Mod Edit: This review may contain spoilers.
Tell me if this description sounds familiar: “A group of ‘special’ highschoolers defined almost exclusively by archetypes and/or tragic pasts form an organization together. They don’t really get along at first, but they get to know each other extremely intimately over time, eventually culminating in a romance. Many tragic events take place as the innocent and sympathizable highschoolers are victimized by the cruel, cruel world. Eventually, they must accept sacrifice to fulfill their lives and destinies.” Some of you are probably thinking “That’s Angel Beats!”, while the rest of you are probably thinking “That’s Charlotte!” Well, good news: You’re
both right, because for all intents and purposes, they are exactly the same show.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not going to criticize this anime on the sole basis that it isn’t even pretending to differentiate itself from another show; I’m going to criticize this show because not only does it contain all the same errors that the show it plagiarized (yes, I know they had the same writer, so it’s not technically stealing) also contained, but it managed to magnify those errors significantly. Horrible plotholes, absurd amounts of over-convenience, awful world-building, identity confused characters, my god; Charlotte is nothing but a fucking mess.
Let’s start with what is, in my opinion, the biggest problem the show has, the characters. They are completely shallow, completely one-dimensional, and more often than not, completely devoid of personality. Let’s take our protagonist, Yuu, for example: The first episode introduces him as a character brimming with personality. He’s intelligent, arrogant, devilish, etc. These are traits that at the very least gave him a personality and the potential for development. However, as soon as the ED played at the end of episode one, everything about him that was established in that first episode is COMPLETELY forgotten. Never again does he exhibit any of traits that supposedly define him. He instantaneously turns into literally Otanashi; A boring bland, personality-less nobody which is pretty much the worst thing a character can be. Did they really think that we wouldn’t notice if they stopped giving him individuality after a single episode? It’s either a laughable oversight or an attempt to trick the audience.
There really isn’t much to say about the rest of the cast; they are either completely indistinguishable or defined entirely by traits/quirks. There is one in particular I will go over though just so I can talk about how terrible the romance in this anime is: Nao. Nao is Yuu’s love interest which is a big problem for one simple reason: They fail to demonstrate so much as a single iota of chemistry or personal connection with each other at all. Rather than gradually growing together, we are instantaneously told that they are in love! No no no writers: that’s cheating. You can’t just skip all the necessary steps of a good romance and expect us to buy it. Seriously, what intimate moments did they ever share together? I can even recall a scene where Yuu watched Nao get brutally beaten by a mob with complete indifference, as he did nothing to even attempt to assist her. What a pair. This romance is so laughable that when a love confession is finally made, the other character remarks in a surprised/confused fashion “I don’t think there was ever a time for you to think favorably of me.” I mean… That pretty much hits the nail on the head. I don’t think there was either.
I haven’t even gotten to how shitty the plot of this show is and the reasons why it didn’t even remotely work. First of all, it doesn’t make sense. Being a show about superpowers, it’s obvious that plotholes are going to emerge from characters not using certain powers at certain times or in certain ways, but to THIS extent? You will pull your hair out trying to count how many times a situation that could have been easily resolved through superpowers is treated as a legitimate conflict. Every cardinal sin of story telling is present in Charlotte: Dues ex machine, plotholes, asspulls, you name it. It’s some of the worst melodrama to ever be animated.
The second big issue with the plot is the remarkably inconsistent tone and its total inability to incorporate elements of both comedy and tragedy without being clumsy and awkward. This is a problem that is seriously pervasive in anime as a whole; if you want your dramatic scene to be taken seriously, DON’T IMMEDIATELY PRECEED IT WITH CHILDISH COMEDY! Every time something that is supposed to be taken seriously happens, you better believe a heaping dosage of comic relief is right around the corner. Even scenes involving death can’t keep comedy out of the picture. This form of writing demonstrates an inherent immaturity and lack of understanding of said medium; it’s completely embarrassing and there is no excuse for it. This disturbing pattern NEEDS to disappear from anime.
The last thing I feel the need to especially stress is the god-awful pacing and stupendously rushed nature of Charlotte. If you want an example of how to rush your show so badly that even the most naïve audience members become alienated, watch episode 13 of Charlotte. Seriously; the world needs to see that miserable atrocity and learn from it so that history does not repeat itself. When you could literally turn the events of single episode into a series of its own, maybe spread your material out a little better? I’ve somehow gone multiple paragraphs without mentioning Angel Beats yet again, but this anime has the exact same issue with pacing; it’s very evident that these two shows had the same writer.
In conclusion, Charlotte is one of the worst anime dramas you will ever see. Even Angel Beats with all its flaws is noticeably superior. This rushed, childish, shallow emotion porn cannot be believed by a thinking person; you will literally be taken aback by how many obvious mistakes have been made. The animation and music may be nice, but I do not recommend this anime to anybody unless you want to see how NOT to write a good anime drama.
It all starts with a meteor which gives special powers to childs till their teen years strike, which then they forget about their powers and completely lose them.And ofcourse Jun Maeda( famous for making clannad and angel beats ) writes this anime and forcing some melodrama in the middle of the anime.
While a mere teen "Otosaka Yuu" has to cure them all from their " disease" so that they won't be experimentated by the government.
At the start of the anime Yuu has the power to plunder other abilities but he doesnt know that, and he has the power to control someone
for a certain amount of time. And he gets busted, but not by the government but by some students who force him not to abuse his power and enroll their school where people with supernatural abilities like them are. And they need to enroll more students.
Yuu needs to remove every ability from all ability users and to do that he must overcome alot of obstacles
The ending was a little rushed though ;/
Just explained it above here. Nothing too special neither too mediocre
Sick art by P.A Works. Nothing to complain about
Both liked the opening and ending of the anime.
Fun fact: op sang by the same singer(Lia) as in Angel Beats and Clannad
And voice acting was done very well too
Somewhat decent i guess but some characters dont get enough screen time and you'll notice when you watch it
Liked the anime in general but story could've been better and the character development as stated above
Story good/Decent, Art Outstanding, Sound Great, Character Good/satisfied, Enjoyment Great, Overall Very good
hope i've informed you guys enough
you should check it out and give it a try ;)
Hope you guys have a nice day
rereading this review made me legit cringe so let that be a plus too :)
Charlotte can be described like a Golden Corral buffet table: you come in the hungry and with high expectation, and its packed to the brim with all sorts of things you love and recognize, such as selfish Lelouch esque protagonist, the reality of Chuunibyou, the (attempted) feels and moe of Clannad, the humor of Angel Beats!, a Kokoro Connecty set-up, siscom, time-travel, tsundere, yandere, super powers, Slice of Life, light-gore, pop idol songs, love confessions, etc. You read right; this show has yandere characters. This show is packed to the brim with cool motifs, but you're only able to leave with a sick feeling of
regret post-binge. As you’ve probably heard countless times, Charlotte has a wicked concept, stellar OP, and is headed by the people who brought you Angel Beats! and Clannad. If you were like me and didnt know that before picking up Charlotte but instead only thought 'Hey that sysnopsis seems super cool, lets do this', well needless to say you will know by the end where Charlotte is coming from and whats its going for.
As I said, I didn't go into Charlotte knowing its creators, but I have seen and tend to like both Angel Beats! and Clannad. That being said, there were a number of times in which I felt treated to with a few nods to those shows. But then those 'slight nods' began to become outright recycling of Key's old content. Especially I'm talking about the baseball episode. What is their obsession of everything being settled by baseball in anime? Sure, it was cool and fresh in Angel Beats! and Clannad, but this is the third series of theirs (and like the fifth series total) I've seen in which the main characters have to join a baseball league in order to settle some sort of dispute. Would it really be that hard for them to play one of the hundreds of other sports related games so we would at least be treated to new content? And then there is the whole camping episode, which is again something reused from Angel Beats with the fishing scene. Or the dongos Yu eats. And the pop idol set up and music inclusion. Plus the whole getting locked in a bunker deal. Kidnappings. Etc. The argument here isn't that the entirety of Charlotte is just re-purposed Angel Beats!/Clannad material, but there's so much of Charlotte that doesn't come across as original that it starts to lose its own identity as a show.
But when Charlotte is establishing itself, it does so through sucker punches to your chest that knock the entire show off its feet. Episodes 1-6 are standard anime fare almost to the point of being episodic, very little happening that strengthens the characters relationships to each other but instead showcasing what the set-up is 'going to be', to the point that there were a couple times I sat there wondering exactly what the point of the show was if nothing was really progressing. That was until a certain twist delivered at the end of the sixth episode that changes the entire set-up, and making it at least moderately understandable what was being built into with the first half of the show. The issue with this though is that it's a double edged sword; as major of a shift as it is, it doesn't necessarily defend the wasted potential of the whole first half. Because, instead of capitalizing on said shift and making it important, Charlotte decides to resolve said conflict within a single episode just about.
And that's a major problem I have with this show; nearly every single conflict or problem that is brought up is resolved within the confines of the episode it is presented. Take the episodic nature of the first half: Yu gets up, has breakfast with his sister for bonding purposes, goes to school, stares at Nao, 'Such a turn off!', gets lunch with his boyfriend, gets called to the student council, they go off on a mission, does something Angel Beast! esque, they complete ‘ability of the week’ quest, Yu goes home, has more sister bonding time, role credits. Never is a conflict presented here that roles over into another episodes, besides maybe Nao’s older brother, and even an instance in which Nao is group tortured is never really explained or fleshed out, and merely serves to further bond Yuu and Nao, albeit poorly done. Even the major shift of episode 7 is resolved by its completion, with very few repercussions following, which was HUGE wasted potential, but more on that later. Then, the next beat down is delivered within episode nine, in which a SECOND major shift is made, though this one not an emotional but a physical change to the status of the world of Charlotte. Unfortunately, even this is resolved by episode 10, the ending of which left me literally wondering "Okay now what?" since there wasn't anything set up for them to worry about. Episode 11 brings around an entirely new foe right at the end of the series that literally has no name and is finished off by the episode’s end, while episode 12 takes place entirely in one single setting. None of this is truly spoilery information, as none of these situations are foreshadowed very well, if at all in the beginning segments of Charlotte. Instead, it comes across as if the creators simply made up whatever came to mind episode to episode to episode, choosing to throw in a little gore here and a little romance there whenever it felt like, and none of its singular pieces coming together to create a well unified whole.
And oh, speaking of holes; this show contains more plot holes than swiss cheese, and less originality than my jokes. Mid-season time travel is thrown in, of all things! But make no mistake; this is no Steins; Gate. So massive is this plot bumbling that an entire thread in the forum is dedicated to pointing such instances out. Even in casual watching, without committing to being overly critical, it was hard to stomach some instances in which the characters would present very thin reasoning as undeniable fact. Take, for instance, the episode in which they enlist a character named Yusarin. The reason this pop icon is being forced into hiding is because she someone got a hold of an executives phone and read some confidential texts on it. This is all that is said on the subject, and is largely accepted by the other characters in the show. Now: why on this heavenly earth did she pick up this guys phone, unlock it, read his messages, and then take his phone with herself (as she is still in possession of it until the episodes end)? How is that a normal thing to happen? But this level of Suspension of Disbelief is only a mere shadow as to what is expected. Without spoiling anything, I can still make the point that Yu having memories from a past, now no-existent self, goes both totally unexplained and is downright preposterous, besides just being impossible. Yet another instance that goes 100% unexplained, but instead is just waived as a ‘Mysterious coincidence’. I’m not going to spend the rest of this review listing every such unbelievable instance in Charlotte, but trust me when I say they exist in such blatant amounts that it’s hard to miss.
