Even though you could still count 2018 as being “new” at this point, I’m still reflecting on 2017 shows due to this being a 12 Days of Anime reject…
In case you don’t remember because you passed on it or erased it from your memory, The Reflection is a summer 2017 show with the top billings of Stan Lee (who needs no introduction aside from “EXCELSIOR!”) and Hiroshi Nagahama (who is apparently a comics superfan as well as a director of anime I haven’t watched anything from) in the creators’ seats. So, where did The Reflection go wrong, and where did it go right?
Pro – Unique identity
Regardless of whether “minimal movement” is a deliberate choice or a budget constraint, you have to admit the commitment to the moving comic book aesthetic was really something…even when it looked kinda wonky. It was just a bunch of comic book dots away from going all-in on the design.
This also comes into play with the characters – you can’t particularly call any of them, bar maybe Ian, “developed” but there were certainly some interesting concepts being tossed around. In particular, Lisa and her robot Big Wheel brought some self-awareness to the table with some unintentional property damage.
Con – No real stakes
One of the points of superhero shows is the raised stakes that the heroes have to fight against. Without stakes, you have no entertainment or purpose! Most of the show is an extended roadtrip, and while there is the occasional battle, you can’t quite understand their overall purpose in the plot aside from “getting [so-and-so character] out of the car”.
The Allen quest the viewer gets through most of the show never really gets a clear resolution – the show merely skips to introducing the big bad (who is, unfortunately, not Stan Lee’s lookalike Mr Mystic).
Pro – Star power
Aside from Nagahama and Lee, the one other big draw to this show was Trevor Horn (who keeps being billed as the guy who also did Video Killed the Radio Star every time I see promotional material for The Reflection).
So if you like Trevor Horn, you won’t miss Sky Show…
…when I say, “you won’t miss it”, you really won’t. Every time Ian uses his powers, he’ll do it to that song. Thank goodness for my habit of watching anime on mute.
Con – Keeping the audience in suspense for the wrong reasons
My main complaint from the show, according to the bunch of notes I accumulated, was that the magical girls came too late. More specifically, these girls were the Reflection versions of the idol group 9Nine as mentioned in promotional material, and they never showed up in their flashy outfits until episode 12. Not only that, but they never explain the significance of the lantern scene that opens the show (which the girls are part of).
Pro – I-Guy. Just I-Guy.
I-Guy probably isn’t the best of people to highlight since that darned Sky Show is his weapon and, to put it mildly, he’s a bit of a hindrance…plus, he’s kind of like 80% Off Iron Man in the same way X-On is 90% Off Spiderman (the rest of I-Guy’s percentage goes to Batman).
However, even if you don’t feel anything for anyone else in this show, you gotta feel sorry for I-Guy.
He’s not quite the butt monkey of this show – that goes to the villains, in true comic book style – but from the good guys, he’s the most nuanced in a show where the pickings in the character department are slim.
Con – Poor explanation
- They don’t foreshadow the significance of the bad guy, who is presumably Eleanor’s unborn younger brother. That’s a big significance, y’know.
- They don’t elaborate on how X-On met his contacts, considering some of them seem to come out of nowhere after a phone call (like Deborah the FBI lady, since she was instrumental in bringing about the endgame).
- Both Eleanor’s and X-On’s backstory (not to mention X-On’s real name) aren’t truly known to the viewers after 12 episodes.
…plus a few more complaints, but not a lot of them are as significant as this lot.
The silly thing is that The Reflection is only one part of a series which is at least two parts long, so maybe my words are unwarranted somewhat. However, the cons are much weightier than the pros, so if you’re wondering where I am during Wave Two, I’ll be somewhere a long way away from it, trying to comprehend why Stan Lee keeps trying to break into anime (and manga, in the case of Karakuridouji Ultimo)…