Tag Archives: Summer 2015

Review: Classroom Crisis, Episode 2: Classroom Downsizing

Review:

If you were put off by the lack of backstory in the first episode, then rejoice, because this episode provides plenty of it! We find out the origins of the Kirishina organization and how it grew to become the mega-corporation that it currently is. The origins of A-TEC are also explained, and profiles of the students within the current A-TEC class are provided in a documentary style presentation. This is all interspersed between scenes that progress the story, thankfully. That’s not to say that the backstory is boring or bad, but episodes that serve as nothing more than straight info-dumps are always kind of boring. Classroom Crisis avoids this pitfall. While we get to discover more about the whole class, there is definitely a greater focus on Mizuki, Iris, and Kaito, so I suppose we know who are “main” characters are (along with Kiryu, on whom much of the “current” events of this episode focus). Outside of all the backstory, we find Kiryu entering his position as chief of the A-TEC class and announcing his plans to close them down within a year. Kiryu’s past is uncovered by the A-TEC class, who discover that he is a rising executive within Kirishina who has been repeatedly sent to non-respectable locations only to produce excellent results. Meanwhile, Kiryu meets with his own brother, a high-ranking official in the corporation, and the two don’t appear to share a lot of brotherly love for one another. In the midst of all this, Kaito watches an interview that he participated in, and finds inspiration from his own words, setting off what appears to be a rivalry between the two.

Classroom Crisis deserves accolades for managing to accomplish the concept of “show, don’t tell”. While some information is certainly given freely in this episode (character back stories, for example), other plot elements are simply shown to the viewer. The best example of this is the conversation between Kiryu and his brother. While things appear to simply progress as business discussions, Kiryu ends up making some comments in regards to his kidnapping that seem to ruffle his brother’s feathers. This leads to some harsh comments and facial expressions, before Kiryu exits the room and basically confirms that his suspicions were correct. Nothing here is explicitly stated, yet the viewer can garner enough information to see that Kiryu’s brother has no love for him and to hypothesize that his brother may have even orchestrated his kidnapping. While it is certainly possible that this conclusion is wrong, it does give the viewer incentive to pay attention, and it makes the story more interesting, as the theory could be more outright confirmed/debunked later in the series.

Other than that, the episode serves as an excellent introduction to the world of Classroom Crisis. The first episode simply threw us into the action without much explanation, and this episode does a good job of bringing us up to speed without boring us to tears. The writers also do a decent job of creating varied characters—different characters are clearly affected by Kiryu’s declarations in different ways, yet at the same time they are also unified in a way, as seen by the fact that the entire class shows up to work even after their work day was canceled. While this review previously commented on who the “main” characters seemed to be, this episode seems to set up the main conflict as being between Kaito and Kiryu. While the whole class likely wants to see A-TEC continue, Kaito is the one who ultimately stands up and challenges Kiryu to his face. Where the show will go as a whole is still up in the air, but this episode provides more than enough incentive to stick around and see what happens.

A Christian Perspective:

See Genesis 37-50

Yes, I know, that’s a large chunk of Scripture, but Kiryu’s backstory as revealed in this episode was a bit reminiscent of Joseph’s story in these chapters from Genesis. As you probably know, Joseph was sold into slavery by his jealous brothers, yet by God’s will every bad thing that happened to him ultimately turned out to put Joseph into a better position, culminating in Joseph being the second most powerful man in Egypt. Similarly, it seems that Kirishina consistently stuck Kiryu in seemingly backwater, no-name areas for his assignments, yet he always managed to churn out amazing results, allowing him to climb the corporate ladder even at a young age.

Of course, Kiryu doesn’t necessarily seem to be a blameless or faultless character, but like Joseph he seems to have been taken advantage of by those above him, yet the things done to harm him have ultimately served to help him and elevate him to a better position.

Content Guide:

Spiritual Content: None

Language: 1 “h*ll”, 1 “cr*p”

Alcohol/Drug Use: Kaito is shown with a can of beer sitting in front of him

Nudity/Sex/Fanservice: A female character shows a tiny bit of cleavage in the episode preview

Violence: The intro shows Kaito getting struck with something that explodes

Blood/Gore: None

Other: The ending credits show Mizuki and Iris lying next to each other and holding hands while wearing their night clothes

Review: Charlotte, Episode 5: The Sound You Heard Sometime

Review:

When Nao is dragged out of class by a group of girls, a curious Yuu follows, intent on seeing what’s happening. What he finds is less than thrilling, but before he can really question what he witnessed Nao announces that Kumagami is going to appear again to announce a new target. This leads to a several day camping trip for the student council while they attempt to draw out a teenager with the ability to fly. During this time, Yuu gets to know Nao a little better, and the student council engages in various antics.

While this episode doesn’t do much to answer the question of what Charlotte’s central plot is, it does at least take the time to build character relationships, particularly between Yuu and Nao. Whether or not these two are intended to be each others’ love interests is unknown, but Yusa does comment that they seem like a good match for each other. At any rate, the pair does provide quite a bit of comic relief this time around, particularly as they banter over what to purchase at the grocery store. A later scene shows them bonding on a more serious level, as the subject of Nao’s brother sort of comes up when Yuu inquires about Nao’s music player.

