“Very few adolescent boys and girls have an onset of special abilities. Yuu Otosaka uses his ability unbeknownst to others in order to lead a satisfying school life. And then, a girl named Nao Tomori suddenly appears before him. Their encounter reveals the destiny for wielders of special abilities”. (MyAnimeList)
In every anime season there seems to be that one series about a group of high schoolers who happen to have magical powers. Last season we had Yamada-kun and the Seven Witches. This summer, it’s Charlotte. Personally, when I went into watching this anime I was expecting the usual: slice of life, school life, magical powers, some comedy here and there and a touch of romance that is left unresolved. For the most episodes, it was just that. But then came Episode 6.
Before progressing, let me say that this review/recommendation will NOT contain spoilers, so worry not, you are free to keep reading.
The first impression was good. In fact, the first episode featured one of the best introductory sequences I have seen this season. However, many viewers agreed that the first half of the episode was way better than the second half. That is due to our main character, Yuu Otosaka. Yuu has questionable morality. He is often rude, doesn’t really care about studying and is a bit of a narcissist. He is flawed and is far from being the typical perfect character that all viewers would want to aspire to be, which is very refreshing to see. Aside from that, all character designs, their powers and personalities are also pretty unique.
On the other hand, Charlotte has this peculiarity that I actually don’t know whether I should call it a flaw or not: it is a bit inconsistent. This means that you could have a pretty light and average episode but then the ending will take a much darker and sadder tone taking you by surprise. There is comedy and there is tragedy but the show still struggles to find the correct balance between the two. As a matter of fact, during episodes 3, 4 and 5 the show seems to have forgotten about the most darker and interesting parts from the first two episodes as it starts to follow the same predictable formula over and over. I have to admit that I nearly dropped this series after episode 5. I am so glad I didn’t. And I beg you don’t, because it’s worth it.
Apparently, these few first episodes were just to present the main characters and their dynamics. Why? To hit us in the feels in the next two episodes. I will just say that I enjoyed watching a few live reactions from those episodes on Youtube.
The reason why is that, generally speaking, animes that deal with high schoolers with special powers (especially seasonal animes) are pretty average and light. You already know that the story will not be anything out of the ordinary and that you will only watch it as some sort of weekly guilty pleasure. The powers are usually only there to provide some unique situations in a comedic environment. Rarely do they ever explain where those powers come from or the consequences they may have. This is not the case with Charlotte. Ever since the first episode, it is shown that these powers are not as awesome as they might seem as they all seem to have flaws or downsides. Aside from that, the series also adds the element of danger coming from scientists who want to experiment on these special kids. All of these are not just words, but facts. It is very common to see anime characters voice their feelings, but Charlotte actually shows them. Repercussions of their powers or being too naive are shown in the most dramatic ways and emotions such as guilt, fear or even depression are portrayed in the most realistic ways. Finally a super powers/scholar anime that I can take seriously.
If this has picked up your interest, know that we are only seven episodes in so it is still very easy to catch up with the series. New episodes of Charlotte come out every Saturday.