Yu’s first day at his new school finds him in a new class, but with two familiar faces. While he and Jojiro are spending time together at lunch, they discover that they also have an official school council assignment to track down another student with an ability. A search of another school turns up a student with the ability to put images on photographs (although the exact functioning of the ability is not explained), which opens up a discussion about the risks of being an ability-user that isn’t protected by Yu’s new school. The second half of the episode continues to explore this subject as Yu learns about Nao’s past, and about her brother, who ended up as a test subject because of his powers. Yu gets to see first hand what happens to people that suffer this fate, and the slightest of changes can be seen in his demeanor afterward.
This episode was an excellent blend of comedic and dramatic content. The earlier moments of the show (such as Jojiro using his ability to buy lunch and the tracking of the ability-user) are pretty lighthearted and laugh worthy, the shift into Nao’s past is treated with the serious and sober tone it deserves, yet the shift is done without being abrupt or sharp. It is still quite amusing to watch Nao ignore Japanese social customs by eating her lunch on a train full of people, and to then watch her later consume Yu’s lunch. Of course, Key is no amateur at this game, so it should not be surprising that they handle these shifts of tone well.
At this point, there is still a lot of mystery surrounding the premise of Charlotte, but this episode at least begins to unravel some of the mystery by explaining the threats that teenagers with abilities face, and why scientists would want to experiment on them. The revelation about Nao’s brother also serves to warn the characters (and the viewers) of the tragic results that face those who become test subjects. Admittedly, the scene with Nao’s brother post-experiments was not as shocking as it could have been, but it still served its purpose and was still tragic—especially after flashback showed that he at least had goals and dreams for which he was striving. The whole ordeal helps to show that Yu has a heart somewhere in his self-centered persona, as his demeanor towards Nao changes, and even she comments that it is “not like him”. It also serves to show that Yu does truly care for his sister, as he is later shown contemplating the fact that if his sister develops powers then she, too, will be in danger. In other words, the episode does a good job of showing (no matter how slightly) that there are redeemable qualities somewhere within Yu, and perhaps these will be drawn out more in subsequent episodes.
This review has focused a lot on the second half of the show, which isn’t to say that the first half isn’t good or entertaining, but the bulk of the impactful is certainly contained within the second half. Of course, the first half does aid in some character building (Yu’s time with Jojiro for one, and Nao’s aversion to social interaction for a second), and it briefly introduces a new character (a student council member who can pinpoint where a new ability-user will show up). It certainly isn’t bad—nothing about this episode is particularly “bad” in terms of storytelling—it just doesn’t have the impact that the latter portion does. All-in-all, if you enjoy Key’s work, then you should be watching Charlotte, because it is already shaping up to be mysterious, intriguing, and—knowing Key—emotional.
A Christian Perspective:
My first inclination when learning that this episode’s target made money off of his ability was to talk about how the love of money is the root of all evil; however, after learning that he is doing it to help his family, it doesn’t seem like he is motivated simply by a love of money. Still, the act of selling pictures of girls in their underwear is undeniably immoral, so while his goal is admirable, the ends don’t justify the means. I am unable to think of any scriptures off-hand that say something similar, but I do know that Scripture says, “Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise” (Ephesians 5:15). I would think this would certainly apply to how we handle the decisions in our lives. Let’s consider “soul winning”. Sure, we could convert people to Christianity with the sword (convert or die), but what message does that send about the Gospel that we preach? Yes, it gets results, but the methodology would conflict with the message that we preach, thus not accurately representing Christ, resulting in the ends not justifying the means. Instead of taking the first available solution that presents itself, let’s stop, consider whether it is what Christ would do, pray on it, and make sure we are taking the correct actions.
Spiritual Content: None
Language: 1 “h*ll”, 2 “d*mmit”
Alcohol/Drug Use: None
Nudity/Sex/Fanservice: A student has a picture showing a girl’s underwear through her clothes (this image makes several appearances for the following few moments in the show); Nao and her brother are shown naked from the side, but Nao’s chest is covered, so the worst thing shown is a side profile of their butts
Violence: Jojiro uses his ability and causes glass to break and table (with students) to go flying in the air; Jojiro tackles a guy
Blood/Gore: Jojiro has blood on his face and blood squirting from his head
Other: Use of special powers