And really, on a whole, so much of Charlotte goes unexplained that you just sort of have to fill in all the holes yourself, or watch purely for entertainment purposes, without connection to the charecters. You may think to yourself that situations presented early on will be addressed by the finale, but instead, most of what happens within each episode fails to get mentioned later, and the ending is, while mildly interesting, a full deus ex cop-out write in for the entire arc of the conflict. It literally poses the most bombastic solution possible to the overall issue to the show, and condenses a sequence of events that could have been an entire anime unto itself into a single episode. Actually, that may have been a more interesting story...
And all this wouldn’t be a problem if there was at least some sort of overall message to it all, some well-timed character development, or valiant theme, but instead, the entire series is just a rushed stream of consciousness by the creators, with a smorgasbord of characters who either serve only as comic-relief or canon-fodder, and no emotional depth outside of a few shocks here or there. When supposedly major characters are only introduced at the final quarter of the series, there really is no hope at delivering a cohesive whole.
The largest issue of the series comes from how they treat Ayumi’s death. Not the fact that she did die, but no, the fact that she was allowed to come BACK. Her death was, if anything, at least added much needed interest to the series, and I was ready for the next six or seven episodes to be Yuu’s struggle to come back from that grief, with the help of his friends and maybe other ability users, and a cleaner handle on character development. Instead, within three episodes, she’s just resurrected from the dead, and its all good. How is that even allowed? Where is the emotional depth of her sacrifice now? Because when someone dies in real life, they’re dead. The end. You don’t get a go-back and redo everything just because your mystery brother could go back in time. I wanted it to be a choice for him, either to save her, or not to, and leave reality like it was. Instead, the anime expects you to just accept that even death isn’t deep enough for this anime to overcome. Is there no respect to the dead? They could have at least made the second half like his failed attempts at trying to save her, eventually going blind from futility, and Nao being the one to bring him back to earth yet again, fully realizing their relationship. Instead, they squandered the entire second half for some terrorism plot and a confession less sturdy and emotionally moving than a pan of strawberry jello.
*END OF MAJOR SPOILERS*
My ending point is the fact that Charlotte is an anime of massive wasted potential. Though I do like Key works, romances, and all the things put into Charlotte (the fact they went with such a selfish protagonist was a strong introduction say the least), they just come out in a garbled mess that looks pretty but tastes confusing and awful.
Oh Charlotte, where did we go so wrong? You looked like you’d be an interesting story revolving around students coping with super powers but instead you offered up a story with about as much direction as a goldfish with Alzheimer’s. The anime packed a tonne of ideas and characters into too small a space and it started to burst at the seams. Charlotte, from the mind of writer Jun Maeda and put to screen by P.A. Works, promised a lot. Script writer Maeda looked to address the pacing problems prevalent in his earlier work Angel Beats and deliver a similar emotional ‘punch’ at the same
time. By some phenomenal fluke he actually managed to make a bigger meal of it in both areas. I’m not even mad. I’m impressed.
It’s such a huge disappointment that not enough time is dedicated towards any of Charlotte’s characters to help hammer home its more emotional set pieces. Time that could have been spent towards developing the cast is instead wasted on repetitive unfunny gags, irrelevant side stories and ridiculous new elements thrown into the narrative like it was some afterthought. Charlotte sets off in first gear as it lays the groundwork for its story but then it tries to change into fourth gear by ballooning out its cast size with people I don’t even know or care about. It’s an uncomfortable ride. At a certain point the show tries to accelerate ahead with exciting new ideas but instead it stalls, bogged down by pacing which can be called nothing short of atrocious. Charlotte dawdled around and then flashed ahead so quickly I get whiplash thinking about it. With paper-thin characters and an utter mess of a script Charlotte’s journey is unfulfilling, with a destination to match.
Yu Otosaka is our main man. We follow him as he starts to abuse his power to briefly take over others’ bodies, both for his own pleasure and his own gain. A boy who acts cocky and lacking in morals, he starts out as a nice change of pace from your standard high-school male lead. His personality came into conflict with a lot of people around him and for a brief period it led to some amusing results. However, Yu’s rebellious nature was at first refreshing but then it became non-existent. It was like a cheap drawcard to the show to have this cocksure lead, only to have him start to behave like ‘generic high-school lead guy’ within a short space of time. When this darker side of him emerges again later on in the series it actually feels out of character. The story does at least go out of the way to create ambitions and meaningful motivation for him but very little about Yu himself will stick for long in my mind. Nao Tomori is our other major player. A girl with a sharp tongue and unafraid to call things as she sees them, Nao is also an interesting character in the show’s early stages. She catches out Yu abusing his power and shows him a side of the world he didn’t know about. But like Yu she doesn’t go anywhere as our story plays out. Her ‘cold and disinterested’ shtick gets boring.
The dynamic between the two lead characters is almost non-existent yet the show tries its hardest to use their relationship as a means to drive many parts of the story. Because of that, many of the scenes I watch containing the pair of them feel static. One episode which tries to show a new side of both Yu and Nao actually turned out to have virtually no bearing on the rest of the show. Still, they at least have their role to play in the overarching story and that’s more than what can be said for their classmates Yusa and Joujirou. Yusa is a blonde-haired idol, an occupation that has zero importance to the story other than trying to justify having a cute girl as part of the show. Her power in the show actually had the most potential in terms of leaving an emotional impact on the viewer. But why do that when she can act cutesy and sing songs? In a series where so many characters are trying their hardest to claim the gold medal for wasted potential she might just come out on top. Joujirou spends most of his time on screen being obnoxious and completely useless in the grand scheme of the story. His purpose in Charlotte appears to worshipping the ground Yusa stands on before drowning everyone in the vicinity in his blood that explodes from his nostrils. His moments of ‘comic relief’ – please note the inverted commas – also come at horribly timed moments. These two cast members are just the tip of the iceberg. Not a single supporting character in this show feels valuable.
The show doesn’t explore Yu or those closest to him well enough at all.
There are moments you can almost feel the show begging you “This is the part where you cry now” and I’m sitting there throwing my hands in the air screaming “Why should I? I hardly know them”. Heck, there’s even times where it begs you to empathise with someone whose minutes of screen time you could count on one hand. Emotional moments have impact if characters have depth, and depth is something I can find more of in a petri dish than the cast of Charlotte. I couldn’t help but laugh when I was being assured by other viewers during the early episodes that there was nothing wrong with the slow pace because Maeda was clearly ‘saving up for something’ and taking his time to develop the cast. Once our lead quartet was introduced, not only were the initial episodes repetitive in their structure but they weren’t even entertaining. A lot of them revolve around the exploration of these super powers, such as their limits and the way others use them. That’s absolutely fair as a form of short exposition but I was at my wits end by the time this phase of the show finally drew to a close. You ended up viewing episodes whose entire purpose it was to later on have some cheap moment of meaning at the series’ end, not actually help maintain your interest in the story at its current point. Then, at a point later on, it just explodes with more characters who steal more screen time from our original bunch. It’s a mess.
When all is said and done Charlotte is hampered in many areas. The start is repetitive, the middle feels redundant and the ending is packed with conveniences. Maeda is definitely a man of ambition and cool ideas but I’d really like to see him make something minus the comic relief, better build up and a story that involves more of its cast. The story of Charlotte itself is interesting on paper but the way is what put to screen is incredibly underwhelming.
I was (mildly) hyped for this show.
I kept watching it thinking the next episode was going to be really good, and I almost got it with the last a couple minutes of a certain episode making me really hyped for the next one.
And here we are, all wrapped up, and with my score, you can probably tell what I thought of it.
The story for Charlotte is dreadful, being plagued by inconsistencies, with minimal character development, and most of the development is reverted anyway so who cares at this point. Nothing even happens in term of story progression or character development for the first, I don't
even know, 8(?) episodes. If there's any indication as to how poorly thought out the story was, the show's namesake was literally only mentioned in a brief 1 minute scene more than halfway through the show and then almost never talked about again for the entire show. The pacing of the show is awful too, this show could've easily been 6 episodes if they trimmed all the garbage filler, and they could've told a much better story in the same amount of time if they redistributed the events to make the mood shift of the show around the 4th episode, with the last episode of the show being spread throughout the last 3 or so episodes.
The show's one redeeming factor is that it looks okay. The music is really generic japanese stuff. Neither are the spectacular, and are about what you've come to expect from a slice of life. I thought the Engrish was amusing at the beginning, but it became increasingly more annoying to listen to as the show progressed and probably ruined any chance of me being amused by VAs attempting to speak English in the near future.
The characters, as a result of having no development, are entirely one-dimensional and predictable, especially the side characters who are introduced for 5 minutes and convey their intent about as well as an LA Noire character, so by about the halfway point, you could pretty much guess verbatim what's going to happen. However, despite being completely predictable, they are incredibly inconsistent, and this is where my point earlier about reverted character development comes into play. Although, you can predict exactly what happens, characters will, very often, do the most random things, then quickly revert back to how they were before and do exactly what you predicted what happen with no consequences at all, so it just leads to pointless filler.
At this point, I'm not even sure if I want a second season so that they might learn where they messed up and try to make it good because this show had a lot of potential.
Watching this show was disgusting and insulting. They added in forced feels at the most random times, for characters that were quite literally introduced in the same episode so you feel no attachment to them, in addition to random moe garbage and humor, and some stuff that I think was supposed to be deep and philosophical but really made no sense, and they just expected the viewers of this show to be stupid enough and lap it all up. Charlotte is a show that's clearly made by the books to appeal to the lowest common denominator, and could even pass as an insulting satire mocking the anime industry and its viewers.
An outstanding, dramatic, and heartwarming story that will make the biggest man "shred dem tears".
Each Character is given a whole episode for introductions and has a backstory. And as you continue through this series you will see the main character Otosaka Yuu changing positively, as he was a narcissist and knocked down other peoples for his own good, to become a friendly teenager that cares for his friends and others.
One of the most appealing points of this anime is the Art and I especially loved the characters' eyes when activating their powers.
Charlotte is truly incredible, with its amazing and emotional story, lovable characters and beautiful
I would gladly keep rewatching it as many times as I could, as this anime is one hell of a masterpiece.
Well this is my first review so if anyone notices an orography mistake, punctuation mistake, etc, i hope you can tell me so i can improve. Now im ready!
When i heard about key making a new anime i was excited up to the roof, when the show charlotte started i grabbed my laptop lock myself in my room and wait for the tears to come but... that didnt happened.
Well i thought the concept of the story was perfect, the ideas of diseases of superpowers that they only last during adolescence it blow my mind. But the idea that the serie it was only
going to last 13 episodes long i knew it was going to rush the things at the end. Well my friends without spoiling you the last episode was a huge rush for me. The last 5 minutes were beutiful, but i thought it can have another chapter or even better other 11 episodes. The lack of tears in my face made me feel insatisfactory, i dont know if the way i watched the anime 1 episode per week affected my attachement to the anime's emotions. I think that if you want to get a better experience of the serie you have to watch it all in a day, maybe two.
The art was sublime... There were mounts and mounts of backgrounds; gorgeous backgrounds, cities, cliffs, deserts, etc. The art disdnt dissapoint me at all, I really thought it was good.
