As you may or may not know, I am a huge fan of the original game Blue Reflection. It’s something I really cherish and view as one of my favorite game experiences of all time, and it is absolutely one of the most experimental and unique video games on the market to-date. Gust is always trying new things but even with Atelier and such they remain mostly grounded in a more typical framework and try playing within that with new ideas, while Blue Reflection has nothing comparable at all because it was completely out of the box. I reviewed it back when it was new-ish and I first played if you’d like to read that review you can do so HERE. It really was and has stayed one of the most special experiences with a game I’ve ever had and really just something with nothing to compare it to in how different, experimental, and innovative it was. Hell, it was such a big deal for me I ended up years later making multiple worlds for VRChat dedicated to trying to recapture some of that special feeling and let others experience it in a way. It’s the sole video game that truly showcases that video games can, indeed, be pieces of art.
I’ve never truly reviewed an anime after 1 episode because it’s retarded, but I have to this once.
Blue Reflection Ray, however, seems to follow along the lines of the attempted Atelier anime adaptation; Atelier Escha & Logy, which tried to bring that same titled game into anime form and failed in every possible way. Horrendous art, no budget, terrible acting, terrible writing, terrible music. It was a shitshow. While basing this on just one episode makes it seem less bad, it’s still headed in that direction – but worse in a different way, it’s lost EVERYTHING that makes Blue Reflection such a spectacular thing while at least with Escha & Logy they maintained its core identity.
Right off the bat you get generic music; a sad realization when the OST for Blue Reflection (I will refer to the game as that, and the anime as Ray) is absolutely phenomenal and has at least one track that I still feel is one of my favorite and most moving pieces of music I’ve heard. The game also features easily one of the very best fighting themes from an RPG, along with many great tracks spread throughout. The anime is just that typical mediocre style “we hired some guy” music that if you’ve ever seen a very middling anime you know the sound of very well. This really sets the tone for what to expect the rest of the episode and show.
You also IMMEDIATELY get shown some cast members who are main characters in the game even though this is not a direct adaptation of the game and features new main characters. That’d be fine having cameos…except these cast members from the game have a lot spoiled for anyone new to the game (or vice versa) just by being here at all. The actual new characters are also just kind of bad already? I get giving time for characters to grow and all, but they are just so completely molded by the typical tropes that there is nothing for them to grow into beyond more typical things that those tropes are known for growing into. Hell, one of the characters we’re introduced to – for some reason this exists – is some SUPER EDGELORD magical girl. Who fucking cares? Worse, the magical girls are like fighting each other and shit? This is gay and trying to be edgy MUHDOKY.
The art also just kind of looks bad. It’s not horrendous but it isn’t good at all and the way they decided to stylize it and color it makes it look worse than it should with the art style alone. The game was BEAUTIFUL and so this is, much like the music, a pretty big blow to things overall. While this can’t mimic menus and things (at least not often, though there are ways like how the episode title and such could have been designed) they totally could have pulled that aesthetic in somehow and they really should have, given the game features such a gorgeous minimalistic yet pretty as fuck look to it in every single aspect. It’s one of the only games that you can enjoy just looking at the pause menu of because fuck it looks good.
Did they try copying the beautiful look of the game at all even in, say, the OP (or maybe ED? seemed more like an OP just put at the end of episode 1) does nothing to even remotely pretend to mimic it. Instead you’re treated to a generic J-Pop anime opening song with generic visuals of magical girls doing magical girl things. Really, had that been the first thing in the episode I probably would have dropped immediately instead of giving it the full episode, as it speaks volumes about their grasp on what the FUCK Blue Reflection is.
Then when you finally get into the writing, well, you’re given 8 minutes before the super ridiculously stupid generic-as-fuck “you can’t hear this person’s lines because a train is passing by” moment. Not to mention now there is some organization tracking all this other world magic stuff which is completely made up and very fucking lame along with like ten billion magical girls including edgelord ones? They even try shoving in hints of yuri to get the losers excited.
Another big way its fucks up is by turning the other world stuff into just…whatever this is? Hipster modern art takes over and people freeze or some shit – while in the game the other world was this really beautiful yet very hauntingly mysterious setting.
All in all, this feels like what Wixoss felt like when it went from actual Wixoss – those being Infected and Spread, both incredibly good shows – and turned into Lostorage and whatever that gay fucking idol shit it is now. This is a COMPLETE misunderstanding of what makes the game what it is and instead decides to be a really boring and poorly thrown together generic mish-mash of mahou shoujo bullshit while almost laughing at the source material.
The worst part about this show though is that it clearly was made without a care beyond “are magical girls still popular? are lesbians?” and shit like that. The game is one of the most clear situations of the entire staff truly caring for what they were making, you see and feel their love and their soul in every bit of it…here? This feels like a board room and someone rubbing their hands gleefully hoping for dollars to fill them soon.
I really do absolutely love Blue Reflection it is truly one of my favorite experiences with anything from this medium ever, but this anime is a complete fuck-up from the first minutes of the first episode, let alone after suffering through the other 23 minutes of that episode. They should have named this literally anything else and it would be nothing more than another shitty run-of-the-mill mahou shoujo to add to the bin, yet the name so brazenly slapped on makes it feel offensive and upsetting. I am genuinely pretty pissed off that this exists even when I thought, at worst, I’d just dislike the show and not want people to watch it because I just thought it wouldn’t live up to the game…and yet it almost gleefully pisses and shits all over it with a smug grin of not giving a shit and no attempt to be good at being its own thing either. This is shit and I’m angry, and I can tell how angry I am while editing this because of how little jokes I made and how few vulgarities are thrown around. I’m just fucking mad and I’m also really concerned about all these other Blue Reflection plans from Gust and KT that are upcoming. This show is a mistake and it should not exist.