years, high schooler Suzuko moves back to Tokyo with her father, memories of her childhood friend Chinatsu uppermost in her mind. Unfortunately, letters to Chinatsu began to be returned as undeliverable a few years prior, so Suzuko has no idea where she is. When her attempt to find Chinatsu fails, and she encounters similar difficulty in befriending her new classmates, she turns to the card game she’s seen her classmates playing, WIXOSS. After buying a pack, she becomes unwillingly embroiled in a version of the game where she’s got a talking card called an LRIG and is told her own memories and existence are now on the line, as she is a Selector. Suzuko tries to duck the whole thing, only to be forced into a match by a duplicitous guy, a match which she somehow manages to win. Meanwhile, Chinatsu, whose family’s fortunes have apparently fallen, ends up trapped in the game, too.
This… wasn’t a bad start. I’m trying to not be petty and pissy about the fact that guys can be Selectors, too, and doing alright on that front, but I will confess to being irked to a degree that this exists at all since it would seem to undermine the conclusion of the original series. However, if I was unable to set that aside, I wouldn’t be bothering to watch it at all, so…
The thing is, even as I say that this wasn’t a bad start, there’s a massive problem so far, and that is Suzuko. Suzuko reminds me a bit of Hitoe from the original; Hitoe had all the strength of will of a pack of used tissues, and was so unbearable that I started skipping all of her scenes completely. So, Suzuko being a main character at all is irritating. But, if she had to be in the mix, well, then the worst error the show is committing is not having Chinatsu as the lead – even with Chinatsu only showing up for about 10% of the episode, she’s immediately much more interesting than Suzuko, whose issues are pretty bog standard for anime (has trouble making friends, seems to have a dead parent, has another parent who isn’t much into parenting). Chinatsu’s family clearly had some sort of financial disaster, as we meet them in a run-down apartment when Chinatsu comes home from a shift at a fast-food restaurant. Her parents express concern about her working so much, and she brushes them off with a smile, claiming she loves her job, and when she notes that she makes extra money for the Saturday shift, they apologize to her. She doesn’t seem to be totally thrilled about her life, but Chinatsu does appear to have more fight in her than Suzuko has.
Compared to the earlier WIXOSS series, it’s immediately clear that J.C. Staff is putting a bit more effort in this time around, as the animation is a hell of a lot better, aaaand we’ve got some really weirdly utilized CG (as in, for things like railings and fences). That being said, I’ll admit a preference for the original visually as it had really fantastic backgrounds; WIXOSS took place in a Tokyo that definitely looked lived-in and which had some variation between super swanky and super scuzzy.
While signs had pointed to this being a spin-off rather than a sequel, the OP (played at the end of the episode) showed a shot of at least one (possibly two) characters from the original.
Not sure how much of Suzuko I’ll prove able to take, and I’m concerned that Mari Okada isn’t handling the scripts anymore, but I’ll stick with this. And if Magi Puella Madoka Magica-inspired fare is your thing, this is likely a better pick than Magical Girl Raising Project. A lot of folks liked to make fun of WIXOSS in its first two seasons, but I did think it did a really good job of handling its characters and taking them seriously, even when their concerns from an adult viewpoint seemed overblown and melodramatic. Enough staff have changed here that it may be totally foolish to expect this to do the same, but I’m more willing to take that chance than I would with something totally unproven.