Tag Archives: Summer 2015

Review: Charlotte, Episode 9: The World is Not in Here

Review:

In a completely odd turn of events, Yu spends time agonizing over his outfit for the Zhiend concert. Once he finally decides, he meets up with Nao and heads to the show early so that Nao can get a particular piece of merchandise. Through this series of events, we see sides of both characters that we have not seen before. While it appears to just be a fun day out, that illusion is crushed when Zhiend plays a new song that isn’t new to Yu. Without spoiling the major plot twist in this episode, let’s just say that Yu’s eyes are opened to a truth he could never have imagined.

The past several episodes have certainly been an upswing for Charlotte, and this entry is no different. For the first time in the series, something resembling an overarching plot is presented. While shows don’t necessarily need a central plot to be successful (see: character driven shows), the early part of Charlotte was spent wondering what the point of the show was. Now we have an answer. While Yu’s collapse and subsequent transformation were certainly good plot points, the events in this episode take everything a step further and provide a greater sense of depth to the entire mythos of Charlotte.

Only one criticism can really be given about the turn of events taken this time around: there was no foreshadowing that lead up to these events. Granted, the previous episode did provide some sense of mystery by suggesting that Yu had some previous connection to Zhiend, which is further explored and explained in this episode. How the events of this episode will continue into the remainder of the show is yet to be seen, but Charlotte’s potential for leaving a lasting impact has certainly been increasing.

A Christian Perspective:

Honestly, coming up with something for this episode was really difficult. The best I have to offer is that this episode reveals something deeper and bigger behind the world of Charlotte. While up until this point, we (and the characters) have only known the reality shown to us, it turns out that there was so much more that lead up to the current state of things. In the same way, we live in a world where there is more than what we can see with our eyes. As you can probably figure out, I’m talking about the existence of God and the fact that there is an eternity beyond the physical life that we know. Even more in line with the point of this episode is the fact that there was a lot more behind the creation of the world we know than what we experience. While we can certainly find scientific explanations to help us understand certain things, there are things that we simply cannot understand and answers that we cannot find on our own.

Content Guide:

Language: 5 “d*mmit”, 1 “h*ll”

Alcohol/Drug Use: None

Nudity/Sex/Fanservice: None

Violence: Yu is tazed

Blood/Gore: A scientist is shown with blood on his face and coat

Other: Use of special powers

Review: Classroom Crisis, Episode 7: Hanako Hattori’s Longest Day

Review:

While the majority of A-TEC continues to plug away at ideas for developing their new engine on a limited budget, Angelina and Iris attend a conference on another planet. Everything appears to go smoothly until the two women miss their flight and end up on a private spaceship ferrying a special guest of the Kirishina Corporation. While this at first seems to be a blessing, they quickly find themselves embroiled in a kidnapping attempt that may not be a random act of terrorism. Though the situation aboard the ship is easily taken care of, it comes down to A-TEC to lead their comrades back home.

This episode was, first and foremost, a good effort at building some camaraderie between Angelina and Iris. While the two could hardly be called “friends” by episode’s end, there certainly appears to be a nicer relationship between them at the conclusion. This installment also continues the subtle search into Iris’ past, as a certain event seems to trigger some traumatic memories for her. These memories are obscure and leave little explanation as to what they are, but it appears that something tragic may have happened. Additionally, Angelina offers some commentary that also lends to revealing details of Iris’ past. Less prevalent—but still noteworthy—is the ultimate confirmation that Angelina is much more than a simple accounting worker.

Elsewhere, Nagisa appears to continue his (admittedly subtle) character change. While he still appears to be the hard-nosed chief of A-TEC, his concern for his team (or at least Angelina) comes out when he offers to cover for some illegal activity that the class plans to employ in the rescue of Angelina and Iris. This also comes on the heels of Youji commanding him to basically not get involved in the situation at all. While Nagisa and Youji’s relationship certainly isn’t a positive one, it still says something that Nagisa was willing to defy his higher-up, given his position and goals within the company. The interaction between the two brothers also furthers the theory that Youji is behind a lot of what is going on with A-TEC’s closure and the hijacking.

While it’s hard to tell in which direction this show is moving, at least it is finally moving. A slow starter, it is gradually becoming more interesting as character motives and back-stories are explored and brought to light. Hopefully things will continue in this direction and ultimately leave us with a story worth remembering.

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.

For us viewers, it seems fairly obvious that Yuji has been a less than savory character. We’ve pretty much figured out that he has a hand in the bad things that have happened or are happening in the show. That is our privilege as the viewers. As for the characters, they are not in on the secret; however, Nagisa is beginning to figure it out, although we know that he at least suspected something all along (and he may already had knowledge about Yuji’s plans). Either way, Nagisa certainly seems to figure out Yuji’s connection to this episode’s abduction, and though Nagisa does not ultimately expose Yuji, it still goes to serve as an example of this perspective’s verse: though Yuji thinks he is operating in the shadow, his schemes are actually known to at least one person, and if one person can find him out, so can others.

