Back in 2010, Maeda Jun decided to create an original production by partnering up with PA Works titled Angel Beats. This show focused on a group of students in an after life fighting against god. While it was an interesting premise, it never reached full expectations because there were so many flaws that held the show back. Some viewers were disappointed that they declare it one of the worst shows PA Works made, until Glasslip (which is the worst show from PA Works thus far) came along.
Five years later, he decided to do another project again with PA Works and Aniplex called Charlotte. While I will not share my thoughts on whether or not Jun learned his lesson since I covered it in a separate opinion piece, I will share my overall thoughts about the show.
The plot of Charlotte focuses on a boy named Otosaka Yuu. One day, he discovered that he can control people for a few seconds. Like any teenager, he abused the ability to get into a good school and even get a school idol to become his girlfriend. Sadly, his new life was exposed by a mysterious girl named Tomori Nao, who has been secretly recording all his cheating tendencies on camera.
After he was caught, she arranged him and his little sister Ayumi to transfer to Hoshinomi Academy, a school designed for people who have supernatural powers. Of course, this meant that he had to break up with his girlfriend. After that, he worked with Nao, Joujiro and eventually Yusa to look for people who are abusing supernatural powers while finding clues about the fate of ability wielders.
As mentioned in the editorial, I felt that the story in Charlotte was better in some areas compared to Angel Beats. Although there were some things that were left unanswered, I think Jun did a better job sticking to the overall premise compared to Angel Beats regarding the issues surrounding ability users becoming test subjects in the name of science and how Shunsuke tries to change past in order to put the end to human experimentation. Charlotte can be summed up as the complete opposite of X-Men in that people with supernatural abilities are viewed as being detrimental to society instead of something that can be used to do good such as saving people from villains or something.
Even so, I felt that the plot was a mixed bag. Besides the first three episodes, the fourth and fifth episodes felt like superpower of the week before things got interesting in the second half. I have to admit that the seventh episode was the most interesting as Yuu goes into a down spiral and almost becomes a delinquent after losing his little sister before Nao intervenes and snap him out of it.
While the subsequent episodes were very good, I felt that Jun did not learn his lesson when the eleventh aired when he throws a nasty curveball. This episode was horribly executed as Yuu becomes incompetent with Kumagami held captive (and eventually dies in the end) along with Nao by a mafia. During the confrontation, Yuu loses his ability to time leap ability due to his right eye being slashed. Not only the developments in this episode came out of the blue, it reminded me of the sudden climax in Angel Beats that happened in a very similar matter before the story headed to its conclusion. Although the last episode was enjoyable and completely random with Yuu going on a mission to steal all the powers while going mad due to all the powers he accumulated and losing his memories with Nao, it could never wash away the bad taste from that episode.
With that, this makes me wonder if Maeda Jun’s was overly ambitious with this project given that he only had thirteen episodes to work with. If he had more episodes, then episode eleven would not be as bad since he would have more time to develop the climax.
As for the characters, while Yuu is a somewhat enjoyable protagonist since he is very narcissist although he gradually changes for the better thanks to Nao, I have to say that Nao is the best character in this show. Sure, Ayumi and Yusa is adorable, but Nao is the most interesting given her dark past and her cold personality while being very capable. This enables her to keep Yuu in check and eventually warm up to him as she eventually stops his down spiral before he reached the point of no return after his little sister died in one of the timelines. Eventually, she made a promise to return before he embarks on his mission to collect all the powers from everyone to prevent a breakout. Aside from her and a few others, it is such a shame that some of the characters did not get much development, especially Joujirou. His past was never revealed compared to Yuu, Nao, Yusa and Shunsuke who have some character development. In short, he was just there for comic relief.
Overall, while Charlotte is better in some areas, it repeated some of the same mistakes from Angel Beats. Sure, Charlotte will probably be one of the most controversial shows of 2015, it was still interesting despite being flawed. Would Charlotte be better if it had 24 episodes or made into a visual novel instead? Perhaps considering how ambitious the story was to the point that Jun could not realize everything that he wanted to incorporate into this show. Despite that, it was a mixed bag for me, making Charlotte borderline above average in terms of enjoyment and quality.
Overall Rating: 8.0/10, B-, Good