Alternative titles: Air, Kanon, Clannad, Angel Beats!, Little Busters
Anime Original by P.A. Works
Streaming on Crunchyroll, Saturdays 1:00 pm EST
Yu Otosaka has the power to possess any other person for up to five seconds. Using this ability to ogle girls, exact revenge and cheat his way into a prestigious high school, he quickly grows into an insufferable asshole. However, his life of luxury quickly turns sour when the student council catches wind of his chicanery and transfers Yu away to the neighboring Hoshinoumi Academy, a school for superpowered
twats teens such as himself.
Aqua’s verdict: All The Wrong Kids Of Tragedy
Did Jun Maeda ever even attend high school? In his universe, teenage girls are eccentric, childish creatures who need the guidance of a man to stop them from hurting themselves — said man universally being a cynical everyman who rolls his eyes at all of their wacky shenanigans while at the same time somehow caring about his babysittees enough to fix their miserable lives with his generic niceness. The ridiculous doublethink at play here is still foreign to Maeda, as Charlotte‘s insufferable protagonist, Yu Otosaka, fancies himself a bleeding heart. At the beginning of the episode, he states his desire to know others like he knows himself. So what better way to show this passionate craving for empathy by having him ogle girls and get others into trouble for the heck of it? Make no mistake: Despite his generic poetic rambling, Yu Otosaka is a disgusting and completely unrelatable excuse for a human being, who spends most of the first episode abusing his powers and oh-so-self-awarely rolling his eyes at all the slapstick wackiness around him. At the same time, he has somehow convicted himself that he really is a charismatic genius, whining about how unfair it is that others abuse their superpowers to bring his paranormal creeping to an end. Truly, a guy you want to get to know better.
Given that this show was barfed out of the same pen that spent considerable amounts of Angel Beats!‘ runtime on slapstick and boosting J-pop singer LiSA’s career in stead of exploring its admittedly interesting setting, it comes as no surprise that Charlotte drops us right in the middle of the action. There is no explanation for how Yu discovered his power, with everything Maeda thinks we need to know about him, his abilities or his backstory being conveniently narrated by the man himself or his chatterbox of a little sister. Watching Charlotte is like watching a Lord of The Rings adaptation that starts with the Fellowship heading out and uses the time it could have spent on covering everything that happens before this on Frodo and Sam discussing the intricacies of eating cram. Even without the notoriously fickle Seiji Kishi in the director’s chair, Charlotte has no sense of priority, eschewing storytelling essentials in favour of the insufferably loud, violent humour Maeda is known for almost as well as he is for bloated melodrama.
The writing in Charlotte isn’t merely bad, it’s disenchantingly atrocious — a tiresome, heavy-handed slog through the medium’s most vapid of clichés, from the absurdly overpowered and casually privacy-violating student council to every single sliver of humour or wit being explained for a viewership the show clearly assumes to have an IQ in the single digits. The main character is an unrepentant jackass without any redeeming value, who drags the entire show down into a nihilistic void of nothingness that couldn’t be any further away from the real world if it tried. Save for P.A. Works’ animation injecting at least some of the humour with some very welcome oomph, the first episode of Charlotte feels like an inconsistent, agonizing and ultimately pointless mess, showing no signs of interesting plot developments or character dynamics. I’ve seen worse anime, but for the love of all that is holy, I sure haven’t seen one this infuriating since Sword Art Online.
- According to Jun Maeda, there is no such thing as a disease that makes you fall asleep at random. Actually, there is. It’s called narcolepsy. You’ve probably heard about it.
- “I think, therefore I am’ is not a quote by an ‘ancient philosopher’, but by René Descartes, a 17th century philosopher. You’ve probably heard about him, too.
- Jojiro’s power is not teleportation. It’s super speed. It’s not teleportation when he generates enough momentum to crash into things. That’s literally what sets super speed apart from teleportation.
- Ayu has to be a stealth parody of every other character Key have ever created, because I refuse to believe that any self-respecting writer can sleep easily knowing he has unleashed this atrocity upon the world.
- As if Crunchyroll didn’t test me enough by translating Ayu’s referring to herself in the third person literally, they also found it necessary to leave in the word ‘sis-com’ with an explanation in brackets. What year is this, 2004?
Marlin’s verdict: Let Me Tell You Why The Angel Beats! Ending Was Great
I don’t think anyone could possibly construe the main character’s actions as anything other than him being an asshole. That monologue was from his point of view, so of course he’s going to talk himself up. The division between the way he perceives himself and the way he acts in the real world show just how. His sister is still the most annoying creature to come out of this season yet, and that is probably where Charlotte lost me. I know Jun Maeda has some unhealthy love for girls who act like they have learning disabilities, but giving this one so many lines, basically the vast majority of the second half, absolutely kills any drive to want to watch it further. A lot of People love Angel Beats! (btw, I hate it when titles have exclamation points, makes it seem like I’m shouting.), and you know why? The closest thing to that worn Key archetype was Angel, and her deal was just a failure to communicate. No clue as to how the name “Charlotte” fits into this, but I don’t really remember hearing much about The Pillows during Little Busters’ run, so honestly it’s probably inconsequential. For the actual main girl, her quick dismantling of our smug protagonist made it seem like maybe she’ll be the one helping him instead.
Artemis’ verdict: Probably The New Whipping Boy Of The Anime Community
I predict a few select people will adore this and everyone else will loathe it to the end of time. Personally, I’m mostly giving it a shot because of its association with Angel Beats!, which I know all the cool kids love to hate on but which, despite its flaws, I un-ironically love with every fibre of my being. That said, I’ve never been much of P.A. Works fan, and this doesn’t look like it’s going to be the type of story I can get into. To give credit where it’s due, I do think the timing of the comedy is actually pretty good, and while Charlotte will obviously be filled with a bunch of moe-rrific girls on wish-fulfilment duty, that point didn’t annoy me anywhere near as much as it usually would. Nonetheless, the fact remains that this just isn’t my kind of show, and as such is unlikely to stay on my weekly viewing schedule for very long.