Content Guide:

Language: 1 “cr*p”

Alcohol/Drug Use: Angelina drinks wine

Nudity/Sex/Fanservice: A flashback shows Iris in a bikini top

Violence: There is a fight aboard a spaceship—men are hit, kicked, hit in the face with a knee, and hit on the head with a lamp; a character is shot

Blood/Gore: A character bleeds from her gunshot wound; a flashback shows blood

Review: Classroom Crisis, Episode 6: Family of Shame

Review:

Note: from now on, chief Kiryu (previously referred to as Kiryu) will be referred to as Nagisa, and his brother (previously referred to as Kiryu’s brother) will be referred to as Yuji. This should make things a little easier.

After turning down a proposal from Kaito and A-TEC for more funds (and providing some advice to the group), Nagisa finds himself on the receiving end of his same advice when he receives a failing grade and has to take make up exams. Determined to pass, Nagisa decides to remain in the classroom and study, even after the rest of his classmates—and his teacher—have departed. He is eventually joined by Mizuki, who had decided to bring him food and help him study. During their study session, Nagisa begins to reveal details about his dark past. Elsewhere, Kaito is drinking with Sasayama, and seems to be learning of these same details, as cutaway scenes at pivotal moments during Nagisa’s explanations would suggest. The siblings Sera seem to respond to this information in two different ways: while both are appalled by the information, Mizuki resolves to continue helping Nagisa while Kaito determines that Nagisa is still his enemy. During this time, the rest of the class rallies together to put Nagisa’s previous advice to use, and a post-credits scene presents a disturbing image and new questions.

At the end of the day, this episode is more of an info-dump than anything else. While the story of the episode leads up to this point, it basically becomes a series of flashbacks and reactions as Nagisa tells his story. In these cases, the success of the episode is dependent upon the amount of interest the writers have garnered from previous episodes. Thankfully, there have been more questions than answers up until this point, and Nagisa’s story sheds light on some of those questions while providing speculation for others. For example, we now know why Nagisa and Yuji seem to be in a sort of competition with each other even though they’re brothers, and we also know (or at least have a very good idea as to) why there is a push to shut down A-TEC. Although points could be deducted for the show ultimate telling us this information instead of showing it to us (and “show, don’t tell” seems to be a big rule in storytelling), it is handled well in this case and manages to keep the viewer’s attention from start to finish. This may be due to the fact that we don’t just see and hear the events that unfolded—we also see the reactions of other characters to these details, characters who have little reason to be sympathetic to Nagisa and yet find themselves appalled at what he had to suffer.

This was also a good opportunity to deepen the relationship between Mizuki and Nagisa. The idea of them becoming romantically involved can certainly be gleaned from past interactions, and this episode further adds fuel to that speculation train. Mizuki certainly goes out of her way to help Nagisa this time around, just as she’s gone out of her way to engage him in previous episodes, and the fact that he opens up to her suggests that their relationship may have deepened a bit. Additionally, the question of Nagisa’s relationship to Iris is also raised this time around, although not very much within the episode proper. The post-credits scene, on the other hand, is another story, so make sure you stick around for it. If you think the episode ends on a positive note, then you need to go back and wait out the credits.

Classroom Crisis has finally set itself into motion. While there were certainly some plot elements in place before—corporate bosses wanting to shut down a prestigious program, and the members of that program vying to stay in business—the questions of “why should we care” and “why is this happening” largely remained unanswered. The question of caring has gradually been taken care of as we have gotten to know this characters a bit better (and, presumably, we will continue to care more as the series progresses). The question of why at least starts to get answered in this episode, although it seems like it may go much deeper than our present hypotheses may go, especially after that post-credit scene. If you needed a reason to keep coming back to the show, this episode does a perfect job of providing you with one.

A Christian Perspective:

Matthew 5:44 – But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,

There is no denying that Nagisa has made himself an enemy to the A-TEC class, seeing as he is the one who has been tasked with shutting them down. That does not stop Mitsuki from reaching out to him and helping him with his coursework, though. While it is not clear what—if any—repercussions he may face for failing classes, it is probably safe to assume that something would happen, or else why would he even care about his grades? If nothing else, it does seem that it may have kept him from an important meeting. Instead of letting Nagisa hang for everything he has done, Mitsuki instead steps him, offering him her assistance and some food, which then opens the door for Nagisa to open up to her about his painful past. Eventually, Mitsuki manages to get the entire class in on Nagisa’s tutoring, allowing him to pass his exams, even if it is barely passing.