Im just saying half of the music is going straight to my ipod.
The main character changed throgh the serie such as the secondary characters, something that i thought "wow not in every anime happends this" The begging of the anime shows us a maniac of power protagonist and at the end shows us a kind and heroic character. The secondaries for me were the best *cof* *cof* yusarin my wifu *cof* *cof*. And i dont wanna get started with Tomori!!! She is perfect from the mature and motionless way she acted to the kind and patient she was.
I looked every single episode on the day it came out, and at the end of it i wanted to skip time to next saturday. My 2015 favorite!
Since i thought it was a little rushed the last episode i didnt feel putting a 10 to the anime but i think if they split the last episode into 2 and i dont know maybe posting them all at once (just kidding) it would be a 10 for me. I highly recommend this anime been watch all in a day so you dont get the feeling of insatisfaction like i do.
Hope you enjoy this review... it was made with all the love of my kokoro
I started watching charlotte after I saw one of the scene in the meme. The sheer number of negative remarks lead me to write this review and also because how much I liked it. Now It got me hooked right from the start, that ability with the person with that attitude. I think most people, if not everyone, would use the ability protagonist has any differently than he did, which made him relatable.
This is the first anime in a long time that I have watched where I didn't disliked the main protagonist. Nobody blushes as much as other drama anime. I couldn't guess what
could happen next. First few episode are most likely forgotten by how the remaining part goes on. While that may not be good thing, last episodes are has more impact and a really satisfying ending, at least for me.
Now as I said, after ep 6 or so we learn more and more about the story and why the anime is named what it is named. while some may say the story gets more deviated, personally I liked it very much. I don't get much time to watch anime lately so its been a while since I could watch anime of this sort and the development of story was really interesting for me.
The ending was really satisfying too. I was thinking that story can't be wrapped that quickly and believed ep 12 to be a good ending but as I watched the last episode and learned that the anime is contained and concluded within ep 13, and in a really better way, it really deserved the 10 I gave it.
In conclusion, if you like surprises and know nothing of what happens in this anime on later episodes, it is going to be delightful to watch, since it doesn't go as expected, But that is my opinion, may be I am easily amused, but I like it and would recommend this to my friend
(This has been adapted from my blog/reddit thread. Spoilers ahead!)
You find it strange that a line is missing for the ride, but you chalk it up to luck. At some point, you find the lone worker, his nametag reading J.M. He instructs you to climb the ladder before you, with you more than willing to do so. J.M. smiles and waves you off, and you climb.
The climb was quick because of how thrilling it was along the way. You are now at the top, with you overlooking the entire park. A sign says to sit down on the platform. At first, you wonder why there
is no seat and no seatbelt, but then the ride starts. From behind, you feel a push. You start to roll forward down a ramp. It is not pleasant but it is at least tolerable. Thankfully the incline is not steep, so you are not rolling fast. You start to develop bumps and bruises, thinking that this is some kind of experimental ride.
Then, suddenly, you start to fall down steps. You start to hear bones snap as the hard edges of the stairs jut into your limbs. The stairs are made of wood, so your bruises start to scrape and then bleed. You start to panic, wanting off this wild ride, wishing that your parents had said no like they always did. At the same time, the steepness starts to increase, speeding you up at intermittent intervals.
Just before you cannot take any more, you are in freefall. You believe that it is over, that a trampoline will cushion your landing. But it does not. Instead, you land on a landmine, blowing your arms clean off. The steep steps continue, except now that you have no arms the angular velocity of your person increases, forcing you to shut your eyes lest the spinning-induced nausea makes you vomit. With each new step, you lose a tooth, and with every other new step, you lose a memory, the repeated impacts putting you in and out of consciousness.
You cannot tell who is what or what is where. And just when you cannot take any more for the second time, you land on a massive spike, impaling your chest, your insides now your outsides. Your breathing is sporadic and splinters have sewed your right eye shut. So with the last of your strength, you raise your left eyelid to discover the name of the ride you just rode. There, in white letters with a comet here and a swooping star there, it reads: Charlotte.
Charlotte is a poor excuse for an anime, and nowhere is that more evident than in the narrative it attempts to construct. A slew of problems plague it, sickening each of its areas to the point that no remedy available could possibly cure its ailments. From inconsistencies in the plot to the minutiae of the writing, the show is kept bedridden, prevented from performing at an acceptable level. It is a downhill tumble down a mountain, dwindling the health of the show and leading to its inevitable death.
Like any descent, it is best to start at the summit. The first episode of Charlotte is quite well-done. While the “high school kids with superpowers” is an overused formula, it managed to establish its setting in an interesting manner, placing the abilities and the main character in a negative light. The negativity, the intriguing side cast, and the supposed theme of self-correction poised the show as something grand. Then the problems start.
The most prevalent problem of Charlotte is the pacing. Pacing is the spacing of events – the more that goes on in a short amount of time, the faster the pacing and vice versa. For most shows, pacing is not a detriment so long as it is neither too fast nor too slow. It needs to rest in the Goldilocks region to maintain a leveled approach and keep its plot from careening out of control. Charlotte, however, effectively murders the golden-hair invader and dumps the molten porridge over her lifeless body. The anime transitions from tolerably slow to whiplashing the audience as it continuously ramps up the speed of the pacing. Yuu’s mental breakdown is the first sign – a high school student to a might-as-well-be drug addict over the course of a couple of weeks or so. Time travel is introduced shortly after. Terrorists follow, with the finale of the anime cramming together a literal worldwide, person-to-person vacation. The events are not illogical or even uninteresting but they happen so fast and so often that it becomes a disconnected smorgasbord of scenarios rather than a connected grouping of instances.
Pacing speaks nothing of the actual events themselves, which are arguably worse. Many of the plot lines or plot points within Charlotte either lead to dead ends or are forgotten about entirely, both usually the byproduct of the aforementioned pacing. Nao’s older brother receives a resolution halfway through the season, only to never be mentioned again. The lead singer of “Zhiend” serves as a trigger to push events forward, but has no spot in the narrative beyond her final song. Ayumi’s resolution is overly clean, with her likewise tossed on the wayside after her conflict is taken care of. When this or any anime does this, it causes the plot to feel disconnected, therefore reducing its cohesiveness and subsequently the strength of its narrative. Interestingly the show did take advantage of its own plot developments at times – having his original girlfriend appear and try to help him out of his rut demonstrates the show’s awareness of its own material. But the majority of the time, the anime exists in the former camp, cumulative fragments that turn the plot into an indiscernible mess.
Charlotte’s mess continues in other areas, specifically dealing with the writing itself. Again, to be fair, the anime does have its moments – Nao telling each of the earlier ability users to never use their abilities again to maintain the ruse against Yuu was clever. But a large amount of its other moments do not live up to even half of this execution. For example, Yusa’s “spells” are a comedic gag that treads into overused territory, the same reactions occurring every time. Also the time travel reveal, which is little more than a huge exposition dump. Worse still is the hospital visits near the end, where a series of characters appears one after another to make up for spending so little time on them in the first place. It leads to repetition and in most cases a distinct lack of purpose since each subsequent event is supposed to build off of the previous ones. But because the previous events are so weak due to a combination of the poor pacing, unused plot points, and the stagnant writing, the shaky tower they create is never capable of standing upright.
This trifecta sees its lowest point during episode eleven, now infamous for being absolutely asinine. The character whose family was conveniently taken hostage, Shun having never known of this character’s extended family despite countlessly time travelling, and Yuu going to the warehouse alone despite the group tailing him moments later are more than enough to constitute a failed narrative. The entire confrontation was not even about Nao, the terrorists, or even Pooh; the whole point was to remove the time travel variable from the equation. Any other situation could have been chosen yet the show decided on this one for a reason, the reason being to avenge Pooh and to “payback” Nao. But both bonds are not exactly taut: the former he barely knew and the latter he had always butted heads with no signs of affection. In other words, Yuu’s inspiration was likewise lax. So while not entirely representative of the anime, this episode made it evident how broken the show truly was.
Halfway through the descent, Charlotte has already broke but it does not stop hitting itself. Another issue is the title of the show, which is irrelevant. The comet it is named after is never seen or, perhaps obviously, never used throughout. It is simply mentioned as the source of the strange particle or virus that causes the people to gain the abilities. Granted it might be unimportant; the actual comet means nothing in the grand scheme of things, moving the attention away from it and to the abilities it technically contains.
At least, that would be the argument if it did keep attention on its abilities. Instead, one of the show’s biggest focal points is confusingly ignored. Besides “invisible” – which gets used a lot earlier – and “plunder” – which gets used a lot later – abilities often go severely underutilized, appearing only a handful of times. Some hardly get used at all – the opening episodes contain abilities that, once stolen, are used to a minimal extent. The time travel is even purposely prevented from being used. Charlotte’s finale also follows this trend: Yuu plundered thousands of abilities, but no more than ten were shown. To play devil’s advocate, similar to the comet the abilities might not even be the point of the anime. If space rocks and superpowers are not what the anime is about, then something else must be.
This is when the bottom of the mountain is reached because there is no point to Charlotte; there is no thematic presence. It never centers on one specific notion, with a fairytale ending of “living happy lives from now on” when they had been doing that (or trying to) from the beginning. There might be something about never giving up even in the face of ridiculous adversity, but the use of abilities makes this a moot point since the abilities lessen the adversity considerably. One might also argue that the show is about having and pursuing goals. Nao fighting to save others to have them avoid a fate like her brother’s, Yuu plundering everyone to earn a romantic relationship, and Shun time traveling to the point of blindness to protect his family and other “ability-wielders” (as they call them) showcase how a goal motivates and pushes people to do the impossible. But since Nao’s and Shun’s dreams fall on Yuu, and Yuu’s own goal is lost, this theme loses merit as well.
Thus, after falling down a mountain while crashing into rocks formed of horrible pacing, weak writing, and nonexistent themes, Charlotte’s narrative lands at the bottom, perishing in the process.
If Charlotte does anything correct, it is in regards to its art and its animation.
The art itself is vibrant, with locations varying. Schools, parks, and warehouses are featured, each filled with details that make them realistic in their presentations, appropriate for the realistic setting. Lighting is nuanced, with sunlight and fixtures casting shadows and shine where needed. Camera angles are likewise well-done, with low shots, up-close shots, and landscape ones constantly shuffled through to give the show a dynamic feel. Other tricks, like reflections in mirrors and rippling water, demonstrate the anime’s regard for its visuals.
The style of the abilities, when they are used, is also interesting. Invisible has a rainbow sheen combined with transparency, plunder makes Yuu’s eyes go green, and “collapse” causes the wielder to glow and essentially explode. A distinction for each ability is given – telekinesis has a purple outline, disintegration has a sparkly effect, and combustion produces flames – that makes each come off as unique as they are.
Unfortunately the character designs dip in execution. Many are rather plain: Yuu, Joujirou, and Ayumi, to name a few. Nao as well, but for her, her deep blue eyes and white hair contrast, coinciding with her outward cuteness and inward abrasiveness. Surprisingly it is Yusa’s older sister that has the best design. Her orange hair, red outfit, and ruby-colored eyes are a perfect fit for her fiery personality. Similar to episode eleven, she might be an outlier, but she showed where they could have gone had the designs refrained from being so plain.
