Image source: WIXOSSアニメ公式 on Twitter

Memories are a treasure that can inspire you to future greatness. But they they can also be a chain that binds you, making even your victories seem like failures.

Childhood friends separated for many years only to be reunited on opposing sides of a conflict is a classic setup in anime. One friend, often the protagonist, wants to reunite and become good friends like before. The other does not–usually due to some sort of malevolent outside influence. However, in many cases, all it takes is a quick heart-to-heart (or the destruction of some sort of mind-control device) and the friendship is rekindled with the “evil” of the pair returning to the side of the angels.

Lostorage incited WIXOSS takes this common trope and twists it by making the “evil” of the pair choose her path not because of an outside influence but because of an internal, personal realization.

Image source: WIXOSSアニメ公式 on Twitter

Lostorage incited WIXOSS is the story of Suzuko and Chinatsu, childhood friends separated after elementary school when Suzuko moved away. Now in high school, Suzuko moves back to her old neighborhood. While the two friends have been out of contact for years, each had a profound effect on the other. In Suzuko’s mind, Chinatsu is the perfect person: strong, confident, and able to deal with any possible situation. This mental ideal of Chinatsu is everything Suzuko dreams of becoming herself. Though she doubts she can reach her goal, she uses it to motivate herself in her adolescent life.

Chinatsu, knowing how Suzuko saw her, has continued to try to be that ideal–believing that she has to be that perfect person should she and Suzuko ever be reunited. But while Suzuko has led a privileged life through middle and high school, Chinatsu’s life has been anything but. Her father has lost job after job and they’ve had to move. Her family has become so poor that she has to work a fast food job to help support them–a real problem when you’re on an academic scholarship at a prestigious school and your grades are slipping.

Already on the edge of what she can handle, Chinatsu suddenly finds herself an unwilling player of the new WIXOSS selector battles.

Image source: WIXOSSアニメ公式 on Twitter

The rules are simple: You play the WIXOSS card game against other chosen players. If you win, you gain one of your opponent’s coins. Collect five coins and you are released from the game–and are able to change someone else’s memories or, alternatively, your own if you wish. Lose all your coins, however, and you lose all your memories. But the real horrible trick is that even should you not fight, your coins will disappear on their own, taking your memories bit by bit as they do.

Chinatsu, with only a single coin remaining (and it almost completely disappeared on its own), enters into a last minute battle to keep her memories. Yet, at the climax of the battle, she loses her key memory: the memory that most defines her as a person. It is, of course, her memory of Suzuko. Chinatsu battles back to win the duel and, with the victory, her memories are restored for the time being.

This experience completely changes Chinatsu as a person. In most anime, such an experience would likely lead to the person battling again and again in a desperate struggle to protect the memories most important to her, giving her motivation to continue to fight even in the most hopeless of situations. Yet, in Chinatsu’s case, it has the exact opposite effect.

For one brief moment, Chinatsu had been free.

Without her memories of Suzuko, she had no drive to be the perfect child. She doesn’t have to support her family, be a model student, or anything else. She could be selfish for the first time in her life and not feel bad about putting herself first.

Of course, losing all her memories is no victory in Chinatsu’s eyes. She wouldn’t really be herself if she were an empty shell, after all. Only by winning and then deleting her memories of Suzuko could she ever have the ability to become what she believes to be her true self–who she would be without the metaphorical chains that bind her to Suzuko.

Image source: WIXOSSアニメ公式 on Twitter

But, while true, this is just the surface reason for her actions. On a deeper level, what drives Chinatsu is guilt–the guilt that she is not the perfect person Suzuko believes her to be and never has been. Deep down, in her heart of hearts, Chinatsu has dark thoughts. Just like any other person, she gets jealous, feels abandoned, and rages at the unfairness of the world. But unlike everyone else, she feels like she is letting Suzuko, the most important person in her world, down whenever she has these thoughts.

By winning the selector tournament and erasing Suzuko from her mind, all that crushing weight would be gone.

Image source: WIXOSSアニメ公式 on Twitter

This gives her the ability to push far past her own moral event horizon. She can do horrible things to anyone involved in the game–assault people, trick people, seduce people, even turn them into empty shells–because in the end she knows the guilt is temporary. Even destroying Suzuko, who has also been pulled into the selector battles, is now within her power. All she has to do is stay the course.

This makes her one of the most compelling villains in recent anime. She knows what she is doing is wrong–and each action hurts her. But as each sin piles up, she has no choice but to go forward towards her goal. If she doesn’t reach it, her guilt for all the evil she has done will consume her completely. And along the way, she discovers one of life’s worst facts: Do anything enough, no matter how horrible, and it becomes “normal.”

Image source: WIXOSSアニメ公式 on Twitter

There is much more that could be said about Chinatsu and Suzuko’s drama–like how their living card partners are ideal versions of each other made from their own respective memories and how that affects the already complicated situation between them. Suzuko’s whole thought process and character arc is likewise interesting–as are those of many of the other characters. But you’ll just have to experience all that for yourself.

Lostorage incited WIXOSS can be viewed with English subtitles on Crunchyroll.

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