Charlotte Weaves an Entertaining Web of PLOT TWISTS | Review

A spoiler-free review of the 13-episode summer 2015 anime “Charlotte,” produced by P.A. Works, based on the original story by Jun Maeda (Angel Beats!, Clannad).

 – View in browser, not app, for best experience –

“What the heck, Takuto? Charlotte? Really, Charlotte??” Actually, yes, I’m not pulling your leg. I originally wasn’t going to watch this anime, as I heard it didn’t live up to the hype, but something in me clicked (my love for P.A. Works), and I found myself attempting to marathon this thing at 1 A.M. It took me three days to finish (sad, really) but I thought I’d share why you actually might want to check Charlotte out. Surprised? Keep reading.

Yuu Otosaka is what I would call a lucky bastard (at least in the beginning). Blessed with charm, wit, and outstanding looks, he also possesses a secret ability to take over a person’s body for five seconds at a time. Being a teenage boy, Yuu abuses his gift to slip into female bodies (wouldn’t blame him), have some fun with bullies, and cheat on tests to slide into a prestigious high school

Just as life couldn’t be more sunny for Mr. Cheater, camcorder-wielding Nao Tomori, a deadpan invisibility-user, catches on to Yuu’s tricks, leaving him and his li’l sis one option: Transfer to Hoshinoumi Academy, a school for students with these supernatural abilities. Yuu, incredibly flustered, agrees solemnly.

tumblr_nqz84dkTcK1uohxh3o1_500

BUSTED

 

There, he is forced to join the student council led by Tomori, where their task includes stealthily tracking down ability-abusers like himself and dragging them back to the academy. As these reconnaissance missions push the student council to their limits, however, Yuu unravels more shocking truths of the world around him, and that his own ability holds much, much, more potential than merely peeking down a girl’s shirt.

fg9KYOj

Jun Maeda has this gift for instantly allowing me to fall in love with his characters through simple, occasionally childish actions. That said, he’d be a lot better writer if his stories didn’t have 500-FREAKIN’ teenagers in them! I’m not criticizing him in ANY way at all, and I understand that the story needed a new dude or two, but the anime’s latter half could have gone without the introduction and glossing over of ten new characters. Why not just use-rinse-repeat with the student council members? We already fell in love with them.

Before I move on, I’d like to enforce how much I love the Otosakas, Tomori, glasses-friend-kun, and the moe idol “Yusarin~”/fiery sister. Had this been all the story had, I probably would have enjoyed it much more. Frankly speaking, less characters = more time for others to shine, and in Charlotte‘s case – sparkle. I waltzed into Charlotte thinking, “Hey, we learned our lesson with Angel Beats! right?” Apparently not. But much like its angelic-battlefront predecessor, it only takes a three-minute cafeteria scene to score big with the heart.

On another note, boy, Maeda certainly prefers his supernatural teenagers “paying the price for being special,” eh? You’ll explore that with Yuu Otosaka and his unsteady mental rise and decline. Charlotte doesn’t sugarcoat depression, and it’s scary good.

 

 

P.A. Works puts on yet another flawless depiction of high-school livin’ on the animation front. It’s fluid, high-powered action scenes contrast with the gorgeous backdrop to create a very supernatural and off-putting vibe when it wants to. I always thought of P.A. Works as KyoAni’s older sister, showcasing maturity over cuteness yet still being very youthful. Character designs are attractive, comedic moments will make you laugh, and that signature P.A. Works sky is simply to die for!

The only disappointing scene from this department was the concert snippet we get. It wasn’t poorly animated, it was just so lackluster compared to its predecessor’s, which even gets a blatant reference when Otosaka is watching anime at a computer cafe. At least the story involving the ‘post-rock’ star was a touching one.

For soundtrack, what we get is . . . actually pretty nice. It’s apparently arranged by ANANT-GARDE EYES and Maeda himself, so make of that what you will. The feeling I get listening to these tracks is in fact similar to Angel Beat!‘s, but again, make of that what you will. Playful and relaxing, energetic and intense, grim and remorseful – It all blends in really well with the atmosphere.