Actual animation mirrors the art, staying consistently high throughout the season. Even disregarding the abilities, characters walk, flail, and react in nearly all situations, standing still for natural lengths of time. Alongside moving background objects, ruffling hair, and shattering glass, the anime always keeps its parts going, giving the show much needed strength.
Just when Charlotte starts to climb back up the mountain with its art and animation, it quickly falls down again when its cast is investigated thoroughly.
Investigating the side cast first is simple since the majority of them are either missing characterization, development, or purpose, sometimes a combination of the three. Joujirou, the Yusa-obsessed man in glasses, has that to his name alone. He is a huge fan of a pop star. Nothing else is learned or given about him past a certain point since the anime decided to ditch him to focus on the latter half of the show – Shun, time traveling, and world plundering. Yusa is arguably worse; she can sing and dance, her bubbly behavior allowing her to befriend anyone. But the development she receives is shoved into the span of a few minutes rather than throughout the season with her older sister visiting her family to eat food and her older sister writing her a letter. That is to say, while she does receive development, it is arguably worse than having none at all since what she was given was so lazy and lame.
Laziness and lameness are also found in Ayumi and Shun who oppose each other in a negative sense. Ayumi is the little sister, her adorableness and worrying attitude acting as a rock for Yuu. Plus, her pizza sauce skills know no bounds. She was poised to be a worthwhile character for the rest of the cast to connect with, but similar to Joujirou, following her death avoidance her presence diminishes nearly entirely. The worst part, though, is that this ruins her relationship with Yuu, which was a major driving force for his character. Shun is on the opposite side of the spectrum. The older brother, he was introduced late, so very little is known about him besides his friendship with Pooh, and even then the audience does not get enough of the two together to understand how connected they were. Meaning when Pooh dies, Shun’s breakdown does not have the necessary emotions established with the viewer to let them feel his plight. Furthermore, and opposite to Ayumi, Shun’s relationship with Yuu has no weight not because they stop focusing on it but because they never focused on it to begin with. Not during flashbacks and not during the present, either. Shun even purposefully hid himself from Yuu to keep Yuu out of harm’s way, meaning a relationship of any kind would not have the chance to exist. So when Shun gets emotional with Yuu or vice versa, once again the effect is not as strong as it portrays itself.
Moving beyond the side cast of Joujirou, Yusa, Ayumi, and Shun are Nao and Yuu, arguably the worst characters of the anime considering the proportion of on-screen time and development they undergo. Nao is a seemingly distraught person. She lost her family at an early age and she is bullied in school (questionable, since it only happens once and is never touched on again). As a result, she trusts and believes in almost nobody, keeping people away to stop herself from losing anyone ever again. This explains why she uses a camcorder: she places an obstacle between her and the world, treating the world with the same distance as she does people. It is clear that she is someone who is afraid of connecting with others, a person in need of help. She has traits that would supposedly see change, but she never gets it. As the leader of the group, she has to act as such, never exposing her faulty interior. During more private moments, she cracks slightly but only to the point that her emotions evaporate. Taking a step back and looking at the season altogether reveals that Nao never truly had the spotlight all to herself, so she never could progress past her problems. The ending tries to instill the idea that she has changed for the better – that she will start using her camcorder to record “happy everyday life” – but it literally occurs within the last minute of the show, indicating how much of a failed character she is.
But the worst character is undoubtedly Yuu for one reason: passiveness. Yuu, like the first episode, starts off really strong, a troubled person who was extremely full of himself. But after the first episode, he is sidelined, Nao, Joujirou, and Yusa taking center stage with Yuu making a comment or two here and there. The focus then shifts to Ayumi and Sara (the lead singer of “Zhiend”). Here, Yuu does not so much develop as he becomes an entirely different person, with the outcome having him go back to square one. The focus shifts once more to Shun, where both sides of his conflict use Yuu as a pawn. The final episode is the first instance where Charlotte puts Yuu at the forefront of its happenings. But as it was during Ayumi’s death, he becomes an entirely different person that has no relation to his earlier self, with this outcome even worse since he regresses not back to square one but to square zero. Sympathy is not possible since it is “too little, too late” to care about or have feelings towards him since he was relegated to being a side character for the majority of the show. In short, passiveness did him in.
Lastly, themes for characters are passive in a way, since they are at the mercy of the characters that control them. In order to investigate what message the cast is relaying, their abilities should give the answer because each individual person has a power of their own. Joujirou’s speed makes sense given his overzealous outbursts. Yusa’s dual-self coincides with her normal student and super star status. Shun’s time travel represents his determination and willingness to sacrifice himself for something bigger. Nao’s invisibility makes sense given her loner persona. Yuu’s plundering strangely works since he is a person who has no discernable qualities of his own. Thus, the superficial view is that…people have traits that make them who they are. This is too commonplace and inherent to be a theme. Instead, it could do with uniqueness of traits – that everyone is different – but this fails since the abilities of people sometimes overlap – Pooh’s ability-wielder-finder ability exists in others. It might deal with the abilities themselves; each one has a peculiar caveat attached to them. Joujirou’s speed cannot be controlled, Nao’s invisibility can be applied only to one person at a time, Yuu’s plundering causes him to pass out for five seconds, and so on. So it might be that people are imperfect, that everyone has something about them that is off-kilter. Sadly this does not work as well since the reasoning for the defects is not expounded on, the imperfections a penalty rather than a talking point.
Therefore there is no point. The abilities do not provide a meaningful message, an expected answer since the narrative also proved that the abilities were not what mattered most. Thus the characters are without themes and, coupled with their missing development, are left in dire straits at the bottom of the mountain once more.
The opening theme is the last strong point of Charlotte. The piano and vocalist are in harmony throughout, creating a hopeful piece, fitting the tone of the anime. The ghostly reverb in the beginning, the quick, soft lyrics in the middle, and the resounding violins in the end combine to make a piece that is simultaneously familiar and otherworldly, once again finding comfort within the confines of the show. The ending theme somewhat counteracts its counterpart, the piece filled mostly with a repetitive middle section despite the strong vocals. The start of the song with its onomatopoeia is a soft lead in to the soft piece, said softness more or less matching Nao’s longing. The guitar, violins, and slow lyrics pad the song further, making it, if nothing else, an alright method of easing the audience out of each episode.
The remainder of the soundtrack is filled with a variety of pieces to fit the occasion. Lots of piano tracks to heighten the somber moments, hard violin pieces to maximize tenseness, and silly sounding instruments to increase the comedy. While the OST is not particularly memorable, it effectively bolsters the scenes it takes part in.
Voice acting is similar, resting somewhere around average. Kouki Uchiyama as Yuu has a voice that is too old for his character. Plus, his screaming was never convincing. Ayane Sakura as Nao passes due to the incredulity she can include in her speaking to give her that mean yet cute edge. Maaya Uchida as Yusa is the only strong performance, doing the voices for both the younger and the older sister, capturing their personalities nicely through the performances she gives.
I would be lying if I said that the first episode did not impress me. Because it did. Then the rest of the anime happened, and I could not believe how it continued to shoot itself in the foot with each new episode. I did find Nao and Yusa cute and funny, but as individual characters they were so poorly presented that my disappointment nearly cancelled out the laughs. Yuu was a boring main character, Ayumi’s adorableness not being around was a bad move, and Joujirou’s shtick got old quick. None of the characters were engaging enough for me to resonate with, leaving me to simply follow the flow of the show.
I also had no real emotional connection to the anime. I did not cry when Yusa was reading aloud her letter from her older sister, Pooh’s death did not impact me in the slightest, and I did not care for Yuu when he was going rogue or journeying alone. The anime’s events never made me feel anything, thereby reducing the amount of entertainment I got out of it. Still, I found myself wanting to know what was going to happen next. I was not invested in the show, but it piqued my interest when Yuu time travelled or set out on his unrealistic adventure.
Something trivial that ticked me off was the order in which Yuu plundered abilities during his mega journey. The first official one he stole to start it off was Nao’s. It would have been infinitely more poetic to have her be the last one. Yuu fights and travels and steals, surviving as much as he can, until the very end where he finally meets her, with a touching yet heartbreaking reunion. Instead, the last one is some random girl in some random village with Yuu somehow getting hit with arrows despite being the strongest human to have ever lived, and then a helicopter coming down to save him as his arm is outstretched towards Nao’s gift. It is somewhat silly to be mad about this since this is not my anime. However the idea of going full-circle – starting at the beginning and ending at the beginning – is powerful narrative-wise, so seeing such a hugely missed opportunity irks me.
Charlotte deserves almost no praise. Outside of the art and bits of its music, the anime crashes and burns, its story and characters abysmal in their overall execution. Needless to say, this is one ride that nobody should ever have to endure.
Story: Terrible, poor pacing, forgotten plot points, weak writing, irrelevant content, and no extensive thematic presence
Animation: Good, beautiful art, cool-looking abilities, okay character designs, and above average actual animation
Characters: Terrible, Joujirou, Yusa, Shun, Nao, and Yuu are underdeveloped, underused, or both, with their abilities meaning nothing to them or grander themes
Sound: Fine, good OP, okay ED, okay OST, and okay VA performances
Enjoyment: Bad, zero resonance, no emotional connections, and an irking directional decision, yet still interesting enough to follow through to the end
The way I look at Charlotte is like a show that started off buzzing with potentially well-thought ideas. Then as time went on, it really crashed and burned. Like almost pouring rice.
Charlotte, an original show conceived by Jun Maeda, is a series made by Aniplex and P.A. Works. The series takes place in a world where a small percentage of people manifest supernatural powers. While this hardly sounds original, Charlotte does have a unique presence with its characters. Yuu Otosaka, a first year student at Hoshinoumi Academy, developed his ability to possess others temporarily and made himself a fake academic honor student. The first
episode establishes himself as a narcissistic individual who uses his powers for personal gains.
Now, this actually sounds kind of like a neat idea. The ability to possess others can really have a dominating effect especially for someone like Yuu. Early episodes establish him using this ability with some dangerous risks. That is until we have a girl named Nao Tomori who catches Yuu using his ability and forces him to join the student council in order to help others with these unique abilities. Like Yuu though, Nao also shows a narcissistic side of herself and for some reason lacks female friends. A good portion of Charlotte shows her using a camera filming events around her life. Joining them includes Jojiro Takajo, a boy who can apparently move at supersonic speed, and Yusa Nishimori, a popular idol singer who can channel the dead. As part of the early phases, the show takes on a slice of life focus. Every episode essentially shows the members of the student council use their ability to help others and prevent troublemakers from causing chaos. This sometimes comes at high risk as some abilities can be quite dangerous. And as such, the show maintains a somewhat dark side with some minor foreshadowing. Furthermore, we are also introduced to Yuu’s little sister Ayumi, who is like an energetic light bulb that can brighten anyone’s day; figuratively of course.
With a small cast of main characters such as this, Charlotte essentially had a good story going. Yes, some of the episodes feels like distractions that incorporate generic school life activities such as baseball or outdoor camping trips. However, the show originally maintained a cool level of comedy. It can make the viewer laugh such as with Joiro’s over-exaggerated expressions of his obsession towards Yusa. Ayumi can also be likable at times with her bright personality that seemingly has some influences towards others. Everything originally was standard and then, trouble hits.
