I said it in my video review of the insanely average 2016 movie Max Steel. The super hero trope is always going to be a hit and miss concept with me. It’s one of those genres that’s so done so to death that if it doesn’t at least try to do something new and interesting I’m no doubt going to find it lack luster. Movies like Spider Man and Superman are both cliche in a sense that both of them follow a very cookie cutter formula. A protagonist that’s always on the side of good and often has an incorruptible heroic ideology with an entire slew of villains with self-serving motivations of revenge or hatred. Most popular Marvel and DC comic adaptation follows these tropes. It’s like every comic book in america is the same damn thing. Or at least the ones that are fucken popular. A few exceptions do exist like The Punisher and The Walking Dead. But if I asked you out on the street or the bus or some shit for some recommendations of popular comics that don’t feature super heroes. You wouldn’t be able to mention very many right off the top of your head. You would have to think very long and hard to name a few. At best, you would probably be able to name three.
So, when I first heard american comic book connoisseur Stan Lee had teamed up with Hiroshi Nagahama you could probably understand how I wasn’t at all to intrigued. But since it was a collaboration between america and japan I decided, what the fuck, I’ll give it a chance. I mean shit we need as many reasons to unify as ever these days. And Stan Lee isn’t at all new to the whole japanese anime thing either. He previously collaborated with studio Bones on 2010’s Heroman as well as the Ultimo manga series with the creator of Shaman King. So, while I doubt Stan watches a lot of anime he does however have some knowledge of how the anime industry works. I guess.
But see…. the problem here is…it really irritates me when its anime that tries to do these types of things. It’s a medium that has a reputation for putting forth some of the most original shit ever seen. And since its japanese animation theirs always some bizarre imagery or characters with over extravagant designs or stories that don’t make a lot of sense. And that’s the following animes problem. It tries to copy what makes super heroes so appealing on american shores yet contorts it with its own aesthetics. Japan has its own version of the super hero trope and it’s not exactly what you would call “substantial”. And it becomes extremely obvious when watching this that the japanese idea of a super hero is significantly different then the american version. And that reflects a lot here. Plus, it’s just really poorly put together. Not only does this attempt at a collaboration fail as a superhero anime…it also sucks visually.
Fellow human filth I’m the Angry Misanthropist Freak and this is my review of Stan Lee and Hiroshi Nagahama’s…The Reflection. Let’s do this shit.
This anime is flawed in many, many ways. It’s not good. Like at all. From its animation to its story, to its characters. Everything is just poorly conveyed here. But its greatest flaw is that it tries to be a unique take on the Super Hero genre when really it’s just riddled with the same dumb ass clichés and character stereotypes that’s making me start to hate superheroes in film. I mean the very reason people are given super powers in this universe is through this world-wide catastrophic phonomenon known as The Reflection that brings forth an age of this animes equivalent to the fucken X-Men called “The Reflected”, humans with various super powers. And the story follows a number of these reflected in america. Again, this is a collaborative work with an american so yeah. It’s going to be set in the states. And of course, since super powers are so damn scary and unpredictable there is of course prejudice and discrimination between humans not effected by The Reflection and The Reflected themselves. Gee doesn’t that sound familiar.
And since there’s discrimination there are of course a bunch of Reflected who are pissed off at humanity or Reflected that simply think they can do whatever the fuck they want to do because their Reflected. Hence forth, we have the villainy. And this leads to different factions going into play. Some want to destroy humanity others want to preserve it and show that not all reflected are evil.
And at the forefront of this cast is Eleanor Evans whose power is basically a rip off of Kurt Wagner, only she sucks at using her power. At least at first. I mean we don’t get to see her use it effectively until the later half of the 5th episode. Which is where I actually stopped watching. And trust me I actually wanted to stop watching loooong before that. I fucken hated this anime after the first few episodes. What really got to me was when I got to know Lisa. A paraplegic character with daddy issue and her superpower. Which is basically…a wheelchair that turns into a mecha.
Yeah, again don’t forget, a collaboration with japan. And to be honest I wanted to drop it right then and there. But I honestly wouldn’t be able to forgive myself if I didn’t stick with it and give it the proper chance every anime deserves. But it was literally fucking torture just watching how bad the fucken animation was here. This is something I would’ve expected from crap studios like fucken Toei or some fucken small independent studio who probably do only tiny little internet animations. But not fucken Studio Deen! We’re talking about the same people who brought us the critically acclaimed Higurashi franchises. Granted animation wise that was pretty average too but it was a lot better than this crap, proving that they are indeed better than this. So it really left me with an “oh god why” kind of feeling.
In a single episode, I think only a good half plus quarter of it was actual animation. The rest was pretty much just several seconds of still backgrounds. Some almost with no detail put in to them.
And most of it honestly looked like it could’ve very well been done in flash mx or some shit. It was literally that bad. And fluidity and continuity be damned here. The imagery here never stays consistent. In one frame a gient monster thing is literally the size of an upturned SUV but in the next frame its tiny as all hell. And this flaw remains consistent throughout the entire five episodes I watched.
The animation here is just bad. Bottom line. As you can see the animators at Deen took this shit very seriously. And it’s just really lame how this is what I got when Deen has proven to not be the best – but still be pretty damn solid when it comes to action oriented anime. We’re also talking about the same people who made Vampire Knight and the first anime of the Fate Franchise before it was taken over by the much better Ufotable.
Now granted what they were trying to do here was sort of mimic the style shown in american graphic novels. In the first episode we get shit like the “pow and zap” bubbles in the first few episodes reminiscent of our own comic books. And if I was to be honest they nailed that type of visual pretty damn well here. If you want an animation style that truly brings the look of american comic books to life, here you go. It just doesn’t do it very well. Plus, this isn’t a comic book, this is animation. And animations supposed to flow like a river. And it doesn’t do that here. There are a number of weird ass cuts and dragged out scenes. In one second it’s a still frame, the next were in a flyby CGI background with a lame ass attempt at Sakuga.
And as for the character designs. There handled by Yoshihiko Umakoshi who’s done characters for Casshern Sins and Boku no Hero Academia as well as shit like the Heartcatch Precure! manga. (sigh) And I wouldn’t really have such a problem with them if the designs of these characters didn’t look like something straight out of the fucken 80’s. Nah, Stan and company had to go with the cheesy ass old school american comic designs mixed together with something you would see from My Hero Academia. Instead of something more realistic looking like the getups from the Bryan Singer films we just have characters that look all flamboyant looking. There are a few exceptions here like this one women who looks like Scorpions fucken long lost divorced wife.
Anyway, the story here follows Eleanor who teams up with a very apathetic hero calling himself Exon who has the power to mimic other people’s powers no matter how fucking bizarre. And the two of them go on a road trip in the hopes of learning more about a Reflected named Wrath.
And along their journey they meet other reflected belonging to various factions. One of which is led by a blind man who has the ability to see whether a person is a Reflected or not and leads a pacifist party who wants to show society at large that Reflected are not the bad guys. And all of these big-time characters that they meet through the first half all belong to these various factions or no faction at all. The evil of which are a bunch of supervillains who are sick of being discriminated against and thus plot against the normal human populous.
By now I hope you get it. As you can see the pattern repeats itself once again here. There’s nothing new here that deviates from the traditional super hero formula. This is every major american super hero tail blended together with japanese clichés of their own to create an extremely lackluster production that’s presented in a bizarre fashion. It’s like watching Craig Mazin’s Superhero Movie, minus the comedy factor.
And we’re talking about a director that brought us shit like Mushishi. The Flowers of Evil and Detroit Metal City. Showing clearly that this is a man that likes to experiment. But this anime is something that really shouldn’t have happened. There are other good superhero animes out there. If you want some cool animes with superheroes – or at the very least superhero’esq characters that have a diverse range of superpowers – then try for animes like A Certain Scientific Rail Gun. Or better yet Darker Then Black. One of the best animes I’ve ever fucken seen. And if you want anime based around american super heroes then check out the 2010 collaborations between Marvel and Madhouse. There five times better thin this garbage.
But if you or someone you know really, really loves the old super hero comics or loves everything superhero that came out of the genres heyday, and can ignore things like clichés and really stupid looking low budget animation, then I cannot recommend this shit to you more. Me on the other hand, I’m sick of superheroes.
The final verdict for Stan Lee and Hiroshi Nagahama’s The Reflection is an extremely disappointing….3 out of 10… and gets the Superhero and Face Palm Seals of approval. If this was handed off to a studio who actually gave a fuck about all of the superhero marvel shit like Madhouse has proven to for example, I feel this could’ve been way better. But that shit didn’t happen here. I’ll be waiting for another attempt. That old deal between Madhouse and Marvel showed that american based superhero anime can be done right. But as a person who hates clichés. I’ll be waiting with low expectations. And with that I’m fucken done.