Hello and welcome to Project Nitsuj. Let’s talk about Jun Maeda. One of the co-founders of Key the popular visual novel studio that’s created a lot of popular visual novels in Japan. Jun works there as one of the main writers (as well as lyricist and composer) for the games they produced. Some of his most notable work include Kanon, Air, Little Busters, Clannad, and probably his most well-known work today, Angel Beats. Because of all these amazing titles, he’s been viewed as a pioneer in the world of visual novels, and in honor of his achievements I’m going to look at Charlotte. Written by Jun himself, Charlotte, came out in 2015 under the production of P.A. Works (Angel Beats). It was an original work written by Jun, so a lot of people were excited when this anime was announced but at the same time worried. As we all know the last time this studio did his work they botched it big time but Jun went on record saying that he learned from this mistake and won’t repeat it. Well that’s reassuring. Let’s have our hearts be moved and take a look at Charlotte.
Opening and Ending Theme
The opening is “Bravely You” by Lia. A pretty steady rock song that has this air of mystery and science to it that I actually like. I think the opening from Angel Beats was better but I be lying if I said I didn’t like this one just as much as Angel Beats.
The ending is “Yake Ochinai Tsubasa (The Wings that Won’t Be Burned Down)” by Aoi Tada. This was one of my favorite endings from 2015. The song is both sad and calming at the same which perfectly encapsulates the anime. The song is just beautiful and the voice of Aoi really makes me keep coming back to listen to it.
The anime starts off with our main character Yu voiced by Kōki Uchiyama (Seiya from Amagi Brilliant Park). A third-year middle school student who discovers that he has the power to possess people however he can only possess them for 5 seconds and they have to be within his eyesight (what an incomplete power). At first, he used his newfound powers to get revenge on bullies who bullied him (think big, man. Think big) but he then moved on to cheating on tests to get the top scores eventually landing him in a top-class private high school where he’s the number one student and a complete narcissist (now he’s thinking big). Because he’s the number one student and a pretty decent looking guy all the girls want him however, he’s only interested in one girl, Yumi, the school idol. In order to get Yumi to notice him he possesses a drowsing truck driver and tries to hit her with a truck where at the last minute he (now in his original body) saves her (scene here: https://youtu.be/lP36C4XF0IE. Wow, you are scum. You almost killed two people). His plan is a success as Yumi now seems attracted to him (yeah saving someone’s life will do that). Just when everything seems to be going his way he gets called into the student council where the president accuses him of cheating on his entrance exams (busted). He now has to retake the entrance exam where if he gets anything lower than a 90 he’ll be expelled so he tries to possess the student council president in the hopes of getting the answers but all he gets is a porn magazine the president was looking at (wow this guy has guts. He’s looking at a porn magazine right in front of another student and not caring). Just when Yu seems screwed a girl carrying a camera named Nao appears from out of nowhere to reveal she knows about Yu’s special powers (you are so expelled). She’s voiced by Ayane Sakura (Gasper from Highschool DxD). Yu makes a run for it but he gets captured by Jojiro voiced by Takahiro Mizushima, an associate of Nao who also has special powers as well. He has the ability to move at fast speed which gives off the illusion that he’s teleporting however he can’t control where he stops so he keeps running into stuff and having to go the hospital (he must have good insurance). Yu calls this power incomplete (said the guy who can only possess people for 5 seconds) and he gets approached by Nao who also has a special power (anyone else have a special power I should know about? Anyone?). She can turn herself invisible but it’s only limited to one person (man it’s like the X-Men if they all had incomplete powers). Nao reveals that she’s the student council president of Hoshinoumi Academy an academy that protects students with special powers and keeps them in check. She wants Yu to attend the academy and join the student council or she’ll expose Yu for the fraud that he is (I say go ahead and do it anyway. Scene here: https://youtu.be/pNYHRRSp7Q4). So Yu returns home to his little sister Ayumi who will also be going to Hoshinoumi Academy as well as a middle schooler. We find out that their parents got divorced when they were younger and their mother won custody over them however she dumped them on their uncle who is somewhere else on a business trip (wow the parenting in this anime sucks). The next day Yu tells Yumi he’ll be transferring schools and tries to keep a relationship with her but it’s not going to work out and Yumi dumps him (now that’s poetic justice). The next day Yu and Ayumi move into the student dorms where Nao and Jojiro come over to help them unpack. After the unpacking is done Nao and Jojiro leave and we end the episode with Ayumi excited about her new school while Yu being unexcited about it.
