After an event known as “The Reflection”, various people began developing superpowers. The series focuses on a group of individuals exploring their powers as they are slowly drawn into a conflict that will determine the fate of the human race. From co-creators Stan Lee and Mushishi‘s Hiroshi Nagahama.
The Reflection Season 1 Review
Creators: Stan Lee & Hiroshi Nagahama
Director: Hiroshi Nagahama
Script: Yasuyuki Suzuki
Animation Production: Studio DEEN
Genre: Action, Superhero
Air Date: July 12, 2017
Status: Completed. Season 2 TBD.
Sub Version Available: Yes
Dub Version Available: Yes
What You Need To Know:
In case you haven’t noticed, Stan Lee did make a few anime and manga titles in his career. In 2009, he teamed up with Shaman King creator Hiroyuki Takei to produce the manga series Ultimo. 2010’s Heroman was Lee’s first anime series that received critical praise. 5 years later, he would team up with Mushishi creator Hiroshi Nagahama to produce Lee’s 2nd anime series The Reflection, which came out this year.
What You’ll Find Out:
“The Reflection” is a cataclysmic event that wiped out a good portion of the Earth’s population. Those who survived were granted superhuman powers and are called as the Reflected. Tensions rise as the Reflected face discrimination due to their powers.
Three years later, in New York City, a group of Reflected waged a campaign against the human race and calling on other Reflected to join their cause. Standing in their way are the mysterious X-On and the self-proclaimed superhero I-Guy. A young woman named Eleanor Everts begins investigating on the rogue Reflected in their ultimate plan, and seeking the identity of its leader, Wraith.
What Just Happened?:
If you are familiar with the TV series Heroes by Tim Kring, this is essentially the anime version of it, but under the guidance of the creator of Mushishi, concepts provided by the Grand Ambassador of Comics, and the same animation studio behind Ranma 1/2, Hetalia, Hell Girl, and the When They Cry and Fate franchises. You’d think with those big names (especially Stan himself) that The Reflection would be something epic and worth watching for. You are sorely mistaken as it is quite a mess.
Starting with the characters, most of them are taken loosely from the characters Stan created back at Marvel. Eleanor can teleport at short distances a la Nightcrawler; X-On has the appearance of Spider-Man, but with the power mimicry of Rogue (minus the other person getting drained out); Ian Izetti/I-Guy’s singing voice can destroy anything in its path like Black Bolt, while donning an Iron Man-like armor; Steel Ruler and Flaming Fury are gender-bent versions of Magneto and the Human Torch, respectively. The list goes on. It’s not unusual to have such characters with similar powers as found on Marvel and DC, but the comparison of the characters to those of the top two comic book brands overshadow whatever uniqueness (if any) each of the Reflected has in their character.
The first episode, despite its faults, gave an impression that makes you come back to watch the rest in terms of the plot. However, it drags out for so long that it ends up boring and uninteresting. This is due mainly to the writing of Yasuyuki Suzuki, who only wrote episodes for the Naruto and Yu-Gi-Oh franchises to his credit, which isn’t saying much. Studio DEEN’s approach to the animation in The Reflection only made things worse. I get that they’re trying to provide a comic-like approach similar to the classic Marvel cartoons of the 60’s, but it’s such an eyesore that even the horrendous 3D animation of the second Berserk TV series is way better.
The one thing that really gets on my nerves is the inclusion of 9nine (pronounced “nine), a Japanese idol group who played themselves in the anime series as among the Reflected. 9nine’s appearance in the first episode mistakenly suggests the plot of The Reflection is global in scale, much like in Heroes. In reality, the plot is mostly centered in America while 9nine makes a few appearances doing random things that have no involvement in the overall story whatsoever until the final episode. 9nine’s inclusion to the show’s plot is just mere fan-service and nothing else.
Stan’s only involvement in the production of The Reflection is being the series’s co-creator, as well as providing the voice of Mr. Mystic. While Stan Lee is no stranger in voice-acting, this is, to the best of my memory, the very first time he took on the role of a villain. This is the only reason you would put up to listening to the English dub. Despite the number of talented individuals at FUNimation, which also dubs Dragon Ball Super, doing the English dub of The Reflection (which is how it’s meant to be presented), it is just plain terrible.
There is one part of the series that does stand out as amazing, and that is its soundtrack. This is all thanks to Trevor Horn, a huge name in the music industry whose production and songwriting credits include The Buggles hit “Video Killed The Radio Star”, Seal’s “Kiss From A Rose”, and Yes’s “Owner of A Lonely Heart”. He produced both The Reflection‘s OP and ED themes (the latter performed by 9nine) and sang the insert theme “Sky Show”, which is one of the best anime insert themes I’ve heard in a while. I personally recommended getting the soundtrack as part of your music collection.
It’s quite disappointing that Stan Lee’s 2nd anime series isn’t as good as Heroman. The concept is there and is great, as is the soundtrack. But the execution of the plot, the animation, and the English dub ruins it. Still, it is at least watchable until the very end, and there are far worse anime out there than The Reflection.