Charlotte – Part 2 Review

Charlotte, the 13-Episode show created by Angel Beats’ Jun Maeda, reaches its conclusion with this set, but boy, it has a tough time getting there…

Charlotte is not the name of a character in the show, rather it’s the name of a comet that passes Earth infrequently, and when it does, it showers people with an unknown particle that gives then super-powers, but only during their teens. One such teen is Yuu Otosaka, our lead character who has the ability to take possession of someone’s body, but only for five seconds. Yuu was rather upsettingly and realistically dragged through depression at the end of Part 1, so the first episode of this set is a rather nice “things might be able to get better after all” story, where he reconnects with his friends Jojiro Takajo (can run extremely fast for short bursts, without the ability to stop himself) and pop idol Yusa “Yusarin” Nishimori (who can become possessed by the dead, currently she is being possessed by her dead sister Misa on and off), with the moral support of friend-turned-love-interest Nao Tomori (who can become invisible to one person at a time).

Yu and Nao’s relationship between Episodes 8 and the first half of 9 is a very pleasant slice of teenage life, complete with Yuu meeting the lead singer of a band Nao is a big fan of, leading nicely into the two having a date at a big concert. Nao actually shows some proper personality in these episodes, showing good character development… Hmm… sadly, this is all soon gone, I mean literally gone…

Sadly it’s after Episode 8 that things take a turn for the worse, so much so that I will uncharacteristically talk spoilers here, so…

 

SPOILERS APPEAR BENEATH THIS BOLDED TEXT! IN ORDER TO AVOID THEM SCROLL DOWN UNTIL YOU SEE A SIMILARLY OBNOXIOUS BIT OF BOLD TEXT AND READ UNDERNEATH IT!

 

 

Ahem So to be clear, as I didn’t want to spoil too much about Part 1, Yuu was depressed due to the tragic death of his adorable young sister Ayumi, leading to a beautifully harsh episode of Yuu nearly self-destructing before being saved by the love of Nao. This nice bit of storytelling is concluded with Episode 8, but it then leads into Episode 9 where he finds out he has a secret brother named Shunsuke who had previously used his ability to time travel in order to save super-powered teens from evil scientists (and lost his sight and the ability as a result). This also leads to the reveal that Yuu’s power isn’t to possess other people, but to steal their powers, leading to Shunsuke allowing his younger brother to “time leap” backwards in time and save his sister, which he does! So there goes all that well written drama, it’s all okay now. Rather than showing how you can overcome tragedy, it just magics it away and brings her back. What a waste.

It then gets even more muddled. Soon a foreign team of power holders tries to get a hold of Yuu and his powers, which leads to a chaotic showdown, but then that ends without any background on the rival power users at all, they just never appear again. During this Shunsuke loses his best friend who was one of the few funny characters in Part 1, so that’s a shame. There is a whole episode of Yuu slowly rehabbing his injuries and talking to everyone, then we get a final episode where Yuu travels around the world and absorbs every power in a remarkably short time, thus saving everyone, but seemingly at the cost of his memories, then a quick shot of the mostly forgotten school characters having their picture taken and that’s the end. Talk about rushed! In just the last five episodes the show shifts tones from action to slice-of-life comedy back to action and then to some muddled nonsensical ending with no real pay-off. It’s truly bizarre how suddenly off-the-rails the show becomes at the end…

 

 

SPOILERS END HERE! IT’S SAFE TO READ EVERYTHING UNDER THIS OBNOXIOUS BIT OF BOLDED TEXT!

 

Story aside, it also has to be said how so many characters don’t go beyond their one-note gag, or just vanish entirely… which is quite a feat for a 13-episode series. Jojiro and Yusa only make a few cameos post-Episode 8 and are exactly the same as they were in Episode 1. Nao actually begins to turn over a new, more friendly and open leaf until the Episode 9 reset. The new characters introduced during the … arc (if you can call it that) in the last few episodes are obviously devoid of interest and personality due to how little screen time they have. Yuu is the only one who changes by the end, and even then it’s not as good as the naturally evolved Yuu we see in Episode 8. Sara Shane, the blind lead vocalist of Nao favourite band Zhiend is an interesting character, despite the fact she appears in a single episode. She even seems to help Nao’s mentally disturbed brother in a nice scene in Episode 8, which of course is forgotten about in the following episodes.

Charlotte looks great, animation-wise, and has a solid, if unremarkable, score, with plenty of insert songs from in-universe bands. The opening and ending remain “Bravely You” by Lia, and “Yakeochinai Tsubasa” (or “The Wings that Won’t Be Burned Down”) by Aoi Tada respectively, though Episode 13 uses “Your Character” by Anri Kumaki as its ending. The extras are a “bonus episode”, which is actually an OVA released with the last disc in Japan, though “bonus episode” does fit better. It’s literally a full episode of the show rather than a comedy affair or short segment, and has a good story to tell despite being set back when it was all about the high-school shenanigans towards the start of the series. It also has a clean opening and ending plus trailers, so the usual stuff, and that rare and awkward English Blooper reel you get sometimes… The physical package is once again a rigid case with four art cards inside.

So Charlotte comes to a close, and sadly I can’t really recommend it. To put this in context: I gave Part 1 a 9, the show had promise and I enjoyed the blend of a more comedic start leading into a well-written bit of tragedy, so I was disappointed when this show somehow fell off a cliff from Episode 9 onwards. Regrettably, I’ll have to say to give Part 2, and therefore this show, a miss.

5 / 10

Cold Cobra

Having watched anime since it was airing late night on the Sci-Fi channel in the late 90s, I consider myself… someone who’s watched a lot of anime, and then got hired to write reviews about them. Hooray!

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