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Greetings! Railgunfan75 here. Superheroes and characters with extraordinary abilities are pretty commonplace in media these days. There is something appealing about watching these types of characters in action. Whether it is the excitement of watching the characters fight evil or the idea of wish fulfillment, this type of entertainment appeals to many people and can be found everywhere. Anime is not immune to this type of entertainment with many series involving those with extraordinary abilities. Because there are so many such series and characters, it is difficult to achieve a series which stands out. Those that do tend to approach the genre from a different perspective. A recent entry to this genre, Charlotte is one such series. So readers, I now begin my next review. The subject of this review is the 2015 anime series Charlotte.
Yuu Otosaka has a special gift. He posseses the ability to possess people for 5 seconds at a time. Yuu takes full advantage of this gift by using it to take shortcuts through life. One day his special ability is discovered by a student from another school, Nao Tomori. Nao attends a school where there are students with abilities. Yuu is forced to transfer to this school and join the student council who is in charge of finding other gifted students. However, Yuu’s life would soon become much more complicated as he discovers the consequences for possessing an extraordinary ability and the impact these consequences could have on both him and those he cares about.
This series was a huge surprise for me. I was a little apprehensive about this series, since the trailers for the series constantly reminded you that this series was produced by the same people that made Angel Beats. I will do a more in depth review of Angel Beats later but I will say that there were a bunch of things about Angel Beats that disappointed me. Because of this, I was cautious when I started this series. At the end of the series, I was glad I did check this series out. This series while not perfect, does a lot of things right. There are plenty of engaging characters, an entertaining and emotional story, and a nice twist on a common concept.
Overall, one of the huge positives in this series was the general concept and plot. To do a slice a life series with super power elements is always an interesting mix. The series does an excellent job of introducing the world and characters, something which is typically lacking in a 12 episode series. The first few episodes are devoted to this and these episodes are really well done. If you are expecting a series loaded with kick ass fights between super powered characters, look elsewhere. The plot is a character driven one as the episodes tend to focus on the personal impact that having such powers will have on the individuals. The personal impact is what makes this series worth watching. Not only do our main characters encounter and deal with other individuals who are emotionally impacted by what has happened to them, the main characters themselves at some point are deeply impacted by their powers. This exploration is done rather well especially for a brief series such as this. It is difficult to start and finish a character arc in a single episode, but they manage to do this in Charlotte. By the end of these episodes, you are given enough information concerning these characters to understand their motivations.
The second half ramps this up by focusing more on the main cast, the events that led them up to this point, and the personal consequences for having these powers. For the most part, it works rather well and the transition between the two halves works better than one might expect. This still felt like the same series by the end of the adventure. In addition the characters are the not same characters that we are introduced to in the early episodes. Character progression in any series can be hard to come by but this is really rare in a 12 episode series.
One criticism of the plot would be the ending. While the plot did not end on a cliffhanger, the ending was certainly rushed. The final two episodes could easily of been stretched into a longer story arc. Because it was so condensed, there were some elements of the ending which were a bit confusing. All of the elements would of likely fit better in a 24 episode instead of a 13 episode series. This criticism doesn’t ruin the series for me but it does stop the plot and the series from achieving perfection. This is still an excellent series but it would have been even better if the ending hadn’t been rushed.
Another point of strength for the series is the characters in the case of the two main protagonists Nao Tomori and Yuu Otosaka. These characters are among the best characters that I have seen in a series recently.
Yuu Otosaka could probably be seen as the main character of the series. The series is seen predominately from his perspective as he gets introduced to a world far more complex than he could have imagined. Yuu has an ability called Loot, a cool ability where he can possess other ability and take their abilities. This leads to some cool moments throughout the series particularly towards the end. This character undergoes a considerable amount of growth throughout this series. In the beginning he is cocky and self absorbed. He is willing to use others for his own personal gain. Due to the events which transpire, by the end of the series he is vastly different. Yuu is much more human and concerned with the needs of others. I’ll admit in the beginning Yuu was not a character which I would root for but by the end of the series, I was certainly cheering him on. Because of this great character development, he certainly makes the list of my favorite male protagonists and trust me that list is relatively short.
Nao Tomori is another in a strong tradition of heroines. While she does not get as much screen time as Yuu, she is still vital to the story. The events of the world and the consequences of people having powers have affected her and her family greatly. Because of this, she is determined to help prevent similar tragedies to happening to others.She comes across as being distant and maybe a bit cold, but at various points through the series, we she that she is really sensitive and caring to those around her. She just shows it in an unusual way.She has the ability to make herself invisible to one person.This is a pretty cool ability which she utilizes quite nicely. While it may seem like she is serious all the time, she also has plenty of hilarious moments where she puts the male characters in their place. These are some of the best moments in the series. Nao also undergoes some growth as well, particularly in her relationship in Yuu. She despises him at first and for good reason, however as the series progresses she softens up and grows to respect him. As this happens, you see that she is really a kind and caring person, however her past experiences have forced her to be tough. I enjoyed watching this complex and awesome character on screen and she was one of the reasons I was saddened when the series ended.
As for the other characters, we have Yuu’s younger sister Ayumi (who is just hilarious), the sisters Yusa and Misa (who are also great), and the idol fan Takajo. All of these characters are great additions to the series. However, by the time the second half comes along we don’t see much of these characters and it is indeed a shame. The series would have felt more complete if they had more screen time. These characters do add some nice dimensions and perspectives to the plot, they are just under utilized.
The animation was really well done. You won’t find anything abstract or mind blowing, but it does look like great care was taken into animating this series.One thing I noticed was that the animators did a great job with both the character expressions and the backgrounds. The overall mood changes quite drastically in this series and with these two things, the animation did a superb job of capturing that. Overall, the animation was beautifully done and does a great job of contributing to the feel of the series.
The music was one point where I thought the series really shined. The soundtrack is both beautiful and catchy at the same time. The background music is very pleasurable to listen to and sets the mood nicely. One of the things that many anime series do well is to use the music to convey the emotions of the scene. Charlotte is no exception to this as the music does a great job of setting the mood with beautiful tracks. Just like with series like Angel Beats, music plays a critical role in the plot of the series. You have Yusa who is a famous idol and Nao is constantly listening to the band Zhiend. You also have more lighthearted music with Yusa’s group How-Low-Hello which provides a nice contrast to the more emotionally intense music of the series.
Overall, Charlotte is a superb series and one of the best anime series of 2015. The series has great lead characters, a story which is both humorous and touching and the same time, gorgeous animation and a hauntingly beautiful soundtrack. The series length and ending is a minor issue but the journey is so entertaining that I’m willing to overlook the ending in this case. Because of this, the series receives a ranking of GOLD. I will also give a recommendation to buy when it is available for purchase. This series does have it’s flaws but the positives far outweigh the negatives here. It may not be an all time great series, but it is certainly worth your time.If you haven’t yet, it is my hope that you check it out.
This concludes my review of Charlotte.If you have any comments concerning this review or the series please leave them in the comments below. If you enjoy my content, please follow me on this site or on twitter (@Railgunfan75). Also please check out the other site which I contribute to Mad Maz Reviews (madmazreviews.com). So until next time, this is Railgunfan75 signing off! See you next time!