The point is, Mitsuki and the class had every reason to justify (in their minds) letting Nagisa fail, but they still rose up and helped him. Let us model their compassion as we strive to live out Jesus’ words in Matthew 5:44.

Content Guide:

Language: 2 “d*mmit”, 2 “j**z”, 1 “b*stard”, 1 “cr*p”

Alcohol/Drug Use: Kaito and Sasayama drink together

Nudity/Sex/Fanservice: A flashback shows Nagisa’s bare back

Violence: A flashback shows a young Nagisa getting beaten up by his brother

Blood/Gore: A scene shows a man with blood on his back lying in a pool of blood

Review: Classroom Crisis, Episode 5: The Shame of the Journey Overrides

Review:

After Kiryu’s plan to interfere with Kaito’s plans backfires, he finds himself in yet another confrontation with his brother. What’s worse is that he has another deal that is looming over his head, and that needs to be sealed by the end of the following day in order for it to go through. In the midst of all this, A-TEC has their class trip to the beach, which Kiryu is inevitably drug along for. Several mishaps befall him as he tries to complete his work while the others have fun around him, and in the end he must rely on one of his fellow classmates to help him accomplish the task at hand. Relationships are strengthened, new mysteries are created, and typical “beach episode” antics ensue.

On the one hand, this episode is kind of a killjoy in the sense that it almost completely halts the forward progression that the story had been taking in the previous episode. While the tension between Kaito and Kiryu was continuing to build in their game of back-and-forth, that all pretty much gets halted in this episode to focus on beach antics and Kiryu’s need to finish his deal. On the other hand, the episode certainly offers some quality moments, especially in terms of the growth between Kiryu and Mizuki and Kiryu and Iris. Whether or not a romantic relationship between Kiryu and Mizuki is the end goal cannot be said, although it certainly seems possible based on some of their interactions in this episode. There is also a scene that continues to build the mystery that seems to surround Angelina—namely, who she is, exactly. While we already know her true name (and that in no particularly special fashion), we still don’t know her true purpose, and the fact that she seemed to be pulling a kunai from her pocket in this episode—on top of the idea of her being a ninja getting jokingly declined—raises some suspicions as to whether she really is just an employee from accounting.

Unfortunately, the episode is bogged down by a bit of fanservice. While it is common fare to have a group of perverts who try to peep on the girls in the bath, it doesn’t mean the viewer needs to ultimately see what they were trying to peep on. It is certainly humorous to watch the would-be voyeurs get blown up, but we are then given a scene of several female students in the bath. While the level of nudity is not as terrible as it could be, it is certainly enough to make viewers who are sensitive to this content uncomfortable. There is another bath scene near the end of the episode, and while this one at least serves some purpose (Mizuki gets a look at Kiryu’s scars), there were certainly other ways to go about it than the baring of flesh on the screen.

If you are able to get past the unsavory content, then the episode is at least a decent entry, even if it doesn’t really progress the main plot. There are some truly humorous moments, and the character bonds that are formed will likely play a role in future developments. If nothing else, seeing more of the characters does help to become more interested in them, which may make the events of the story have more of an impact further down the line.

A Christian Perspective:

Exodus 34:21 – Six days you shall work, but on the seventh day you shall rest. In plowing time and in harvest you shall rest.

Let me start off by saying that I am not here to start a debate about the Sabbath and whether or not Christians are to observe it, etc etc. Chances are, you already have your stance on the issue, and if you don’t, well there are men far better versed than I who you could consult on the issue. Regardless of whether you believe in a strict Sabbath observance or not, I think the Bible does make it pretty clear that it is important to take time to rest. The verse quoted here specifies that even in times of plowing and harvest, rest should be had. So how does this apply to this episode? Well, let’s just look at Kiryu: the class is, essentially, on vacation, and yet his focus is solely on the deal he is trying to solidify, causing him to miss out on any sense of relaxation or enjoyment that may be had. Now, you may argue that he didn’t have that luxury, because the deal was a timed thing that had to be done that day. That may very well be a valid point, but this points to a larger aspect of Kiryu’s character, namely that we never see (or hear) about him taking any breaks. He always seems to be working. Inevitably, if we keep working non-stop, we will burn ourselves out. We could also miss out on other opportunities because our minds are so focused on work.

A devotional I once read stated that by being intentional about setting aside a day to rest, we could be focused on getting done everything we needed to prior to that day (my paraphrase). If Kiryu had done this—if he had found a way to seal the deal the day prior—then he could have enjoyed the trip, but based on his character, it didn’t even seem to be something that interested him, so he lost out on any chance to relax, and suffered quite a bit of stress in the process. Sabbatarian or Non-Sabbatarian, we all need to take time to rest, regardless, so let’s try to keep that in mind as we go about our lives.

