Review: Charlotte, Episode 8: Encounter

Review:

Yu finally returns to his normal life after an undisclosed amount of time, and it doesn’t take long for things to get back to normal. The energetic greeting he receives from Yusa earns him the ire of every male in class, Jojiro injures himself to get lunch, and Nao is… Nao. At first the episode doesn’t seem to have much direction (and the purpose of the Yusarin music video still doesn’t make sense, other than as a ploy to eat up time), but that begins to change once Nao puts out an invitation for someone to attend a ZHIEND concert with her. Surprisingly, Yu doesn’t jump at the offer despite his earlier appreciation for the band, although the loss of his sister could certainly have something to do with that. Nevertheless, he is ultimately the one who gets roped into attending. While it may not seem like it at first, this is actually where the bulk of the episode begins to kick in.

On his way home, Yu encounters a stranger who he quickly recognizes as Sala, the vocalist for ZHIEND. This ultimately results in Yu shuttling Sala around to various places, including restaurants, his apartment, and another place that won’t be specified in this review. During their time together, Yu finds out a bit of Sala’s past, and Sala comments on several facets of Yu’s character that she has picked up from being around him and hearing him speak. This is the first actual confirmation we get of Yu’s changed character, and while we can certainly see some of that for ourselves, it’s not particularly good that the show seemed to have to spell it out for us. Much of what is said comes as no surprise, particularly when the subject of Nao being the catalyst for Yu’s change comes up. Throughout the series, we’ve always seen Yu experience new changes because of Nao. These moments (and, indeed, his episode) would have his harder had Yu remained an unlikable character for a bit longer, though. The entire first episode presented him as such, but it really felt like that persona was dropped once that episode concluded. Yu may have been apathetic past that point, but he pretty much stopped being a narcissistic jerk early on. While this doesn’t negate the fact that he has now changed and begun to think of others at least along with—if not ahead of—himself, it does diminish some of the impact that these changes could have had otherwise. Imagine if we had hated Yu up until the previous episode, only to see him completely fall apart and then come back restored as a new person. That would have been powerful.

With all that criticism aside, this was still a good episode. Reflecting on what the show could have been is only to point out that it could have been better and not to say that the episode was bad at all. It is still refreshing to see Yu’s “redemption” of sorts as he considers Nao and her brother while spending time with Sala. Arguably, the only other person he ever thought of previously was Ayu. It is also telling that he recognizes the role Nao has played in his life. While it’s hard—nay, almost impossible—to say that everything that happened in the early episodes was meant to lead to Ayu’s death and the current turn of events, it can certainly be said that Ayu’s death and Yu’s subsequent depression where the necessary catalysts for him to change. Of course, without Nao he never would have recovered, and this episode does a nice job of tying up this particular transformation.

While many of Charlotte’s episodes have garnered a lukewarm reception from this reviewer, these last two episodes have definitely begun to redeem the series. Where the show will go next has always been the question, and the ending of this episode certainly leaves the viewer with at least one question—namely, is there some connection between Yu and Sala? Hopefully the quality will continue and we will see something truly worthwhile come out of Charlotte in the end.

A Christian Perspective:

Ephesians 2:8-9 – For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.

While there is something to be said for the fact that Yu wanted to do something nice for Nao, the point I’m about to make is what struck me first in this episode. While on the bus, Sala is discussing her blindness with Yu, and she makes comments about her blindness being “repentance” and “atonement” for her sins. The problem is that this mentality suggests that we can perform works to make up for our sins, which is completely false—just see the above verse. Only faith saves. Of course, repentance is part of the salvation process, but repentance is the turning away from our sins and trusting in Christ, not some work we do to make payment for our sins.

That’s not to say that there aren’t consequences for our actions. We’ve all heard that you “reap what you sow”. Someone who lived a sexually promiscuous lifestyle may end up with an STD, but that is the result of their lifestyle, and the contraction of that STD is not some kind of atonement for their behavior. As of now, we do not know what caused Sala’s blindness, but it is fully possible that it is the result of some decision or action of her own.

Content Guide:

Spiritual Content: Sala incense for Ayu; Sala refers to her blindness as “repentance” and “atonement” for her sins; Sala mentions bartering her eyes to God

Language: 1 “sh*t”, 1 “h*ll”, 1 “J*sus”, 2 “Oh my G*d”, 1 “d*mmit”

Alcohol/Drug Use: Sala drinks beer

Nudity/Sex/Fanservice: None

Violence: Nao kicks Jojiro

Blood/Gore: Jojiro bleeds from his head

Other: Yusa does one of her “magic spells”; use of special abilities

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