Tag Archives: Charlotte

Review: Charlotte, Episode 3: Love and Flame

Review:

The student council is yet again tasked with confronting a new ability-user—a girl with the ability to not only channel the dead, but to also use pyrokinesis. A challenge arises, though, when they realize that the target is on the move and being chased by some unknown pursuers. When it turns out that the target is not only a high-profile idol, but one who has uncovered a dark secret about a high-ranking official in her country they realize that they have another issue on their hands. With the help of the target’s dead sister (the only person the target is capable of channeling), the dead sister’s pyrokinesis, and two friends of the dead sister, the student council decides to take on the pursuers.

Charlotte seems to have developed a pattern: it starts off lighthearted and amusing before delving into the more serious subject matter with the end ultimately focusing on an amusing scene between Yu and Ayu. While the episodes have been enjoyable thus far, hopefully this won’t be the pattern of every episode, as it could easily become boring. Again, Key is at the helm in this, so there is plenty of room for confidence that the show will ultimately be done right, but it’s still a pattern that I’ve caught on to. Honestly, my biggest gripe with this episode has nothing to do with the content or the events. It was altogether a very enjoyable episode. The problem is that there were several grammatical errors in the subtitles. Were this a simple fansub I wouldn’t have much room to complain, but I do all of my reviews from Crunchyroll, so seeing the number of errors I did is a bit upsetting, especially given the fact that some people (like myself) actually pay for this service. Of course this is more a complaint about Crunchyroll than the show, but if you consider yourself to be one who gets hung up on grammar issues then be prepared for this one.

The episode itself seems to fly by. While we are treated to another scene of Jojiro nearly killing himself to get lunch, the fun stuff doesn’t last long this time. Once the target’s location is identified it doesn’t take long to determine that she is in danger, and then the chase begins. The tension only builds as more and more tension builds, and while the action scenes here aren’t numerous, they are satisfying. It’s also nice to see the show bring what seemed like a minor detail (the idol Haro-Haro) and use it for a major plot point, going so far as to integrate the character into the main cast by the end.

Watching the different sides of the main cast come out is another high point of this episode, although their different sides may not all be commendable (Nao’s seemingly devious, violent nature that comes out is not particularly endearing). On the other hand, watching Yu actually put himself into painful situations continues to reveal his ongoing transformation of character (even if he does complain about the pain when it happens). Jojiro seems to be the only character whose personality is fairly static, and whether that will change or not is to be seen, but either way it is clear that the student council is learning to work well together. Perhaps it would have been more believable to see them struggle to coordinate their plans at first (seeing as they are new teammates), but the intended length of the show may not allow for that.

While nothing significant, this episode does also bring a small case of “the feels” between Yusa’s dead sister and one of her friends. It may not move viewers to tears, but it is still sad to watch, and is probably small down payment from our friends at Key for whatever they have in store for us later on. Wherever this is going, we can confidently say that the main cast is finally assembled (just look at the intro credits), so the real plot of the show is likely to get underway in the next episode. Where will all of this lead, and what will happen to our heroes? Well, I don’t know, but that’s why we have to come back next week!

A Christian Perspective:

Ephesians 5:15-16 Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil.

I initially thought about talking about how Christians have hope of seeing those who have died in Christ again one day, but I remember applying that to another episode not so very long ago, and while I’m sure I’ve drawn similar lessons between shows/episodes before, that particular one seemed to be a little more unique, so I decided to take a different approach to this episode.

After everything is said and done, one of Misa’s male friends basically admits that he had feelings for her, and he expresses his various regrets for what he wasn’t able to do while she was alive. Misa seems to put him at peace with her response, but the reality of the situation is that this isn’t how real life works. If someone dies and we have regrets about that relationship, there is little we can do beyond learning to cope with those feelings and (eventually) to let them go. The best recourse is to simply make the most of our time, as Paul instructs us in Ephesians 5. Now, granted, in context I doubt that Paul’s primary purpose was to tell people to make the most of the time they have with friends and family, but as Christians we believe that Scripture is applicable to all areas of life, so if we are to make the most of our time in one area, then it stands to reason that we should make the most of our time in all areas. With that said, let’s do just that whenever we spend time with our friends and family, and let’s especially pray for the wisdom and courage to tell those who do not know Jesus about Him, so that we don’t live with the regret of knowing that our loved ones died without knowing Him as Lord and Savior.

Content Guide:

Spiritual Content: Yusa is able to be possessed by a dead person and can use pyrokinesis

Language: 1 “d*mmit”, 4 “b*stard”, 6 “h*ll”, 1 “g**z”, 1 “cr*p”

Alcohol/Drug Use: A woman is shown smoking

Nudity/Sex/Fanservice: A woman is shown wearing a dress that reveals some cleavage;

Violence: Nao is punched in the face; Jojiro slams into a suspect; Nao kicks Jojiro twice; Misa kicks a guy; Misa sets things on fire; Jojiro hits his head against a wall; Misa’s friends knock two guys out by putting them in choke holds; Yusa sets two guys on fire; Yu makes a man stab himself, Jojiro tackles another man, and Nao beats up a third

Blood/Gore: Jojiro has blood on his face; Jojiro’s slam causes blood to come from his victim’s mouth, and the man is later shown with blood on his chin; blood begins to squirt from Jojiro’s head; Ayu gets a nosebleed, and then rockets the bloody tissues out of her nose

Other: As usual, special powers are used

Review: Charlotte, Episode 2: Melody of Despair

Review:

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.