Perhaps the most compelling part of this entry is that it shows there is more to these characters (at least some of them) than meets the eye. While Jojiro remains fairly creepy and Yusa-obsessed (although he does offer Yuu some serious advice late in the episode), Yusa remains oblivious, and Misa remains vulgar, Nao shows more of herself than we have seen thus far. Yuu is even kind enough to point it out, in case we miss it. He may be the “main” character for the series, but Nao is probably the most interesting character, given that much of her story is still shrouded. For example, why was she beat up in the beginning? The girl who is hitting her says that each hit is for a different person, but who are these people? Hopefully we’ll find out in upcoming episodes.

Even if this outing doesn’t establish any kind of central plot, it is at least an enjoyable twenty-ish minutes that will provide some laughs along with some generally heartfelt moments. If nothing else, Key has succeeded in created a likable cast of characters (don’t they always?) who can carry the show even without a central direction for the show to move in (although without a point, the show kind of stagnates at “good” instead of “great”). Of course, there are at least a few nuggets left around to make us hope for something a little deeper. Ayu’s fever at the end of the episode does seem a bit foreboding, doesn’t it? If Key has no intention of building a deep and meaningful plot out of this show, then hopefully they will at least continue writing entertaining episodes that help us fall more in love with these characters.

A Christian Perspective:

Matthew 5:39 – But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also.

Yes, this one is kind of obvious, but it’s the best I have, and honestly it may not even be a very pertinent point. As you can probably guess, I’m equating the scene where Nao gets beaten up without any resistance to the idea of turning the other cheek. Of course, the set up to that is to not resist an evil person. Right now, we do not know what Nao did to get beaten up, so it’s possible that she isn’t innocent in this situation. I have also heard it said that this Scripture doesn’t mean Christians can’t defend themselves. If nothing else, perhaps this could be a good jumping off point for a deeper look into what the Scripture really means, although to be honest I would rather opt for the literal interpretation and not retaliate, if for no other reason than to be “better safe than sorry”.

Content Guide:

Spiritual Content: None

Language: Misa cusses, but it is censored in both the voice acting and subtitles; 2 “d*mmit”, 1 “d*mn”, 1 “h*ll”

Alcohol/Drug Use: None

Nudity/Sex/Fanservice: Yuu and Jojiro are shown shirtless; Yusarin/Misa is shown in the bath, where you can see the top of her breasts

Violence: Nao gets hit several times; Misa kicks Jojiro; Nao playfully punches Yuu in the arm

Blood/Gore: There seems to be a little blood after Nao takes her first hit

Other: Use of special abilities, as always

Review: Charlotte, Episode 4: Moment of Earnest

Review:

Yusarin transfers into the same class as Yu, Jojiro, and Nao, but the classroom festivities over a celebrity classmate don’t last long as Yusa is quickly whisked away to the student council room for the announcement of yet another mark. This time around, the target is a high school baseball pitcher with telekinesis who is using his powers to influence his pitches. When confronted by Yu and company, he initially attempts to deny his powers before agreeing to a baseball game between the two schools’ baseball teams. The terms? If Nao’s team wins, then he has to stop using his powers, and if his team wins then he can keep doing his thing. This, of course, launches a baseball game that takes up almost half of the episode.

This episode is certainly more enjoyable if you consider yourself a baseball fan, but there are enough shenanigans with special powers to make the episode enjoyable to even the most hardened anti-sports individual. There’s nothing particularly wrong with this entry from a pure entertainment standpoint—each character’s quirky nature plays a role in producing laughter and amusement—but one cannot help wondering what the point is. As of yet, no greater narrative has been established in the story, save for small, momentary glimpses of Yu seeming to change as a person. Other than that, the episodes seem to simply play out in a similar format each week. While Charlotte does what it does well, the fact that this is a Key anime does bring viewers to expect more, and there is still plenty of time to hope for more, but the lack of any clear overarching story is disheartening for the time being.

A Christian Perspective:

Philippians 2:4 – Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. (ESV)

To me, this verse is exemplified in this episode when Arifumi reveals that he was using his powers not to glorify himself, but to bring his friend (the catcher for his team) to a large arena where his talents as a catcher could be recognized by bigger and better names. The assumption throughout the episode was that Arifumi was only looking to win prestige for himself, so this particular revelation was a surprising addition to the episode. That doesn’t excuse what he did—cheating is still cheating, and it is still dishonest, which (much like most of my perspectives) means that this isn’t a perfect application of Scripture, because I don’t believe the Bible supports doing good through practicing wrong. The most basic lesson here can be applied to every day life, though: if you have a special skill that can be used to the benefit of others, then you should not horde it only for your benefit, but share it so that others may also share in the bounty.

Content Guide:

Spiritual Content: Yusarin can still be possessed

Language: 1 “b*stard”, 2 “a**es”, 1 “jack*ss”, 1 “a**”, 6 or 7 “d*mmit”

Alcohol/Drug Use: None

Nudity/Sex/Fanservice: None

Violence: None

Blood/Gore: Jojiro has blood on his uniform, and his face is censored, suggesting that it is badly mutilated; blood shoots from Ayu’s nose

Other: Yusarin uses a “magic spell” (that is really just her doing cute stuff) to make two guys make up; a boy can use telekinesis; in general, the use of special abilities is present as always; Yusarin uses another “magic spell” to calm a guy down

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