“Bravely You” by Lia is our opening, and if I haven’t made enough comparisons to AB! by this point, then you’ve got to be blind . . . kinda like half of the cast (OHH, BURN). The song fairs particularly well, growing on me as the series progressed. What really got me was the animation sequence that pairs with it. Lia has always been good at breathing life with P.A. work’s visuals (or vice versa, rather), making them seem like they belong hand-in-hand; It’s not just a sketch set to a song, but a moving, breathing piece.

I held my opinion of the story until now because here’s where things get real messy, really fast. Charlotte is pretty much firing on all cylinders until we hit the last third portion of the series. Until now, we’ve been wasting time at school steadily chugging along, makin’ memories and enjoying ourselves with a memorable cast, but a second sudden PLOT TWIST throws everything into the shitter. Maeda must’ve gotten bored with the slice-of-life school romance and PLOT TWIST shot the anime down a rugged path looted with amnesia, sudden-death, insanity, identity disorder, the questioning of humanity and sin, and PLOT TWIST, time travel. Great. Fans are never going to live this down, are they? Granted, it handles these attributes immensely well, but the PACING is horrible – as if the situation wasn’t drastic enough – and then BAM, another PLOT TWIST. Charlotte fell of the map in the last leg of its race, and I won’t even mention the final episode – An episode so diverging and literal that it could’ve been the foundation for an entire series by itself. What the frick???

While I can’t say I was in love with Charlotte the entire time, I still give it props for knocking me off guard at least a dozen times. Its unpredictability matched with likable main characters, stellar animation, and a semi-linear plot is still enough to hold much emotional appeal. Charlotte was trying to accomplish way too much in such a short run, and it begs the question as to whether some of its PLOT TWISTS were even worth sacrificing a good batch of characters (Yuu’s journey was excellent, though). Entertaining? Oh God, hell yeah! Artistic? Meh, it felt like several great stories mashed together to create something pretty wicked. It could have taken many different directions, but instead Charlotte decided to swing us waaaaaay outta orbit, sprinkle on its character development, hammer the plot, then soar right back out until the very end . . . Kinda like a comet.

“Do you know the story of the geocentric model? Today, we know it’s complete nonsense, but it used to be accepted as common knowledge. However, reality did not agree. What do you think happened to the first person to ever question it? They were called a heretic, cast out, and stripped of all their power.” – Scientist Tsutsumiuchi *cough theme cough*

+ Core characters highly likable (and PHENOMENALLY VOICED!); Yuu has one crazy journey

+ Balanced comedy, action, drama, and even romance nicely

+ Emotionally gripping even when plot goes down the drain

+ Absolutely gorgeous and consistent animation

– You don’t need a dozen PLOT TWISTS to keep me invested

– Plot pacing so horrible it hurt to breath

– Misplaced character focus (too many of them); glossed over vital characters

So that’s Charlotte. If y’all are scrounging for something unpredictable, here’s a winner. It’s a sweet “Cake” for me! Fans of P.A. Works should also get a kick out of it, despite its misleading direction. Lastly, consider watching if being critical isn’t your thing – it’ll at the very least keep you very entertained (watch me on Crunchyroll for FREE)! Did Charlotte mindf*ck you repeatedly until you didn’t even care anymore, or were you pleased with the end result? Let me know in the comments and we’ll chat! Also, I figured out how to put in videos thanks to the Otaku Judge and Rocco B!!:) Thank you for spending your time to visit little ol’ me, and until another review next year, this has been

– Takuto, your host

Advertisements

17 thoughts on “Charlotte Weaves an Entertaining Web of PLOT TWISTS | Review

  1. They paced the first few eps as if its gonna last for 2 cours, but then when the middle parts come, its starting to accelerate. The acceleration keep on going and then jam-packed the ending with just 1 ep. It was nice, but the ending, omg, it felt like a 26ep project just got cut to 13 eps at the last min.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I don’t get why so many people reference AB!’s cast as being too big; all the less unpleasant characters were brushed over by Yuri herself in the first episode, and the series took them one at a time when it could have been as chaotic as Charlotte is. True, it missed out many of the cast from its sad-backstory-a-week structure, but that fits perfectly in with Otanashi saying he wants to go through all of them himself before the afterlife made its intentions clear to the contrary with the appearance of the shadows.

