The Reflection Episode 2 Review: Plagiarism or Parody?
The reflection is an anime created by the superhero godfather Stan Lee. As his first introduction into the anime world, it has come with many glaring issues. However, alongside these are some fantastic ideas and a possibility for Reflection to become a popular show. As I’m writing this I have only watched 2 of the 7 episodes; as the first episode left a bitter taste, souring the series for a while. Thankfully, the second episode of the series is less confusing and a much more dedicated to the plot.
The episode opens with 2 minutes of backstory shown in a slideshow format, far too long for such little animation on the screen. We don’t even get any dialogue within this, just a number of confusing still shots. However, after the 2 minutes, the backstory is explained clearly and simply. Reflection was an event 3 years ago which killed millions yet also giving some people powers. This backstory is quite unique to the show. Sadly, the characters (no matter how fun) are far from unique.
The first character to be introduced is a man with the power to become engulfed in flames. As Stan Lee is the god father of Marvel I was surprised how little creativity went into each character. As I’m sure you know, engulfed with flames is a power shared by Johnny Storm. A character created by Stan Lee himself. Other than his powers, I found his entrance to be quite amazing and simple at the same time. Thankfully, the villain didn’t seem hot headed like Johnny Storm. Instead, he was controlled and calm, a very refreshing characteristic of a super hero “bad guy”.
Then the opening starts. It was reminiscent of old 90’s super hero TV shows with a looming soundtrack and images corresponding to each hero. A restrained opening within anime culture is pretty unique and is one of the best design choices for the show.
Spot the copy cat
After the opening, we are introduced to a few more cliche villain characters like the Lizard and Hydro man from Spiderman. Due to the amount of Cliche characters, I will only talk about the main ones that stood out to me. But I recommend seeing how much more you can spot throughout the episode.
After the flame powered villain announces his thoughts and views on this world, looking from the point of someone who was scarred from the reflection crisis. He comments that these memorials are empty, crocodile tears to those who were lost in the crisis and those who were affected are simply tossed aside. This may not be a unique standing for a villain character’s motives but I enjoyed the dialogue nonetheless.
Choreography straight out of a comic book
However, one glaring issue I found within the fight scenes is lack of impact. With the minimalist design, I would expect the fighting to be more flowing with lots of contortion of the body parts similar to that of martial arts. However, the fighting, for the most part, was stiff and uninteresting. Yet again if they could simply increase the amount of time they spent drawing the fights then the slideshow at the beginning would feel less shallow as the viewer could distinctly see where the animation budget went.
This entire point is mainly aimed at the fight between X-ON and the one large armed villain as it is very sloppy and borderline slapstick. However, the fight between I-Guy and the flying villain/frog villain is very well put together, if not for poor camera choices (disorientating at times). The animation flow is clean and perfect for aerial combat. However, I do take issue with the taking of scenes out of the first episode in order to fill out scenes within the second episode. It is lazy and again questions why episode 1 even exists. After each fight is re-told we, finally, gain character development. Sadly, this is where the cliche characters truly show themselves.
Did Tony stark die? or did he become I-Guy?
I- Guy the one in a large mech suit with no discernible powers other than the ability to control the mechanized suit is shown to be, you guessed it, Tony Stark. I kid you not, he is a rich pop star with a secret lair within the hills of Hollywood. The evidence of I-Guy being a copy of Tony Stark became apparent as he landed on a lift slowly lowering him into a room with a group of 4 people. This group of 4 to 5 people acts as his Jarvis giving him a global positioning and directions as well as his system diagnostics. This wouldn’t be so bad if he wasn’t previously a rich bachelor wasting his wealth on parties and getting drunk.
Furthermore, while fighting it is shown that he is also a womanizer blatantly saying “And we were just getting to know each other” before tossing a woman to safety. However, not matter how mad I am at the stale character I find his suit design to be pretty cool and fitting with Japanese audiences who have grown up with Gundams.
X-ON and Mary Jane
The character development I did enjoy, however, is X-ON and the female reporter both of which have great chemistry. Showing how well the writing for the anime could be if they took inspiration from this scene more. Firstly, the female reporter begs to become X-ON’s student while flattered X-ON turns this proposition down. Believing that her powers could be used in a much more productive way; finding out information about the most mysterious enemies in particular “Wraith”. Perfectly avoiding the master/student cliche found within most anime. Then they ruined it. X-ON lives in New York and could potentially have a ginger love interest, this wouldn’t be a red alarm for me until they show him using a particular power in his exit of the scene.
Yes, you guessed it. He has a web ability to maneuver the city. All he needs is a dead uncle and a loving aunt and I would label this series as a parody. The only other series that comes to mind when borrowing this much from other shows is Gintama (a parody anime).
Is there hope for this series?
The end of the episode introduces a group of Asian girls all of which I assume has powers. The closing statement alludes to them forming a super hero crew. This gives me hope that there will be at least one group of heroes or villains that may be unique or have some sort of thought into their powers.
In conclusion, I’m holding out hope that the girl super group isn’t just more marvel heroes in disguise. Yet with the way that the show is going, I’m beginning to question the name of the series. I end up wondering whether the show is named reflection due to the tragic events of the show, or the clear rip-off and “reflection” of characters Stan Lee created decades ago.