Content Guide:

Spiritual Content: None

Language: 1 “h*ll”

Alcohol/Drug Use: Angelina and Kaito are shown at a bar, and Angelina is clearly drunk—she shoves a glass of alcohol at Kaito, as well-written; Kaito drinks

Nudity/Sex/Fanservice: Kaito and his students are shown in their bathing suits—several of the female students’ suits show cleavage; there is one shot from behind Iris where the camera is close to her bikini-clad butt (you can see her butt cheeks partially sticking out); several female students are shown in a hot spring, and varying levels of nudity are shown (although no nipples or groin shots are shown); Angelina is shown with her robe falling open, to reveal cleavage; Mitsuki, Iris, and Kiryu are all shown in the bath—the tops of Mitsuki’s breasts are shown, most of Kiryu’s body is shown from a distance, and Iris’ midsection is shown close up, and you also see the tops of her breasts; Kiryu’s bare back is shown in a flashback

Violence: Angelina holds a pen to Maoika’s throat; Angelina stomps on Maoika’s head

Blood/Gore: None

Other: Subaru (who I think is female) wants to peep on the female students in the bath along with two boys; Mizuki and Iris’ relationship is still suspect; Maioka seems to enjoy having Angelina hurt him

Review: Classroom Crisis, Episode 4: Clash! Union Battle

Review:

With his class drastically reduced in size, Kaito’s spirits are low and he is in need of a new strategy to combat Kiryu’s attempts to shut down A-TEC. When a fellow employee tries to pass off an obligation to Kaito, he is inspired to appeal to the union, a move that seems to initially play in A-TEC’s favor; however, Kaito’s students quickly realize what Kiryu meant when he said that the union isn’t as righteous as they think. Even so, it seems that Kaito has gained an upper hand against Kiryu’s plans, until Kiryu pulls a trump card of his own, effectively stopping Kaito’s plans in their tracks. Just when it seems like things are back at square one, Kaito finds support from those he thought had abandoned him, and manages to find an answer to his problems from the very thing Kiryu intended as a hindrance.

This is the first episode of Classroom Crisis that I found truly compelling. Not that the previous episodes have necessarily been boring, but this time around there seemed to be a purpose and central plot driving the entire episode. The initial introduction of the union made the show seem like it may have been heading in the direction of “educational” anime, such as Spice and Wolf and Maoyu (both of which wrapped up lessons about economics in their fantasy plots), but outside of the explanation of what a union is, this episode didn’t really cover much in terms of educating the viewer about business practices. It did, however, deliver in terms of genuinely tense moments, such as Kiryu’s comment about the union not being righteous followed by the political rally where it was revealed that the union intended to use Kaito’s notoriety to back a political candidate.

The episode does raise curiosities about the standard Japanese view of unions, given the shady motives displayed and their swift abandonment of Kaito when his status changes. Of course, it is incredibly satisfying to watch Kaito turn this change of events to his favor (no doubt with the assistance of his students). Watching Kiryu (and Angelina) get one-upped is one of this entry’s highlights, especially because their characters are easy to dislike in many circumstances. Despite that, the writers do a good job of making these characters (or at least Kiryu) compelling in their on right. The tension between him and his brother continues to build, and one can’t help but wonder what the story behind their relationship (and the brother’s motives) is. Add that to Kiryu’s confusing reaction to Kaito’s actions at the end of the episode, and it really makes forming an opinion on Kiryu difficult.

If you’ve been feeling a bit unsure about Classroom Crisis, then at least give this episode a try. It’s events seem to finally establish a genuine sense of conflict between the opposing parties, instead of simply continuing the various occurrences of Kiryu and Angelina further deconstructing A-TEC. While Kaito (and, to an extent, Kiryu) seem to have definitively taken the title of “main character(s)”, the show still does a good job of showing the efforts of Kaito’s students without causing them to feel as if they’re simply tagged on characters. If Classroom Crisis can continue like this, it just may turn out to be a great show.

A Christian Perspective:

Matthew 24:13 – but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.

While I know that this verse is talking about the eternal salvation of our souls (a much more serious meaning than what I’m going to discuss here), the idea of “standing firm” seemed to be presented in this episode. The implication of this verse seems to be clear: it is only those who stand firm that will be saved. In the same vein, only those who stand firm in whatever trials they face will have a chance of seeing victory. This certainly holds true for A-TEC’s situation, because if Kaito and his class choose to quit trying, then A-TEC will be closed down for good. There were certainly times in this episode where the idea of Kaito giving up was presented, yet every time he decided to stay in the game and continue fighting. As a result, several students who had quit A-TEC have returned, and they have found a way to game the system so that they can function the way they need to. Of course, as previously stated, none of this matches the severity of standing firm in our faith, but it is still a good lesson for us to learn. Of course, there will be things in life that aren’t worth pursuing, so we need wisdom and discernment to determine if what we are fighting for deserves the effort required to pursue it.

