Welcome to our 2017 Summer Anime Reviews. We’ll be tackling a few of the new shows airing this season in fairly brief reviews. The shows were selected by lottery, and these reviews will only cover the first episode of each series.
I think my thoughts on this episode can be summed up with one word:
Copious amounts of freedom and calories aside, The Reflection is not exactly off to a roaring start. As terrible as Battle Girl High School was, I can at least say the show was somewhat engaging. During this show, I checked the duration numerous times and even took breaks over the course of its twenty-five minute run-time. I was bored out of my mind.
Here’s the quick rundown of what I at least understood. We start in Japan at a lantern festival because…reasons…and then we hop over to America where mutants are fighting a man in a flying suit of armor. (Sound familiar?) Some incident occurred three years prior in New York City, affecting a large percentage of the population. Since then, some affected individuals have developed abilities, or perhaps deformities, beyond those of normal humans, leading us to the aforementioned mutants. And somehow those people are banding together to…do something (probably generic villain things that may or may not include making society pay for looking down on them). But it’s quite unclear what that something is, as the assumed antagonists (and even heroes) offer very little in the way of meaningful dialogue to further the narrative or to flesh out their own selves. There’s a teleporting reporter girl who seems to be the main character, but even she is as underwritten as a background extra. (Apparently her name is Eleanor? I seriously don’t remember her receiving a name, but that’s what the Internet is calling her.) Then there’s I-Guy (the Not-Iron-Man who may not even be a recurring character) and X-On (a freelance power-wielder possibly fighting for justice), but both have almost zero substance to them aside from I-Guy being moderately oblivious in nature. And finally there’s the multitude of villains (called Reflected) who offer just as little. It’s sad that with so many interesting character designs the show can’t take time to make the characters themselves engaging in any way whatsoever.
Possibly the most obvious feature of this show is its animation style. Given that its content deals with both America and super-powered beings, it’s not a bad choice for the show to look like an old-fashioned American comic book. A lot of people, myself included, probably will find this simple yet heavy, stiff style as a turnoff. But it’s probably enjoyable for anyone who appreciates more grounded animation. While many aspects, especially characters, come off flat, there are in fact a few visuals that look nice in the style, such as the shadiness of “Purple Tentacle Guy.” In all honesty, while I’m not a fan of the style, there’s nothing really wrong with it.
A problem does exist, though, in the pacing of the animation, for lack of a better way to describe this issue. An action as simple as walking into a room takes up several seconds, with the character’s feet moving only a couple of pixels at a time. I’m a patient person, yet I was ready to shout at the screen for the character to just hurry up. It’s not the look that is an issue; it’s the painful slowness that plagues almost every action in the episode. That slowness also seeps into the pacing of scenes themselves, as characters just sort of stare into space for extended periods of time, dragging out scenes way longer than they have any business being. If the animation had been sped up along with the pacing of the scenes themselves, this episode would have had much more time to work with.
This is definitely not a show I plan to continue watching. If you like superheroes, enjoy the look of the show, and can tolerate a grueling pace (and not just in a narrative sense), you might be able to swallow this homage to American comics. As it stands for me, The Reflection is practically intolerable. The show does seem to have something to say about the way society perceives those who break norms, so there might be some payoff for anyone willing to stick with the show. My hat goes off to anyone who manages that.
The Reflection - Episode 1
- A couple of genuinely funny moments
- Visual style reflects its content but can be a turn-off
- Every aspect of the show is painfully slow
- Fight scenes are dragged out
- Characters lack any real depth
- Opening scene is absolutely filler material
- Some mismatched audio levels