Content Guide:

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

Review: Charlotte, Episode 1: I Think About Others

Review:

Yu Otosaka is a boy with a secret: for five seconds, he can possess another person and take full control of their body. Rather than find some noble use for this power, Yu decides to utilize it to have an easy high school life by possessing the smartest kids in his class during exams, copying their answers, and then submitting his own exam. This allows him to enter a prestigious high school as (seemingly) the smartest kid in school. Coupled with his good looks, Yu has no shortage of female attention, but he is only interested in the top girl, and he manages to gain her attention by the abuse of his powers. Just when things appear to be progressing according to plan, Yu is called into the student council room, where he is challenged to retake an aptitude test under suspicion that his first attempt was the result of cheating. The situation quickly falls apart as a strange girl shows up right after Yu attempts to cheat with his powers, and before long he finds himself being relocated to a new school, along with his younger sister who will attend the accompanying middle school. What kind of high school life awaits Yu in a school sepcifically designed for children with powers?

At first glance, Charlotte is a difficult anime for a Christian viewer to feel comfortable with. A guy who can not only possess people, but who uses that power for selfish means, including perversion, revenge, and illegitimate gain? He certainly doesn’t sound like a character that a Christian viewer could root for. As a matter of fact, fans of Code Geass may see some similarities between Yu and Lelouch, though granted Yu’s ambitions are far less ambitious and his powers considerably less impressive. Still, Christian viewers may be tempted to quickly write the show off once they get a glimpse as to Yu’s character, but I urge you to stick with it, as the episode throws a wrench into Yu’s plans, which leaves the plot of the series wide open.

As an introductory episode, this does decent job of introducing the viewer to the world. By the end of the episode we have been introduced to several seemingly major characters (including the stereotypical annoying little sister) and to the general premise of the story, although what the ultimate plot/conflict/etc. Will be is yet to be seen. Still, we can probably guess that this will be something of a redemption story given the fact that Yu has abused his powers and is now being sent to a school for children with powers. The fact that it is from the minds of Key (Kanon, Angel Beats, Clannad, Little Busters) means it is almost guaranteed to be a festival of feels, and that viewers should not get so easily attached to the current lighthearted tone. Then again, Key’s penchant for emotional series is well-known by now, so wouldn’t it be a shocker to have them produce a purely comedic series when we’re all expecting something sad and dramatic? I guess we will just have to wait and see where this goes, after all!

A Christian Perspective:

Luke 8:17 – For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open.

The concept of this verse is displayed very well in this episode. For as long as Yu has possessed his powers (no pun intended), he has abused them and used them for his own selfish gain (even going so far as to put a girl’s life on the line so that he could “save” her) without any thought as to how they might affect the people around him. What’s worse, he was certain that he would never be caught, so his shock at his grades being challenged (and the subsequent accusation from a third party that he was possessing people) is understandable. The fact is, when we do “wrong” or “bad” things, they have a way of coming out, whether a few hours, days, or even years later. Whether we confess because we are consumed by guilt, are exposed because our lies fall apart, or have out secrets drug out by any other means, chances are that someway, somehow others will find out.

The other thing to remember is that, even if we do somehow manage to get away with a scheme for our entire lives, God knows what we have done, and if we do not repent of our actions then we will pay for them. I don’t know if my interpretation is really correct or not, but I used to imagine this verse as referring to the end times, where all of the things we did in secret would be on display for all to see. Again, not sure if that is an accurate interpretation of the Scripture, but it is a thought I’ve previously had. Either way, God knows what we have done, and He is the ultimate Judge who cannot be fooled, so instead of trying to conceal bad things, let us “Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord.” (Ephesians 5: 8b-10)

Content Guide:

Spiritual Content: The fact that teenagers have special powers, although the source of said powers is not stated

Language: 1 “p*ssed”, 1 “b*stard”, 1 “d*mmit*, 2 “h*ll”, 1 “d*mn”

Alcohol/Drug Use: None

Nudity/Sex/Fanservice: Yu possesses a girl and looks down her shirt while in her body (you can see part of her bra and cleavage); a boy is looking at an image of a woman with her shirt unbuttoned, which shows the sides of her breasts

Violence: Two boys engage in a fist fight; a boy kicks another boy in the face; Yu bumps into another student; lots of things explode; a girl beats up Yu

Blood/Gore: A bit of blood seems to come from Yu’s mouth as he is beat up

Other: Yu can take control of other peoples’ bodies for several seconds; another character can teleport; still another can hide herself from one target