Episode 02 – “Melody of Despair”
Despite being planned to be such a short series, episode 2 of Charlotte actually does fairly little in the way of significant development towards to the story as a whole. The plot has its first really heavy moment with Nao’s brother, who appears to be permanently hospitalized in an asylum due to a series of inhumane scientific experiments exploiting his ability to manipulate sound waves. What’s particularly awful is how simple his dreams were to begin with. He only wanted to use his power to further his music career, but thanks to a decision made by his mother, that proved to be impossible.
Keeping with a similar tone to Jun Maeda’s previous work, Angel Beats!, there is a great mix of humor that’s sure to be much appreciated once the story really gets going. Having protagonists with incomplete psychic abilities makes for even more silly situations to arise, like the very detailed scene of Joujirou when he teleports his way through the cafeteria or when the three student council members track down the guy using thoughtography, making for what may be the worse possible set of skills for apprehending a criminal. Still, that makes it all the funnier.
These first couple of episodes will surely be devoted to introducing characters, but where will the series go from there? I’m still making for the hook and the twist that will elevate Charlotte to something that is gripping. At the moment, Charlotte is just a lot of fun with some curiously poignant pretense, though this is how most visual novels begin. The expository sections build up routine, pepper it with moments of thematic subtext (i.e. every time that Yuu’s sister looks up at the starry sky), and forge bonds between the main characters.
Surely, there will be some connection to the name “Charlotte,” as well as more instances of shaky family connections, since it appears that family is a huge theme so far for the series. Next time, we’ll probably meet Yusa Nishimori, the pop star we see on TV during the first episode (as well as in the new OP). I’m a big fan of Maaya Uchida and side ponytails, so needless to say I’m pretty excited.
“For the scientists, people with abilities are like batteries.” ~ Nao Tomori