Charlotte – Anime Review
Synopsis: Very few adolescent boys and girls have an onset of special abilities. Yu Otosaka is one such man who uses his ability unbeknownst to others in order to lead a satisfying school life. Then one day, a girl named Nao Tomori suddenly appears before him. Their encounter reveals the destiny for wielders of special abilities. (Official Crunchyroll Synopsis)
Review (Warning: Minor Spoilers to Follow):
Tom: Charlotte was, perhaps, one of the more devise anime from 2015. The first episode impressed many, sending its burgeoning fan base into a frenzy, eager to see exactly where this series would go. Others remained unimpressed and as the series dragged, the two camps eventually evened out, some believing Charlotte to have been a wholly entertaining ride and others feeling it was perhaps the biggest waste of time. (I’d argue they didn’t bother to try Sky Wizards Academy from the same season, but that’s best forgotten.) What can be said about Charlotte is that it possesses an exceedingly large number of interesting ideas and world building concepts. Its take on super powers, their origin, and function in the world is interesting, but unfortunately never comes anywhere close to receiving a story worthy of the concept’s full potential.
Linny: Super powered teenagers are nothing new in anime but Charlotte managed to make them feel somewhat fresh and extremely funny..for its earlier episodes. Watching the teenagers try their best using their often flawed super powers..like only being able to possess people in their line of sight, or only being able to be invisible to one person at a time; all the while taking down other similarly flawed super powered teenagers using their powers for evil or mischief made for some entertaining one off episodes.
Tom: Those early episodes introduce us to a great cast of characters, from Yu Otosaka, our narcissistic lead, to his slow build love interest, Nao Tomori, the Student Council President, to his adorable, if perhaps a bit annoying, little sister, Ayumi, and many more. The show escalates in some really interesting ways, easily taking you on a journey far and away from the series’ humble origins. Unfortunately this journey is neither well executed, or in service of the characters it built up along the way. Charlotte, simply put, suffers from exceedingly poor execution that devotes far too much time to deescalating the tension that builds up between its more shocking twists, creating this almost stop and go atmosphere that excites and then bores.
Linny: Charlotte has an interesting tale to tell at the heart of it all, however, the manner in which it decides to tell that tale is a train wreck. The pacing is long, windy and uneven. After watching the entire series, I couldn’t help but notice how unbalanced the show was. Some stories that received entire episodes could have been cut down to 10 minutes or less, while some of the major developments were crammed into a single episode. This imbalance is something that really hampers the series, especially the slow episodes which drag on and could make a less invested viewer immediately drop the show.
Tom: The supporting cast (namely Nao, Ayumi, and the other student council members), well developed early on, are completely shafted in the final episodes, with fleeting amounts of screen time that amount to no more than a distraction from the slew of new characters introduced over halfway through the series. This has the nasty effect of making you feel like all the characters you got to know hardly mattered. This ties into Charlotte’s other problem: an inability to properly balance all its interesting concepts, many of which are crunched into the back half of the series with barely any time to breathe. This has the added “bonus” of making the first five episodes feel exceedingly light on content.
Linny: Charlotte could potentially win over some audiences with how it introduces twists and reveals that completely change the nature of the series and transforms it into a thriller from the earlier comedic vibe. This huge game changer is what makes Charlotte such an interesting and worthwhile watch but unfortunately, the show still struggles in handling its own developments. Events escalate at a rushed and uneven pace and as the show grows and introduces more characters and plot lines, it starts to crumble, failing to bind them all into one smooth, cohesive story.
Tom: It’s really a shame Charlotte constantly undermines itself, deescalating every time something interesting happens. One minute there’s an exciting storyline and the next we’re calming down and watching our characters return to their everyday lives or what remains of them. It has this weird stop and go feel that makes it hard to get invested long term. Charlotte is ultimately entertaining, falling on the side of “Watchable” rather than unwatchable, but the constant need to undermine all its hard work makes it more of a “good” show in theory rather than in practice.
Linny: Charlotte is composed of some amazing parts and other rather ‘blah’ parts. As always, it is going to be up to the viewer’s personal choice when it comes to deciding which part is in the majority. As a sum of its parts, Charlotte is flawed, a diamond in the rough. This show isn’t at all close to perfection but it definitely has elements that could’ve made it a great one. If you’re in the mood for a mixed basket that changes its theme and are willing to overlook uneven pacing and story telling, then Charlotte might still be a nice fit for you.