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.