Content Guide:

Spiritual Content: None

Language: 1 “h*ck”

Alcohol/Drug Use: None

Nudity/Sex/Fanservice: The episode preview shows Kaito shirtless, girls in bikinis (with some cleavage), and one girl in a hot spring where you can see the tops of her breasts

Violence: Kiryu is hit in the face with a newspaper; a character has her cheeks pulled and fists grinded into her head; Angelina slaps Kaito

Blood/Gore: None

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

Review: Charlotte, Episode 7: The End of the Exodus

Review:

Yu wakes up in a hospital bed, only to find that Ayumi did not survive the accident. As a result, his life comes crashing down around him, and he secludes himself in his apartment, eating nothing but cup ramen. Despite visits from friends and an old flame, he doesn’t snap out of it, and only leaves the apartment when a group of men show up to take him by force. After withdrawing what appears to be his life savings, Yu ends up staying in an anime/manga cafe and getting addicted to a shooting game (and then to street brawls). He seems to hit an all time low when he pilfers some drugs from a thug and prepares to use them, only to have an unexpected savior step in at the last moment….

This could truly be a gut-wrenching episode if you will allow it. Yu completely falls apart, and for the first time we see how much Ayumi truly meant to him. Of course, this whole series of events could have had a greater impact had we seen Yu’s attachment to his sister earlier in the series, but unfortunately the first part of the series didn’t spend much time really examining Yu’s character. Still, while this could have enhanced the emotional impact of this episode, the lack of such events do nothing to diminish the blow that is there. It’s easy to wonder if everything that happened up until this point was all for naught—is Yu going to throw away all of the growth he has experienced so far and devolve into something worse than when the series started?

While not a whole lot happens in terms of plot progression (we basically just follow the repetitive nature of Yu’s days for most of the episode), the writers manage to go about it in a way that allows the viewer to come up with his/her own suspicions as the plot progresses. Yu’s reckless use of his ability later on in the episode certainly causes concern that he may end up kidnapped as a test subject. Thankfully, the ending of the episode brings with it some light in the otherwise dark atmosphere that permeated the rest of it. All-in-all, this episode certainly makes up for the shortcomings of its predecessor and provides an experience that one would expect from the show’s creators.

A Christian Perspective:

Proverbs 18:24 – One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.

This verse couldn’t be more perfect for this episode. As Yu continues his steady decline into insanity—eventually resorting to stealing and almost using drugs—it is revealed that not only did Nao show up in time to stop him from making such a mistake, but she was was actually there the whole time. It is easy to overlook the fact that Nao can hide herself from one person’s vision (honestly, the idea didn’t even occur to me), yet it also feels so obvious once revealed. Regardless, Nao stays near Yu the entire time of his isolation, watching over him but letting him have his space at the same time. She is almost a literal embodiment of the above verse, because no one could have possibly stuck closer to Yu than she did during his time of grieving.

Ecclesiastes 3:4 – A time to weep and a time to laugh; A time to mourn and a time to dance. (NASB)

I include this one because it clearly draws a distinction in the fact that there is a time for everything. There is a time for weeping and a time for mourning, but also a time for laughter and dancing (or we could possibly summarize that by saying a time for joy). Those who are familiar at all with this passage (or even the old song that sort of quotes it) will know that Ecclesiastes 3 also states that there is a time for everything. So what happens when we exceed that time? Well, it would seem that you get Yu in this episode. His mourning is, of course, expected—we’ve all most likely lost loved ones at some point in our lives, and we can all attest to the need to grieve over their loss; however, we can also attest to the fact that healing eventually comes. We eventually accept that this person is gone and, though we may still be sad, we carry on with our lives. Yu does just the opposite. He halts his entire life, isolates himself from the world, and pushes away everyone who tries to help him, eventually descending into self-destructive territory. To me, this speaks to the importance of seeking healing from loss and moving past painful events so that we don’t lose ourselves in our grief and sadness.