In episode 2 Yu goes to Hoshinoumi Academy where we see he’s in the same class as Nao and Jojiro (coincidence, I think not). We see that despite being a first year Nao is the student council president but she’s always alone. They find out that a student from another school has been abusing his powers by taking photos of girls in their underwear and go to confront him where they tell him to stop it otherwise he’ll get captured by scientists and end up just like Nao’s brother. He agrees to stop and in the second part we find out what happened to Nao’s brother. Their mother was tricked into sending them both to a school where scientists experimented on Nao’s brother damaging him pretty badly to the point where he didn’t even recognize Nao as his sister. Nao somehow escaped and thanks to the only friend she could trust in the world managed to save her brother and send him to a regular hospital where he needs to constantly be on painkillers otherwise he goes berserk (scene here: https://youtu.be/A5VtPuafJgw, man this episode bought the darkness).
In episode 3 another child has been found with special powers only this time it’s a rare case because this child has two powers instead of one: channeling and pyrokinesis (quite the interesting combination. Usually it’s ice and fire). After a bit of investigating the group finds out that the one their looking for is a girl named Nishimori a popular idol singer of the band How-Low-Hello (yes, this is Nitsuj). With the help of a guy named Sho they find Nishimori where we see she has the channeling power which allows her to speak with the dead unknowingly and allow the dead to possess her body (creepy stuff). We see that she’s possessed by the ghost of her older sister Misa who has the power of pyrokinesis. Misa died in a motorcycle accident caused by Sho 6 months prior to the start of the anime. Unlike Nishimori who is kind, sweet, and innocent (like an angel) Misa was a troublemaker who sought thrills, short-tempered, and never did what she was told to do (like a devil). Nishimori explains that she’s being chased by a producer from TV because she accidently bought home a recorder that holds shady facts against him (you told NBC to cancel Community didn’t you? That or stuff about Cosby). Desperate to get it back he sent thugs after her but luckily Misa’s friends Sho and Kota were there to protect her. Nao comes up with a plan to get the producer off Nishimori’s back once and for all. They stage a meeting between Nishimori and the producer where Misa takes over and threatens to use her powers to kill him. This gets him scared and he runs away screaming (scene here: https://youtu.be/fV2-zophmog) however Nao tells Misa to have Nishimori transfer to their school for safety and Misa agrees to do this. Misa tells Sho and Kota to forget about her but before leaving Sho confesses his feelings to her but gets turned down in a kind way. Misa tells him to live his life and that she forgives him for the motorcycle incident.
Episode 4 is the same as the second and third (God this anime better break this formula soon or we’ll be in trouble). We do get a good laugh with Nishimori transferring (scene: https://youtu.be/2_hj-WreTP8). This time around it’s a baseball player named Arifumi who has the power of telekinesis and uses that power to pitch and manipulate the ball (wow, that’s actually a good use of his powers). Nao tells the player to stop but he refuses so they decide to play a game of baseball where if Nao’s team win Arifumi has to stop using his powers but if Arifumi wins Nao and the others have to leave him alone (really? That’s all you want? You don’t want a date with the popular idol that’s standing right in front of you?). The day of the game arrives where Nao motivates her team by saying that if they lose she’ll hit all their asses with the bat (good pep talk). The game begins where we see Arifumi’s team sucks. The only players on the team that can do anything are him and his best friend Takato (who looks like every glass wearing side character in anime). Arifumi’s team manages to score one point and it’s the bottom of the 9th (you know I can’t believe I’m saying this but I would much rather watch them play soccer than baseball) where Jojiro and Misa are on bases and Yu is up to bat (time to step up and do something with the use of your powers you good for nothing cheater). Yu swings and misses but the catcher dropped the ball so Misa and Jojiro steal home base and win the game. After the game Arifumi confesses that he did all of this to make Takato look good (he loves him~. Is that what you want to hear? (Isis): Yes).
Episode 5 starts off with Nao getting beaten up by some other girls and her doing nothing to defend herself (well this breaks the formula. I guess they’re starting to learn their lesson). After that they find another person who has a special power (goddamn it). This time the power is flight and he was last spotted somewhere in the mountains. So they all decide to go camping out in the mountains believing that he’ll come flying by there again (that’s a pretty big bet). During the camping trip Yu and Nao actually bond a little bit. Yu discovers Nao’s favorite band and finds out that her dream is to shoot a music video of them (scene here: https://youtu.be/iUtvJRPpDXE). A few days pass and Yu starts to become concerned about Ayumi since she’s been at home by herself and seems to have a bad cough (so he does care). The flying boy finally shows up where he tries to get them to leave but to no avail. He threatens to call the cops, but Nao says he’ll be arrested too because the land they’re on is private property (and nobody discovered you guys yet? Seriously, they had a barbeque, made a fire, and fished). After Nao exposes his ability, he tries to escape but Yu uses his abilities to control and has him crash to the ground (well he’s suffered a few broken bones and bruises, but mission accomplished). Nao tells him to stop it and he says alright even though deep down he doesn’t want to because he wanted to use that ability to become a Hollywood star. Yu returns home where Ayumi finally makes something delicious for him and we see that she does have a cold and Yu takes care of her.