I guess it shouldn’t be much of a surprise. Jun Maeda is known for his involvement in Key related works. These include Kanon, Air, and Clannad. Some recurring themes include family values, magical realism, and his intention to draw tears from the viewers with emotional scenarios. So here for Charlotte, it really isn’t much of a surprise that there’s a familiar trend. The first few episodes sets up a lot of fun and actually works hand in hand. Then, the second half of the show kicks into a darker tone with the story. And to be quite frank honest, it feels like the show got possessed. It turns into a series that forcefully tries to draw out emotional impact starting with Yuu’s depression. There is a good reason for this but the transitional direction of his character really is an oddball. Furthermore, Yuu’s role becomes somewhat like a savior to protect a certain someone. It’s like Yuu almost became another person as the story progresses. The turning point of the series makes Yuu look like a hero but is really one? Honestly no. In fact, Yuu is more of the anti-hero and without a certain person’s help, I fear what he really may become. The recurring themes written by Jun Maeda comes into full hold as we get alternate worlds, timelines, and loops. And in general, the show changes way too much for its own good. A major problem I found throughout the latter half of the story is the numerous plot holes that appears out of nowhere. Furthermore, there are the continuous jokes that becomes apparently blend after seeing it so many times. The mood of the story constantly changes from one point to another that eventually becomes almost intolerable. It’s also fairly predictable and has some fairly anti-climactic resolutions to problems. Despite this, I do give Charlotte some credit for taking the risk. I think the show is more suited for certain audiences that appreciates the writing style of Jun Maeda. Otherwise, Charlotte will take some enormous patience especially to get answers to wanted questions. These include the meaning of Charlotte, how Yuu’s relationship with others changes, and what true essence of some of the characters’ powers are. As with I mentioned earlier on, there’s a strong uphold about family values that is easily carved out with Yuu and Ayumi’s relationship.
Speaking of relationships, the most noticeable one is probably Yuu and Nao throughout the series. In several ways, they are similar but hard to get along. Yuu’s change builds a more stable relationship with her as time goes on. However, when it comes to love or romance, the series drops the ball. You’ll have to see it for yourself but it’s something that’s easily forgettable. That also brings back to my earlier problems with the show. Some of the characters establishes their presence such as Zhiend’s singer but are later seemingly forgotten. There could have been a more meaningful relationship that they can forge and leave viewers to remember for. Instead, too many things happen at once and the final few episodes really seems like it’s trying to fit everything into a box. Yuu’s attempt to become some sort of savior makes me feel like he really isn’t suitable for the job. And lastly, I think the glasses guy (Tokajo) and Yusa’s relevance in the series slipped like sands of an hourglass. Of course, their relationship hardly moved an inch.
Now I will say this. Charlotte makes its name and presence known with its high level production values. Once again, we see the colorful style of P.A. Works’ characters and a few of the scenes in the show can be described as scenery porn. While the character designs are usually generic, the powers themselves holds a dominating presence. Yuu’s ability to possess others is heightened by the way the art is done with his eyes while there’s also neat camera focuses of characters’ facial expressions. The OP and ED theme song has a mystical presence that invests on its show’s themes and foreshadowing. As such, the cinematography and overall animation for Charlotte is exceptional and is something to remember.
When a show mixes in comedy and tragedy, you’ll need to transit both with a fitting way to match the presentation. While not as strong as its artwork, Charlotte’s soundtrack works well on most parts. Dialogues matches with character voice mannerisms and the OST in general is easy to keep up with depending on the shift of the tone. For voice mannerism itself, the characters are represented in a tolerable way whether it’s Yuu’s narcissism, Ayumi’s hyperactive energy, Yusa’s charming personality, or even her other self, who is almost a complete opposite of Yusa’s character. The show also retains some musical themes as introduced in later episodes although the songs can be questionably enjoyable. For all other things though, Charlotte’s soundtrack is satisfactory without breaking the limits.
Charlotte is pretty much a show that is hard to accept. I think taking Charlotte for granted for what it is originally was easier for some people but as the story progresses, it becomes more and more difficult to tolerate. This is evidenced by its sharp turn in characterization, story mood changes, and reused ideas coming from Jun Maeda. As a show that tries far too hard to induce drama or tear-jerking moments, it really didn’t succeed in such a way. Now I will admit though, Charlotte’s comedy can make the fans laugh a bit and the premise can seem to be interesting. The first few episodes were really fun to watch and although had a plotless direction focused well on what it is. Just be aware that the second half of the show will take a drastic change and whether you like it or not, it’s hard to adapt with. And honestly, that’s a certain kind of blunder.
I'll have a rant with Charlotte. It deserves it. Why isn't there a zero score for 'story'?
It is oft repeated that everybody, well not everybody, but many people, had high hopes for Charlotte, and that 'people' includes me in the ranks. It was the first name on my team sheet for the summer season. Such a waste.
It's also repeated that it started okay and plunged down after a certain point. This plays true to the words, it shot up the horribility scale after about EP8. Everything went wrong. The pacing, the character development. But especially the plot. The believability of that plot. Plot holes are
galore. It's really depressing trying to talk about every one of them. The last episode was especially a huge pile of garbage on that front, which you have to see to believe. How is that even possible? There were too many 'red dots' on one map in one city and too much time taken for him to erase one dot at a time for me to believe any second of it.
The characters were a big problem too. Nao is well-loved and praised, at least round here in my part of the Earth. She is well-designed, no doubt about it. However she plays too little a part in the short and appalling main plot, think about it again, doesn't she? About all the others, well...there are too many come-and-go characters that just slip in, do their part which have wildly varying impacts on the plot, and then vanish with slim explanation on their past or future actions and intentions. Even two 'main characters' in the main party, glasses guy and idol girl, really do nothing to complement the anime outside of giving the odd giggle(or, to put it better, vain attempt at making you giggle) and being a kind of christmas visual decoration. We still don't know virtually anything about them after the end of the last episode. It's impossible to like the character as a moving character that has flesh and blood, even though they're 'main characters'. Ms. Zhiend and Nao's older bro clog up more than one episode of the anime, and the whole of EP8, for literally nothing, as their forced drama is reversed when the MC turns back time. What was the point?
Pacing and production, to a lesser extent was also to blame. Look at the flashback scene in EP9 and...It’s really bad. I'll have a moan with the main band Zhiend as well. They're vaguely listenable, but how on earth are they a post-rock band? And why did Maeda try to emphasize that?
That leaves the art. It's not a masterwork in design and movement, but it's certainly commendable and faults were hard to find in the quality throughout the series. That's it though. It doesn't leave waves of astonishment for that, and is just...a little better than the average anime you get. There's no trying to leave from the tradition neither, everything is standard. Is it better enough than your average 'moe anime' or whatever they call them to cover up its gaping shortcomings in just about every department excepting the art? Nah... it just serves to make this shit look a bit less shit.
That's Charlotte then for me. I was planning to give this a long, critical mind you, but still long review up until EP11 or something. I lost the remaining love for this over the next couple of weeks, and gave up on giving it a long review as it was a waste of time. That leaves this rant. No recommendation people, don't watch it. No chance I'm waiting for another series from Maeda. Not in a million years.
For me, Charlotte was a really good work overall. It was probably the best out of the Summer 2015 season, and honestly one of my favorites in my anime experience so far.
STORY - 8/10
Don't get me wrong, the synopsis sounded so cliche and so boring I didn't actually feel like watching this in the first place - what actually gave me the push to was the poster art (we'll get into that later, anyway) - but it surprised me really much. It had really surprising plots, and the feel you had while watching everything happen, characters showing up, everything, wasn't constant.
This story brought not one way to look at it, but uncountable ways to.
ART - 10/10
Personally, I loved the art for this. Charlotte had a great animation and even though this whole art rating thing is personal and differs with people's tastes, I think that's the one thing most people can agree about. What I loved so much about the art, too, was the colors. So, this was this fantasy sci fi piece, with a comet's name and they used a lot of purples and blues and whenever the sky was visible here, it was just gorgeous to look at. That was a great point too - the colors mean a lot to me in a good art.
CHARACTERS - 10/10
Some people say there was no character development - well, I don't think like that at all. There was a ton of character development, but it was so fluid and natural to watch, you don't even realize it happening. And I just loved it that way. By the time you finish Charlotte and compare the character's behavior the first and last time you saw them, you realize it. Specially the main character. The main character got a huge change of attitude, that you don't quite realize until half of the series is through.
OVERALL - 10/10
I hold Charlotte in a really dear place, specially because I felt like there was something more to it. The abilities only teenagers have are some sort of symbol to the troubles of being a teenager: it's tough, it's when you come to terms with yourself and try to realize were you belong. And that was a conclusion I came to personally after thinking about the series as a whole for a bit.
I'd really recommend you to watch this series, but you have to be able to see beyond what's right there and try to get something out of it. That's the best way to do it! (:
Key is a household name for any anime connoisseur. Even those with a mere passive interest in the medium as a whole are probably familiar with at least one of Key’s titles—a close friend of mine whose anime experience mostly encompasses Naruto knows Clannad as “that anime which gives people the sads” and subsequently won’t watch it because “it’ll give me the sads.” Clannad: After Story has permanently lodged itself within MAL’s top 10, several other Key titles (such as Angel Beats! and Kanon) receive a lot of love around here, and multiple Key visual novels have received wide acclaim, with Clannad, Little Busters, and
Rewrite all ranking within vndb’s top 15. In short, people love Key, and when a new anime fronted by Key or Key’s figurehead and principal writer Jun Maeda rolls around, people pay attention. It could be because you’re excited for a new anime from your favorite writer, it could be because you’re one of the director’s many critics and you can’t wait to see their new trainwreck, or you could just be interested in the hype the new series delivers as a passive observer; whatever the case, interest is generated. Naturally, Charlotte, being the newest title in Jun Maeda’s impressive résumé, was met with a tidal wave of hype. Does Charlotte match the standards expected by a Key title? Well, yes and no.
The first six episodes are a testament to all things Jun Maeda, a near complete collection of tropes anybody familiar with his work probably knows intimately by now: food jokes, baseball, school hi-jinks, and tinges of supernatural melodrama, among others. Frankly, these episodes are riddled with so many KeyTropes™ that one might think they were purposely constructed as a parody of everything Maeda is known for. By episode 4, all except the most rabid of Key fans will be more than a little tired with the barrage of shenanigans pressed upon us. The problem isn’t so much that Maeda uses his traditional writing style, it’s that the execution of his ideas are simply too familiar. “Yeah, I’ve seen this before, and I’ve seen it done better than this.” His writing is almost a caricature of itself at this point. As a fan of Maeda’s writing style, I found myself chuckling a number of times and invested in “The Everyday Adventures of Tomori and Friends” more than I retrospectively can understand, but I doubt the average viewer is going to empathize with these feelings. Then, against all odds, Charlotte turned 180 in potentially one of the most contrasting shattering of tropes and clichés I’ve ever witnessed in an anime: episode seven.
The 7th episode of Charlotte is without question one of Key’s finest episodes, sitting in pleasant company with the 18th episode of Clanand: After Story, the 10th episode of Kanon, and the finale of Angel Beats. For probably the second time in his career, Maeda wrote a dramatic story earthed in realism and believability that does not rely on emotional oversensitivity. Filled with flawless progression, powerful character development, and tight writing, Maeda proved he has a grasp on human emotions and Charlotte is not just another show aimed at appealing to the viewer’s appreciation for zany comedy and “feels.” It even successfully implements Maeda’s traditional appreciation for sensationalism and does so with class. From episode seven onwards, Charlotte catapults through a number of plot twists and thrills with a sense of maturity foreign to Key’s works, only ever devolving back to its handbook of clichés to lighten the atmosphere and strengthen the execution rather than relying on them to even catch interest. However, herein lies Charlotte’s largest fault (no, it’s not the pizza sauce jokes): resolution.
