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Blue Reflection Ray – Episode 2

Hello folks, and welcome back to Wrong Every Time. Today I figured we’d check back in on Blue Reflection Ray, after a first episode that offered us a bounty of fantastical inventions and an impressive spread of new characters. Fortunately, both the show’s worldbuilding and character beats so far have proven familiar enough to make for an easy on-boarding; we’ve got our core contrast of the somber Ruka and energetic Hiori, we’ve got a second layer of magical girl mayhem seemingly linked to these gemstone rings, and we’ve got some ambiguous antagonists with a similar interest in these would-be magical girls, seemingly intent on claiming their energy before they can “bloom” into their true powers.

Alongside all of that relatively conventional worldbuilding, we’ve also got some mysteries to resolve regarding the prior generation of magical girls, and what their fates imply for our current heroines. It seems clear that Hiori’s sister was a Reflector in the past, and that her absence still hangs heavily over Hiori. Additionally, the final moments of the first episode seemed to imply an obvious path of development for Ruka as well: learning from Hiori’s gallant example, and becoming a Reflector strong enough to protect her in turn, thereby filling the role of emotional pillar that her sister used to provide. With our loose predictions set, let’s see what actually awaits us!

Episode 2

“I always felt at ease when I was alone. Interacting with others just complicated things.” We open with Ruka extolling her lonely perspective. The cool blue roof and general subdued shading of this covered walkway echoes her feelings, and also offers them a contrast in the form of the bright sunlit garden beside her, which she immediately associates with Hiori’s willingness to reach out to others

The OP emphasizes both flower imagery and reflections, as Hiori touches down on a lake whose surface reflects her among the lily pads

Ooh, some nice choreography for these OP action scenes – low drawing count and dramatic jumps in pose, really emphasizing the angular movement of their limbs and dresses as they spar with their opponents

It seems our core team will be Ruka, Hiori, and that girl with the moped, while the girl our leads were attempting to save is framed more as a damsel in distress, sinking into the reflection while her flower rises

“People who use these rings to turn their feelings into strength. That’s a Reflector.” Tethering combat power to your emotional state is an extraordinarily convenient trick, ensuring the course of your story’s fights naturally echo your characters’ emotional arcs. It’s such a natural parallel that many stories don’t even bother to mechanically formalize it like this; you can just as easily explain such a link as characters fighting more effectively as a result of no longer being preoccupied by regrets or afraid of failure

“Any feelings can become our strength?” “I’m pretty sure, yeah.” So are their antagonists harnessing negative emotions as strength? Seems like a natural expansion of this conceit, and one that would easily lend itself to exciting visual payoffs if they convince any enemies to switch sides

“AASA is the institution researching these rings”

“Our feelings, or pieces of them, are called ‘Fragments.’ And there’s something going on with those.”

“Reflectors can protect Fragments… our feelings, as well as those of others.” Kinda wish this exposition dump was better integrated into the ongoing drama, but I suppose it’s a natural repercussion of jumping to anime from game design, wherein mechanical frameworks like this are more of a natural assumption

Our third lead’s name is Momo Tanabe

Ruka and Hiori’s home outfits reflect their personalities. Ruka is still in the formal blue of their school uniform, not really possessing much will outside of her assigned duties (even during their conversation with Momo, she was glancing at Hiori for cues). In contrast, Hiori is of course in a pink shirt and shorts, a sporty, more androgynous look that presents her as ready for adventure

Hiori states she’s going to become a Reflector, which Ruka responds to with “think about this rationally,” which from her perspective presumably means “pay more attention to your fears”

“Because that’s how my sister was.” Of course, Hiori is also just following the example of another, attempting to live up to her sister’s memory

When Hiori grabs her hand, they once again seem to connect via their memories

Oh my god Ruka. When some classmates ask her what’s up with Hiori, she says she doesn’t know and actually just stands up to leave the room, hiding up on the rooftop. The girl really prefers her solitude