In episode 6 Ayumi has to stay home because of her cold and a good thing because apparently, she also has a special power called collapsing. Yu doesn’t want to believe his sister has powers so they decide to keep her at home until she gets better and keep an eye on her (scenes here: https://youtu.be/KkhMRZg2yK0 and https://youtu.be/k9AVv9p5Nis). When she’s finally better she sneaks out of the apartment and goes to school where one her classmates attacks her with a box cutter (Jesus! Man, she’s yandere already at a young age) because a boy she likes is interested in Ayumi. When Ayumi gets trapped she unconsciously activates her powers which collapses a part of the school she’s in. When Yu sees this he rushes in worried about Ayumi hoping that she’s still alive. As he’s digging through the rubble some of it falls on him to end the episode (scene here: https://youtu.be/pnkoLFdr9UA).
At the start of episode 7 Yu wakes up in the hospital and finds out that Ayumi is dead (https://youtu.be/WWaLxFIVX1s. Scene here: https://youtu.be/L1dWiJOwY7g). So we go on a feels trip with Yu throughout the episode. We start with Yu becoming a NEET, falling into depression, eating cup noodles and refusing to leave home. Even when Yumi comes to talk to him he doesn’t snap out of it (man he really is gone). When security comes for him he finally leaves and takes up refuge in a cybercafé watching Angel Beats (good anime in desperate need of a second season) and eating pizza (it’s amazing how he’s not getting fat from all this junk food). Eventually he goes outside and becomes obsessed with this FPS zombie arcade game (which has some of the worst graphics I have ever seen in my life) and starts getting into fights with street thugs where thankfully because of his powers he wins all his fights without taking a hit (scene here: https://youtu.be/1ECrOa_fmrg). Just when he decides to do cocaine Nao appears and stops him. It turns out she’s been watching him this whole time (and now you decide to stop him?) while using her powers. She also feels responsible for Ayumi’s death and decided to stick it out with him until he returned to normal but she says that if he continues to go down the road he’s going on he’ll stop being human. She drags him back to his family home where she makes him Ayumi’s omelet using her notebook which she was trying to cook to match the taste of their mother’s omelet. Bought to tears and finally returning to himself he decides to return and rejoin the student council (scene here: https://youtu.be/LzAvX3pqO7M. So he went from a depressed NEET, to a cyber café junky, to an FPS maniac, to psychotic street fighter, to a cocaine addict, and back to his normal self in the span of 24 minutes? That was some life).
Episode 8 sees Yu return to school where Jojiro and Nishimori welcome him back with open arms (the rest of the class, pretty jealous that an idol is talking to him). They celebrate by seeing Nishimori’s new music video and then Nao shows them tickets to a ZHIEND concert a band that Nao really likes. She only has two tickets and through process of elimination Yu gets decided to go with her (ah~, their first date. How lovely). As he’s walking he comes across a blind woman who is a foreigner and wants to eat some Hiroshima-yaki. Yu takes her to a restaurant where we find out she’s Sara Shane the lead vocalist for ZHIEND (figures). They eat where Sara can tell by her senses that Yu is in pain and lost someone dear to him (wow. She should be a detective). She pays her respects to Ayumi and Yu calls up Nao asking her if she wants to meet Sara which she says no (you’re crazy) so Yu asks her if he can take her to see her brother (sure, let’s have her go see the mentally unstable man who’s actions are unpredictable) hoping it might change his conditions (I doubt it but hey it’s worth a try). They take the long train rides there where Sara opens about her past into how even though she was the lead singer of a popular band she was always overlooked by others because of her singing and guitar playing wasn’t all that good so she resented God and eventually her success led to the kidnapping of her little brother for ransom. Not wanting to put her family in danger anymore she quit and became the leader for the dull-band (these are her words don’t shoot the messenger) ZHIEND. She then bartered her eyesight to God and that’s the end of her story (scene here: https://youtu.be/99i2BzwThl0, I’m not entirely sure what the lesson of her story is but I’m sure by the end I’ll understand it). They finally reach the hospital where Sara approaches Nao’s brother and sings for him and it works. He stops acting crazy, and when Yu tells him about Nao he begins to remember her a little (scene here: https://youtu.be/xSrs-ubY0jw, well I’ll be damned). As the credits role Yu and Sara head back to the city where she gets picked up by her agency and Nao calls up Yu thanking him for everything.