Perhaps a testimony to the fact a Key story can’t be told with finesse in a mere 13 episodes, Charlotte’s single most fatal flaw is its pacing and the means by which its drama is resolved. Character development is curbed for the sake of bringing a close to each individual obstacle in a single episode and, in the best of cases, two episodes. The drama of the early episodes is ruined by the absence of build-up and negligence of expansion, and the drama of the latter episodes is diminished by the constraints of its run time that force a harried resolution without thoroughly exploring the events and before viewers are given the chance to even register what’s going on, let alone sink into our protagonist’s emotions… which brings us to the characters.
If Charlotte’s pacing is the gaping wound to the series, then its characters would be the taut string that attempts to cease the blood loss. Each member of our four-character primary cast is loveable and amusing, and a lot of Charlotte’s idiosyncratic humor would utterly fail without its characters to support it. Yuu Otosaka, accurately dubbed “mini-Lelouch,” is sly and selfish yet charismatic and… loves his sister. Nao Tomori is a stoic, responsible, and sweet girl that maneuvers skillfully across the tsundere rope, the one Key girls often do, striking a delicate balance between casually hostile and apprehensively caring. This gives her a believable emotional distance, especially taking into consideration the struggles pressed upon her, far removed from the cringe-inducing display of many of the anime community’s beloved tsunderes (Taiga is shit). Joujirou Takajo and Yusa “Yusarin” Kurobane kind of play second fiddle to our protagonists and would have benefited greatly from more development (Takajo especially; Kurobane received her share of development, but its execution was disappointing at best—more on that in a minute), but between Takajo’s presence as the butt of Charlotte’s many jokes and Yusarin’s dualistic personality, I couldn’t help but admire both of them anyway. There are a number of side characters which play an important role later in the story; speaking much of them would spoil several important events, but it’s worth noting that they are all likeable characters as well.
Unfortunately, Charlotte’s fatal ailment to some extent succeeded in demolishing its characters as well. As mentioned previously, the pacing of the series consistently stifles character development. Some of Yuu’s actions come out of left field, Tomori winds up a side character by the end, and the bits of development the other characters get is crammed into a time allotment so tightly controlled it just seems forced—Kurobane’s ultimate resolution is literally compacted into less than 5 minutes of a single episode. Charlotte nearly completely sacrifices the important element of build-up in the execution of its drama, and without that build-up it’s difficult for the audience to really care about what’s going on. Episode 7 is the single moment in the series that remembers that importance, and, to no surprise, it focuses on Yuu. As the protagonist, all of the genuine development in the series is heaped at Yuu. Even the events seemingly intended to develop the side characters commonly, ultimately serves the purpose of developing Yuu. It is for this reason that, despite some misgivings, Yuu is a well-rounded, well-developed character and certainly among the best of Key’s protagonists.
While I have no specific comments about the standard sound direction—the BGM is certainly not as noteworthy as that of Key’s holy trinity (Clannad, Kanon, Air)—praise should be directed towards the stellar voice work of Kouki Uchiyama for Yuu Otosaka and Ayane Sakura for Nao Tomori. Yuu’s voice work is theatrical and lively, perfectly complimenting his character, yet apprehensive and dejected when required. Nao’s voice in contrast is some combination of subdued, stern, and alluring; and, truthfully, Ayane Sakura’s voice is so charming I could’ve turned off the subtitles and just appreciate the beauty of her voice work.
I opened this review up with the word “ambivalence” to set an atmosphere for my general impression of the series. While the first half of the series is an enjoyable yet basic collage of slice-of-life shenanigans, the second half swiftly swings into motion reminding me why I love Key’s works, yet ultimately leaving me with mixed feelings because its unfortunate pacing restrains its overflowing potential. The resulting product is a vaguely impressive series that falls short of its fathers. And, disappointing as it is, it could have matched them with a handful more episodes, just a bit more time to expand its events and characters, to cover its plot holes. I hope this serves a lesson for any hypothetical future projects: Maeda, please make it two cour.
I initially started writing this review after episode 11. Now that the show is finished, my views remain largely the same. If anything, I squeezed a little extra enjoyment out of viewing these last couple episodes as a parody, because this anime was very disappointing.
Charlotte is written by Jun Maeda and animated by P.A. Works. As such, it carries the weight of its history. Maeda is the writer responsible for such famous and popular works as Clannad, Kanon, and Angel Beats, and P.A. Works bears the main animation title for some of my personal favorite anime like Shirobako and Nagi no Asukara. Charlotte does
not come close to meeting these expectations, and, in fact, fails in almost every possible way. It sets up a fascinating premise and interesting characters only to squander it with bad comedy, bad drama, bad pacing, and a nonsensical and illogical story. It promises to be good throughout, but never once delivers.
Charlotte is the story of a group of kids who one day discover they have super-powers. They band together to secretly help save the world, eventually getting caught up with the government, who wants to weaponize them. In the process, they learn what love and friendship is about!!
Oh wait, that's what Charlotte SHOULD have been.
As a story, Charlotte does not function. It ends up feeling like a bunch of off-topic short stories glued together with an entire second season crammed into the last episode. There's a lack of focus and the pacing is erratic, schizophrenic. While the overall idea seems to be good, the foundation that the story is built upon is flimsy and doesn't stand up to the most basic of analysis or critical thinking. Characters are introduced randomly and some of them are never more than plot devices - a byproduct of the rushed pace, as the characters are given no room to grow. You get bits and pieces of them, but they end up serving no other purpose than just occupying screen space and reading some script lines. I honestly can't remember most of their names.
The main character is a teenage boy whose initial ability is to mind control another person for five seconds. He is shown to be unlikable and insincere as he uses his ability to cheat on exams and look up girls' skirts (this was actually quite funny at the start). Immediately you‘ll recognize a story of “redemption” brewing. You take an unlikable main character and over the course of the anime shape him into a likable character through the events and people that surround him - we've all seen this before. This is a process that takes time and evolves organically, but Charlotte tries to shove it all into 13 episodes. Is there character development? Yeah, but it feels like some 5th grader's rendition. It's laughable. Other characters with superpowers are introduced, yet none of them are introduced or developed in any meaningful or productive way. It’s simply: “Who’s the superpower character of the day?” The amount of content and information in the first five or six episodes could easily have been revealed in one or two in a more competent writer's hands.
I'll call the first half of this anime a slice-of-life, albeit one completely devoid of charm and appeal. The comedy doesn't work; it's quite awkward actually. Pizza sauce? Speedy guy? WHY. They play some baseball, go camping, and meet some other people, including a girl with multiple-personality disorder and a ridiculous water-drippy emo guy. That's all that happens. I'm sorry to say that this is the BETTER half of the anime. If the story kept on this track, I might consider it acceptable at least. But about halfway in, things take a dramatic turn. The intention was to shock the audience, but I remember sitting there on multiple occasions saying, "Are they really ACTUALLY going to do this? Yup, they did it." Due to the lack of character and story development in the earlier episodes, all you get are these silly, out of place, and frankly incredibly OBVIOUS plot "twists" that should have been emotionally moving. What should have been powerful instead feels very manipulative and artificial. There is no purpose to anything that happens in these later episodes, aside from brief shock value. A half-assed attempt to get people to cry, maybe. From here forward, the anime trips and falls over itself, alternating between funny, moe, sad, intense, and boring, complete with monologue info-dumps, and by the time it’s over you’re left with this awful-tasting clusterf**k of a story in your mouth. What's most egregious here is that a number of interesting characters introduced in the first half of the story (blind singer, for example) are COMPLETELY FORGOTTEN ABOUT, as if the writer and director had no idea what to do with them.
At least it looks nice, right....?
*** VISUALS ***
P.A. Works is well known for their visually appealing and crisp art and animation. In my opinion, they are the best studio at creating a setting and sense of realism in all their scenes. In their other shows they put incredible detail into their backgrounds and characters. Their scenes are usually vibrant and colorful, springing with life. You can test this by watching an episode with the sound muted. In Charlotte, while everything looks okay, nothing stands out as remarkable, not even the landscapes and outdoor scenery that I like to praise P.A. Works so much for. Animation looks smooth, but there are times when the dialogue does not match with the mouth movements. The scenes mostly feel cramped and claustrophobic. Character designs are bland (aside from Nao’s character) and suffer from stock character syndrome. There are a couple memorable scenes, but, in my opinion, this is P.A. Works's laziest looking show.
Compare the following images (from P.A. Works shows) for quality comparison if you like. The differences in coloration, effort and detail are undeniable.
The opening (“Bravely You” by Lia) is awesome. Everything else in the OST, voice acting, and sound production department is forgettable. A great soundtrack can elevate a work to a place that nothing else can. Just listening to tracks from the soundtrack can bring back memories of the scenes they were used in. Music is the glue that holds everything together, and the music in this show doesn't really serve any purpose. The music is just tailored to each scene, as if it was tacked on in retrospect.
*** FINAL THOUGHTS ***
Charlotte is not good. It’s not funny, it’s not sad, it’s not fresh or creative. It’s not pretty and it doesn’t make you think. It’s just frustrating and annoying to watch. Instead of straddling the fine boundary between drama and comedy that a show like Clannad does so well, for example, it gets crushed between the weight of both because it’s so poorly written. There are PLOT and LOGIC CANYONS in this anime - things that just absolutely make no sense or are brought up once and never re-addressed. The blind singer? Nao being bullied in episode 5? The terrorists that show up in 11? None are ever looked at again. What was the point? They just feel cheaply convenient and poorly written. Plot holes can be overlooked if they are small and the story is overall believable. A good story ENCOURAGES the viewer to suspend disbelief because it draws the viewer's attention with its setting, characters, and art. Charlotte fails at this in grand fashion.
It feels like Maeda tried to tackle too many things: this anime tries to be a drama, a sci-fi time travel, a thriller, a fantasy, and a SoL all at the same time and it just does not work. It was too ambitious of an undertaking. My main issue with this anime is that it does NOT do the necessary legwork in developing its characters, setting, and story, to earn the dramatic and intense moments it throws at the viewer later on. When those moments arrive, they have little to no impact, and you feel cheated out of your time. Although not entirely fair, you can compare this show to Steins;Gate, as they are similar in structure and design. Both take a slice-of-life approach at the start and then introduce drama and action later on, but S;G works in that the characters, setting, and story are all set up in a way that is convincing and exciting, emotionally and mentally involving. Charlotte has NONE of this. Would this have been better paced with a second season or a few more episodes? Maybe. But that is never a good excuse. Any great writer should be able to condense and trim a large ambitious story into 13 episodes. Charlotte wastes so much time on meaningless rabble that it doesn't really matter either way.
Why did I finish this, you might ask? Charlotte along the way promises to be good. It promises to have a deeper meaning, a purpose, in almost every episode. It's not until you near the end that you realize this promise is broken, and the result is epic disappointment. This show is soullessly written, directed, and produced. Without any passion, and it really shows, it seeps through the cracks. You know how you can tell when a creator is passionate about their work? Be it in music, cooking, writing, painting, whatever - there is a certain life and joy that exudes from the art. The opposite is also true. It feels like nobody is having fun making this anime. It feels like that essay that you pulled an all-nighter for and turned in the next day. There's no life here. It's like I'm holding a dead fish when I'm watching this. I wish for the ability to time leap back to a time when I never began watching this at all.
