What They Say:
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.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
There are always some studios that you really pay attention to when they do adaptations, but also those that get a really close look when it comes to doing original work. Charlotte, produced by PA Works at Aniplex, is written by one of the more well-crafted drama writers out there with Jun Maeda – even if you can boil his works down to his wanting to make you cry. Directed by Yoshiyuki Asai, the series is one that garnered a lot of attention ahead of its release for its visuals and a lot of people looking to see what the studio would work on after other recent and very popular fan favorite shows. While we often get almost slice of life dramas with a little bit of an edge to them from Maeda, this one looks to go a little bit further with what its cast can do.
Taking place in the present, we’re introduced to Yu Otosaka, a young man who certainly has an interesting view of the world. This comes from his having the ability to temporarily inhabit someone else’s body for five seconds at a time, which he can definitely take advantage of in all sorts of ways. Yu comes up with some creative if limited ways to use his powers, as we see during his “origin” phase early on her, and it’s amusing to see that he mostly works as you’d imagine a young man would with lewdness, fighting and cheating in order to get ahead and succeed. While he does cheat, he also puts in a hell of a lot of effort that lands him the high school of his choice where he’s the incoming student representative, which is a prestige position to be sure based on his academic record.
Yu’s plans also involve women of course, and he’s set his sights on the madonna of the school named Yumi. We see how he deals with everyone else in an amusing way, but there’s a real craftiness and darkness to how he gets Yumi to like him through the use of his powers to create a dangerous situation where he gets to be the hero. Yu’s not your usual good guy and the internal dialogue of his that we get reinforces his actions in a huge way about this. It’s basically the birth of a supervillain in many ways with what we get here of Yu, even with the limited nature of his ability. But it can go on only so long before he gets caught, which is what happens when he’s challenged to get a perfect score on the aptitude test once again.
This introduces Tomori into the show, a girl from a different school that has been tracking him for some time with a videocamera to prove what he’s really been doing. That gets him to panic and run, which leads to a great chase sequence as everything he’s done has been foreseen. There’s a great bit of chaos to it as it goes along and some beautiful visual design, particularly as Jojiro is the one sent to chase him down with his own particular set of superspeed ability and physical skill. He reveals it to be more of a teleportation skill, but it essentially looks the same in presentation. What he and Tomori are doing is working it so that Yu and his abilities end up at their school and it looks like they have all the authority behind hem to make this real. It’s your basic anime version of an X-Men/superhero founding and introduction.
This lets the final act here be about Yu, and his younger sister Ayumi, being drawn into this new academy where a lot of things are going to be taken care of in order to make sure he’s there – including some restrictions on him because of his ability. The family life is one that’s simple as it’s just him and his sister, due to their parents divorcing and their mother not wanting them, causing them to end up with their uncle, but it seeds more of it with her dreams of another family member that he tells her didn’t exist. This portion of the show is just a bit awkward in how it’s presented overall, including his goodbye to Yumi, but it all serves to finish off that portion of his life and bring him into the fold. Having his sister transfer to the school as well obviously opens up a few subplots as well and it’s obvious there’s more to her than meets the eye. Seeing the way Tomori toys with her a bit in showing off her power as a magic trick makes that clear that they’re testing her as well.
While the ending piece to Charlotte cooled things down a bit for me, mostly because of its execution, I had a lot of fun with this opening episode overall. What we get here is classic superhero origin material in a way, or supervillain when it comes to the way that Yu goes about things, and there’s a certain fun to it. A lot of what makes this work is the combination of Yu’s internal dialogue, the beautiful animation itself with the rich and varied backgrounds and set designs, and the kind of crazy approach he took in using his powers in a way that we usually don’t get since most male leads are your generic good guy types. Here, things feel like they’re a bit more off center and unpredictable, which makes it pretty engaging on top of everything else.
Streamed By: Crunchyroll
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Apple TV via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.