Ho. . .ly. . .shit! That’s all I can say about episode 9. Okay, getting ahead of myself, let’s start from the beginning. It’s the day of ZHIEND’s concert and Yu and Nao’s date with each other. They go where Yu figures out ZHIEND actually sounds like the end (you’re just now realizing this? I came to that conclusion a long time ago). At the concert Yu starts to act weird and passes out (scene here: https://youtu.be/lbFXMJbI_AI). He wakes up in a parallel future (what the fuck?) where Ayumi is still alive, Yu and her are now captured test subjects along with others, and they have an older brother named Shunuske who can time travel (what the hell? You’re seriously telling me that everything we saw up to this point all took place in a different timeline). Because Shunuske’s powers are so dangerous he’s been restrained and locked up. But Yu has plans on busting him out and using his ability to change the future. When his sister gets taken in they force her to activate her power which is still collapse and she destroys a part of a block. This forces Yu to spring into action and save Shunuske. During his rescue we see that Yu’s power isn’t jacking bodies it’s instead stealing the abilities of other people and making them his own (so the big brother can time travel, the little sister can destroy things, and Yu can copy other powers. Most overpowered family ever). Using his ability known as plunder he copies the abilities of a psychic and a guy who can pass through walls and makes it to Shunuske where he frees him and he time travels back in time. We then return back to the normal story (what the hell just happened?) where Yu wakes up in the hospital bed with Nao by his side and Kumagami (the guy who locates those with special abilities is there to greet him where he tells him to come with him to find Shunuske and to save Ayumi who is still alive (called it). They go to meet Shunuske at his secret base in the mountains where we find out that he’s the one who saved Nao and her brother and is the only person in the world who Nao trusts.
So in episode 10 Shunuske explains how he traveled back in time to when he was a kid and met Kumagami as well as a few other kids with special powers. There, he told them of the events of the future (the bad ending so to speak) and how they had to come up with a plan to save those with special powers. It took a few leaps in time but Shunuske and the others established a school to protect those with special powers however because of the multiple time leaps Shunuske lost his eyesight and became blind (he saw too much). In order to move around freely and protect his family, Shunuske had to erase Yu and Ayumi’s memories of him (scene here: https://youtu.be/ek0wmy6m-QA). Shunuske now wants Yu to use his looting powers to loot Shunuske’s time leaping abilities (yeah like I said before overpowered) and travels back to the day before Ayumi supposedly died. There, he explains everything to Nao and the others and they work out a plan to save her. Yu loots Ayumi’s collapsing ability and the next day Ayumi goes to the school where Nao and Nishimori pose as middle school students and Jojiro poses as a teacher. Of course the three get found out and draw attention to themselves (well they were no help). Luckily Yu ducked away into a storage locker in the hallway where he sees Ayumi getting chased by the yandere girl (again, you are way too young to be yandere) and jumps out of the locker to give her a good scare (well I hope you feel like a big man now, you just scared a girl who’s ovaries haven’t dropped yet). He decides to take Ayumi home for the day and along the way they get stopped by Kumagami (scene here: https://youtu.be/9852w3pvamk. Hey wait I just realized something. If Yu time traveled in the past and saved Ayumi does this mean he won’t meet Sara? Which means Nao’s brother will continue to be a maniac lying in the hospital bed).
In episode 11 Yu and Ayumi go to meet Shunuske where he tells him everything that happened in the bad ending time line (yeah I’m calling it that now). Shunuske shows them how they got their powers from a comet named Charlotte which passed over the Earth 12 years ago and gave everyone their special powers. Right now they’re in the process of making a vaccine which will eliminate the powers from happening ever again (I have a better idea. Blast the comet out of the sky) but it’s unsure when it will be ready. Since Yu’s powers are so dangerous Shunuske decides to keep him in a secret underground facility with a few other students whose powers are also dangerous. As time goes on everything seems fine however some foreigners capture Kumagami and Nao and demand that Yu give himself up to save them (he’ll do it since he loves Nao. Also, these villains are stupid. They’re just one-shot characters who come out of nowhere. No build up or backstory they’re just here. It would have made more sense if it was the scientist who kidnapped them instead of these guys?). Yu goes to face them where he’s told that if he gets into trouble to use his time-traveling powers but one of the foreigners slashes one of his eyes and apparently he needs both of them use his time-traveling powers (sucks). This forces Yu to fight where he brings the place down because he goes out of control (scene here: https://youtu.be/-f4etF0wABM, you really do suck as a fighter). Shunuske rushes in and sees that Yu and two (out of four) of the foreigners are okay but unconscious. They search frantically for Nao and Kumagami where they find them but see that Kumagami used his body as a shield to protect Nao from the falling debris.