Let me be clear: I'm not blaming Maeda specifically, as I don't know the circumstances about how this was produced and directed. I don't know if he wrote something different and P.A. Works wanted to go in a different direction. Or maybe Aniplex executives came in and screwed everything up. It feels like there was a disconnect between everybody working on the show. Ultimately , that responsibility falls to the director. Regardless, I will just blame everybody involved with this project.
For a comparison between superpower anime, I direct you to just look at the popular Railgun and Index series. Although not considered “top tier” anime by most people, both capture the essence of the Super Power in a fun, exciting, and charming way. Or you can just go watch X-Men.
Charlotte does not deserve to be mentioned in the same sentence.
First of all...I started watching anime not so long ago. Charlotte is a anime where the world is very curious. Not realistic...darker but hopeful.
The STORY that gets really interesting by every chapter have just one problem. Its like every 3 or 2 episodes the anime changes from slice of life to drama, and after 2 comes back to slice of life and then romance and then action. Many people disliked this but I love it. It let me think and watch every part of the anime deeper and gave me enough to still being curious.
What can I say about the ART...just "P.A.Works.". Beutiful environment by
The SOUND is good,;I loved the op and ending but maybe I personally dislike the part of the anime of progressive rock.
All CHARACTERS have good personality s. Everyone is cool. But they focused so much on Yuu and some parts on Nao that I forget about the others characters. Even if they would kill someone I won't get sad at all. But talking in general I loved the changes of every character while story goes on. Anyways I loved something of every character and that is how it should be.
I ENJOYED all episodes. Calm, tragedy, school, love, tears. Maybe it make me feel a little sad for the music, art and what happened. But I feel it... I felt it.
In OVERALL I gave this a 9 because I didn't enjoy a anime for so long. Because I felt what yuu felt what nao felt. And I didn't expect anything. I just watch and put my heart on it.
Charlotte seems to be the "Key" title that sticks out the most from the bunch. Not only is it an original story, but it also has a darker and more complicated story. Yes. COMPLICATED. As it is a Key title, many people got hyped up for it before it came out and it has become one of the most popular shows of not only the Summer 2015 season, but in 2015 as well. So how is it really?
As with all the Key titles, Charlotte starts off as this happy, school feeling slice-of-life show. A few episode later it dives
down into deeper and darker themes with the characters revealing something different about them. The entire show mostly plays out on the darker moments rather than the school life and that is something I appreciate from it. However, it doesn't save the story from being a rushed mess. Like Gakkou Gurashi, Charlotte's story doesn't know what it wants to be. It jumbles from a happy slice-of-life show to dark action show with a hint of mystery. The story seems as if it's changing it's mind every 5 minutes from the two themes since it wants to be both but it doesn't know how. Also, it's very rushed. We have a death in episode 6 from a character we should care about but the anime gives us so little time with that character. Instead, it gives us a baseball episode and a camping episode. Those episodes should've been used for us to learn about the characters more. Every episode after episode 6 is a Steins;Gate wannabe mindfuck. Only not that good kind. With a rushed story and such little episodes, everything seems to complicated to follow.
Charlotte was brought to us by studio P.A. Works. Responsible for shows like Angel Beats (another Key anime) and Nagi no Asukara. And the production values for those shows are beautiful to look at. While the shows themselves may not hold up well, they still have beautiful art and animation all around. This however, kind of does that, just in a very toned down kind of way. The animation in the opening is beautiful and really brings out P.A. Works potential with their animation skills. Not only that, but the colors and backgrounds (excluding some of the character designs) mix in pretty well. Another thing I like is how when the tone shifts, the color pallets would change in tone and it does it wonderfully. But the rest of the animation is pretty mediocre. The characters movements seem very sloppy and a bit too quick for the type of anime this is. Also, the hair and the eye combination for some of these characters just doesn't mix well together. Nao's sea foam type hair and dark blue eyes just seem so off. The lead singer for the band who is blind has pink hair and light blue eyes just looks so mismatched. The animation isn't terrible or bad by any means, but for P.A. Works, it's kind of a let down.
Highlight of the show. This show gets props for having a great opening and ending song. The opening gives out a happy, cheerful but subtle deep themes that just fit perfectly for the show. The ending is a much more so somber that also fits the show well. Also, the show has a great cast of voices that all put great effort into their performances. However, even if the sound is good, the soundtrack on the other hand is lacking. It sounds just like a bunch of things we've heard of before and some of the soundtracks that play do not match with the scene the anime is showing us. However, that doesn't weigh out the good performances by the cast.
OH BOY HERE WE GO. The worst part of Charlotte. Nao while actually a pretty interesting character doesn't do much or develops. Otosaka, the main lead, goes from a bad ass to a bland and uninteresting character by episode 3. Otosaka's sister plays a major role in the show but she's the same moeshit, "ONIICHAN!" stereotype we've seen in a billion of other shows. Rest of the characters? Who cares? They don't do much to the show or show up at all. Even the new character don't do much at all. They're just there to give Otosaka his orders while just standing around. What am I supposed to feel for this idol chick with her dead sister ability? NOTHING. Since the anime barley gives her any screen time. The guy with the glasses not only has no point to the anime, but he's one of the most pointless characters I've ever seen. Key's worst characters to date.
I liked some of the action moments and watching Nao. That's it. Most of the time I was just checking the time and begging this anime to be over and done with. It was painful to sit through to the point I felt like dropping it. I very much dislike dropping series and I didn't want this to be my first.
Wasted Potential: The Anime.
Charlotte has a misguided and jumbled story, average animation (though not exactly a bad thing), HORRENDOUS CHARACTERS, and a rushed ending that makes you go, "What was the point of it all? Why did I watch this atrocity?" P.A. Works has never really been good at drama anime or good at anything in the matter, but this feels like a new low for the studio. And I though Glasslip from last summer was a bad anime by P.A. Works- and even though it's bad, it's not Charlotte bad. I really would like to see something good from P.A. Works for once. FOR ONCE. I guess that's too much to ask. I recommend staying away from this series. Even though it has a good opening and ending and a good cast that gave out great performances, it doesn't save the show at all.
Charlotte is another one of those controversial anime which you see people complaining about *everywhere* yet it still actually has pretty decent ratings. From this we can deduce that there are probably a lot of people hating on it mostly because everyone else is doing it and they don't want to stand out, and/or that the show is mostly successful among casual viewers who don't bother speaking their mind about it over the internet to begin with. It all sounds uncannily similar to the public view on Sword Art Online in that sense, doesn't it? And in the same way, while Charlotte is certainly not
on the same level as most of Jun Maeda's earlier works, there are still countless anime significantly worse than this. The world doesn't solely consist of black and white.
Charlotte is a story about people with super powers. Only temporary and highly imperfect ones yes, but super powers all the same. It follows the life Otosaka Yuu, an initially arrogant high-schooler who has the ability to take control of people's minds for five seconds at a time; an ability he has used to cheat his way to the highest grades of his school. That is until he one day gets caught red-handed by an unknown girl who is seemingly aware of his ability, Tomori Nao, who then forces him and his sister to transfer into her own school instead: a special school built solely for students with supernatural abilities. And thus their new lives begin as Yuu and his newfound companions struggle through their lives as they attempt to fit into society, as well as do their best to stay away from any scientists who might seek to turn them into experimental guinea pigs.
Now the first problem with Charlotte is simply that the first five episodes are rather... uninteresting to say the least, and feel mostly like filler. These episodes pretty much run on an "ability user of the week" theme, as they are all separate stories about Yuu and his friends having to find and subjugate some person abusing his/her super power in some manner of fashion. But there is no semblance of coherence to it, and it doesn't feel like the main plot is going anywhere at all. Or rather it doesn't feel like any sort of main plot even exists. It's mostly just quirky over-the-top comedy similar to what we saw in Angel Beats and not a whole lot more.
It isn't until episode six that the main story actually starts out for real. Here the story immediately takes a significantly darker turn, which was clearly written for shock value. Then it gets a lot more interesting for a few episodes (though Yuu's character development still feels highly unrealistic), but as it gets closer to its climax, Charlotte starts feeling a bit like an unfinished mess script-wise. I'm not going to spoil any details of course, but there are a ridiculous amount of ideas that are juggled with towards the end of the story, and it feels like the plot takes a whole new direction with every new episode. One week it felt like I was watching Steins;Gate. The other it was Zankyou no Terror. Etcetera. Really it doesn't feel like the plot even knows where it wants to go, and as a result you get a jumbled mishmash of a storyline in the grand scheme of things. Also as an inevitable result of this, there are many plot elements which feel rather poorly thought-out. When you take a completely unexpected direction with the plot, you better have done the groundwork for it to make sense, but Charlotte doesn't always do this because some of the twists feel more like plot holes than anything else simply because earlier events seem to contradict them. In addition, despite the now more serious general atmosphere of the show, it still insists on reusing the silly comedic elements of its opening episodes every so often, but unlike those, it no longer feels appropriate at all. Oh and if you're looking for some sort of tear-jerking drama in this anime like Jun Maeda normally specializes in, you should probably look someplace else because Charlotte really isn't that kind of story at all. Rather the only drama it really has is quite cheesy, and among other things contains a pretty forced and unnatural romance subplot, but even that is still nothing more than a secondary aspect of the story.
The characters are nothing spectacular, but I find them likeable enough for the most part. In the very beginning, Yuu is the spitting image of Lelouch both in terms of personality and super power which thrilled me quite a lot, but sadly he calms down and becomes more of a standard protagonist pretty quickly. Nao is rather hotheaded and violent, but still very caring for her friends and family on the inside. The other main characters primarily consist of other ability users from the school, including the pop idol Yusarin who has a quite unique take on the "split personality" concept, as well as the glasses guy Joujirou who possesses the ability to teleport... sort of. There is also the rather overwhelming little sister Ayumi whom I know a lot of people disliked quite a lot, but she's treated more like a plot device than anything else throughout the story. Whether or not this is a good or bad thing though is debatable.
The production value however, as you may expect from P.A. Works, is top tier. While it doesn't look quite as mesmerizing as some of their earlier works such as Nagi no Asukara, it is still absolutely beautiful to look at. The character designs and the scenery both look amazing. The music is equally on point, which again may only be expected given the people behind it. The OP and ED are both among the very best of the year for sure.
But although it may be pretty to look at and listen to, that is sadly not all there is to an anime, and Charlotte falls flat in the more important categories instead. I really felt like the story always had potential, but it never really got itself together. I felt like I was constantly waiting for some clever plot twist that would make all the pieces of the puzzle fall into place, and suddenly explain why all the questionable plot twists played out the way they did... but it never really happened. Episode nine did a good job with clearing up everything up to that point, but as for the events of the last few episodes... I'm afraid I can't say the same. As a result, the ending isn't exactly the best one I've ever seen.
Despite everything though, I still somehow found Charlotte fairly entertaining from start to finish. Admittedly a lot of that probably just comes from the initial hype the series had, but even when it started to get more and more problematic script-wise, it didn't exactly get boring. And that is still the most important aspect in my mind, given that anime is, after all, nothing but entertainment media in the end.
