Charlotte (P.A. Works) – Genre: School, Super Power
Coming straight from the minds behind Angel Beats!, it’s guaranteed that the expectation level for Charlotte is incredibly high for everyone who liked Angel Beats! and expects this series to follow in its footsteps. I’m doing my best to separate myself from Angel Beats! when I think about Charlotte, but making comparisons will be unavoidable, especially since this series has made use of big names like Key Visual Arts and Jun Maeda to its marketing advantage.
Charlotte takes place in a world in which adolescents often develop incomplete superpowers and must attend special schools until those powers disappear, so as to not become a menace on the general public. For our protagonist Yuu Otosaka, that means he can no longer use his ability to possess people for 5 seconds for his own nefarious ends. This probably isn’t an entirely horrible thing, considering that things were getting hairy for him at school anyways. Within the first 10 minutes of the episode, he’s caught cheating on a test and nearly expelled.
Even though Jun Maeda is practically synonymous with everything sad with the world (i.e. Little Busters, Angel Beats!, Clannad), this first episode of Charlotte is nearly everything but. Surely this is a clever ruse by Jun Maeda because there is almost nothing that he has worked on that has been completely happy-go-lucky. In Charlotte, there are hints of humor littered throughout, much like how Angel Beats! is equal parts hilarity and soul crushing emotions. I mean, the very opening of the episode proper has Yuu planted facedown in the ground when he accidentally possesses someone for the first time. If and when the series decides to take a turn for the dramatic, it’s this off-the-wall comedy that will save it from being overly depressing.
Aside from a quasi-poignant soliloquy about the stars, a visual novel staple, nothing in this first episode points to any sort of red flag ending, so at this point in time it’s hard to predict what direction Charlotte will be taking. Obviously, Yuu will be starting his life in Hoshinoumi (Ocean of Stars) Academy in the next episode, where we’ll be introduced to all sorts of interesting characters, I’m sure, but what kind of impetus will drive the narrative to a satisfying conclusion within 13 episodes? Impossible to say, but the first episode has laid down a great foundation for things to come.
“‘Think about others.’ When I did that, I turned into someone else.” ~ Yuu Otosaka