The Reflection – The Difference Between a Copy and an Homage

rsz_thereflection

  • Genre : Sci Fi; Superhero; action
  • Episodes: 12
  • Studio: Studio Deen

 

Three years ago, something strange happened. Something tragic and mysterious that we still can’t quite explain. The earth was hit by some sort of gas and an array of lights. We’re still not sure why but the people that experienced the phenomenon first hand mostly didn’t make it out alive. It was one of the greatest (un)natural disasters to hit the planet in a long time. And the survivors, were not left unchanged. The event was given the name “The Reflection”, and the world is still in shock, mourning the ones lost. However, those lucky few who managed to withstand the blow are now finding that they can do things they were never able to do before. Extraordinary things. Things, no normal human was ever meant to do.

I remember the run up to this series. It had generated a lot of buzz before it’s air date and for good reason. This was a rather unique project, combining traditional American superhero culture with Japanese animation sensibilities to form a one of a kind hybrid. A mutant if you will… OK, I’ll stop now. I thought it was clever…

Stan-Lee-The-Reflection

that guy looks familiar

It’s obvious the The Reflection was banking on it’s originality. This had to be an anime unlike any you’ve seen before and it translates to the visuals. The use of very thick outlines and flat colours is very reminiscent of actual comic book panels and quite striking. It really grabs your attention right away. These unique visuals may not be what you are looking for in an anime but I found them very effective in setting up the mood and establishing the series’ atmosphere. Of course, I’m also familiar with American comic books so I already had a context in which to put these images. It may not translate so well otherwise.

For some reason I kept thinking that it looked very “70s”. I wasn’t alive in the 70s so this is a random thought on my part. But beyond the actual art style, the character designs and setting choices had something old school to them.

Studio Deen isn’t always the most polished but they’ve been around for a while and are behind some truly fantastic animes. (Rakugo and KonoSuba are among my favourites) What I’m saying is that they know their stuff, and this is a well made show in all respects. It’s just difficult to tell it’s an anime sometimes.

thhe reflecton fbi

maybe if she was wearing a sailor outfit

The Reflection works well on paper. It was written by Yasuyuki Suzuki and Stan freakin Lee (we miss you) which immediately lends it some credence. The story is the stuff of classic comic books. Mysterious phenomenon causing mutations. Two factions of superhumans opposing each other while trying to find their place in society. A spunky everyman (woman) lead character thrown into the thick of things and trying to do what’s right. You can clearly see Stan Lee’s influence.

Just because something is traditional, doesn’t mean it’s bad. Like I said, in theory this show should have worked, and worked well at that. But it didn’t and I don’t know why.

The narrative quickly becomes a sort of road trip / buddy dramedy as one of the prevalent “superheros” X-on, teams up with a young journalist who also developed powers, Eleanor, in an attempt to sniff out the main “supervillain” of the series and also discover what exactly the Reflection was. Along the way, they meet up with various “reflected” (people that have developed powers) and the story follows several different characters as they go on their own narrative threads.

The-Reflection-Eleanor

we do spend a lot of time in cars

While I was watching it, it reminded me more and more of that TV show Heroes and just like that show, I lost interest pretty quickly. Even by leaving the show on as background noise half the time, it was a real slog to get through. Maybe it’s because I wasn’t paying close enough attention, but I really don’t know why.

It’s true that the characters aren’t that remarkable, but they are serviceable. The pacing is decent. The story is clear enough to follow along and although it gets bogged down in the usual comic book tropes and plot holes, it’s no worse than the average comic book. One thing I did notice is that there is very little humour in the show. The material is treated very seriously and earnestly. Don’t expect any of that quippy Marvel movie dialogue here. This overly grave treatment of what was often ridiculous material started to get a bit heavy without enough development to support it.

It’s also possible that my disenchantment is purely subjective (although it does not seem to have been appreciated by the larger community either if we go by aggregate sites). I may simply have some fatigue of the genre as we’ve been bombarded with it so much lately. The again, I love My Hero Academia. Actually, you know what, that’s probably what this show should have been.

reflection-4

aw man, what happened to Froppy?

Somewhere along the production process, that melding of genres didn’t happen. Instead of bringing out the best of both worlds, it feels like someone just tried to copy an American comic without really getting it. Everything feels surface level and mindlessly derivative. Then again, these are impressions rather than concrete elements.

Bottom line is that the only thing I can really find wrong with The Reflection is that it was boring. And that’s by far the worst sin for an anime! Also, “Sky Show” has been stuck in my head for 3 days. Yeah, that’s the worst sin…

Favorite character: X-on but honestly, I was barely paying attention…

What this anime reminded me: Stan Lee was a wonderful dreamer and I will miss him.

I only drink a little but when I do I turn into a different person, and that person drinks a lot

Suggested drink: Sky Juice

  • Every time we see a newscast– take a sip
  • Every time Sku Show plays – clap
  • Every time we see “3 years ago”– take a sip
  • Every time we see the name of a US city – take a sip
  • Every time we see or hear Stan Lee – cheer
  • Every time wheelchair girl is startled – take a sip
  • Every time we hear about the Allen family – take a sip
  • Every time we hear about “Wraith” – take a sip
  • Every time you spot a reused scene – ponder

The-Reflection

Irina

I'm much nicer than I seem, we should be friends!

You may also like...

11 Responses

  1. To go off what Osprey said, there’s Ultimo, Reflection and Heroman, so “Stan Lee x anime/manga” is more common than you might think it is.

    I did bring the Reflection up once in the earlier days of the Spellbook. It’s just one of those things you think is made for you (I mean, if you’re advertising magical girls in any capacity and I can access the show, I’m already there)…so you give it a shot…and try again…and keep going…until you realise it was quite close to being a waste of time in retrospect.

    Nagahama (one of the top-billed guys) did say he wanted to do a Wave Two and I was dreading that while Lee was around, but now that one of the Reflection’s big names is missing, I wonder what’ll happen to it…

  2. Karandi says:

    I did not get past the first episode of this one. I found it visually very ugly and then nothing in the first episode grabbed my interest so just stopped right there.

  3. Dawnstorm says:

    I remember liking this more than most people who watched this, and there were episodes I liked a lot (like wheelchair robo, for example), but not even I think this is a master piece. I have trouble comparing this to MHA; it’s too different. There was stuff I didn’t like (all the non-human looking characters were evil, for one). So all in all, it was unique, enjoyable while it lasted, memorable in spots, and ultimately just something I watched.

    I have “Sky Show” in my head, just from reading this.

  4. Scott says:

    I find it hard to say anything, because that’s how I felt and the refection. It was just dull and predictable

  5. ospreyshire says:

    I had never heard of this series, but it looked like it had a unique art style. It’s a shame you thought it was boring at multiple points. Stan Lee’s involvement is interesting since this wouldn’t be the first time he’s collaborated with Japanese creators just like Ultimo with Hiroyuki Takei (creator of Shaman King).

Leave me a comment and make my day!

%d bloggers like this: