The Reflection

January 21, 2018

Looks like the superhero phenomenon isn’t going anywhere soon. At least the western kind of superhero. So it feels like they are trying to expand into the Japanese market and see if it will hit big with The Reflection. Giving weight to why this series has all the ‘hype’ is because it is co-created by Stan “The Man” Lee himself and Hiroshi Nagahama, a Japanese director who is famously known for directing Mushishi. This isn’t the first time Stan Lee has tried his hands in creating and making an anime with superheroes as he already did so back in 2010 with Heroman. Too bad I didn’t see that one. The synopsis is as vague as it can get. After a certain incident a few years ago, certain individuals obtain several super powers. Some become heroes, some become villains. How and why this phenomenon came to be? Tune in to find out. I hope it isn’t just lazy writing and hence the obscurity of the synopsis to cultivate ‘interest’ to tune in and watch. Because from the guy who created lots of Marvel greats like Spiderman, Iron Man, Fantastic Four, the Hulk and the X-Men, I’m having high expectations here…

Episode 1
In New York Times Square, there is an aerial battle raging on between uhm, iron-man with uhm, frog-man and bat-man. Don’t mind the property damage and all the citizens snapping and filming away with their handphones. Iron-man defeats frog-man by making him stuck in some sewer hole. Meanwhile, journalist Eleanor Evans stumbles into uhm, x-spidey fighting against uhm water-astronaut. Being distracted, Eleanor is then taken hostage by uhm, tentacle-hoodlum. However she has some sort of power that is able to free herself. X-spidey seemingly gets stabbed by water-astronaut. But he absorbs his power and leaks him. Then he also absorbs tentacle-hoodlum to defeat him. Then there is this uhm, flame-woman appearing before him but he disappears since the agency reinforcements are here to round up the defeated baddies. Iron-man finally defeats bat-man. The press interviews him. They want to know his name. He is called I-Guy. WTF. I feel like making a joke out of iPhone… The crowd wonders if he will continue to protect New York. Sorry, he lives in LA. As the baddies termed as the Reflected are being transported away, their comrade, Steel Ruler easily breaks in and frees them. Today’s events make the news as they talk about the Reflection incident that happened 3 years ago when the world was hit by strange smoke and light. Many recovered, some died but others suffered some sort of side effects. Nobody knows why it occurred but it wasn’t a terrorist attack. This could be what manifested in today’s events. Eleanor returns to her home and is surprised to find x-spidey there. She notes that what happened to them 3 years ago wasn’t something that affected everyone equally. They were chosen.

Episode 2
We get a glimpse of those strange smoke and light descending on the world 3 years ago. Now, 3 years later in New York, the mayor is giving his speech for this memorial when his talk is being hijacked by Flaming Fury (flame-woman). She accuses everyone of forgetting them and did not care about their suffering. They will open their eyes. This stunt is actually to lure out X-on (x-spidey) but he is already in the crowd taking out some of the Reflected. Flaming Fury didn’t realize or know about I-Guy and wonders if X-on has an ally. X-on looks through Eleanor’s files. Is she his stalker? He praises her thorough research as he can tell she too has powers although unstable. Eleanor explains she is a survivor of that incident. But gaining such powers made her a bully victim. She felt lost until she came to know about X-on. She hopes he could make her his disciple to help control her powers and make the best of it like he does. However he doesn’t want to take that responsibility. Instead, he hopes she would shift her attention to Wraith. Who is that? That’s for her to find out. Yeah, I think he doesn’t know either. I-Guy (real name Ian Izzet, but he is no Tony Stark) returns to his base in LA where his team celebrates his successful debut. I think all that air sickness makes him vomit and passes out. He dreams of that incident 3 years ago. He was hit by the light but survived. He was once a singer too. Also, we play clips of I-Guy’s fight with bat-man and frog-man but this time with dialogue with his team. I-Guy continues to be the new hero of LA as he sweeps crime and the people love him. He’s even got a red carpet treatment. Steel Ruler and Flaming Fury are speaking with their comrade, Mr Mystic (Stan Lee?!) as they discuss about the Reflected are those who were hit by the smoke and light and became criminals. It is their job to take them in. They are going to let I-Guy work had so they are able to find more Reflected.

Episode 3
Eleanor looks at the footage of Times Square before the ceremony. She thinks she spotted a suspicious person but isn’t sure. There were also lot of weird happenings then but the one who caught her eyes is the disappearance of Jennifer Allen who works at a boutique. Strangely, 2 days before, her cousin May from Dayton, Ohio also disappeared. Footage also shows a strange figure there. Eleanor’s place is suddenly on fire. Luckily she manages to escape. X-on knows this is the work of Flaming Fury. It means she is on the right track that they have something they don’t want to see. With nowhere to go, Eleanor wants to follow X-on to Dayton to investigate. Along the way, they talk about that smoke and light incident. It is believed those hit by the smoke turned into violent monsters while those hit by the light gained powers from some internal change. At Dayton, Eleanor almost runs into a wheelchair girl, Lisa Livingstone. As precaution, she takes her to the hospital but nothing serious. Her father a cop, isn’t pleased with the outsider but Lisa claims Eleanor is her friend and has invited her home for dinner. X-on follows a suspicious person. He knows he has been tricked since at this car junkyard, Steel Ruler can bend and twist metals to her will. However she escapes since she doesn’t need him anymore. Lisa’s dad tells Eleanor about the incident 3 years ago. A repeat drug offender took Lisa hostage. His team went in when the Reflection happened. Luckily nothing serious happened. Dad blames himself as he has made many enemies. That’s why he wants to protect Lisa. But Lisa never thinks of herself as unfortunate nor has she blamed anyone. What dad is doing is only holding her down. After Eleanor picks up X-on and they return to Lisa’s place, her home is in a mess. X-on calls Deborah for a place of metal stockpile in Dayton. Steel Ruler and blob-man are torturing Lisa and her dad. They believe Lisa is a Reflected although Lisa denies. X-on arrives to fight Steel Ruler but blob-man is going to crush Lisa with his inner cutters. That is when her wheelchair turns into some awesome robot loaded with guns and missiles! Woah! Mini mass weapons of destruction! She is able to defeat blob-man and save her dad. Dad has never told Lisa but during that incident he saw green lights absorbing into her and her wheelchair. Lisa can’t stay with him anymore as she will only bring danger. She wants to learn about these powers and flies off. Steel Ruler is pleased since they have made some progress.

Episode 4
Eleanor thinks Lisa’s power is great. Well, her robot ran out of energy and they almost crashed! Eleanor has also done more research on the Allens. It seems that there are several kidnappings with women of that surname in a few cities close by. It’s like as though they’re kidnapping those they think are the Reflected. There is another one, Michelle in New Orleans. That’s their next destination. I-Guy continues to be the hero defeating villains. However the media paints him as an irresponsible one because a few hours later, the villains escape and had to be rearrested. Not his problem! Also, Ian seems to have a problem about being jealous of I-Guy because he wants to show who the true star is so he has his producer set up some show. At some party, he is about the sing that 80’s one-hit wonder, Sky Show but did he forget his lyrics? It seems the moment he opens his mouth, the glass cracks. He is taken off stage as Ian believes his producer was right. The world doesn’t want Ian now. So he plays Sky Show as I-Guy? At New Orleans, Eleanor goes to do her investigation. But at the bar, the master says Michelle has already been taken by Merchant and Trader for being a Reflected. The duo are something like buying and trading Reflected. Eleanor sees a kid, Ben being bullied by punks as they believe he is a friend of that Reflected. When Eleanor uses her power to save her, she receives the hostile attention of the crowd. The local police, Warren Dallas wants to take her in but Merchant and Trader pops up to take her away. Reflected shall take care of the Reflected. After all, their goal is the same: A world without Reflected. Lisa is mad that X-on isn’t going to do anything to save Eleanor as he is pondering about Michelle’s case. Fine. She’ll find her by herself. Eleanor wakes up in a mansion. She enters a room crowded with people.

Episode 5
Inside the mansion, these people have powers. Michael Hoden explains that ever since that incident, the fear and hatred for the Reflected grew. People would become violent with them and then claim self-defence. So much so the police were also joining in to attack them. Thus he has searched for the Reflected and sheltered them here. Lisa is looking around. She almost gets mixed up in some bar brawl but Ben saves her. Looks like Dallas is also on the take from Steel Ruler. Eleanor finds Michelle but the latter is not pleased to be holed up here. She insists she is not a Reflected although Michael believes she is. He may be blind but he can tell. 3 years ago, he was gambling his money away when the incident happened. He returned to his wife, Vy who was mad about throwing away their money. She turned into some armoured beast and shortly after he lost his eyesight. But the only thing he could see are the Reflected. Hence all those here are those Reflected hit by the light. Those hit by the smoke don’t want to have anything to do with them and are more violent. Eleanor mentions about other Reflected trying to mobilize and doing something but Michael is bent on protecting Vy and others from the outside world. That is why he is given this power. It is his atonement. Ben tells Lisa that Merchant and Trader do not eat Reflected as widely believed but sheltered them. They are then kidnapped by men who force Ben to reveal that location. Ben tells them it is deep in the wetlands otherwise Lisa is shot. And those guys are actually the police under Dallas. When he mobilizes the force there, Michael confronts them and doesn’t want to fight them. Dallas doesn’t believe a word since he has lied to him all the while. The police opens fire as Vy protects Michael. Her armour chips away to reveal her original human form. Is this time for some romance? Well, the police cuts it short by firing again. Vy returns being an armoured beast. Eleanor uses her teleport power to try and take down as much police as she can. Steel Ruler is here as she orders electro-guy to attack. Electricity and metal don’t mix… Luckily here comes Lisa and X-on. Not even electricity can beat a huge missile in your face. The baddies escape, the police rounded up and Michael feels he now wants to let the sheltered Reflected out into the world so they can fight together. Eleanor wants to relay that message but no one is left in the mansion. Too late?

Episode 6
Eleanor has done more research and from all that confusing computation, it looks like the place where there are lots of Allens living is San Antonio. Time for another road trip. Since Michael and Vy are tagging along, I think Eleanor is going to need a bigger car. However the evil Reflected have been stealing the Allen women from our heroes. Like this sea-dragon-guy who gave Vy and Michael the slip because he swam too deep. Lisa failed to apprehend shadow-cat-guy because her robot is too big to move inside the museum walls. Eleanor lost tack before clone-maker-guy made everyone look the same. X-on failed to follow Dead Wing (bat-man) because of his ultrasonic wave. With the news reporting the daring Reflected crimes, X-on calls Jim, his detective friend. I don’t know what hacking he did on Eleanor’s laptop but the next target is Nina Fischer. Not Allen? Women change their name when they get married, right? At this barber store, this grumpy woman isn’t Nina but her mother, Margaret. She hasn’t seen her daughter in 20 years as she has gone to LA and never contacted since. Michael could see her as a Reflected so looks like she is forced to come along. Flaming Fury and Dead Wing try to intervene but this is just decoy truck by Jim, Michael and Vy. The rest are on their way to LA. As Margaret lectures Eleanor about being an adult, Eleanor suddenly sees a vision of Wraith. He claims only she can see him and wants to talk to her. He acknowledges her power and needs her on their side to make this world their own. It is what Darkness desires. Eleanor will not betray humanity but is told Darkness will decide that. In LA, mother and daughter reunite. They are hostile at first but soon the tears keep rolling. But it is short-lived as Steel Ruler is here. She wants the last of the targets to be handed over and Eleanor won’t get hurt. Since they refuse, she is going to take them by force. You know bullets won’t harm her, right? I-Guy crashes into the place.

Episode 7
Steel Ruler makes a cage to trap them but I-Guy breaks out. Flaming Fury aims for the ladies but has to face X-on who absorbs her powers and fights her head on. Steel Ruler is about to back her up but here comes Lisa keeping her company. Dead Wing has spotted Eleanor taking the ladies to run. But now he has to play with I-Guy. Panther-guy catches up to Eleanor and beats her up. Meanwhile Margaret and Nina are being absorbed into some shadow. Margaret seems to have some power as she teleports Nina away but at the cost of her life. When all the heroes and villains converge, Steel Ruler receives word from Mr Mystic that this is an unfortunate incident but they have enough to move forward. Eleanor is distraught at why they are doing this. Steel Ruler says this is all for the plan. Everyone is part of it and they cannot escape. You and me. When I-Guy tries to welcome them to LA, he gets punched by X-on who blames him for his interference. He could have saved the family. He accuses him of playing a hero and just a lighthouse whose mindless light attracts and lures out those with abilities. Back at the motel, Eleanor tells X-on about her vision of Wraith. He thinks he is the perfect bait then. In that case, she’s not going to hide around. I-Guy returns to his base and he is sulking over what X-on said. So as he plays his guitar on the streets and reminisces the good ol’ days, Wraith suddenly pops up before him. He thanks Ian and gives him tons of cash for doing what he is supposed to. He has done so much for them and now it is his time to ‘retire’. As a hero. Leave his future to him as he needs a fool who is empty and listens to orders. Ian rubbishes it but Wraith replies I-Guy only exists because of his team. He will welcome him the Hollow King any time. Ian rushes back to his base to see all his team dead. He plays a recent recording from one of them talking about how they believed they could do things together, etc. Ian lost his singer job because his voice became a weapon and that’s why he became a hero. Since it is ridiculous to have so many people to put on his outfit, a hero should transform by himself. That’s why they have just finished creating a version 2. They want him to test it. This sports car? Eleanor waits and sees Steel Ruler before her.

Episode 8
I-Guy (dark version?) beats up street punks in order to find out about Wraith. He could have killed them had not X-on stopped him. Eleanor avoids Steel Ruler’s attack with her teleportation. Eleanor wonders why they even bother with them because if they’re not their targets but still keep coming after them. Especially her. First it is to test her abilities. Secondly it isn’t fun for Steel Ruler. She claims Wraith will envelope the world with darkness and make it equal for everyone. She might sound twisted saying if she cannot grasp light, let darkness envelope everything. Flashback 3 years ago she was a victim of a robbery. Left for dead after being stabbed, those smoke touched her. She became who she is and killed her perpetrator. The hostages they took in New Orleans, she is willing to release them if Eleanor comes to their side. If Eleanor is going to ask X-on for an answer, don’t bother. He only finds answers for himself. He won’t save his friends. After handing her a pendrive, she tells her to meet her here again at dawn if she agrees to the terms. Eleanor is then taken in by Deborah in her surveillance truck. It seems her unit has been monitoring the Reflected. Eleanor is not amused with all that is happening, they did not take action. Since their mission is to find Wraith’s goal, she hopes Eleanor can help them. By being bait? Even if it is a trap, will she go? Eleanor asks her connections with X-on. She doesn’t know anything about him and only deal when their interests align. Eleanor checks the pendrive. Some newspaper clippings, footage and info on people. She goes to confront X-on to ask what is she to him. Nothing to say? From the pendrive, she learnt of some fire incident 20 years ago. All died except a boy who survived. This boy ‘x’ went missing. Is it him? Not answering too? How about if he lets his friends die? He admits he does. Eleanor also admits she is weak and can’t do anything but she isn’t going to sit around and abandon people. I guess this means she is going to accept Steel Ruler’s terms. Deborah meets Jim and X-on back at the motel and discuss that fire incident. X-on tells them what he told her and Jim thought they agreed on it so that nobody could have regrets. With Eleanor going to Wraith, Jim believes it is a trap because there is no way they’ll keep their word. We’ll see. Because she is already meeting with Steel Ruler.

Episode 9
Despite Steel Ruler telling her this is an obvious trap. Eleanor doesn’t care and still goes with them. After entering their truck, Deborah and her team try to tail them. To shake them off, a Reflected makes them see snake illusions crawling everywhere, sending them into the panic. Deborah takes over the wheel as she overcomes the illusion so another Reflected has the truck drive straight through walls. I think Deborah knows the place like the back of her hand so she is able to keep up. It ends when Volt (electro-guy) turns them turtle. He could have killed them had not Vy tackle him. With the SWAT team arriving, Volt flees. Meanwhile Lisa pretends to wake up from her sleep. Yeah, she heard everything. Doesn’t anybody find it strange she was sleeping with her glasses on? Anyway she is grateful for them for giving her this chance and to continue believing in Eleanor. She is about to go alone to find her but the SWAT team has surrounded the place. Seriously, nobody heard them? They are brought back to their secret base. This is the LA branch for the Anti-Reflected Squad who is headed by Clarence. He explains they have been monitoring the Reflected and termed those who were hit by the smoke as Darkness Reflected and those by the light as Brightstar Reflected. No prizes guessing which side is which. Their surveillance somehow stopped working like as though someone from the other side can turn it off. Deborah says it is no surprise since they have been dancing to their tune all along. The whole time they wanted them to see what they could do, thus they never bothered about being watched and always retreated. But this time it was different. Since they have Eleanor, Deborah feels they were really trying to kill her. As Eleanor refused to cooperate, that’s why Clarence brought our Reflected heroes here to monitor them until they know what’s going on. Lisa will not have her freedom taken away and transforms to defy. This also causes Vy to do the same. However Michael can see her trying to tell him that the other side is calling her. He tells X-on that Darkness is calling her so X-on wants her to go there so she can lead them to Eleanor. Okay. But why does she need to bust out and leave the place in a mess? Ian’s car is like Knight Rider. It can detect and inform nearby Reflected as Ian begins following her. Michael thought X-on’s plan was to offer Eleanor to see Wraith’s plan despite being risky. However X-on views Wraith as not the problem but Eleanor. Speaking of her, Mr Mystic greets her, sure their master is looking forward to see her.

Episode 10
Eleanor goes off on her own and Mr Mystic doesn’t want the rest to go after her since she will find her way to their master. Lisa and co have arrived at the mansion. They are greeted by Mr Mystic who gives them a warm welcome by letting Flaming Fury and Volt dispose of them. Lisa thought she saw Eleanor wandering around so X-on goes to tail her only to be obstructed by Steel Ruler. I-Guy has arrived too and faces off with Dead Wing. When he learns he is the one who killed his friends, his energy spikes. His blast vaporizes Dead Wing! OMG! This is the power of anger! Eleanor tries to find the hostages and ends up in some weird cave where she meets Wraith who is glad she has come to him. You know all those times she was researching him? Yeah. He thinks she is really into him. Like a stalker? Weird. Eleanor considers him the enemy for all they had done but he says they were merely gathering the Reflected. He asks despite they are always a step ahead but allowed her to follow behind. It’s because she is connected to him. She chose him. Not X-on. That guy has no friends and would not hesitate to betray. This leads to Wraith mentioning about how her parents abandoned and never cared for her. Because all they cared was his dead twin brother, Ethan. That’s why she strayed from them and reached out her hand to cling to X-on. But he didn’t. Because she meant nothing to him. But there is someone who needs her. Those hostages are not kidnapped. He reached out his hand to them. Their existence matters and are necessary fragments part of something bigger. Take his hand and be acknowledged. When X-on manages to dispose Steel Ruler, he follows Eleanor to a cave. This is a trap set by Mr Mystic to lure him there but he didn’t expect Steel Ruler to also closely follow X-on into it. By the time X-on arrives, Eleanor looks like she has reached out to Wraith. Because Wraith has now possessed her. Using her body, he transforms to his actual form: Ethan. And if you still don’t get it, Ethan = Wraith.

Episode 11
Steel Ruler is shocked Eleanor is Wraith. Wraith says Eleanor was only in the way and would have never gotten this power had she remained so. In order to eliminate her, she needed to wish herself to disappear. He thanks X-on for that. That is why he brought him here to witness this. Because of him, Eleanor knew her true self as worthless. Wraith begins a ritual. In this desert of White Sands, New Mexico where approximately 500 Reflected are teleported here, they see a group of those Allen women. All except Nina has died during the ritual. They had this teleport power and hence to teleport this large number of people, hence they were kidnapped. Wraith and his merry little band of Reflected pop up. Some pledge their allegiance while others wonder who the f*ck this bastard is. Wraith addresses the Reflected about being discriminated since their appearance 3 years ago. While some want to kill the discriminators, Wraith doesn’t believe it can happen because of their small numbers. What they can do is change the world into one where they can live in. A world of Darkness. That is why he has gathered them here as he needs their powers. Some rubbish this and walk away as others follow suit. X-on gets a call from Deborah that the military has detected them and is sending the army to deal with it. Get out of there. Well, too late. They’re already here. Why is it at such times is the US Army so quick and responsive? Actually they are here not to harm them and just want everyone to leave. But chewing-gum-guy hypnotizes one of them to fire. This causes the panicked Reflected to fight back. And so all hell breaks loose. X-on signals to the heroes to stop this fighting otherwise Wraith will get what he wants. Michael can see Brightstar Reflected turning into Darkness Reflected thanks to the hatred and rage. This is Wraith’s plan. So as they try to stop the fighting on both sides, Wraith also mobilizes his henchmen. But it seems Steel Ruler has a little hesitance in her heart. Dead Wing is back to face I-Guy. Yeah, version 2 because he is all mechanized. In the end, Wraith just zaps everyone. WTF.

Episode 12
Wraith is controlling all the Reflected. We get another I-Guy vs Dead Wing fight. Let’s hope this settles this dysfunctional fight once and for all. Dead Wing’s ultrasonic microwave is paralyzing him and causing pain. Luckily he is saved by the appearance of magical girls!? Power Rangers version?! Finally those Japanese high school girls make their ‘proper’ appearance. They help take down Dead Wing before I-Guy disintegrates him for good by absorbing and using his own ultrasonic microwave against him. When all the Reflected stop dead in their tracks, looks like Wraith has gotten enough power to make forth Darkness. It’s getting pretty dark and windy in here. This means all Reflected who are still alive lose their Reflected power. Vy reverts to her human form. Too bad Michael can’t see her. Is this time for some cheesy romance? X-on asks Wraith’s goal so the standard protocol for villains to tell everything now is that he will have everyone become one with Darkness where nothing and eternity awaits. For that, it is why he let Eleanor die. Everyone struggling to get close to Wraith but they get blasted back every time. Oh look who is peeking out of that darkness window? That’s Darkness? Wraith is shocked to see Eleanor before him. Or is this her ghost?! She tells him that everyone has walked a dark path in their life and hence they aren’t tainted by his darkness. WTF. Are you saying Wraith’s darkness is just pussy level darkness?! Wraith is confused (so am I) that Eleanor succumbed to him. Yes, she did but she can’t hold on to him forever. From what I understand, Eleanor created Ethan to cope with his loss or something. Her darkness was her dead brother. Since she can’t hold on to herself or make herself disappear, she decided to live with her darkness. If that is true, then who is Wraith?

At this point, X-on has grabbed on to Wraith and absorbs his power. This enables some light back in and the Reflected heroes get their power back. X-on makes a stunning revelation that everyone has misunderstood: He is not a Reflected! It is heroes versus villains (including the ‘highlight’ of those Japanese girls owning a frog family?!). Steel Ruler defects and fights Flaming Fury. Everyone cooperates to take own Wraith before I-Guy finally blasts him to smithereens. Full light is back. And Darkness is like, oh, guess I don’t need this. Bye. Great happy news to go with the happy ending is that Eleanor returns once Wraith is gone. All the other surviving villains retreat. Those who are not so fortunate like Steel Ruler get taken into custody by the Anti-Reflected Squad. These people always arrive in time just for this, huh? I-Guy and those Japanese girls strangely click with each other. Eleanor talks to X-on and regrets doing something awful. He notes using the power of Darkness to create someone who shouldn’t have existed but she eventually was the only one who could defeat him and she did. You are the one who can only decide on how to use your own powers. Eleanor and X-on have different views about darkness and light. The former believe both exist among each other while the latter each exists separately. Suddenly there is a huge phenomenon getting bigger over the sky. Green light and purple smoke. Second wave?

The Rejection
And so we are left with a typical cliff-hanger soon after a happy ending for the current arc. Leaving enough for another potential season because other main baddies like Mystic Man and Flaming Fury are still running free. But as far as this season is concerned, I would rate it as somewhat average. I believe this isn’t going to be the next big mainstream hero thingy since my guts are strongly telling me this won’t be overtaking classic Japanese heroes or even dethroning current popular Marvel and DC superheroes. For every successful hero and villain series, there are many more which don’t necessarily succeed. Maybe some will shine for a while before falling back into the darkness of time where nobody will ever remember it again. The neglected, I’d say.

I don’t know. The story and plot feels a bit awkward for me. Although it sounds like your typical and cliché superhero good guys versus supervillain bad guys, the entire series feels like one big chase across the United States to prevent the baddies from realizing their goal. It is somewhat laughable when you think about it because the villains are so ‘considerate’ enough to tease and let them follow on their tail but enough time for them to escape. It’s like the villains have always been toying our desperate heroes and leading them from one point to another. Got played and danced right into the palm of their hands? And playing that Reflection incident card feels like a weak link because it wasn’t properly explained. Maybe it didn’t have enough episodes to flesh out so basically for some strange reason to give people strange powers, so basically the Reflection can be said to be something like this: You get hit by light, you is good. You get hit by smoke, you bad. Basically, a term used to describe mutants which is otherwise trademarked by a certain series. And of all places, the final fight had to be in the middle of a desert. Hardly the most exciting of places but I guess it is an excuse not to animate detailed buildings and backgrounds. Yeah, makes it a lot easier.

The main characters themselves also don’t feel that inspiring. Like X-on who is supposedly the main star and hero but most of the time he keeps to himself and only speaks whenever necessary. In this modern age and day, the line is further greyed so it is understandable that X-on isn’t as goody-goody as one might hope to be. But he is still a hero so he still has to have some heroic qualities, right? He never explains things straight up, whether why his goal is Wraith and about his sketchy and tragic past that is only teased and hinted. Maybe that is why those who rarely speak are such a mystery. So when X-on revealed he isn’t a Reflected, I’m sure we are searching for answers how he got such weird super powers. He could have been a victim of some experiment gone wrong. That slightly explains why his powers are so different than the rest. Eleanor is a lost soul who got even more lost and till she finally meet Wraith, she got lost forever. That is what happens when the superhero you look up to don’t reciprocate your feelings. You turn to the dark side!

Every hero isn’t perfect and has some sort of problems. I-Guy feels like that hero. First he has got an ego problem getting jealous that his superhero side is more famous than his musician side whom he wants to be remembered for. I don’t see how his heroic antics are more bane than boon and even so, that just feels miniscule. So he is like the unwitting tool for villains and goes into further depression when his friends are killed. Don’t worry. They’ll live on forever digitally in that Knight Rider and suit of his. For most of the entire series, I-Guy looks like his role is to brood and seek revenge for his buddies. Is it me or does Dead Wing feel like a character who is created to be a mockery of Batman? It is hard not to think it is not related to anything politically correct these days because that is what I feel Lisa is for. It feels like she is needed to show that handicapped people too can be superheroes. Or maybe they just need some sort of excuse to turn something into a mecha. Super powers come in all types of forms. So I’m not sure if Michael’s ability to see different Reflected is of anything useful. Because otherwise he has not fighting skills and mostly clings on to Vy as that iron monster-cum-Godzilla Hulk smashes her way through things.

It just boggles the mind that Wraith wanted to get rid of Eleanor and the only way he can do it is to psycho her into wishing that she doesn’t exist. It just feels so awkward. He looks like the big bad boss but he isn’t that powerful considering he has to do this roundabout way just to eliminate her. Maybe just to take over her body as vessel? So Wraith is her dead brother? Or rather she is Wraith? Just a figment of her own imagination? Was she the main bad guy and the main hero who defeated herself? Wow. So original plot twist. I’m so confused about her and Wraith in the end that it didn’t matter anymore because if the baddie is gone, that means good ending, right? There are a handful of very strange villains but sadly with their very limited appearance, it makes you wonder if they are just there to make up for the numbers. Like some you see them once and then you never see them again. Did they forget to include them later? And then some new ones just pop up later and make you go, “Who the f*ck is this guy?! Haven’t seen this dude before”. Yeah, some of their names are really an eyebrow raiser. Like… Liquid Terror… Like, WTF. I guess it is slightly better than X-on and I-Guy. I mean, don’t you feel those names are like weird even for a superhero? Like X-on, let’s get it on! I-Guy, You-girl. I-good, you-bad… Like, WTF.

Throughout the series, you will notice there are a group of Japanese high school girls who seemingly aren’t related to the story and the plot of what is concurrently going on. In almost every episode the quartet get a few seconds focused on them as they hang in school, at a fast food joint before hopping on a plane to America for their school trip. Yeah, those English lessons better come in handy. Anyway, they are the Japanese all-girl pop group, 9nine. They somewhat play as themselves here and initially their roles aren’t as clear because they seem to look more like a detached distraction from the main story. Since the setting of this story is in America, let’s not forget that there is some sort of Japanese involvement in this too. And what do American people think most about Japan? High school girls! Wait, what?! Anyway that is how I think these girls are shoehorned into this series that would otherwise have no effect on the main storyline whatsoever. Not at first. It’s like a little deal to promote 9nine. After all, can normal Americans name 1 Japanese idol group? I think they can name a few Korean ones…

And for some odd reason they finally make their ‘proper’ appearance in the final episode. I mean, it would be a waste for them to just make cameos here and there without getting into the action, right? If it was so, they would have been even more forgettable. I know this is a superhero movie but the thought of them conveniently finding those costumes right in the middle of the desert and then suddenly after putting them on they know how to control and use their powers effectively is rather absurd. Unless you’re saying Japanese high school girls are always perfect as heroines. Making it funnier is how everyone in this series is speaking in Japanese although that is for convenience to the viewers. It gets odd when the girls and I-Guy don’t understand a thing they say despite speaking in Japanese. Get what I mean? The Americans speaking in Japanese are ‘automatically translated’ into Japanese so that’s why it feels funny to hear them all speaking in Japanese when it is supposed to be American English. I believe this would be even stranger in the dubbed version. Assuming they dubbed the Japanese girls’ voices into English. If they remained, then all makes sense.

One of the notable aspects of this series is the visuals. In other words, the animation looks like it is straight out from a comic book. Either you love it or you hate it. Anime purists who have been so used to the typical conventional Japanese style anime may not like the very comic book style art, the shading and tone of the overall because in some ways it does make the series look like low quality. I mean, if you compare it with your typical Japanese anime visuals, this one looks below average. The comic book visual style somewhat gives it a reason and excuse for this ‘quality’. Just take a look at some of the backgrounds. It feels like it is lazily done. Then it is covered up in the name of this comic book style visual. Besides, with many of the heroes and villains having a mask or their face covered like X-on, I-Guy, Steel Ruler and even Wraith, it reduces the need to animate their mouth whenever they speak. Even for those like Eleanor, you just kinda feel a bit odd the animation when they speak. Heck, the final episode whereby all the Reflected got zapped and turned into some purple lump of blob feels like everything was done so lazily.

I am not a comic book fan and have been out of the scene for many years. Yes, I was once into Spiderman during my youth buying a few comics to read and that was a pretty long time ago before I got ‘corrupted’ by anime. Even so, I feel that the character designs especially of the Reflected are just average and somewhat meh. Like for instance X-on, I thought they mesh in Spiderman, Deadpool and I think that old X-Men costume of Cyclops. I think. I got a feeling that I-Guy was inspired by Iron Man but at the same time his armour costume design somewhat reminds me of Star Wars’ Boba Fett. Same thing I feel for Flaming Fury like as though they drew inspiration from Overwatch’s Zarya. And Vy’s monstrosity design feels like they’ve just given up and just designed some lump of sh*t for the character. Seriously. This is a bit far-fetched but sometimes when I look at Steel Ruler, I thought I see X-Men’s Storm in her.