Content Guide:

Spiritual Content: None

Language: 1 “d*mn”, 1 “p*ssed”, 3 “b*stard”, 2 “h*ll”, 2 “d*mmit”

Alcohol/Drug Use: Yu appears to be wrapping some kind of substance in paper

Nudity/Sex/Fanservice: None

Violence: Yu throws a noodle cup at Shirayanagi and then kicks a stack of similar cups; Yu possesses a man and makes him punch his comrade before making him jump over a railing; several scenes show a violent shooting game; Yu gets into a fight with three guys and possesses them each one-by-one, causing them to hit (and in one case stab) each other; Yu stabs a man with two wooden sticks; Yu possesses another group of guys and makes them beat each other up (and stab one of their own) again; several montages show him doing similar things; Nao kicks something out of Yu’s hand; Yu grabs Nao by the shirt

Blood/Gore: A man is stabbed and blood is shown; Yu shoves two wooden sticks into a man’s leg and blood is shown; a guy is stabbed in the second group that Yu possesses, and he bleeds

Other: Use of special powers

Review: Charlotte, Episode 6: Happy You Did Not Notice

Review:

While Ayu is home sick, Yu and company get word of another ability-user being located nearby. The proximity of the location leads Nao to suspect that Ayu may be the target, and the group plans a visit to the apartment. At the same time, three students from Ayu’s class also plan to visit, and the two groups intersect in Ayu’s room. While not a source of any contention, one classmate certainly presents as different from the others, but not to any point of suspicion. Things remain as lighthearted as ever until things go awry when Ayu chooses to disobey Yu’s orders and return to school. A normal day quickly turns confrontational, and the whole school is devastated.

While much of this episode follows the pattern we’ve come to expect from Charlotte—comedic events that unfold while the student council tries to track down a new target. There are some heartwarming scenes with Yu and Ayu, but generally speaking the episode is business as usual, until the end. In a flurry of activity we are somewhat-but-not-really introduced to a new character, shown an unexpected confrontation, and given a seemingly tragic conclusion. For those that have been waiting for the “feels” to kick in, it appears that this episode is the launching point. Unfortunately, it doesn’t hold up very well under scrutiny.

For the sake of proper discussion, the rest of this review will not be spoiler free. Read at your own risk. That said, while Ayu is presented as the prime suspect for having an ability, the mysterious girl from her class also seems to serve as a potential candidate, at least from the viewer’s perspective. This is proven quite false when the good times—and the episode—begin to fall apart. Basically, everything is fine up to (and even including) the point that Ayu chooses to sneak out of the house and go to school. The student council is concerned given their suspicions about Ayu’s power, but the level of concern shown is probably a bit over dramatic, and that’s far from the worst of it.

One of Ayu’s classmates whom we are introduced to is the boy who asked her out, as mentioned in a previous episode. Near the end of this episode, he approaches Ayu and begins trying to win her interest. He ends up coming off as creepy and seemingly trying to force himself on her, which causes one of Ayu’s friends (Nomu) to come from… somewhere… and forcibly detain the boy (Oikawa). The issue here is that we know almost nothing about Oikawa, except that he has a crush on Ayu. Nothing is shown or stated to suggest that he is deranged, so having him come off as a total creep comes out of left field and just seems unnatural. Worse is the fact that, when Ayu runs from Oikawa (as though she were actually running from some danger that were chasing her, mind you), she encounters the other girl from her class who apparently had a crush o Oikawa and is now jealous that his attention is focused on Ayu. She pulls a box cutter. Now come on. This is just ridiculous.

First off, this is another character we know absolutely nothing about. She is introduced in this episode as some kind of dark and brooding personality, but that’s it. There is no tension built up to this moment, no series of disagreements between her and Ayu or anything to suggest a growing conflict. In one scene she is visiting Ayu at her home. The next time we see her, she is pulling a weapon and talking about causing Ayu pain. The whole thing feels completely forced to put Ayu in a situation that forces her to use her powers, so that there is an excuse for her to use her powers and create a sad, seemingly tragic scene. As these reviews have stressed in the past, the fact that this is a Key anime makes one expect sad and tragic scenes, but they are expected to be well-written, believable scenes. If you watch this episode and let yourself get caught up in the heat of the moment, it is easy to overlook these things, but after spending some time thinking about it, you begin to see how ludicrous and—quite frankly—poorly planned the whole series of events was. That was certainly the case for this review.

Does this mean Charlotte is a wreck? Well, not necessarily. The show still has several episodes to spend, and could very well end up leaving a much more positive impression as a whole. As of this review, though, the outlook isn’t very positive, although there is still enough curiosity to want to know whose blood was shown at the end, and if anybody actually died (among other things). At the very least, the writers have managed to leave enough elements to make the viewer want to come back for more, and that definitely counts for something.

A Christian Perspective:

Exodus 20:12 – Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you.

