REVIEW DISCLAIMER: THIS REVIEW MAY CONTAIN MAJOR SPOILERS FOR CHARLOTTE, SERIOUSLY DON’T READ THIS IF YOU HAVEN’T WATCHED THE SHOW. IF YOU WANT AN INTRODUCTION WITH MINOR SPOILERS READ THE MID SEASON REVIEW HERE.
Charlotte is centered on Yu Otosaka and his interactions with other ability users. These abilities came from a short period comet called Charlotte, which passes nearby the Earth every 75 years. At first he believes himself the only one to have these types of powers but after a meeting with Hoshinoumi Academy Student Council, Nao Tomori, he finds out that there are many others just like him. He then learns that these powers only last through his adolescence so he has to be careful. Thanks to Nao’s “persuasion” he ends up transferring schools and is forced to join the Student Council. Along with fellow Student Council members Joujiro Takajou and Yusa Nishimori (who joins early in the series after Yu) they must locate other ability users and stop them from using their powers by any means. It is revealed early on that there is a Syndicate that targets ability users, captures them, and performs experiments on them. Yu learns that Nao’s older brother was a victim of these experiments. So more people don’t end up like him, Nao and the council work to locate other ability users and make sure they don’t use their powers anymore, so that they won’t get targeted like Nao and her brother were. The first half went on following the exploits of the Student Council.
This is how Yu’s everyday life went until tragedy struck. The Council found out that Ayumi, Yu’s little sister, had developed an ability called collapse. Before they could reach her, her power activated and she was crushed underneath the school building she destroyed. These events send Yu spiral into depression until Nao saves him and helps put his life on track, this is when Yu develops feelings for Nao which is very important. Sometime after this is when the plot starts to go crazy. Yu learns he has an older brother, Shun, who has the ability to time leap. It turns out Shun used the ability so much he went blind and in the process created an Organization to safeguard ability users and even bought Hoshinoumi Academy. Yu also learns that he has the ability called Plunder, meaning he can steal any ability users’ power. He takes Shun’s power and is able to save Ayumi, at the expense of the relationship he started to develop with Nao. After saving Ayumi it turns out Yu can’t leave the hideout due to the nature of his power as other foreign organizations may come after him for his power. Well basically one thing leads to another and Shun’s best friend, Kumagami, ends up dead and Yu loses the ability to use time leap.
Yeah, the drama intensifies greatly in the second half of this series, and the main concern now is how to prevent new ability users from popping up. Well Shun’s organization was able to make a vaccine to prevent new users and Nao gave Yu a crazy idea to try and plunder every ability user in the world, and yeah he actually agreed to do it. Nao also said she’d be his lover if he succeeded so that’s one huge motivation. As Yu goes on this mission he struggles with keeping his sanity and the only thing keeping him sane and that helped him to continue on was his promise with Nao, see I told you his feelings for Nao would be important. Yu ends up completing his mission but ends up forgetting Nao due to the strain absorbing all those abilities put on his mind and body. Despite this, the series ends on a happy note as Nao becomes Yu’s lover and they decide to go and live their lives filled with fun, along with Yusa and Jouji.
What Charlotte does really well is showcasing the consequences and downsides of being an ability user. We all know that if you draw too much attention to yourself you can get kidnapped by the Syndicate but that’s not the only thing that can happen. The very usage of these abilities can end up physically harming the user as shown with Jouji’s power. He moves at insanely fast speeds and before he got used to the power he was constantly in the hospital, he still ends up there sometimes. The way the series portrayed it was very hilarious but that’s a really serious issue. There’s also the lasting effect it leaves on the people the ability is used on. If you use your ability to physically harm someone, chances are they won’t forget as shown when Nao got physically abused by her other female classmates. Just because you have a special ability doesn’t mean you can get away with using it constantly. Shun went blind from using his time leap constantly. What I felt the studio really well was place limiters on these abilities, so that those that had them really had to think before using their ability.
