Episode 10 – “Looting”
How late is too late? As in, how long can a series keep us in the dark before revealing its true intents? This is certainly not the first time Jun Maeda has kept the wool over our eyes for a prolonged period of time, considering the twist in Little Busters! didn’t reveal itself until deep into the second season, ~Refrain~. The echoes of this narrative technique ring true in Charlotte as well, but I rather enjoyed Little Busters while I’ve been vocally lukewarm with Maeda’s latest original work. So why the difference?
The biggest difference, I believe, is that Little Busters! successfully uses its lengthy two and a half cour exposition to establish its characters places in the world that the story is creating. Granted, the character development is not perfect, particularly in the truncated anime adaptation, but it gets the job done. On the other hand, Charlotte struggles for half of a season to provide convincing reasons to be invested in its characters and its world, a severe shortcoming for a series that aims to portray a dramatic, character-driven narrative.
Normal complaints aside, I feel that it’s safe to say that this episode is actually pretty good in an isolated context, hampered only by the failure to set up its events in a meaningful way. I almost feel as though Charlotte was intended to be a multiple cour series but was unexpectedly cut down to 13 episodes, which in my opinion has turned out to be an insufficient amount of time to aptly tell the complex story that the creators had intended to tell.
For some people, I’m sure this very same argument can be made about Jun Maeda’s other popular work Angel Beats!, a series that I regard quite highly. Of course, it’s not without its own faults, and the criticism that is most often vocalized is the lack of development for a majority of its admittedly large cast. Though, like with Little Busters!, there is still a difference between Angel Beats! and Charlotte that offsets this fault. In Angel Beats!, the end goal of the series (to have everyone pass on from the afterlife) is established quite early on, and the rest of the series works to achieve that resolution, while it’s still unclear which direction Charlotte wants to go.
“I wonder how many times I’ve celebrated this birthday now…” Shunsuke Otosaka