Okay, so this verse doesn’t fit perfectly into this episode, seeing as Yu and Ayu don’t actually have their parents living with them; however, Yu is the authority figure over Ayu, and in this episode he exercises that authority by telling Ayu to not return to school. Since no father or mother is present, that would make Yu Ayu’s guardian, so I would imagine that the spirit of this verse would still apply. Well, as we know, Ayu disobeys Yu’s instructions and goes to school, only to end up in a poorly conceived chase scene that results in the school building collapsing around her. Simply put, had she honored Yu’s authority in her life, she would never have fallen into danger and (potentially) her own death.

Content Guide:

Spiritual Content: None

Language: None

Alcohol/Drug Use: None

Nudity/Sex/Fanservice: None

Violence: Nao kicks Jojiro out of a window; Nao grabs Yu by the front of his shirt; Nomu pushes Oikawa against the wall; a power causes part of a building to collapse

Blood/Gore: Ayu gets a nosebleed twice; blood is shown on a piece of concrete

Other: Ayu states that she doesn’t believe in spiritual stories; a character uses a special power

Review: Classroom Crisis, Episode 3: The Woman Came From the Accounting Department

Review:

Tensions continue to rise between Kiryu and his brother while also rising between Kiryu and A-TEC. Not only has A-TEC’s budget been cut by 70%, but Kiryu has also called in a colleague of his—a no-holds-barred accountant by the name of Angelina. She wastes no time scrutinizing minute details of A-TEC’s procedures (such as the department’s disposal of old papers) and implementing intense changes that cause the department to lose pretty much everything it has ever known overnight. Several students decide they have had enough, Kaito tries to deal with the situation, and a conversation between Kiryu and Angelina creates an air of mystery over the whole decision to shut down A-TEC in the first place.

My biggest issue with Classroom Crisis is the same issue I am presently having with Charlotte—what is the point? Granted, the show has given us a basic plot so we know what the different characters are striving for, but I feel like we haven’t been given much reason to care. We’ve been thrown into this fictitious world and have been presented with these characters who are about to lose everything, but I don’t feel like we’ve been given much reason to actually care about their fates as of yet. The fact that we then lose a large number of the cast in this episode doesn’t help, although this may be for the best, as a smaller cast means that the writers won’t have to try to focus on as many characters.

The most compelling parts of the episode are really the mystery that is raised by Angelina’s revelations concerning the lack of interdepartmental information in regards to the A-TEC changes and the scars that we see on Kiryu’s back at the end. These actually raise questions that I, as a viewer, would like to see answered. What is the purpose of these A-TEC changes? Who is behind all of this? What happened to Kiryu to cause the scars? While Kiryu himself comes across as a detestable character (and I suspect we’re not supposed to like him, at least not yet), he is honestly the more intriguing out of the two male leads. Kaito is likable, but as of yet there is little to care about, other than how he is going to keep A-TEC alive. Kiryu is surrounded by mystery, and that is enough to make the show worth coming back to. I guess the writers know what they’re doing after all.

A Christian Perspective:

When the going gets tough, the tough get going. Or so the saying goes, but the Bible says, “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity.” (Proverbs 17:17) So, when about half of the class quits after A-TEC loses its top-of-the-line production facility, what does that say about them? True, there is something to say about using wisdom to get out of a bad situation, but let’s not forget that these are high school kids who have also been given jobs, not to mention the fact that A-TEC has a very positive history. In short, they are quick to abandon their loyalty in favor of greener pastures, instead of trying to overcome the adversity placed in front of them.

A popular teaching in Christianity is that God will remove people from your life who will not be godly influences or who will otherwise provide an influence that will distract you or lead you away from God. Now, I’m not sure which Scriptures people would typically use for this argument, but it does make sense that Jesus, as Lord of our lives and our Good Shepherd, would lead us where he wants us, which may be away from those people. In this case, perhaps it is for the best that these students have left, because it shows that they probably weren’t going to be the greatest influences on Kaito and the rest of the class during their current trials.

Of course, it is always sad when we have to abandon a friendship, or when a friend abandons us, but sometimes it is for the best. We may not realize what kind of influence those people are having on us until they are gone and we have begun to change, and we may never realize what opportunities they could have held us back from had they remained in our lives. Trying to consider how these painful moments may be blessings in disguise may help to deal with them when they come.