At home, Momo offers a prayer to her grandmother, telling her shrine that “I’ll work even harder this time.” So Momo is also attempting to present strength in memory of an absent loved one

“I’ve been looking for my sister ever since, but I haven’t been able to find her.” So Hiori’s sister isn’t known to be dead, but presumably disappeared in that giant opening blast

While Hiori meets with Momo, Ruka finds herself awkwardly stalked by Miyako, the girl Hiori saved

“I know you noticed me, but you’ve been ignoring me anyway. You really don’t care about others, do you?” Oh boy, Miyako sounds delightfully terrible. Immediately taking Ruka’s standoffishness as an insult is a fantastic start to a mess of a relationship

Miyako wants information on what happened the previous day, as her memories are fuzzy. Interestingly, it seems she and Hiori were linked through their shared desire for someone to help them: Hiori’s lingering sense of displacement regarding her sister apparently resonating with Miyako’s more immediate concerns

Great yakuza squat from Momo as she tells Hiori that she has to go to school

Elsewhere, two more of our presumed villainous magical girls are lounging in a canopied bed while an organ blasts ominous tunes, as you do

Apparently these are the superiors of the other two, who soon arrive and apologize for their failure. These girls are also Reflectors, but their “feelings are different. We understand the sadness of the world far greater than others.” As expected, they’re essentially the negative reflections of our main cast

Hiori and Ruka’s roads towards accepting their destiny are each very appropriate – Hiori immediately bounds off to meet Momo and learn more, while Ruka wanders alone and pensive all day, slowly setting her thoughts in order

“This is my uncle’s apartment. My mom went to buy some lightbulbs and never came back.” Damn, so Hiori’s whole life has been defined by the people closest to her disappearing without a word

“It’s been five years, and nobody’s seen her. So we just bought some new ones ourselves.” A bitter joke, somewhat uncharacteristic of Hiori, reflecting the lingering sting of her mother’s betrayal

“I guess the gas isn’t on.” “It’s canned food.” “My sister was really good at giving it some pizazz.” More cutting incidental details of Hiori’s life – they essentially live as cheaply as possible, lacking even the certainty that their utilities will remain active. And then that last comment, reflecting how her sister used to make this impoverished life seem so much grander, serving as Hiori’s protector once their mother left

“Why do you live at the dorm?” “Ah well, my sister wanted me to experience different worlds.” Even now her sister serves as a guideline

“I can’t be like you, either. That girl in the courtyard – I only noticed her because of you.” Hiori is far better at appreciating Ruka’s strengths than Ruka herself is, as also demonstrated through Ruka’s drawings from the first episode

It’s also clear why Hiori would venerate Ruka’s ability to notice disturbances in others; Hiori’s presumably still preoccupied with what she missed regarding her mother and sister, what clues she overlooked that might have kept her loved ones near

“Her mental state should still be unstable. Because it’s not that easy escaping from the worst kind of environment.” The antagonist Reflectors seem to be united by their negative emotions rather than their hopes

Returning home, Miyako learns her mother threw out the family picture frame she made in order to make room for more of her brother’s trophies. Miyako continues to have the most on-point of unhappy home lives

And so the Reflectors gather, drawn in by Miyako’s negative emotions

And Done

Thus our heroes arrive at their first true battle, with Miyako’s wavering heart hanging in the balance! That aside, what I most enjoyed about this episode was its graceful articulation of Hiori’s circumstances. In spite of her cheerful affectation, the lingering weight of her mother and sister’s absence was made clear through all manner of incidental details. Her sharp joke about her mother’s disappearance, her indifference to her uncle’s living situation, and her appreciation for Ruka’s talents all pointed towards ways her family’s disappearance still shapes her worldview, making it easy to understand why Ruka might be as important to Hiori as Hiori is to Ruka. And given the awkward anti-chemistry shared by Ruka and Miyako, I’m eager to see this whole group assemble and attempt to somehow work together. Onward to episode three!

This article was made possible by reader support. Thank you all for all that you do.

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