The story of Charlotte is well written but unfortunately suffers from a slow paced start. The first 5 episodes were fun and had some dramatic moments but these episodes left me wondering if there was any real conflict in the show at all. Sure there was the looming threat of the Syndicate coming in to capture ability users but nothing else. Episodes 6-13 were great though. They clearly upped the drama in the series starting with Ayumi’s death and that is when they left the viewers wanting a lot more. They threw in a lot of twists and turns and it made it hard to guess what would happen next. Plus these episodes really showcased how much Yu grew as a human being, especially in the last episode. The only problem I had with that half of the series was the fact that Yusa and Jouji were sort of sidelined as main characters. I enjoyed their interactions with Yu and Nao very much and would’ve liked to see more of them, but knowing the plot of the second half it would’ve been quite hard to fit them into the picture. So in all Episodes 1-5 were great but really didn’t have that much plot going for it, I mean it’s there but not enough to be noticeable. Episodes 6-13 were when the writers really stepped up their game and created a plot that not only pulled you in, but kept a tight grasp over you until the series ended. The series would have definitely benefitted if it had a few extra episodes, especially to tell the whole story of Yu’s mission from episode 13, but one can only dream. What really helped keep the whole story of Charlotte together was Yu Otosaka and the great cast of characters.
Yu is a great main character. He develops so much over the course of the series and this maturation is what led to the great ending Charlotte had. In the beginning I really didn’t like Yu, he was a narcissist, cheated constantly, and seemed to only look out for him. But when he transferred and met Nao and the others he slowly started to change as a person. The change was gradual but noticeable. He started caring about how others feel and worried about the wellbeing of others, most notably Nao. This most notably noticed when he was able to miraculously cure Nao’s brother with the help of Zhiend’s vocalist. Yu didn’t have to bring the Zhiend vocalist to Nao’s brother but he did it anyway, because he wanted to help Nao. There are many instances in which Yu was shown to have grown as a person but perhaps the one that stood out to me the most was in the last episode. Yu gained the ability to heal, if he used that ability he could heal his right eye and use time leap again. Yu decided against it, he didn’t go on the mission just so he could use that ability again, he was going to see his promise to Nao through to the end. He could’ve easily took the easy way out and used time leap to find a better solution but he chose not to, that shows he has strong convictions and has grown enough to follow through with them. He could’ve quit any time he wanted to in the last episode but chose not to, because he had a promise to Nao and was going to keep it. I also enjoyed the fact that even though Yu had absorbed all these powers, he never strayed from his mission, and didn’t become an enemy of humanity. Which leads to my next point about Charlotte, and that is the importance of Yu and Nao’s relationship.
Charlotte wouldn’t be the series it is without Yu and Nao, it wouldn’t have ended the way it did without the two of them. The romance aspect of the show wasn’t really prevalent, clearly it was an unrequited love on the part of Yu and it only happened after Nao saved him from the depression of losing Ayumi. But the act of saving Yu not only saved but also saved the ending of the show. Because of her act, Yu fell in love with her and this feeling he had for her motivated him to keep completing his mission of plundering all the abilities in the world. Yu most likely would have lost his sanity if it weren’t for Nao and the flash cards she made for himself. He was able to make it safely back home to Nao, and it was mostly because of his feelings toward Nao and their promise. So yeah, Yu and Nao are excellent characters and were pivotal to the story of Charlotte.
Even though I mostly spoke about Yu and Nao the other characters are incredible too and you should watch this series just for the great cast of characters if anything.
Now let’s talk about some more general aspects of the show, such as the animation and music. What can I say, the music is fantastic. Every track fits the mood of a scene perfectly and helps to project the mood, whether it be depressing or happy, greatly. The animation is great as well, I didn’t notice any huge flaws and all the scenes flowed very well. Especially the opening animation, if you like to skip the opening of anime, you should definitely not skip this one, the animation is very pleasing to the eye and makes you want to watch it over and over again.
Charlotte is an excellent series with great animation, amazing music, and a story that is able to keep hold of you and never let’s go until the end. There were some flaws with the story in the beginning but they were pretty minor and not enough for one to dislike the series. Is it a tearjerker like Jun Maeda’s previous works? For me, no it wasn’t. It definitely had its heartbreaking moments but not enough for me to really turn on the waterworks. But that doesn’t mean the show wasn’t good. I absolutely recommend this anime for those who are a fan of Jun Maeda’s works or those who are fans of dramatic anime in general. The show will not disappoint you and I guarantee you’ll love it.