Content Guide:

Spiritual Content: None

Language: 3 “b*stard”, 2 “h*ll”, 2 “h*ck”, 1 “d*mn”

Alcohol/Drug Use: Kaito is shown putting an empty beer glass down, and he appears to be drunk; the previous principal is shown drinking next to Kaito; Angelina drinks alcohol

Nudity/Sex/Fanservice: Angelina’s top shows a bit of cleavage; Angelina is shown wearing only a towel; in one scene, Angelina begins to remove her towel, showing her bare butt and the side of her breast; Kiryu removes his robe and we see his bare chest—a later scene shows him in the shower and has a shot of his bare butt

Violence: Angelina grabs a student by the front of her shirt and points a pen at her; Angelina pushes Kaito to the ground; one of Kaito’s students grabs him by the shirt and shakes him

Blood/Gore: None

Review: Classroom Crisis, Episode 1: The Transfer Student Who Came In Late

Review:

In the future, mankind has taken to space and colonized other planets, with Mars being one of them. Nations established cities on the planet’s surface, with the focus of Classroom Crisis being on Japan’s Tokyo 4. Within this future exists the mega-corporation, Kirishina Corp, which appears to employ high school kids to some extent. Of course, much of this back story is not revealed until the end of the episode, leaving viewers a bit perplexed and scratching their heads through the episode’s entirety. Instead, the episode starts with some Kirishina bigwigs discussing the kidnapping of someone connected to their company, and then flashes between these more serious scenes and scenes centering around the specialized class A-TEC, which is one of the high school employee groups previously mentioned. Eventually the two storylines mere, with A-TEC’s homeroom teacher, Kaito Sera, taking it upon himself to perform a rescue operation. Unfortunately, one of the students from his ragtag bunch takes it upon herself to perform the operation, and the rest of the class must support her. The operation ultimately lacks the expected results, and the class wins up meeting their new classmate, who isn’t there to simply play nice.

Classroom Crisis is a hard show to critique at this point, because the introductory episode is legitimately confusing. While it is simple enough to figure out what is going on in the story line—someone is kidnapped, but the money hungry organization doesn’t want to appear weak, so a class steps up to play vigilante—the grander scheme of things is left unexplained. Things such as: what are these classes about? Who are these characters? What is the setting? Important story details. That’s not to say that this first episode is bad or unenjoyable—it is certainly an entertaining watch—but the viewer can’t help but feel like he/she is being left out of the bigger picture. In other words, the episode is enjoyable, but hard to connect to. Those who watch will probably be split into two categories: you will either be curious enough to come back for more, or you will be put off by the lack of information and not want to come back.

One noteworthy point is that the show doesn’t seem to favor one character as the “main” character. While the opening scenes would suggest that Mizuki is the main character (she is seen preparing for school in between the dramatic discussions about the hostage situation), she actually does not play a major role in the episode. Her friend Iris, on the other hand, does play a more central role, despite being in a position plot-wise that would typically put her as a sidekick. Despite this, one can’t help but feel that Mizuki’s brother (and homeroom teacher) Kaito receives quite a bit of attention, as well. In other words, the show presents us with a large cast of characters, and it seems set on giving the spotlight to more than one. This could ultimately backfire, of course, but it is always nice when a show can focus on multiple characters without most of them simply being tropes or plot devices.

Where Classroom Crisis will go from here is anyone’s guess, although the fact that it is an Aniplex anime certainly provides grounds to believe that it will be a worthwhile watch. If you can deal with not having all of the information right out of the gate, then it is definitely recommended that you come back for round two.

A Christian Perspective:

It took me a minute to think of something for this one. While I don’t necessarily have anything directly from Scripture, there is a topic discussed in the study Bible I’ve been using for the last year and a half or so that struck me as I thought about this episode. Basically, it discusses how we are made in God’s image, and how that fact gives all humans worth. The entry is probably a little deeper than that, but that’s the general gist of it, and it’s enough for this short perspective. Basically, if we are created in the image of God (able to feel, reason, think, etc.) and are therefore valuable, then all humans deserve respect from their fellow humans. In this episode, though, it feels like human worth is relegated to a monetary value. The bigwigs at Kirishina seem less than worried about their captive employee, and even the captive himself rebukes A-TEC for their rescue attempt. He ultimately scolds them and states that it was not financially beneficial to rescue him.

Is this not an absurd idea? That the worth of saving of a human life should be determined by the cost of performing the rescue? If humans are all valuable because we are all created in God’s image, then it seems asinine to try to place a price on that life. Of course, we do it all the time—how many people cannot get life-saving surgeries or treatments because the costs are too high? At least in those circumstances the value is determined by the means and not the person, but it still boils down to money determining whether or not a person’s life is saved. I won’t pretend to have a good solution to any of this, because I don’t. The best I can say is that perhaps we should pray and ask God how we can begin to treat the people around us with even just a fraction of the respect they deserve, and maybe it can begin to resonate from there.

Content Guide:

Spiritual Content: None

Language: 1 “j**z”, 1 “h*ll”

Alcohol/Drug Use: None

Nudity/Sex/Fanservice: Near the beginning of the episode you can slightly see part of a girl’s bra through her shirt

Violence: A couple of still shots show explosions

Blood/Gore: None

Other: A girl is shown praying at a family shrine in her home