Charlotte feels kind of like an incomplete experimental anime which tries to do too many things at the same time, and as a result doesn't really succeed with any of them. Rather it leaves more holes than answers instead. But it still manages to keep you guessing and curious about what kind of curveball it's going to throw at you next. Does that make it a good anime? Maybe not, but despite all its problems I still can't make myself hate it. While it's certainly a very flawed anime, I still had fun watching it.
Now if only we could all learn to not hype series up to the second tier of heaven before they start airing; it only makes the disappointment feel all the greater when it doesn't live up to the expectations in the end.
If I were to summarize Charlotte, it would be like trying to make soup by throwing all your favorite foods into a pot. It doesn’t work like that.
So what are our ingredients?
1) Good-looking audience surrogate male protagonist. 2) Equally good-looking female protagonist with tragic backstory. 3) Super kawaii imouto. 4) Glasses-wearing idol fanboy. 5) Moe idol character. 6) High school setting. 7) Government baddies. 8) Supernatural abilities 9) Deaths, but not really. 10) Romantic subplot…see where I’m going with this?
The biggest problem for Charlotte seems to be its inherent lack of confidence in having compelling characters and telling an interesting story. Hell,
when the director himself admits that the anime doesn’t pick up until episode 6, something is definitely wrong here. Indeed, the first five episode are incredibly formulaic, yet acts as if it isn’t. Charlotte doesn’t trust its audience enough to be able to accept what it does, and thus ends up spelling everything out. Why must we be constantly reminded how good-looking Yuu and Tomori are, how much of a turn off Joujirou is, and how despicable the government/scientists are? Only if you didn’t think these elements could be interesting at face-value.
Chef Charlotte suffers by trying way too hard and playing it way too safe. The mood of this series is jarring, shifting from humorous to tragic to “heartfelt” in seconds. Which could work and is possible (see Gintama), but the problem is that it oversells these moments. The jokes work the first time since humor is effective when it’s over-the-top, but quickly becomes a recycled tool. The dramatic moments are overdone with its constant rage-faces and Supersaiyan-esque screaming. It tries to force in moments of fan service like Yusarin’s singing under the mask of plot development. The more risky ingredients like death and romance are either haphazardly tossed in or negated altogether. Don’t add things if you’re not going to see them through.
If the most delicious part of this anime is the omurice with pizza sauce, then I think the director needs to go back to culinary school.
I originally dropped this show at 8 episodes, having felt that this show was possibly going to be one of the worst experiences I have ever had. However, I decided to complete it to fully deiscern for myself whether or not it was as bad as I thought. Now, after finishing the 5 episodes that I neglected, I can safely say:
That this show is one of the worst shows I have ever seen, and far worse than I could have imagined at that.
Now, the way that I rate shows is fully detailed on my profile, so look there for my
full reasoning, but just know this: what I define as the worst anime is a show that has so many negative aspects about it that anything good that may come from it doesn't compare to the flaws and downright offensive structure of the show in question.
That being said,
STORY & CHARACTERS
This show is horribly paced, featuring six whole episodes in the beginning of nothing but one-off unmemorable characters and nearly emotionless segments that could have been dealt with in just a couple of episodes. In fact, episodes 2-6 might as well be the same episode, just with a different super power and forgettable character.
Now, some may argue that Angel Beats! also shares this problem. However, the difference here is that Angel Beats! had a full cast with recurring characters that kept coming back, allowing for an attachment to grow with these characters.
Charlotte, by comparison, gives us a cast of four unremarkable character tropes that are no different from any character we have seen before. The only character really exempt from this is Tomori Nao, the main heroine of the series (though she herself is simply just a deviation from Yuri Nakamura, who herself is almost frighteningly similar to Haruhi Suzumiya).
However, the episodic nature of these first couple episodes would have made this show a simple 7/10.
But then the edge happens.
This show is so bad with how dark and depressing it tries to be that it comes off as comedic at best. I found myself laughing at scenes that most would describe as traumatic or depressing because they just felt so rushed and souless that laughing was the only correct emotional response. In fact, some of the major plot points and threads in this show, which are meant to draw out an emotional response, felt lifeless.
I will talk about the major problems later, but first:
ANIMATION & SOUND
In fact, the only thing that could save this show is its animation and sound design. I DO find the animation to only be a slight upgrade of Angel Beats! (though even that is disputable, as Angel Beats! has better art direction). I suppose it is fair that P.A. Works has improved since Angel Beats!, as the animation is cleaner and feels less glossy. The problem, however, is that the character designs, overall, are unmemorable for the most part, with the exception of Tomori Nao. The design sense is good, but mostly forgettable.
The sound is also fairly well-done, as the background music and sound direction are fine for the most part. Charlotte also has its own vocal performances by fictional band ZHIEND, but the music is mostly...meh for the most part. The show's musical aspects shine especially in the area of its opening "Bravely You" by Lia, an opening that I have to admit is the best of the Summer anime season.
However, this show is almost like Sword Art Online in this sense. The art and sound of course are fairly well-done, but when comparing it to Angel Beats!, Nagi no Asakura or even Shirobako, it doesn't really stand out too well.
But, that leaves us with the major problem with the series.
IT'S TOO CLUTTERED
Jun Maeda has clearly not learned from his mistakes from Angel Beats!, and arguably he has done a much worse job, as this show is too short for the story it is trying to tell.
Or perhaps, I should word it like this:
Angel Beats!'s problem is that it had too many characters that needed development, which required at least a 24-episode timeframe.
Charlotte feels like a string of ideas which could form five different SHOWS, each either 24 episodes or 13 episodes in their own regard. An Angel Beats!/X-Men style episodic comedy. An emotional revenge story. A blatant Steins;Gate ripoff. And a whole solo series with its own issues and moral questions which was packed into ONE EPISODE.
This show was ruined by its ambition and lack of planning, and I cannot stand it.
This show is currently my #4 least favorite show of all time. How anyone can actually say this show is good baffles me. I wanted to love this show. I really did. However, it just tries so hard to be this dark, emotional story that I cannot enjoy it without being constantly irritated by all of its numerous flaws. And Jun Maeda NEEDS to learn how to pace out a series correctly. I cannot see myself ever reccomending this to anyone, and I just hope one day Jun Maeda ACTUALLY learns from his mistakes.
It was the summer of 2006, the heat rather modest (a rarity in my hometown of Augusta, GA), and I was aiming to make a quick buck. Roused by the success of my parents’ yard sale earlier that day, I convinced my little brother to follow me door-to-door, selling T-shirts and books, my books. I aspired to become an author (even back then) yet lacked the necessities to further my vision. What I did was borrow the books on my shelf, glue my name where the author’s should be, and sold other people’s products as though it were my own. It was an utterly disgusting
act, one I reflect on in shame.
(You’re not gonna believe this but I managed to earn two dollars from my scheme).
For those of us that have viewed Charlotte in its entirety, this anecdote likely sounds very familiar. This is an anime that exists by blatantly pilfering the ideas, the mood, and the essence from other entities; it siphons from its own decency and originality for a profit. Charlotte is, in short, a Jun Maeda work through and through. Of course, it’s possible to be distracted from the rampant plagiarism, thanks to the excess of stunning scenery porn (another feat of visual excellence by P.A. Works). Charlotte is the equivalent of the Anchor Arms from SpongeBob; it projects a self-assured exterior that does absolutely nothing to repair its fragile inner workings. The crux of Charlotte’s glaring imperfections is that it mounted too much pressure on itself and then crumpled under the weight. Charlotte champions itself as a slice-of-life, a time travel epic, a Code Geass knockoff, a tearjerker of a romance, a modern take on the superhero genre, and a mystery simultaneously. However, Charlotte flounders in every facet, especially when it involves mystery.
Every recognizable cast member contains some sort of superpower and this enables the characters to settle each case without a hitch. Cold cases don’t exist in the world of Charlotte; “suspects”, “second-guessing”, and “nabbing the wrong guy” are foreign concepts here as well. In fact, Charlotte’s detective work is completely and utterly devoid of realism. It’s the superpowers that can identify, locate, and apprehend any criminal (It doesn’t require Sherlock Holmes to arrest robbers anymore, not when someone with invisibility can do the job). In the rare occasion that powers aren’t of any use, Charlotte’s cast is still able to solve cases thanks to the miracle of plot convenience (You cannot fathom how effortless the interrogation scenes are). Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the man that popularized the mystery genre, likely rolls in his grave at the existence of Charlotte.
“Elementary” is how I’d describe Charlotte’s approach to detective work, and the same could be said for its characterization. The central cast members are Self-Insert MC, followed by Haruhi Ripoff, Quirky Glasses Guy, Cute Pop Idol, and Jailbait Chef. They (and every other character in Charlotte) are pure, benevolent, and utterly righteous beings that take actions for noble causes. One person seeks to follow their dreams while another aims for a second chance with his crush and all of them – all of them – are concerned with protecting their friends and family. Charlotte’s characters are absolutely not allowed to display any personality flaws; if they do, the show will ensure said character returns to the path of righteousness as soon as possible (This is exactly what I despised about Once Upon A Time). When one character embarks in the lifestyle of a degenerate, it’s an apology and a good meal that causes him to make a turnaround. As you and I both know, our world is filled with sunshine and rainbows and Mary Sues. Charlotte has no time for anything else.
There is no doubt you’ve heard people claim this show is riddled with plot holes, logical fallacies, pacing issues, and unintentional hilarity. All of this is certainly true but one thing needs to be said here: Charlotte is dull; it’s wildly, relentlessly, colossally dull. A homeless man carrying on a conversation with his broken beer bottle contains a higher entertainment value. Both the theme song and ending theme are legitimate sleeping pills while the utter lack of visual creativity never fails to disappoint (especially in comparison to Angel Beats). If that doesn’t lower your expectations, I guarantee that Charlotte’s putrid sense of humor will do the trick. The fanboy monologues from Quirky Glasses Guy, the oh-so-funny catchphrases (“Big turnoff!”), and the nosebleeds are where the eyerolls will commence. Charlotte has a fascination for introducing unbearable gags, i.e. episode 3’s name gag, and lingering over them (a Jun Maeda trademark) like no other. The “witty” asides are guaranteed to fall flat every time; for a show that enjoys dubbing each character’s power as “half-assed”, it’s a fitting description for its sense of humor.
No review of Charlotte (or any Jun Maeda work for that matter) can be complete without mentioning the inability to understand subtlety. You don’t get a moment of silence with Charlotte. It’s nothing but noise with this show, as if muting the inspirational strings and sappy dialogue just once is too much to ask for. Charlotte exterminates the “show; don’t tell” concept with its tiresome monologues and excessive narration; every instance of character development is spelled out for you, as if you can’t observe what’s happening for yourself. Even Angel Beats has more tact that this hunk of garbage.
Ask Charlotte for a finale that’s respectable and it goes for convoluted instead.
Ask Charlotte to be original and it quits before episode 2.
Ask Charlotte to aspire for higher standards and it wallows in its own stupidity.
If there are a few tips I’d give to potential viewers of this travesty, it would be to prepare for disappointment. It would be to not misconstrue a copy-and-paste job for originality. It would be to not be deceived by pretty colors and gorgeous midafternoon skies. It would be to be wary of cop outs and deus ex machinas and an egregious confession of love. Better yet, it would be to take a glance at the legion of negative reviews, alongside the glut of low scores, and stay far, far, far away from Charlotte.