Not much to say about episode 12. Yu wakes up in the hospital only to find out he can’t use his right eye anymore and while Nao is okay Kumagami has died protecting her (and with him so goes their only lead into finding other people with special powers). Because of Kumagami’s death Shunuske falls into a pretty deep depression and shuts down on everyone but Yu goes to him and tells him to keep continuing the fight. This snaps Shunuske out of his shut down mood but he’s still angry at the fact that they still don’t have anyone to track those with special powers in the world so even if they do complete their formula it still won’t save others who have powers all over the world if they don’t know where they are. This problem is quickly solved by Yu who volunteers to travel the world and search for anyone with special powers absorbing their powers and making them his own (well he’s only got two years to do this so better get a move on). The plan doesn’t sit well with Shunuske but he agrees to let Yu do this. Yu starts with everyone around him and on the night he leaves Nao is there to see him off where he confesses his love for her and says that when he returns he wants to start dating her (well saw this coming). Nao says she’ll accept his feelings (scene here: https://youtu.be/Eualk6OG8xE) and when he returns she’ll go out with him and he heads off looking forward to that date he’ll have in 2 years (where they’ll both be adults and anything’s legal between them).
In the final episode Yu begins his quest to plunder every ability in the world. He starts in the Philippines where he plunders someone who also has the ability to detect others with special powers (lucky) making his journey all the more easier (scene here: https://youtu.be/kK8HJ6ySN9Y). As he continues plundering ability after ability he slowly begins to lose his mind (makes sense. His ability is equivalent to Rogue from X-Men. She can copy the abilities of others but overtime it’s gonna acuminate into something trying to take over your mind). He soon earns himself the nickname the One-Eyed Reaper by everyone in the world and even having a huge bounty on his head. Near the end of the episode Yu finds the last user and plunders her ability collapsing in the streets of Beijing (scene here: https://youtu.be/9T0cZJDYVv0. Geez, I feel as if I’m watching All for One’s teen years). He wakes back up in Japan with Nao by his side and back to normal however he has completely lost his memories. We get a bittersweet end where Nao tells him they’re lovers, the vaccine is finally completed so there will be no more people born with special abilities, and they agree that from now on they’ll make happy memories with each other (scene here: https://youtu.be/0IyfQI0meDQ).
So that was Charlotte. It’s a beautifully written story from beginning to end with good amount of heart, drama, and comedy to win you over. The characters are well-written and are characters that you really come to care about. Yu being the main protagonist starts off as a character who doesn’t look at the big picture. While his actions at first are deplorable you can’t help but feel that you would do some of things he did as well to get ahead in life. We see him at his lowest point as this fragile character who deep down cares about those around him but isn’t sure how to show his feelings to others until they’re gone. His development through the anime is good as seeing him go from being this selfish character to a selfless hero wanting to help those around him. Nao was also a good character. Unlike Yu who is fragile, Nao is strong because she has to be. As the leader of the group she can’t show weakness and after experiencing hell with her brother, she doesn’t want anyone to go through what he went through. She’s a character who knows what she’s doing and someone you really come to respect as the anime progresses. Jojiro and Nishimori have minor roles but I have to admit that Jojiro does get a good laugh out of me and Nishimori’s split personality with her sister was a cool and interesting idea.
The animation is pretty nice. While it’s not as great as Angel Beats I enjoyed it and the music was the real selling point for me throughout the anime. Unfortunately, the only real downside I have with this anime is the rushed ending. The final episode easily could have been stretched to 12 episodes as it would have been interesting seeing Yu travel the world to plunder every ability, see his mind slowly decay, and see him fight to maintain his sanity. You repeated the same mistake as last time Jun.
The final score for Charlotte is a 6.5/10. Overall, Charlotte was an okay and enjoyable watch. I think Jun’s other works are better and I feel like the score would have been higher if the anime didn’t rush itself at the end. However, if you do like the work of Key and Jun in particular, I think it’s worth checking out at least once. Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you next time on Project Nitsuj.
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