    Anyway, great review!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Now that you mention it, I do recall Otonashi stating that he wanted to confront individuals one at a time, and Yuri giving one-line descriptions of peoples’ personalities and pasts. I still thought I could’ve done better with a longer run time, then it would have been a masterpiece.
      But Charlotte here dedicated all of its development to its lead, which is fine I suppose. I was interested and invested in the other characters, specifically Tomori and glasses-kun, but I guess we won’t find out more. Bummer.
      And thanks! I appreciate it ^.^

      Liked by 1 person

  3. If I had Yuu’s powers, when I was younger, I would probably do the same thing 😉 I have avoided this series due to lukewarm reviews, but your fantastic write up has convinced me to give it a chance.

    Shame that the show didn’t get more episodes. It seems like the writer can pen funny/touching tales if given enough time. Clannad for example would suck if it was only 12 episodes long.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hehe, wouldn’t we all? And thanks for the flattering words!! Best advice: Go in with a clear head, and don’t think about it too much. I figured this to be the key with Maeda’s works. I’ve yet to see Clannad (shocker, I know), but I’m honestly waiting to pick it up for a fair price and marathon it.
      If you do get around to it — Enjoy the feels! Despite a horrendous story of plot holes, Charlotte is all about living in the moment 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Charlotte was a pretty enjoyable journey for me despite the one thousand and one plot holes, and all the flaws you have pointed out … and more. Somehow the unpredictability just got to me – I am a sucker for plot twists even if they may not make much sense. xD

    I notice that towards the end of your review, it actually became more spoiler-heavy, contrary to what you stated at the start…? I assume the majesty of the plot twists must have gotten to you 😉

    Have a great new year! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s good to hear. Though there were a lot of unfilled holes, some of those plot twists were admittedly cool, especially the midway one and the origin of things. Yuu made the show for me LOL.
      And hahaha, I didn’t even realize . . . Perhaps we can chalk it up to that fine excuse you’ve lent to me? I would go back and edit, but I don’t think anyone would honestly care .__.
      Regardless, you have a nice new year as well! We’re already starting off with some good discussion 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • HAHA exactly, Yuu reminded me so much of Lelouch in his smartness, desperation and his extreme way of doing things, that I could not help but root for him xD Those plot twists had me sold on the series as well!
        Haha well, I personally think most people either don’t mind being spoiled or they are less likely to read reviews if they are. Its okay, its there for a reason xD
        Yep, nothing like a good start than good ol’ anime discussion 😉

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Seems our thoughts on this work are rather similar. I enjoyed the core cast, I thought Yuu’s descent into depression was believable and well handled, and the animation was very pretty look at, but good lord was the story a mess. Narrative wise, it was god awful. It jumped all over, some things just did not really make sense to me, and the tone shifted too much. Also, what the point of introducing the last batch of characters only for them to go away after an episode? Like… Okay?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes! Yuu’s decent was craaazy intense. I was deeply moved, at least, so it’s nice to hear that from another person. But that story, WOAH, it’s a wild ride, and not in a good way. Yep, those late characters I completely ignored. o__o
      Glad we had similar thoughts, makotachi!

      Like

  6. Pingback: End of December Update 1/4/16 | Takuto's Anime Cafe

  7. I’m so super torn over Charlotte because I really enjoyed it while I watched it, but then it ended and I was like…”How on earth do I recommend this to people?! Kinda a hot beautiful mess.” XD Excellent review, though! Glad you gave it a try! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • OMG my thoughts exactly! As I’ve been putting it, Charlotte is all about living in the moment. Miss it and its quick virtues about sibling love, seeing the truth, and teen depression and it packs very little value . . . Kinda like a shooting star? Or a comet, perhaps?
      I’m glad that you enjoyed it! And thanks for the lovely words~

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s