One thing I noticed that kept bugging me throughout the series is the flickering of lights. As in, in certain scenes, I noticed the background will start to flicker for a few seconds. It is not that obvious but it is noticeable enough and too many times it becomes a bit annoying. I thought it was my hardware problem but I don’t seem to have this problem with other animes I watched. Could the source of the video be corrupted? If so, all of them? So it made me wonder if this strange flicker is some sort of subliminal brainwashing message that the producers hid throughout the episodes for some sort or ulterior motive and agenda. Well, thankfully I think I’m still okay. Not that I want to rush out to buy American comics or Japanese manga. Maybe all this paranoia is just me, huh?

Superhero genres need to have this action, right? Meh. Just so-so for this one. The ridiculous plot of our heroes chasing down the villains from time to time are just an excuse for some sort of little skirmish and clash. It is nothing spectacular. Compounded with the visual styles, maybe it is better to read a comic book and then let your imagination run wild. Like X-on who has got this lasso thingy that is why I thought he resembles a bit like Spidey, plus I think he has some ability to absorb other powers and this gives him a free pass to use it whenever the plot and scenario conveniently compels him to. I-Guy shoots lasers from his suit while Lisa’s machine isn’t exactly anywhere near Gundam so don’t expect any sort of flashy arsenal or fireworks. Essentially, characters who live up to their nicknames in using their power like Flaming Fury’s flames, Steel Ruler’s steel and Volt’s electricity. Hardly anything exciting but I guess it is better than nothing. Oh, the one thing I think it parodies about Hollywood action in this series is that helicopters explode! Did you notice them?! Yeah, only in Hollywood, helicopters’ existence is to be exploded no matter the reason. Well, we had our fun here.

Voice acting is just okay with me recognizing Miki Shinichiro as X-on and Youko Hikasa as Steel Ruler. Stan Lee who has always made cameos in his Marvel movies also plays Mystic Man here. Of course he voices that said character in the dubbed version. His Japanese equivalent is Tomomichi Nishimura (Anzai in Slam Dunk) and he sounds close enough. Stan Lee also lends his voice to the original Japanese version although that is only left to reading the next episode’s title and previously on The Reflection. No, not the entire summary. Just the lines, “Previously on The Reflection”. What the heck is Excelsior anyway? What does it have to do with anything? The other casts are Mariya Ise as Eleanor (Levi in Fairy Tail), Satoshi Mikami as I-Guy (Sloan in Durarara!!x2), Satomi Hanamura as Lisa (Anise in Galaxy Angel Rune), Toshihiko Seki as Michael (Senketsu in Kill La Kill), Yuko Sanpei as Flaming Fury (Sasha in Seikon No Qwaser), Kouki Miyata as Wraith (Hanatarou in Bleach), Mika Doi as Deborah (Coby in One Piece) and Ryusei Nakao as Jim (Frieza in Dragonball series).

There isn’t any opening theme but if it is, I suppose this nameless orchestra piece is as epic as it could ever get and it is definitely made for superhero movies. The kind of grandeur you would expect to hear at the opening of any superhero movies you go to. So it is kinda fitting for this sort of superhero theme. The ending theme is of course sung by 9nine, SunSunSunrise. It feels like a dance pop beat like how I vividly remember and like the other only song I heard from them: Shoujo Traveler which is one of the ending themes for Beelzebub. The ending credits animation feels a bit trippy because you see silhouettes of them dancing and prancing about amidst the fanciful colours and patterns ripping across the screen. For the first few episodes where I-Guy was still making decent appearances, the insert song of Sky Show (although credited to Trevor Horn who produced the series’ soundtrack, it is originally written and performed by Christopher Braide) is constantly spammed in the first few episodes. Like as though it was going to be the theme song of the show before it somewhat faded into obscurity. Is this the reality and reflection of one hit wonders?

Overall, this isn’t the deal breaker for western superheroes or one that would greatly penetrate into the Japanese market or even the rest of the world. Hey, even if you are the great Stan Lee, there will always be some hits and misses. He scored more hits of course but this one feels more like the latter. Mediocre storyline and poor as well as uninteresting characters leave a lot to be desired. Some might use this as ammunition as to why western and Japanese comics can never mix. A total rejection of anything non-Japanese. If this was their idea to save anime or give it a new leash of life or direction, well I guess it didn’t. So let’s hope this series would be given a proper closure, given its dues and criticism and then we all should move along. Otherwise like they say, you either die a hero or live long enough to see yourself become the villain. Maybe that is what Stan Lee’s cameo here means???!!!